Blog / Self Storage

How to Choose a Storage Unit

By Matt Wallace

18 April, 20245 mins read

Choosing the right storage unit isn’t just about finding somewhere to put all your stuff — it’s about ensuring your belongings are kept in a safe and accessible environment that suits your budget. Whether you’re a first-time renter or searching for a better storage solution, we know the stakes are high when storing anything of value. 

In this guide, we’ll show you how to choose a storage unit with confidence. From understanding what to look for in a unit to finding the best provider, we’ll cover every step to help you make an informed decision.

What to Look For in a Storage Unit

Knowing how to pick a storage unit is much easier when you know what to look for. In this section, we’ll cover some of the factors you’ll want to keep in mind when looking for storage. This way, you’ll be able to find a facility that will keep your items safe and secure while also being convenient and budget-friendly. 

While the best storage solutions will tick all the right boxes, there may be some factors you want to prioritise over others.

The Basics

Before diving into the specifics, let’s cover the fundamentals of every good storage unit. These non-negotiables form the foundation of a secure and reliable place to store your possessions. 

Above all else, any storage unit worth your consideration needs to be able to guarantee the following three factors:

  • Clean: A clean environment speaks volumes about the facility’s management and dedication to keeping your belongings in pristine condition.
  • Dry: The last thing you want in a storage container is damp. Ensure the unit is well-ventilated and moisture-free to protect your items from mould, mildew and rust.
  • Secure: Look for facilities equipped with CCTV surveillance, robust padlocks, perimeter fencing and controlled access. Some providers might even have on-site personnel to safeguard your possessions.

While there will be other things you’ll be looking for in your search for the best storage — such as location, accessibility and price (all of which we’ll talk about in a moment) — ensuring your unit is clean, dry and secure are the three most important things to look out for. 


Aside from the basics, you’ll want to ensure getting to and from your unit is easy and won’t take up too much of your time — especially if you need to make regular trips. A good location can make all the difference when driving to and from your unit. Such proximity is particularly useful for businesses managing inventory, a family in the middle of a move, or anyone else who needs regular access to their stored items.

Beyond location, the physical accessibility of your storage is another important consideration. Facilities with wide loading bays and ample parking will often make it easier to load and unload. Moreover, your provider’s opening times are something else to take note of. There’s nothing worse than needing something from your unit on a Monday and finding out that your provider shuts its doors at the same time you finish work. 

At Pay Less for Storage, all our units feature drive-up access and our sites are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That means you can park your vehicle right outside your unit at any time on any day.


Accurately estimating how much space you need is often the hardest part of finding a storage unit. In our experience, you almost always need more space than you think. 

If, for example, you’re moving home, you might not realise just how much stuff you have until it’s all boxed up — or worse, when you run out of boxes. With all your belongings spread throughout your home, it can be hard to imagine just how much space everything takes up. 

With that in mind, here are some considerations to help determine how much space you need:

  • Assess Your Needs: Begin by listing the items you plan to store. This initial inventory will help you gauge the unit you’ll need.
  • Availability: Check with storage providers about which of their units are currently available. Popular sizes might already be booked, which will help narrow down your search.
  • Budget: Larger units cost more, but cramming everything into a smaller unit to save money can risk damaging your belongings. Balance your space requirements with what you can afford.

Finding the right fit is simpler with Pay Less For Storage. We offer just two sizes, which eliminates guessing and speeds up decision-making. Whether you need a unit the size of an average garage or something more compact, we’ve got you covered. 


Big national chains often come with big price tags. In fact, we found that two of the UK’s leading brands will cost £3,000 more per year compared to local and independent providers (such as ourselves). These companies often have large overheads and marketing budgets, costs that they pass on to their customers. 

At Pay Less For Storage, we like to keep things simple. This means keeping our costs down — while maintaining clean, dry and secure storage units — and passing our savings on to you, the customer. 

By prioritising efficiency over extravagance, Pay Less For Storage ensures you get premium storage without the premium price tag. Our commitment to affordability without compromising on quality means you get to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Finding Your Ideal Storage Solution

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to cast the net and find the perfect storage for you. 

This next step is all about aligning your needs with the right provider, ensuring you settle on a solution that meets your requirements and feels right. Whether you prioritise proximity, price or particular amenities, the goal here is to make a well-informed decision that you’ll be happy with for the duration of your storage use.

Make a Shortlist

The journey to choosing your storage provider starts with a shortlist. Searching online, where you can come up with a list of three or four companies and compare their strengths and weaknesses, is a great place to start.

