Self storage units come in many shapes and sizes. Most people just use them for excess personal items that have accumulated, or perhaps for collections of things that have gotten too large to store at home. They make for great, reasonably affordable solutions to cramped spaces and periods of travel.
The facility should be clean. If you’re traveling to see the place in person, check for cleanliness in every area you see. Things like clutter, old boxes, broken appliances, etc, are indicative of a space that isn’t well maintained, which bodes badly for safety as well.
For high-end items like cars, the facility should optimally be more secure than your living space. Look for things like gated entries, lots of surveillance cameras, bright lighting, fences and other means for keeping intruders at bay.
While you will be able to gauge safety (to some degree) just by looking around, you may also want to search online to see if there’s any history of issues at the facility. Additionally, ask the owner or manager for straight answers about safety and security. Give them a chance to be up front with you.
Figure your costs carefully. Many facilities have fee-based policies you should be aware of from the start, such as pro-rated sums and fees fro returned payment. Chances are the price will be reflected in the amount of security features and the location; be prepared to may more for a more secure facility in a high traffic area. Also, make sure that you understand what your payment options are. Some facilities will require an automatic debit.
Look for online reviews, but try and be fair: people love to complain on the internet, and there are bound to be some bad write-ups of nearly any business. The big thing to watch for is patterns of negative comments about the same thing, which tend to hold water.
Many people also use the same facilities that offer self storage units for larger items: car storage/winter car storage, boat storage, RV storage, motorcycles, etc. This adds a layer of additional concern about security and safety, because the value of large items like that (particularly if they’re of a collectible nature) is high. Here are some considerations to make carefully when looking into car storage and car storage tips: