Portable Storage vs. Self Storage

Jon Fesmire |

Self storage has come a long way since its early days, when your choice was to rent a unit at a facility or purchase a storage shed for your property. Today, we have self storage with features like climate control, portable storage units and valet storage. It seems like there are new self storage innovations every day.

In this article, we’re going to cover storing your belongings in a self storage facility versus in a portable storage unit.

Self Storage Facilities

When most people think about self storage, it’s the neighborhood facility that comes to mind, and it’s no wonder. Storage facilities are everywhere, making it easy for people to keep their extra belongings while they move, or when they simply want to make space in their home.

What are the benefits of self storage? First, renting a unit at a facility is considerably cheaper. Prices will vary depending on where you live, of course, but you can expect a 400 square foot self storage (20x20) unit to rent, per month, for about the same price as a 96 to 100 square foot (8x12 or 10x10) portable unit.

In addition, most facilities these days offer climate control, which will add between 25% and 30% to your bill. If your area gets cold and dry, hot and humid, or both depending on the time of year, climate control can be critical to keeping your belongings in good shape. Wood expands and contracts, fabrics can grow mold, and worse. Portable units don’t come with climate control, and many are tight-sealing metal containers, which won’t allow the unit to “breathe,” causing them to get hot inside and potentially to trap moisture.

Most self storage facilities have excellent security. Of course, it’s wise to ask about security whenever you consider renting a self storage unit. Make sure the facility has a high exterior wall, gated access, monitored security cameras, a working alarm system, and good lighting. A portable storage unit on your property won’t have those extra security measures.

Portable Storage

Now that we’ve explored the positives of self storage facilities, and the negatives of portable storage, let’s look at the reverse.

Portable storage is great for short term use, such as moving. You can load the unit at the home you’re moving from and have it shipped to your new place. There, you can take a month or so to unload everything into your new home before having it returned to the storage company. Self storage facilities can be great for moving, too. However, you will have to keep going back to the storage unit to get your things. Also, you’ll have to rent a unit either in your origin or your destination city, which means even more driving back and forth. The portable unit may cost more per month, but will save you a lot of gas money and time traveling.

If you can afford to keep a portable storage unit on your property, it will have the advantage of being there whenever you need to access it. No more driving to a self storage facility! However, for long term storage on your property, you might want to consider buying a storage shed or prefabricated barn. Since you’ll own these, you can hook up power to them and include air conditioning, if needed. So, what are each good for? For long term storage, we recommend finding a good self storage facility and renting a unit that is the right size for your needs. For moving, especially if you’re moving anywhere from another county to across the country, we recommend renting a portable storage unit for a month or two. Self storage and portable storage are changing all the time. Who knows what offerings might come about in the next few years? So, whether you need to move or you are simply looking to free up some space in your home, look into both options.