5 DIY Alternatives to Renting a Storage Unit

DIY storage unit
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If you’re trying to decide whether or not to put your things in a storage unit, you’re probably imagining two choices: store your stuff away, or let it take up space in your home.

The decision to rent a storage unit is not one to be taken lightly for these reasons:

  1. You will have to move items from your home to the storage unit, which many involve renting a larger car, SUV, or even a U-Haul truck (or similar) which is an additional cost and hassles.
  1. Most storage units cost per month, which means you'll be adding a cost to your monthly budget.
  2. Accessing something in your storage unit is more complicated than say, accessing something that is neatly packed in a storage box in your hall closet. 

So before you decide to invest in a storage unit, consider these DIY storage alternatives to renting a storage unit.

1. Declutter Your Home

It might sound obvious that the first alternative to storing excess stuff is getting rid of it instead. But many times people overlook what’s obvious, especially when that path doesn’t include buying more things. Ask yourself if you really need to own whatever you’re contemplating stashing in a storage unit. If the answer is yes, do you perhaps have other household clutter that could be cleared out to make way for what you really need?

If getting rid of that much stuff sounds overwhelming, remember that decluttering doesn’t have to be a major project.

Yes, you can do it in one massive weekend cleaning binge, but you can also declutter your house in fifteen minutes a day. Once you start, you’ll find it’s not as difficult as it seems.

2. Organize the Storage Spaces You Already Have

If you’re deciding whether to rent a storage unit because your basement, attic, or garage is already full, you might be making a premature decision.

First, you should be sure you’re using the storage spaces you already have to their fullest potential. It could be that some time spent organizing, and perhaps adding some shelves or storage boxes, is all you need to make your own home all the storage space you need.

3. Store Your Stuff Elsewhere

For many years - decades, in fact – I kept a whole bunch stuff I wasn’t using at my parents’ house. They had the room, I didn’t, and they didn’t mind me using their basement (and parts of my childhood bedroom) as a storage space. Obviously not everyone has a family member or friend who is willing or able to provide space that way, but if you do, take advantage of it. And if you’re not sure, just ask – someone you know might be happy to help you save money by donating some space they’re not using anyway. And if what you want to store is something useful like a table or a bicycle, it might work out to simple lend it to someone you trust until you need it back.

4. Get a Shed.

If you have the space, look into types of storage units that you can keep on your own property. Of course if there’s no room where you live or if you’re planning on giving up your house or apartment to travel, you may need to rent a storage unit.

But if not, think about a backyard shed (they come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and designs) or a cargo box like this, which holds a lot but can fit in front of your car in a secure, assigned parking space.

5. Move to a Bigger Place

This is not something we'd ordinarily recommend to anyone, ever, but in some rare circumstances it might be the way to go. Say you moved into a studio apartment many years ago as one person with little stuff, and you’re still trying to make it work as a couple with a baby on the way and a growing collection of vintage guitars. Your apartment is only going to get more cluttered, and in this case, a storage unit would only be a Band-Aid stuck on a problem that really demands a larger lifestyle change. While you’re in the process of moving to a one- or two-bedroom, a storage unit might be a great temporary solution, but it shouldn’t be used to hold your whole life in the long-term.