Self-storage vs public storage

Deciding where you will store your items requires a bit of research. You want your items to be in a secure and clean environment. Sometimes people store items for only a couple of days, but they often prolong this to months and years, depending on their needs. We have created this simple guide with the topic of self-storage vs public storage to make the decision easier. Storage is usually just one part of the moving process and finding the right movers is the other part. That is why the Master Moving Guide company dedicates to finding the right movers and storage for you with years of experience.

self-storage vs public storage - a storage unit with green doors during the day
Self-storage vs public storage advantages are numerous, so choose what fits your needs most.

Self-storage vs public storage – definitions

Both public and self-storage units are designed to keep your belongings safe for a period of time that you need it. They have their differences, advantages, and disadvantages that you need to know in order to make the right decision. Self-storage vs public storage is therefore only a matter of choice, as your items will be safe in both facilities.

  • Self-storage units – You can rent this type of storage unit and use it for as long as you need it. They are operated by private companies mostly.
  • Public storage units – These units are managed by the government.

Accessibility of self-storage vs public storage

One of the biggest differences between these two types of units is access. If you rent a self-storage unit, you have access to your unit 24/7. This means that you can come by at any time, retrieve what you want, or bring in another item that you want to store. Many people love this option as they can pop by any time, they want to get what they need from the storage. If the access is not allowed 24/7, the hours are certainly longer than with the public storage units.

Public storage units are operated by the government as we previously mentioned. This means that besides you, they also have the access to the storage units. Self-storage units are units that only you can access, but if for example, the government has suspicions on whether your items are illegal, they can access your unit. Plus, there is a limited number of hours when you can visit your unit.

an aisle in the storage unit among shelves with boxes
Government can access your public storage unit if they believe you have illegal items in it.

Duration of storage

You can store your items for as much as you need to in these units. In public storage units, you can store your items for as long as you want, and simply ask for your items back when you need them again. With self-storage units, you can have for example a month-to-month contract, or whatever contract you want. Self-storage units often offer discounts, so it is advisable to find a storage unit that will allow you to store your items for free during the first month, for example.

How to choose the perfect self-storage vs public storage unit for your items

Self-storage vs public storage unit is a battle with no winners. The safety of your items comes first and your items will be safely guarded in both of these units. That is for sure. Let us see what are other factors you should take into consideration when you want to find a good storage unit in a new city.

Location, location, location

Location is, indeed, one of the most important factors that you should take into consideration when choosing a storage unit. The storage unit of your choice should be near your current (or future) home. In this way, you will be able to access it more easily and get what you need. If you choose a location too far from your home, chances are you will never get back for your items while still paying for rent.


Check out the insurance options that your storage unit providers offer to you. It is important that all of the items are ensured properly. Always ask for everything that you talked about in writing. If you are using the moving services from a reputable moving company, they will offer you moving insurance.  They will also provide you with a storage unit that will fit your needs.

Climate-controlled units or regular storage units

When it comes to choosing a storage unit that is perfect for your items, you can also choose between climate-controlled storage units and regular ones. Needless to say, the first option is much better. This is if you have delicate items susceptible to moisture, temperature differences, insects, etc. However, climate-controlled storage units are more expensive as well. So, when you ask your moving company what is a binding estimate, make sure to include the price of storage services in it as well.

a man taping a moving box
You should be aware of the prohibited items that you cannot store in the storage facilities, public or self-storage.

What are the items that you cannot store inside the storage units?

Storage units are quite convenient for storing a large number of items (even whole households). However, you cannot store all types of items in here. Here is a list of items that are prohibited from storing in storage units:

  • Animals and plants – Live organisms are not allowed in storage units. The conditions in these units are not suitable for breathing organisms.
  • Weapons and explosives – You will need to find a different location for storing these types of items, as storage units have strict policies about them.
  • Hazardous materials – Paint, nail polish, corrosives, etc. Basically, any item that can explode or change under certain conditions.

We have seen the biggest differences and similarities in the self-storage vs public storage duo. Remember to choose your storage unit wisely, always ask for discounts, and store only the items that are allowed to be stored. Good luck!

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