How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Storage Unit?

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Published on April 26, 2021
13 min read

At a glance

Storage units cost anywhere from about $100–$300 per month. Pricing mainly boils down to size (bigger units cost more) and availability (prices go up when there aren’t many available units). The best storage unit companies are about 20% cheaper if you order online. It’s a great way to put $40 or $50 back in your pocket to help pay for a moving company or hire hourly help.


How much do storage units cost?

Storage units cost approximately $190 per month. We asked seven self-storage companies for more than 2,500 quotes and found that monthly prices range from about $90 for a small storage unit to nearly $300 for a large one.

Average cost of storage units

Storage unit sizes
Average monthly cost
Small (5x5–5x10 ft.)$90
Medium (5x15–10x15 ft.)$160
Large (10x20–10x30 ft.)$290

Data as of 2/26/21. Average prices include online rates plus taxes and insurance. Applicable one-time administrative fees of approximately $25 not included. Size ranges, offers, and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.


What affects the price of storage units?

Storage unit prices vary based on things like size, features, and availability. You can also save money by comparing prices across different companies. And it’s important not to forget taxes, fees, and insurance (they set you back about $50 and aren’t part of your quote).

Storage unit sizes

Large storage units cost more than smaller units. Most self-storage companies group their units into three basic sizes (small, medium, large), but each of those categories can include slightly different options. For example, if you search for a small storage unit, you might see results for storage spaces that are 5 x 5 feet, 5 x 10 feet, or anything in between.

Common storage unit sizes and dimensions

Size
Dimensions
Average monthly price
Small
5 x 5 ft.

5 x 10 ft.
$90
Medium
5 x 15 ft.

10 x 10 ft.

10 x 15 ft.
$160
Large
10 x 20 ft.

10 x 25 ft.

10 x 30 ft.
$290

Data as of 2/26/21. Average prices include online rates plus taxes and insurance. Applicable one-time administrative fees of approximately $25 not included. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Storage unit features: Climate control

The main storage unit feature that costs extra is climate control. A climate-controlled unit monitors temperature and humidity levels, so your belongings don’t get damaged. For example, a climate-controlled storage unit protects artwork, wood furniture, and photographs better than traditional storage.

Most storage unit companies say climate control costs anywhere from 20–50% more than a traditional storage unit. But that’s rarely the case. We looked at more than 2,500 quotes and found climate control actually costs about $10 less than a standard storage unit (thanks to online sales).

Average online prices for climate-controlled storage

Type of storage space
Average monthly cost
Standard storage unit$190
Climate-controlled storage unit$180

Data as of 2/26/21. Average prices include online rates plus taxes and insurance. Applicable one-time administrative fees of approximately $25 not included. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

It seems strange, but it’s true: climate-controlled units technically cost more. However, because storage facilities lose money each day a self-storage unit is empty, they have a pretty big incentive to offer discounts. This means you can often save money by checking with a few different storage unit companies to see which ones have the best sales.

Availability

Storage unit prices vary based on availability (prices are lower when there are many available units). A self-storage facility with 100 empty units typically costs less than one that’s nearly full. We’d love to break down the cheapest locations for you, but the prices you see on Monday can be very different from those you look at on Tuesday.

There’s not really an average storage price that’s valid from one day to the next. We recommend you pick three or four nearby companies and check their prices every day for a couple of weeks. Chances are you’ll find a unit on sale and save a chunk of change.

Storage unit companies

Storage unit prices vary quite a bit from one company to another. Move.org analyzed thousands of quotes and found that the cheapest storage unit companies are about 20% less expensive than the industry average. In dollars and cents, that means you can save an average of $30 simply by choosing Simply Self Storage, CubeSmart, or U-Haul.

