Choosing the Best Self Storage Facility: A Guide for Los Angeles Residents

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Los Angeles is known for big dreams, big salaries and — for those who earn them — some very big houses. LA is a popular city to relocate to, and existing residents might also need to move within the city, downsize, or perhaps make space at home for their growing families. In all these cases, self storage comes to the rescue, helping people store furniture, cars and other belongings for a time, and some end up keeping their storage units for longer.

Items in storage units can be retrieved at any time, and a unit can be closed down whenever you want. Gardening, skiing in the San Gabriel Mountains and enjoying water sports in the Marina del Rey neighborhood are all great seasonal activities. And the equipment you need could be kept in storage and out of the house for most of the year, and the same goes for recreational vehicles. There are different storage options for different purposes. If you’re an LA resident in search of a storage unit, we’ve collected a few tips so you can make an informed decision about what size units are available, what the advantages of the different types are, and how much they cost. There are storage facilities all across LA and beyond, with a variety of different attributes, and residents can choose one that is just around the corner or one further afield that offers more exactly what they require.

What storage unit sizes are available in LA?

There are plenty of unit sizes to choose from in LA, including those as small as 3’x3’ and 3’x4’ for holding a few boxes of paperwork. For storing additional items, for example seasonal clothes or small pieces of furniture, the 5’x10’ and 5’x10’ sizes are popular. For accommodating the contents of a one- or-two-bedroom apartment, 5’x15’ and 10’x10’ units can be ideal, while 10’x15’ to 10’x25’ units are available for larger homes.

People often keep cars in storage units, either because they don’t have a garage or a driveway or on a more temporary basis because they are moving to a new house. The common 10’x20’ lockup-garage-size units are popular for this, though RVs may need something larger and a smaller vehicle might squeeze into a 10’x15’. Anyone lucky enough to own a boat in LA can use a specialist storage unit, perhaps a 10’x30’ size and with a ceiling higher than the usual 8’.

Self storage unit with possessions outside

What should you expect to pay for self-storage in LA?

LA storage units rent for anything from $25 for a tiny locker to as much as $2,500 for a 30’x60’ unit in a prime Downtown location. The average street rate is $186 per month for a non-climate-controlled 10’x10’ unit, with only San Francisco demanding higher rents. Climate control adds to the price: for example, 5’x10’ units at East Hollywood’s BA Self Storage cost $166 if they have it compared to $141 without it.

Housing your car in a storage unit might cost well over $300 in the city. However, cheaper ones can be found away from the center, for example for $240 at this StorQuest facility in San Fernando — climate control probably won’t be necessary, unless you intend to store a valuable model for a long period of time. Simply parking your car on a designated spot at a facility’s premises could cost less than $100, for instance at this Extra Space facility near Long Beach. Boat owners would usually have to pay more for both indoor and outdoor spaces.

The storage industry in Los Angeles offers about 4.6 square feet per person, according to Yardi Matrix data, less than some cities but more than New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Corresponding to this relatively low inventory — and the high costs generally in LA — storage street rates can be higher in the City of Angels than in other large US cities.

What range of amenities is available at LA self storage facilities?

When determining whether a storage unit is suitable, one important factor is how it is accessed: a swing door is fine for most items, but one with a roll-up garage-style door is necessary if bulky objects will be loaded inside. Some have external doors which a moving truck can be driven right up to, while others are situated inside the building, maybe not on the ground floor and requiring a trip in an elevator. Many operators offer dollies to help customers move their stuff around. LA storage facilities offer this entire range of amenities.

Very many self storage operators have adapted rapidly to the changing pandemic situation, implementing rigorous cleaning schedules and making several procedures contact-free. The service kiosks a lot of them installed have helped with this. An increasingly popular service is ‘valet’ self storage: the storage company collects and delivers a customer’s belongings so they never actually see the facility — this is very convenient, making traveling unnecessary and limiting potential infection risks. Local LA firm Russell’s Moving and Storage, for example, offers this service.

What should you pay special attention to when choosing a storage facility?

Security is a vital aspect of self storage, and you might like to check out what precautions a facility has installed before you decide to store your belongings there. Up-to-date locks and gates with electronic access are a good sign, as is the presence of surveillance cameras and maybe security guards too. Individual units may be fitted with alarms, and some operators, for example Guardian Storage in Fullerton, combine both video and infrared detection with high powered lighting for maximum protection against intruders.

If economics are a major reason for renting a unit, and stored items won’t need to be retrieved often, an out-of-town facility can be considered — at Storage Etc in Diamond Bar a non-climate-controlled 10’x5’ unit costs less than $100. Insurance is another consideration: some storage operators insist on it and many offer it. When belongings are not of high value it may not be necessary, or perhaps a renters’ policy can be used to cover the stored items, but if you own any expensive artworks it’s worth properly insuring them in storage.

Hopefully you will always be able to pay your unit’s rent until you need to close it, but if not, a good facility should enforce the rules concerning delinquency correctly but with understanding. To evaluate a storage operator’s attitude toward clients, check out the review section of their website for positive comments — such as at Fort Storage near the Fashion District — and also ask for recommendations from your local buddies.

Couple with storage boxes outside home

LA offers a wide range of storage units for a variety of different purposes. While prices may be higher than in some US cities, the cost per square foot will always be a lot cheaper than residential LA property, making it a great way to economize without having to throw away favorite belongings. Anybody with valuable possessions they don’t currently have room for can put them safely in a unit with climate control and can take out insurance, while those with just a few boxes and bags of stuff can easily find a cheaper option. And any lucky locals with an RV or a boat can take a touring vacation or a romantic weekend trip from a local marina to Catalina Island knowing that self storage has their backs, providing a home for their precious conveyances. By choosing the right facility, unit and location, and by being aware of all the potential benefits involved, Angelenos can make self storage an integral part of their way of life.

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Francis Chantree is a writer and editor for Yardi, focusing on real estate and lifestyle content. He is a former programmer and researcher who exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he can be found gardening and reading.

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