10 Tips for Renting a Storage Facility for Emergency Supplies

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Now that we have moved to a smaller apartment, we are using every available space for storing supplies.

What if there is absolutely no room left in the apartment for storage; after you have purged stuff and added creative space savers, what else can you do for storage?  One possible solution that may work for some is to rent a storage unit.

What to consider when choosing a storage facility:

  1. Accessibility.   Choose a storage facility that is close to your home, in case you have to walk.  You must be able to get to the unit quickly in an emergency.
  2. Cleanliness.  Inspect the units and note any trash and pests.  The storage facility must fumigate regularly.  Unless you are only storing canned food, your stored food should be properly stored in mylar bags and in sealed five gallon buckets.
  3. Temperature.  If you live in a hot, humid area, the unit must be temperature controlled.  Same reason I do not recommend a garage unless you live in a temperate area, you don’t want to store your precious food and emergency supplies in a hot, humid environment as this will degrade the quality of your supplies.  If you live in an area that is cool most of the year then you are in luck, you do not need a temperature controlled facility.
  4. Pricing.   The size of the units vary, so you will need to research what’s available in your area.  Once you know the price range, you should also check your budget to make sure you have room for the additional expense.  Check online for special deals such as “First or 2nd month free” or size upgrade discounts.
  5. Size  There are various sizes available such as 5×5, 5×10, 10×10, 10×20 or 20×20 are some examples.  You would need to assess your own needs and looking at the units before choosing.
  6. Neighborhood.  The storage facility must be in a secure area and in a good neighborhood.  The area should be well lighted and be monitored 24 hours a day.  Some facilities have an on-site manager living in the premises but that is rare.  A coworker of mine rented a storage unit for her excess stuff, that was in a questionable neighborhood but was dirt cheap.  The unit was broken into, and it was several days before the management even informed her.  Also consider how close the place is to a busy street or unsavory hang-outs.
  7. Floor location.  Is the unit in the ground floor on on a higher floor?  Ground floor units are easier to access when carrying heavy loads, but I also worry that thieves may try to break in the easier to reach units.
  8. Locks.  Some locks are easier to cut through than others.  Also, some facilities allow only proprietary locks that you purchase from them for an additional fee.
  9. What are you storing?  Storage facility applications always ask what you are planning to store in your unit.  There are certain items that are prohibited:  combustible materials such as gasoline, propane tanks, fireworks; they also frown upon firearms and ammunition.  Each state or jurisdiction may also have its own rules about what can be stored, and what the storage company is obligated to report so check on these issues before taking your items to storage.
  10. Read the fine print In relation to #8 above, always read the storage agreement so you are aware of your rights, and what you can and can’t do.

If you have a like minded friend or relative, you might be able to share the space and split the monthly storage cost.  You  just have to be sure you trust them completely and they won’t run off with your stuff if an emergency happens.

Keep track of your unit and check on it every once in a while.  Make a list of what you have stored.  We’ve all seen those “reality shows” about storage unit buyers making a profit by buying abandoned storage units.  If you can no longer afford the fees, cancel and clean out your unit before it is seized from you.  You’d want to at least be able benefit from your stockpile instead of losing out.

For now I am trying to fit my supplies in every available space in my apartment.  But I did research the storage units in my area, so I would consider it if I do run out of room.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

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  1. I’d also add to put some type of protectant on the floor before you store anything inside. Some friends of mine had some stuff in a storage facility but a pipe in the ceiling broke (AC??) and flooded them out. There wasn’t that much water, so things that were stored on a Big Lots plastic shelf placed on the floor below the cardboard box were safe, but the cardboard boxes full of Disney magazines that was flat on the floor got ruined. Facility didn’t pay for any damages & wanted to charge them extra for moving to a larger spot (the only one in the place that was dry) but they got around that. Check your terms & some preventative work goes a long way!

  2. My storage unit will not allow food of any kind, even in cans. If a person is storing household goods, all spices must be thrown out, even salt and pepper. However, they will allow cans of gasoline, lawnmowers with gasoline in them. I think that is bizarre since the gasoline can burn us all out. Food will only draw pests. They do fumigate for pests! The gasoline makes me nervous!

    1. Practical Parsimony, That is interesting, no food allowed but gas cans are allowed. The ones I’ve seen are the exact opposite but this goes to show every facility could be a little different. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Disguise everything you store …. bury your prep supplies under Xmas decorations, household goods and clothes …. buy the cammoflage materials from a garage sale if necessary …. label your boxes/totes with the appropriate “not worthwhile stealing ” titles …. not intended for any post-SHTF looting – plenty of everyday type burglaries – they will be looking for the fast scores …..

    1. Hi Illini Warrior, Good idea, disguising everything you store with innocuous labels. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Please know that many storage units regularly have exterminators come to spray all the units. This is not where I would want even my freeze dried food in storage. Pesticide contamination on the outside of the cans and plastic lids on top would not be desirable either. Please explore all the options.

    1. janeofvirginia, Good point, pesticide spraying is done at least on a monthly basis if not more. I would not rule them out completely, but it is best to store any food stuff in boxes or 5 gallon buckets, not sitting around in the open and exposed to pesticides. Thanks for the comment.

    2. Jane,
      If I were going to store food there, it would be in glass, wrapped in paper and in boxes. If I put anything where it would get pesticide on it, they could see it and kick me out. I do not store food there!

  5. Just be aware that if the nation ever falls under large scale nation wide marshal law that there’s an executive order that goes into effect during that time that gives the federal gov control of all private storage facilities. So if you go that route be sure to empty your supplies immediately.

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