01.What's in store?
With a growing population and trend towards high-density apartment living, more Australians are turning to self-storage as a short- or long-term solution for lack of space.
Given there’s a large number of self-storage operators and facilities both in the inner city and out, how should you go about finding the facility and options that are right for you?
CHOICE will tell you:
And we've compiled:
Storage facilities are available in a variety of areas, but there’s a considerable difference between what you’ll pay to house your stuff close to the city centre compared with its outskirts. In its report into storage, IbisWorld points out that “cheaper land, better access to freeway networks and higher-density living in suburban areas will promote self storage units in [outer-city] locations”.
Indeed, hiring a half-garage in Sydney’s inner-city Camperdown from Kennards, one of Australia’s larger storage facilities, costs from $305 per month. Yet at their Bankstown site, about 20km from the Sydney CBD, this only sets you back from $170 a month. In Brisbane, a similar unit costs $269 at the centrally located Milton Centre, but a few kilometres away in Yeerongpilly, the same sized space costs just $173 a month.
But before you choose a far-flung location, consider how you’re planning to use your self-storage. If you’ll need access on a regular basis, it may well be worth your while paying extra to have it closer to your home or office. However, if you need storage for an extended period, during which you don’t plan on accessing your stuff, search further afield.
“When I went overseas and did some costing of storage, we were offered a much cheaper rate if we used one of the franchise’s storage facilities on the edge of town rather than one in the inner city,” says self-storage user and CHOICE journalist Kate Browne. “We were away for a year so it didn’t make any difference to us, and it was quite a good saving.”
The price of convenience
Location isn’t the only factor influencing the price of storage. The type of unit you choose also makes a difference. Units may be located on the ground floor, directly accessible from a vehicle, or situated on a higher floor with lift access.
Depending on the facility, the price of convenience can be relatively high: while Kennards Yeerongpilly facility charges an extra $22 a month for ground-floor access, the Camperdown facility will set you back $70 per month extra for this. A drive-up is even pricier.
But for CHOICE member Shar Dalziel, who has moved more than 20 times, the added expense is worth it. “Try to get a ground floor space with easy access for your car or truck. Otherwise you’ll be double or triple handing your gear.”
Should you find travelling to a storage location difficult, some operators now deliver a storage crate to your home. You pack it up (or pay them to pack it for you), and they take it away to their facility. One such company operating in Sydney and Brisbane, Smartbox, will store a 2.9m x 1.8m x 2.1m box for $167.50 per month at its Sydney location, with free pickup and return delivery in suburban areas and free access to your stuff at their facility. Store a Box, a similar operator with locations in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, will store a similarly sized box, with prices starting at $110 per month plus $75 for dropping off your box and another $75 to pick it up.
What if disaster strikes?
It’s important to consider worst-case scenarios when it comes to storage. What happens if there’s a fire or pest infestation, or water gets in? Who’s responsible for theft? In many cases, storage centres absolve themselves of responsibility for loss or damage of your stuff or place low limits on their liability, so it may be worth checking whether your home and contents insurer will cover your stuff while in storage, or taking out an additional policy.
Self-storage operators may sell insurance for loss incurred, the premiums for which will depend on the value of the goods you’re storing. CHOICE found prices of $1-1.50 per month for every $1000 worth of cover – so to cover $20,000 worth of belongings, for example, an additional $20-30 will be added to your storage bill each month.
- Always inspect the facility before signing your storage contract.
- Ask to see a few units for the sake of comparison.
- Make a note of inclines, uneven surfaces or steps on the way to the units.
- If you’re planning on renting a lift-accessible unit, check for gaps between the lift and the floor – what may seem like just a small step for man may become a giant leap for man-pushing-heavy-trolley.
- Consider the extras you’ll need to ensure you keep costs low. Collect blankets, bubble wrap, newspaper, old sheets and towels to use for wrapping and padding your stuff.
- Source cardboard boxes that are sturdy, stable and similarly-sized so you can stack them up without too much trouble.
- Separate heavy things from the light and fragile to protect them against scrapes and scratches.
- Invest in a good lock to ensure your stuff stays safe.
- Depending on how much you have to store and how difficult the job is, you might consider a specialist remover with experience in storage.