What to Look For When Touring a Storage Facility

Jon Fesmire |

When the time comes to rent a self storage unit—whether you’re moving, in need of more room at home or in search of a place to keep inventory for your business—you’ll want to find one you can afford in an agreeable location.

However, there are a plethora of factors you should consider before settling on a facility. As you tour local storage facilities to weigh your options, keep your eyes open, and your questions ready.

Security

You’re storing your possessions not only to make space at home, but also to keep them safe. To that end, the facility should have a great security system. Keep in mind that the safety of your things starts with you. Get a good lock. It’s in the facility’s interest for you to have a good lock, too, and they’ll generally recommend either a disk lock or a cylinder lock, depending on if your unit has an ordinary door or a roll-up door.

The aspects of security to observe and, if necessary, ask about, are as follows.

  • Gated Access: All self storage facilities should have gated access. This includes a concrete or even granite wall around the facility rather than a fence and a tall gate. Some have two gates, one an entrance, the other an exit. Once you rent a unit, you’ll be provided with an access code that will let you in and out the gates. Some facilities also use these codes for building access. In such cases, your code will work only on the building containing your storage unit.

  • Lighting: When you walk through the hallways, how’s the lighting? Do you need to turn the hallway lights on, or do they use motion detection? If you visit a facility after dark, are the grounds well lit? Motion detection lights ensure that the lights won’t turn off on you, as some facilities have them on timers.

  • Camera System: Look around to see if you can spot the security cameras, and ask about that security system. The cameras should hook up to video surveillance screens. Sometimes, you’ll find these in the office where you rent your unit.

  • Alarm System: Also ask about the alarm system. Does an alarm go off if someone hops the fence? What if they enter a building without a key or code? Though it shouldn’t be a requirement, some facilities have individually alarmed units, so that if someone breaks into your unit, management will know immediately. Who monitors the security system? The facility may work with a security company that keeps the place monitored 24/7.

  • Resident Manager: Some facilities have a resident manager, and some don’t. Those that do tend to be a bit more secure. Knowing that someone lives on-site can deter would-be thieves. When an alarm does go off at night, it helps to have a manager there who can check the security cameras, contact the police, and show them the footage.

Around the Facility

If you’re happy with the security at a facility, here are a few more things to consider.

  • Moving and Storage Supplies: Does the facility sell useful storage materials? You’d be hard pressed to find a facility that doesn’t sell locks, but not all sell other supplies. Those that carry a variety of boxes, tape, packing materials, and more can make your storage experience far easier. When you first sign your contract, it’s nice to be able to purchase supplies right at the facility.

  • The Grounds: While touring each facility, note how clean it is. The cleanliness of a business can be an indication of its professionalism, so it’s worth considering.

  • Pest Control: Ask what the facility does in case of pests. This is something that the self storage industry takes seriously, and why items like perishable food and plants aren’t allowed in their units. Many facilities take the extra step of having exterminators come out on a regular basis to protect the grounds from bugs and rodents.

  • Location: Are you comfortable with the location of the facility, or is it in a part of town that you’d rather not visit? If you don’t feel comfortable with the location, consider looking elsewhere.

With all this in mind, you’re now ready to visit facilities and pick one that’s right for you.