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Pros and Cons of Self-Storage vs. Professional Storage

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Ana’s job is sending her to a new location. She’s not yet sure where she’ll be moving, but she does know she needs to be out of her house by the end of month — and that she’ll need storage in the meantime.

Maybe she can rent one of those self-storage units she passes on the highway… She’s still researching her options.

Ana’s excited about this new adventure. But she’s NOT excited about the moving process! 

She’s got to rent a self-storage unit. 

Pack her items.

Load them in a truck. 

Take them to the unit. 

Unload them at the unit, and try to fit everything in.

And once she has a new home, she’ll have to drive back to the unit, load up her vehicle again, and unload her belongings at her new house!

There are pros and cons to both self-storage and professional storage. What do you need to know to make the best decision for your move?

What Is Self-Storage vs. Professional Storage?

Self-storage facilities have units that you can rent to use like an extra garage. 

Items that you could imagine in a garage can usually be stored in a self-storage unit:

  • Household items like furniture, appliances, mattresses and bedding, and seasonal decorations
  • Tools and yard equipment (lawn mowers, table saws, building supplies)
  • Clothing and personal items, mementos, and sports equipment
  • Extra business inventory
  • Office supplies and equipment
  • Electronics (TVs, computers, gaming consoles, etc.)
  • Papers and documents

Professional storage warehouses can store the same items listed above but also pack, transport, and house valuables, sensitive data and equipment, large/bulky items like cars, and more — until you need us to deliver them to a location.

At Appleton Moving Companies, we know that every move is different, and there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. So when you’re considering your storage options, it’s important to know the pros and cons of each.

Self-Storage Units

Boxes in a storage unit instead of professional storage.

Like we mentioned, self-storage units are basically extra, rented garages. You rent the self-storage locker on a monthly basis. Usually, renters can only access items during specific business hours.

With these units, you’re in charge of the whole process. You’re on your own.

Professional Storage (Full-Service Storage)

A professional storage warehouse is another option to store your belongings.

While self-storage is all on you, professional storage is all on us.

We inventory and pack up your items, load them properly, take them to our warehouse, and place them in wooden crates (called vaults). At the warehouse, we safely stack these wooden vaults in our 24/7 monitored, gated, fire sprinkler-protected facility.

Pricing is by the actual weight of the shipment coming into storage and charged by the month.

When you’re ready to receive your items, we load them up from our facility and bring them to you (wherever you are).

Pros and Cons of Full-service vs. Self-Storage

People have different needs and preferences for storage. 

We’re a professional storage and moving company, but we want you to get the service that YOU need — whether that’s our services or a self-service unit.

So how can you weigh the benefits?

Here are some things that are important to customers and how self- vs. professional storage stack up.

1. Access to Items


Pros: Easy access.

In self-service units, it’s easier to access your belongings. Although access is still usually limited to the facility’s business hours, you have the ability to “run over” to the storage unit and grab an item whenever you want. 

Cons: Vehicle Limitations, and it can be challenging to find items.

With self-storage, you have flexible access — but you might not have the right kind of vehicle to transport! You might have to ask your friend with a truck to help, and STILL might end up making multiple trips to get everything.

Also, most people don’t make a detailed inventory while they’re packing boxes and stacking them in their storage unit. This sometimes makes it difficult to locate items. “Did I put that in storage? Or is it in the garage? Which box did I put that in?”

Professional Storage: 

Pros: We know exactly what’s in our warehouse and where it’s at.

While packing, we inventory items with an individual item number. When you request an item by the item number, we can go get it for you. Detailed inventories eliminate the problem of wondering whether something is in your garage or the storage unit.

Cons: More limited access.

In professional storage warehouses, items are stored in wooden vaults. These vaults are stacked twenty feet in the air and require a forklift to access. Your vault will be filed away and stacked in rows in our warehouse — so you can’t “just run over” and look in the warehouse the way you can with a self-storage unit.

2. Security


Pros: Some facilities are more secure than others.

Security really depends on the facility. Some are pretty secure, but it varies.

Cons: Low monitoring.

Self-storage facilities have some security, but there usually isn’t someone always monitoring. Unfortunately, sometimes self-storage units DO get broken into, and when that happens, there’s not much recourse.

Professional Storage:

Pros: High security measures and surveillance systems are in place to ensure the safety and protection of your items.

Professional storage warehouses are very secure. They are constantly staffed and monitored, have point-of-entry alarms on each exit, and the facility is gated. 

In storage warehouses, we also make sure that items are packed and stacked properly to avoid damage. And all items in our warehouse have base valuation coverage (with an optional upgrade for full valuation for your declared value) to protect against any physical damage.

Cons: Security limits access.

Because items are stored so securely, not having immediate access to items might be considered a con.

3. Climate Control

Often, a selling point of self-storage is climate-controlled facilities. When you’re loading and unloading items yourself at a storage unit, air conditioning can definitely be a plus (We’re in Texas, y’all!).

Professional warehouses don’t usually have air conditioning. And if they do, climate control is usually substantially more expensive.

But the truth is, most items don’t really NEED climate-controlled storage.


Pros: Many units are climate-controlled.

Loading and unloading can be much more comfortable for you in a climate-controlled environment.

Cons: Do you need climate control?

Chances are good that your items don’t really require climate control for safety.

Professional Storage:

Pros: Cooler than outside.

Our storage warehouses are built with high ceilings and construction methods that make them significantly cooler than outside temperatures. Items are packed in cardboard boxes, sometimes covered by blankets, and placed in wooden vaults; cardboard, wood, and blankets are insulators. And most items don’t actually need climate control for safety.

Cons: A/C costs more.

If you need climate control, it’s significantly more expensive. 

4. Time and Effort


Pros: It’s all you.

If it’s important to you to personally pack, load, stack, and move all of your items, self-storage gives you complete control and responsibility.

Cons: It’s all you.

With self-storage, you do everything: all of the heavy lifting, stacking, organizing, loading, and unloading (and repeating that process until your storage unit is filled up and again to get it emptied). If something is damaged in the process, you’re responsible.

Professional Storage:

Pros: We take care of the process.

With full-service moving, we take care of the whole process: the packing, transporting, loading, securely storing, and delivering the items to you — even if that location is hours away.

Cons: More expensive — but…

As you might expect, it costs more to have a moving and packing expert pack items, transport, store, and deliver them to wherever you need them. But there are other factors to consider.

  • Time: How long will it take to pack, transport, stack, load, and unload items?

Even if the move is only a few hours away, going back, loading up, and delivering things from a self-storage unit can take two to three days.

Making the Best Decision for YOUR Needs

So what should Ana do? Should she rent a self-storage unit or hire professional storage services?

Well, that’s up to Ana.

There are pros and cons to both professional storage and self-storage, and one might be better for someone’s moving needs than the other.

However, if you’re like Ana and NOT excited about the hours of packing, heavy lifting, driving, and logistics — you don’t have to be the one who does the hard work.

Even if you haven’t considered professional storage before, it’s sometimes worth it to consider the benefits and ask for a quote.

Professional storage isn’t for every move. But at Appleton, we’d love to help you get the information you need to make your moving experience successful.

At Appleton, we know that every move has unique requirements. Exploring professional storage benefits for your move? Call us today to talk with a moving expert and learn more about your options.

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