‘Self storage’ versus ‘storage by the box’

By 16th November 2020Blog

If you’ve been looking for self-storage solutions recently, you might have come across a relatively new type of solution known as “storage by the box” or full-service storage. This blog post will highlight the pros and cons of this type of storage versus the more common (and perhaps traditional) self-storage solution. Which is the right one for you? Well, we’ll teach you about both and help you decide for yourself.

What is self-storage?

Self-storage has been around for decades and is based upon the model of taking a warehouse, often in a high profile/roadside location, and installing many different sizes of individual storage rooms (often known as storage units) throughout the building. It will more often than not have a walk-in office and a member of staff to help you with your enquiry. They will often also have a small retail offering of packaging supplies – various sizes of cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, tape, padlocks, etc.

When using a self-storage facility:

  • You are in charge of loading the storage room in the best way that works for you
  • You are responsible for the padlock on the door (usually having to buy one yourself)
  • Whilst you are paying for the unit, you are the only person to have access to that storage room
  • You know where your things are located
  • You can come and go as often or as little as you please during opening hours (we offer 24-hour access, for example, but more on that later)
  • You can verify what security is on-site (cameras, guards, etc.)
  • You can see how well kept the storage environment is
  • You know how safe your things will be

What is storage by the box?

Storage by the box is a relatively new service that has come about with advances in technology and the development of the huge ‘order online/delivered to the door’ market.

The basic idea is that you pack up your boxes at home, then call the storage company who sends around a van at an agreed time. They will then collect your boxes and takes them off to a warehouse to be stored until you need them. When you want the stuff back, they will return it to your home.

When using a storage by the box service:

  • You are responsible for packing your own boxes, so you often have to source these yourself. Some companies do supply boxes for you and charge you extra for using your own.
  • You call the storage company and arrange a time for the boxes to be collected. This can be the next day or up to a week away, and may be included in the price or as a chargeable extra – it depends upon the company.
  • Most storage by the box companies don’t deliver or pick up items on Sundays
  • Any ‘over-sized’ items (i.e. anything that does not fit into a box) will often incur extra costs
  • The company will carry out an inventory of the boxes and create an online account with all the inventory info or photos of your stuff – you should have access to this information via a customer portal.
  • Your items are taken to a warehouse. This might be in the same city that you live in, or someplace further away in order to reduce costs for the storage company to rent/buy the necessary space.
  • You will need to arrange an appointment to get any of your things back and there will be a delivery charge (sometimes per box). There is usually quite a long ‘delivery window’ so you often have to wait.
  • You will not be sure of the conditions or security where your things are being stored, as you will not see them first hand.

Similarities between self-storage and storage by the box:

  • There is usually a minimum storage period – typically 4 weeks with self-storage but this can be up to 12 weeks with storage by the box.
  • Payment will be in advance at all time, and unless you are paid up your access to your things is likely to be restricted or stopped until your account is settled.
  • You will need to pay to insure your things whilst they are in storage (unless this is included for FREE like it is with 3D Space Storage!).
  • Almost all storage companies, no matter what type they are, offer long term prepayment discounts, so if you don’t need access to your stuff don’t forget to ask for this (3D Space offer 6% discount and 15% discount for 26 and 52-week prepayment respectively).

How do they compare on costs?

Surprisingly, when you add it all up, the cost of storage by the box can be more than self-storage! There are a number of extras that need to be considered, depending on the company, that may be charged for:

  • pick up/delivery
  • packaging/crates/boxes
  • failed pick up/delivery attempts
  • next day delivery/collection
  • oversized items
  • using your own boxes or suitcases, etc.

If you only have a few boxes to store and have the time to wait for your allocated pick up and delivery slots then maybe storage by the box is the right option for you.

Otherwise, the more common self-storage provides better value for money, more certainty about how and where your things are going to be stored, easier access and convenience.

Give us a try

3D Space Storage has been providing self-storage in the SW1 postcode in central London since 2001. We have two facilities in this area and have been providing self-storage to local residents and businesses alike during this time.  Our stores offer first-class security and convenience due to their excellent locations.