When evaluating each website, try looking beyond the surface. A well-maintained and informative website may reflect the company’s commitment to quality, but it’s also important to read between the lines. Here’s what to look for: 

  • Quality Indicators: Does the company present clear information about their storage units and security measures? High-resolution images, detailed descriptions and customer reviews could indicate that the provider takes pride in their service.
  • Trust Factors: Are there clear policies regarding contracts, payments and insurance options? Transparent practices are the cornerstone of trust. Additionally, check for membership in recognised industry associations, which can be a mark of professionalism and reliability.
  • Customer Service: Is it easy to get in touch? Responsive customer service shows that the company values its customers, which is often a sign that the can be trusted to look after your belongings.

Your shortlist should include companies that offer competitive prices and demonstrate a level of trust and quality you’re comfortable with. 

Check Reviews

Once you’ve got a list of local storage companies, it’s time to dive into their online reviews. While online reviews are an invaluable source of information, it can be worth taking them with a pinch of salt, as customers often feel more compelled to leave feedback when their expectations aren’t met.

That said, the real value of reviews lies in being able to spot patterns, for example: 

  • Consistency in Comments: Are multiple people mentioning the same issues or praising similar aspects of the service? This can indicate consistent strengths and weaknesses.
  • Response to Criticism: Pay attention to how the company responds to negative feedback. A professional and constructive response to criticism speaks volumes about a company’s dedication to customer service.
  • Overall Sentiment: While one or two negative reviews shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, general trends of dissatisfaction could be a red flag.

If a company’s reviews leave you with doubts about their reliability or the quality of their service, you might want to consider scratching them off your shortlist. 

Try Before You Buy

While online research is a great start, there’s no substitute for visiting each site in person. Although this takes more time and effort, it’s the most reliable way to ensure the facility meets your standards. 

Here are some of the key advantages of checking out a storage facility in person: 

  • True Quality Assessment: Inspect the units to ensure they’re in good condition. This way you’ll see firsthand the actual size, cleanliness and security measures in place, rather than relying on marketing photos. 

Pro Tip: You can buy basic humidity sensors online for less than £10, which is a great way to test just how water-tight and moisture-free a storage unit really is. 

  • Local vs. National Pricing: National chains often have higher rates due to their larger overheads. By visiting, you can compare local independent companies that may offer the same quality for a better price, potentially saving you hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds.
  • Convenience and Accessibility: Check the location’s convenience and how easily you can access your unit. Will you have to navigate a labyrinth of stairs and corridors to get to your unit, or will you be able to drive right up to it? 
  • Customer Service Experience: Arranging a tour of the site is a great way to see how responsive and helpful the staff are. Such personal interactions can be a great way to gauge a company’s customer service.

Remember, an impressive website doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be given a superior service. A facility might offer top-notch storage solutions without showcasing them online. By taking the time to visit, you might discover a hidden gem that offers everything you need for a fraction of the cost.

Work Out the Best Price

If you’ve followed all the other steps in this guide then you should have a pretty good idea of which storage companies on your shortlist have the most to offer. However, you might still find yourself stuck between one company and another, which brings us to the final step: getting the best price. 

While this might seem simple at first, working out which provider offers the best value can get tricky when you’re comparing different units, admin fees and offers. With that in mind, here’s how to effectively assess which company provides the greatest value:

  • Compare Unit Prices: Look at the cost per square foot and compare it across your shortlisted options. This will give you a clear idea of who offers the most space for the least money.
  • Deals & Discounts: Some companies offer discounts for long-term commitments or lower rates for new customers. Make sure to ask about any deals that could reduce your overall costs.
  • Check for Hidden Fees: Always ask about additional fees such as deposits, admin fees, or charges for accessing your unit outside of normal hours. These can significantly affect the affordability of a storage unit.
  • Check Billing Cycles: While most companies bill monthly, some offer weekly billing, which can prevent you from paying for more time than you need when it comes to closing your account. 

Once you’ve gathered all this information, calculate the total cost of each option over the time you plan to use the storage. This calculation will help you see which provider truly offers the best value.

Pro Tip: Introductory deals can be attractive but they can lead to higher rates after the initial period. It’s important to make sure you understand the full terms and how much rates will increase once the offer ends, ensuring that what seems like a great deal doesn’t become a costly commitment.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right storage unit is a decision that requires careful consideration of various factors — from cleanliness and security to pricing and location. By following the steps we’ve discussed in this guide, you’ll be able to research and choose a self storage provider with confidence. 

Remember, the key is to not just focus on the special offers but to think about long-term satisfaction and cost efficiency. Take your time, do your research and make a choice that you’ll be happy with for as long as you need your storage.

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace

Matt is a Director of Pay Less for Storage. He blogs tips for storage customers and helps them navigate self storage.

Ruler illustration

Containers for
sale and hire

Read more
Container illustration

Looking for
self storage?

Here are our self storage
locations across the UK