Cheap storage unit companies compared to industry average

Storage unit company
Average monthly cost
Amount below industry average
Learn more
Simply Self Storage$150$40 ↓
CubeSmart$160$30 ↓
U-Haul$170$20 ↓

Data as of 2/26/21. Average prices include online rates plus taxes and insurance. Applicable one-time administrative fees of approximately $25 not included. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

However, price isn’t all that matters. For example, U-Haul has low prices—but it also has low customer reviews. Similarly, the most expensive company (Extra Space Storage) also gets the best reviews (it’s our #1 storage unit company pick). Check out the pros and cons of the best storage unit companies to see what makes the most sense for you.

Taxes and fees

Storage unit companies don’t include taxes and fees in your quotes. And the costs add up. Besides paying your state sales tax, you also usually have to cough up about $25 for a one-time administration fee. That means the average storage unit quote is about $40 more expensive than what you see on the screen.

Storage unit insurance

Storage unit insurance rates start at around $10 per month but can be more expensive if you want additional coverage. That’s important because insurance usually isn’t optional: you must have it to rent a storage unit.

Heads Up
Homeowners insurance for storage units

Many storage unit companies allow you to use your homeowners insurance. Check with your storage unit company and homeowners insurance agent for more info.

First month’s storage unit costs (including taxes, fees, and insurance)

Before taxes, fees, and insurance
After taxes, fees, and insurance
Price difference
$170$210$40 ↑

Data as of 2/26/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.


Key takeaways

  • Ballpark estimates. Average storage unit prices range from about $90 for small units to $290 for large ones.
  • Pick a good company. The best storage unit companies offer a mix of low costs and high quality. Decide what matters and choose the company that best fits your needs.
  • Shop around. You’ll often find one-day sales that can save you hundreds of dollars. You can even get premium services like climate control for cheaper rates than standard storage units if you take the time to compare companies.
  • Don’t forget fees. Self-storage quotes don’t include state sales tax, one-time administration fees of about $25, or mandatory insurance that starts around $10 per month.

Storage unit cost FAQ

What is the square foot capacity of a large storage unit?

The square foot capacity of a large storage unit generally ranges from about 200–300 square feet. That’s usually enough to fit belongings from a large apartment or a house.

Who is the best storage provider?

The best storage provider is Extra Space Storage, according to Move.org. The self-storage company is known for its excellent customer service and has nearly 2,000 locations.

How much does storage insurance cost?

Storage insurance rates start at about $10 per month. Check with your storage unit company for specific pricing information. Some companies also allow you to use your homeowners insurance.

What is the average cost of vehicle storage?

The average cost of vehicle storage is approximately $230 per month. However, prices vary depending on the size and availability of your vehicle storage unit.

Where can I find a portable storage container?

You can find a portable storage container at a moving container company. The best portable storage companies, according to Move.org, are U-Pack, 1-800-PACK-RAT, and PODS.

Who has the lowest prices in the self-storage industry?

Simply Self-Storage has the lowest prices in the self-storage industry. Its average monthly cost of $150 is about $40 below the industry average (not including a one-time administration fee of $24).

What companies have cheap storage units?

Simply Self-Storage, CubeSmart, and U-Haul have cheap storage units. Their average monthly cost of $160 is about $30 below the self-storage industry average.

Are storage unit prices cheaper online?

Yes, storage unit prices are cheaper online. You typically save about 20% if you reserve a storage unit on the web rather than going to the self-storage facility.

How much is a small storage unit?

The average cost of a small storage unit is approximately $90. Small storage units range from about 25–50 square feet and can hold things like business supplies, sports equipment, and other small items from your home.

How much does it cost to rent a storage unit?

The average cost to rent a storage unit is about $190 per month, but prices vary depending on size and availability.

What is a 10 x 20 storage unit price?

The average price for a 10 x 20 ft. storage unit is approximately $290. A 200-square foot unit often fits most items from a home or large apartment.

Should I compare storage unit prices?

Yes, you should compare storage unit prices. Prices vary so much from one company to another that you can save upwards of $100 just by shopping around.

How much does storage space cost at Public Storage?

Storage space at Public Storage costs approximately $210 per month—or about $20 more than the average self-storage business.


These 10 US Cities Cost the Most per Square Foot

The 10 Most Expensive Cities per square

Have you ever felt frustrated by jaw-dropping housing costs? Whether you’re looking to buy or planning to rent, it can be expensive—especially if you live in certain areas.

