On-premises vs. self-storage: How to determine what's best for you

There are many reasons for renting a self-storage unit, from obvious overflow issues to creating an out-of-house mancave, office or warehouse. Sometimes, it can be a discussion around a spare room for rent in your home-and the relative benefits of getting a tenant to not paying self-storage fees.

As part of the decision-making process, there can be a variety of ideas and challenges to consider. To help spur the creative juices, let's review a few scenarios:

1. Getting out of the house. Sometimes, people just want a change of scenery and location. For example, those accustomed to working from a home office may want to consider a self-storage unit for a fresh perspective. Of course, it will require a facility that can offer electricity and other office-related amenities. (That is, of course, unless you're looking for a sensory deprivation chamber.)

The self-storage mancave can follow the same logic-only in some of these cases it's wary and weary spouses who want their counterparts to relocate. This can open the room up for other uses and/or just lower the decibels during sporting events and other "manly activities."

2. Reallocating rooms for rent. Airbnb is becoming a very popular and profitable way for homeowners to rent out multiple rooms on a short-term basis, usually daily. If a home has four bedrooms and only one is being used (a common event among empty or about-to-be empty nesters), setting up two or three of them for an Airbnb-type service can be a great idea. Overflow from each room can be consolidated into a suitably-sized self-storage unit. And, suddenly, these empty nesters who might have contemplated downsizing have a growing business.

(Just know your local ordinances about these types of services, as some municipalities require permits; others are trying to ban the practice altogether.)

Obviously, also opening up rooms for longer-term tenants can necessitate the same logistical need for self-storage space.

3. Interim warehousing. Increasingly, Internet-based businesses are stockpiling some (or even all) of their inventory in their homes. While this can create a very convenient and efficient center for fast fulfillment, having boxes of apparel blocking your view of the TV set can be counterproductive. Self-storage can be an excellent solution, particularly for overflow inventory that isn't likely to be needed on a moment's notice.

4. Creative arts center. Painters, sculptors and other artists may find a self-storage unit to be the perfect place in which to create. The utilitarian nature of most self-storage units makes them more user-friendly for those occasional paint or clay splatters that would require either extensive cover-up protection at home or subject the offender to major rebukes from other household members.

5. Micro-living spaces. With the proliferation of micro-apartment living in cities across the US, there clearly is a rising need for self-storage. Many of these units organize a living quarters into something resembling a cruise ship cabin. Closet space will be at a premium. And, for those who want to hang onto some valuable, sentimental and useful items for the future, self-storage can fill the bill. In addition to bulk storage, self-storage units can provide a center for such items as books, a utilitarian library of sorts complete with bookshelves. While it's not as convenient as a home library, the options for micro-livers to store/display books generally are very limited.

This same concept can apply to those who are downsizing. When looking for a smaller living space, self-storage provides a versatile option when considering such criteria as number of bedrooms and the like. If, for example, a particular home would be perfect if only there was one more room, self-storage potentially provides an alternative instead of having to keep searching.

Considering self-storage as one way to expand living and storage space can offer an economical and flexible "addition" to your home.

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