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Self storage prices soaring: Do you really need a storage unit?

The days of $100 a month storage are just about over
Storage unit treasure
Posted at 5:31 AM, Nov 03, 2023

From family heirlooms to old furniture, Americans rent more than 2 billion square feet of storage space to store the things they don't need daily. But the price of renting those storage spaces keeps climbing.

And if you're renting a storage unit to hold all that excess, you might be paying a lot more than your items are worth these days.

Mike Ftacnik, like so many of us, has a lot of stuff. So, he rented a storage unit. It worked out well for him until one recent day, he checked his bank account balance.

"I actually thought it was a mistake," he said.

The rent on his unit jumped from $130 to $235 a month.

Furious, Ftacnik called and said, "A manager told me, 'Yes, the ownership had been reviewing prices, and your price was increased.'"

After appealing the sharp rate hike, he said the manager agreed to drop it a bit, but it was still much higher than what he had been paying. Online forums are filled with complaints about price increases as storage companies catch up with pandemic pauses in rent hikes.

But Ftacnik said this came as a shock.

"I can understand a 10% rent hike these days," he said. "But raising it as much as $105 seems outrageous."

Are you sure you need that storage space?

Those bills add up. The storage industry reports that it brought in more than $54 billion of revenue last year, and that is projected to grow to almost $75 billion by 2028.

These facilities are stuffed with things for which people no longer have room. But do you really need to hold on to all of it?

Shavon Roman is a personal finance expert and said before you sign a contract, ask yourself some questions.

"Ask 'do you need all that stuff? Do you use it? And can you replace it within a year?'" she said.

If you can't pay and fall behind, she cautioned, it will damage your credit and your items could be auctioned off to cover your debt.

Roman said if you need storage for more than a year, try looking for a "shared space."

"Basically, it's people renting out their garages, their attics, their sheds," Roman said, adding it is much cheaper than a storage unit.

And if you have heirlooms, she said, get creative to keep your memories.

"Perhaps you can take a knob right off of the dresser or a piece of the quilt, and just keep that," she said.

Ftacnik plans to downsize and cancel his unit as soon as his contract allows.

"I'm actually making space in my garage now," he said, "to potentially pull some out of there and get out of that storage unit."

That way you don't waste your money.

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