We looked through the 200 most populous cities in the US and made a list of the top 10 cities with the highest price per square foot for both renting and owning.

If you’re headed to one of these spots, renting a storage unit could help you save money without losing all your elbow room in that studio apartment.


What are the most expensive cities?

Most expensive cities to rent

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Oakland, CA
  3. New York, NY
  4. Sunnyvale, CA
  5. Boston, MA
  6. San Jose, CA
  7. Jersey City, NJ
  8. Washington, DC
  9. Los Angeles, CA
  10. Fremont, CA

Most expensive cities to own

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Honolulu, HI
  4. New York, NY
  5. Fremont, CA
  6. San Jose, CA
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Glendale, CA
  9. Los Angeles, CA
  10. Oakland, CA

What is the median cost per square foot?

For our research, we looked at the 200 most populous US cities to identify the cost per square foot to rent a one-bedroom apartment or buy a home. The cost per square foot was calculated by using the median list price (for homes) and the median rent (for apartments).

If you’re scratching your head trying to remember “median” from math class, here’s the gist: we examined all the prices from the most to least expensive and then looked at the amount of the price ranked in the middle—the median.


Why does it matter if you’re renting or buying?

When you buy a home, you negotiate the final cost up front. Even if you get a loan to cover the cost, you still know what the total amount will be and when you’ll finish paying it off.

When you rent, you make monthly payments as long as you live there. And unless you’re lucky, those rent payments will likely increase over time.

In our rankings, many of the same cities make our lists of both renting and owning. Consider the fictional example of Gotham City (everyone wants to live near Batman).

Example: Gotham City

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$55

$950

You would pay $55 per year for each square foot if you’re renting—or $950 total for each square foot if you’re buying.

To put that into context, let’s say you live in a 1,000-square-foot home or one-bedroom apartment. Renters would pay $55,000 in housing costs per year, while homeowners would fork out a lifetime total of $950,000.

Both numbers are a bit alarming—and that’s why cities like this make our list. We want to give you a heads-up.

You may also want to consider using a storage unit for your extra stuff instead of using high-cost real estate at your home. This approach gives you the option of still living in your city of choice while keeping costs down.


What cities have the highest costs per square foot?

Even though we have two top 10 lists (one for renters and one for buyers), the same 12 cities take up all the spots. We break these down for you in alphabetic order, beginning with Boston, Massachusetts, and ending with Washington, DC.

Boston, MA

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$46.50

$742.20

Boston is the place to go if you’re a bandwagon sports fan—its four major sports teams have racked up nearly 40 championships. But you’ll be paying for more than season tickets if this is your moving destination.

The city is the fifth-most expensive per square foot in the US for renters—and the second-most expensive for homeowners. For a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, you’re looking at $46,500 in rent each year. If you’re buying, that’s a hefty total of $742,000.

Any leftover money can go to food. In this case, you may be limited to Boston baked beans.

Freemont, CA

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$41.36

$648.15

Fremont is an ideal location if you plan to commute to college—it’s remarkably close to 31 different schools, including Stanford and Berkeley. Plus, Fremont is only 40 miles away from San Francisco (number one on our lists), so you can take advantage of all its amenities without having to pay to live there.

But you’ll still pay quite a bit. The city is the tenth-most expensive per square foot in the US for renters—and the fifth-most expensive for homeowners.

For a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, you’ll pay $41,360 per year in rent. If you can afford to buy, expect that to cost $648,150.

Keep forgetting how to spell your city’s name? Just remember that Fremont has one “e” and not two because, well, it’s definitely not free.

Glendale, CA

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

N/A

$537.22

Glendale is the location of choice if Universal Studios is your favorite vacation spot. The theme park is a quick 15-minute drive from Glendale, California.

But you may be seeing stars outside of Hollywood when you discover the housing costs. Glendale barely missed the cut for our renter’s list (it checks in at number 11), but it is the eighth-most expensive city per square foot in the US for homeowners.

