Tips & Tricks

Self-Storage Unit Alternatives for Temporary and Permanent Storage

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We’ve all hit that moment when we realize we have far too much stuff. Your closet won’t close, or the pile of random items on your desk has made it impossible for you to put your laptop down. You can’t get rid of everything, so maybe you decide you need to start looking into storage units.

But storage units? They’re not for everyone. Storage units are expensive, often require long contracts, have irregular or difficult hours of access, and can require endless driving to and from the storage facility. And while storage units are a good solution for temporary storage, what about long-term storage needs? Self-storage isn’t the cheapest for multiple years of storage, and can be incredibly difficult to access if you need to get to your items often.

So if you have too much stuff, but traditional storage units aren’t for you, consider these alternatives to traditional storage units:

Explore On-Demand Storage Apps

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone pick up and drop off your storage items for you? That’s the philosophy behind a new wave of on-demand storage services that work as convenient, safe alternatives to traditional self-storage. A number of these services have popped up, but only two are available in most cities.


What started in New York and is now available in 24 major cities, MakeSpace lets you tackle self storage with just a few clicks. They drop off their own reusable boxes at your home, pick up your items, and store them–then return them when you want them back. With a photo inventory system, you can request specific items or boxes to be dropped off when you need them. In addition to boxes, they also store furniture, oversized items, and more.


Similar to MakeSpace is Clutter, available in the greater Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle areas. In addition to pickup and delivery of stored items, Clutter offers packing help and packing materials for free.

Inquire About Communal Storage Spaces

Before you start exploring local self-storage near you, you may be able to find some closer to home. Many apartment complexes and gated communities have self-storage open only to tenants or HOA members, often offered at a much cheaper rate than traditional self-storage. Plus, it’s often in your building or community, cutting down on the time to get to and from the unit itself.

Try a Crowdsourced Storage Unit Alternative

If Clutter and MakeSpace are the Ubers of the self-storage space, Neighbor is the space’s Airbnb. Explore storage options near you, hosted in the homes of your neighbors–hence the name–and rented out at a rate Neighbor says if half what traditional self-storage charges. Their offerings range from spare closets to full garages, giving you plenty of options to store a lot or a little.

Rent Portable Storage to Make Moving Easier

Many people look for self-storage when they need to move, but if you’re moving more than a few miles, you may find it challenging to find a storage unit in a convenient place between both locations. Hence why so many folks in the midst of moving make use of portable storage units. PODS is perhaps the best known and most common of these, but there are plenty of moving containers available. Just remember that these units will need a place to stand wherever you transport them, so your driveway or front yard may be out of use during the storage period.

Keep Storage (Basically) Free by Sticking to On-Site

Do you have a shed? A garage? A crawl space? A basement? If you do, you can avoid paying for self-storage by storing your items within your own home. And if you don’t have one of those yet, you can potentially build or buy one. Storage sheds are available for sale at Lowe’s and similar stores, and can often be added to your backyard without a building permit. Crawl spaces and basements often need just a bit of love to be ready to store items (though waterproof boxes are always a good idea).

Reuse Shipping Containers as Storage

Photo Source: Container One

Another option that’s rising in popularity is buying used shipping containers to use for storage. Again, these can be added to your property with little or no building permits, and can be customized both inside and out for your needs. You can even get shipping containers camouflaged to blend in with your yard.

When you need to store your stuff, storage units aren’t your only option. Whether you’re choosing to try on-demand storage options, or are storing your stuff at home, storage should be easy. That’s why we’re here to help. Dolly connects you with truck and muscle, anytime you need it. Dolly can help move your heavy items within your home, to an on-site storage unit, or pick up your items and bring them to storage elsewhere. We take care of the heavy lifting, making storage that much easier.

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