For a 1,000-square-foot home, your lifetime cost is $537,220.

In other words, you can live next door to Universal Studios—but you may not be able to afford tickets.

Honolulu, HI

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

N/A

$684.31

Hawaii is one of the country’s most popular destinations spots—there are nearly 250,000 visitors in the state on any given day. While there’s always a deal to be had on a vacation package, it’s a bit trickier to find affordable housing as a full-time resident.

The capital city of Honolulu didn’t make our list for the most expensive cities in which to rent (it comes in at number 12), but it is the third-most expensive city per square foot if you’re looking to buy a home.

Buying a 1,000-square-foot home in Honolulu will set you back a total of $684,310. With a house that expensive, you may not be able to afford many extras—but you would be sitting pretty in paradise. And hey, if you’re still longing for that vacation vibe, you could always sneak a peek at tourists through your kitchen window.

If you decide to rent a storage unit to lower costs, you may want to check out our recommendations for climate-controlled storage companies.

Jersey City, NJ

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$42.33

N/A

Jersey City is a haven for history lovers, and it offers direct boat access to the Statue of Liberty. The glimpse into the past is intoxicating, but you may find yourself wishing for centuries-old housing prices if you decide to move there full time.

The city is seventh on our list of the most expensive places to rent, although it falls all the way to ninetieth when it comes to buying your own home.

To rent a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, you’re looking at an annual cost of $42,330.

But if housing costs eat up all your spending money, chances are you can find a place on the shoreline to see Lady Liberty for free.

Los Angeles, CA

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$41.97

$535.93

Los Angeles is your mecca for all things artsy. From checking out the Hollywood sign to attending a Lakers game, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another city with more things to do. It’s also tough to find many places with more expensive housing.

The city checks in at number nine on both of our lists of the most expensive places to rent and own.

Renting a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment will set you back $41,970 over a year. Buying a home with similar square footage will set you back a total of $535,930.

If you’re out of the house at all hours anyway, you may want to consider putting some of your stuff in a U-Haul storage unit—it has 24-hour access at most of its locations.

New York City, NY

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$48.00

$667.65

If you’re taking a page out of Frank Sinatra’s book and want to wake up in the City That Never Sleeps, we can’t blame you. Where else can you catch a show on Broadway and dine afterward at a Times Square restaurant? And chances are you’ll be sitting next to an actor from Law & Order (the franchise has filmed more than 1,000 episodes in the City That Never Sleeps, and it’s thought of by actors as a “rite of passage”).

But given NYC’s housing costs, you may need the diversion offered by its nonstop entertainment options. New York is the third-most expensive city in the country for renters and the fourth-most costly for buyers.

To rent a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, you need to come up with $48,000 per year. If you want to buy, plan on dishing out $667,650 for a similarly sized home.

The Big Apple sure has big prices.

Oakland, CA

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$54.02

$523.20

Oakland is close to many popular vacation spots and also houses the Oakland Aviation Museum—located on the site of the airfield where Amelia Earhart departed on her final flight before disappearing.

You’ll probably wish your rent checks also would fly away when you see the housing costs. Oakland is second on our list of the most expensive cities for renting and tenth for buying.

To rent a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, plan on watching $54,020 vanish. To buy, expect to say goodbye to $523,200.

Just make sure you’re as hard to find as Earhart if you decide to skip town when your mortgage payment arrives.

San Francisco, CA

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$66.72

$1,070.92

Residents were startled when an earthquake shook Candlestick Park and the city of San Francisco during the 1989 World Series. A massive tremor injured nearly 4,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage—not to mention delaying the ascent of the Oakland Athletics to the top of the baseball world.

You may feel rumbling on your financial Richter scale when you see what it costs to live here. San Francisco takes the top spot in both of our lists.

To rent a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, you’re looking at a cost of $66,720 per year—nearly $13,000 more than the second-most expensive city in the country.

Looking to buy instead? It doesn’t get easier: the price is $1,070,920—more expensive than the second-highest option (Boston) by over $300,000.

If San Francisco is definitely your destination, you may want to consider renting a lower-cost storage unit to save cash. We’ve put together a guide to help you estimate the storage unit size you need.

San Jose, CA

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$44.32

$625.86

San Jose has a lot going for it. The city is home to Silicon Valley and houses tech giants like Adobe, eBay, and Netflix. Venture a little further out and you’ll find headquarters for Google, Apple, and Facebook.

You can be based in San Jose too—for a price. San Jose is the sixth-most expensive city for both renting and buying.

To rent a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, plan on budgeting $44,320 each year. To buy, expect to pay $625,860.

The good news is the high cost of living might not seem so bad if you turn out to be the next Steve Jobs or Larry Page.

Sunnyvale, CA

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$47.14

N/A

Sunnyvale is home to Yahoo!, LinkedIn, and Jimmy Johnson—a legendary ghost who haunted a local Toys”R”Us store after accidentally hacking off his leg and bleeding to death. “He’s like Casper,” said longtime employee Putt-Putt O’Brien. “Nothing he does ever hurt anybody.”

While gentle Jimmy may be harmless, expect the damage for living costs to feel more real.

Sunnyvale is the fourth-most expensive city for renters but doesn’t make our top 10 list for those looking to buy.

To rent a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, your yearly bill is going to be $47,140.

Sunnyvale isn’t so sunny when it comes to housing costs.

Washington, DC

Cost per square foot

To rent (annual cost)
To own (annual cost)

$42.00

$544.87

Washington, DC, is your go-to spot for all things political. Local law prohibits any building from being higher than a modest 130 feet, so even the design of the city makes you realize you’re in a different place.

Too bad there isn’t a similar law regulating housing prices. Washington, DC, is the eighth-most expensive city for renters and the seventh-most expensive for buyers.

Renting a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in the nation’s capital will set you back $42,000 per year. If you plan to buy, you’re looking at a total cost of $544,870.

Expect to be short on cash if you’re moving to Washington, DC


Additional resources

If you’re shocked by the cost of living in these cities, here are some ways to save money when you move:

Top Self-Storage Companies
How to Pay for Your Move
The Best Moving Deals and Discounts


Full data set

10 most expensive - homes

Region name
State
Metro
County name
Size / Rank
Home price per sq. ft. (August 2019)

San Francisco

CA

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward

San Francisco County

15

$1,070.92

Boston

MA

Boston-Cambridge-Newton

Suffolk County

26

$742.20

Honolulu

HI

Urban Honolulu

Honolulu County

48

$684.31

New York

NY

New York-Newark-Jersey City

Queens County

1

$667.65

Fremont

CA

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward

Alameda County

114

$648.15

San Jose

CA

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara

Santa Clara County

12

$625.86

Washington

DC

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria

District of Columbia

27

$544.87

Glendale

CA

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim

Los Angeles County

139

$537.22

Los Angeles

CA

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim

Los Angeles County

2

$535.93

Oakland

CA

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward

Alameda County

45

$523.20

10 most expensive - one-bedroom apt.

Region name
State
Metro
County name
Size / Rank
One-bedroom rent price per sq. ft. (August 2019)

San Francisco

CA

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward

San Francisco County

15

$5.56

Oakland

CA

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward

Alameda County

45

$4.50

New York

NY

New York-Newark-Jersey City

Queens County

1

$4.00

Sunnyvale

CA

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara

Santa Clara County

190

$3.93

Boston

MA

Boston-Cambridge-Newton

Suffolk County

26

$3.87

San Jose

CA

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara

Santa Clara County

12

$3.69

Jersey City

NJ

New York-Newark-Jersey City

Hudson County

86

$3.53

Washington

DC

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria

District of Columbia

27

$3.50

Los Angeles

CA

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim

Los Angeles County

2

$3.50

Fremont

CA

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward

Alameda County

107

$3.45

Did we help you answer all your storage-related questions? Let us know in the comments section below!

Kurt Manwaring
Written by
Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.