Temporary Storage: What Options are Available?

Whether you own a business or not, chances are that at some point, you’ll need extra storage space. With so many different storage options available– for both long-term and temporary use– it can be difficult to decide what is best for you and your needs. Not everyone needs to store things for a long time, and sometimes it’s most convenient for businesses to keep a temporary storage unit onsite. But before you can decide what suits you best, it’s a good idea to learn about the variety of temporary storage options available and what they cost.

This is where we come in. Here we’ve pulled together a guide to what kinds of temporary storage are out there, what each type is most useful for, and how much each costs on average. If you’re in need of temporary storage and don’t know where to start, read on– we hope you’ll find some answers!

Types of Temporary Storage Spaces

There are lots of types of temporary storage spaces out there. These are some of the most common ones:

Shipping Containers

a bunch of shipping containers stacked on top of each other

Shipping containers are great, versatile options for temporary storage space. Image courtesy of TargetBox Container Rental & Sales.

The final– but certainly not the least useful– type of temporary storage available is shipping containers. Shipping containers combine many of the most useful characteristics of other storage units. They can be located onsite or off site, kept outside or stored inside a warehouse building, and, depending on the features you add to yours, they can also be climate controlled. 

They also come with a variety of door arrangements that may prove more or less useful for your specific storage needs. If you need quick access to both ends of your storage container, for example, a double door container may be a good pick, whereas a side door container is ideal when you need access to everything in your container at a moment’s notice.

Shipping containers also come with a solid amount of economical storage space. They come in different sizes– usually 20′ long or 40′ long, with a width of 8’ and a height of 8.5’. This may not sound nearly as big or useful as, for example, a whole warehouse. But it is still a lot of storage space– a 20’ shipping container could fit a one or two-bedroom apartment inside of it, while a 40’ container could fit up to a three-bedroom apartment. You also have the benefit of having vertical storage space, which goes a long way to maximize how much you can stow away in one of these containers. Shipping containers can also be stacked easily, meaning you can fit more storage in less space across multiple containers.


a storage tent next to a larger building or warehouse

Tents are often used for temporary storage in warm climates. Image courtesy of Kroftman.

First on the list of types of temporary storage spaces is the storage tent. As with most tents, these are portable and can be constructed and taken down relatively quickly. Storage tents come in a wide variety of sizes– so you’re pretty likely to find one big enough to suit your needs.

Storage tents are generally lightweight, making them easy to move. They consist of metal framing and a watertight material cover. The frame can be made of metals like steel or aluminum– depending on the quality of your tent– and the material cover is usually a variation of HDPE or PVC.

HDPE, or high-density polyethylene, is an extremely strong polymer that can withstand a wider range of temperatures and outdoor conditions than many of its weaker counterparts, while PVC is an extremely common polymer. This makes them great materials to use on a temporary tent, but may pose some problems if you’re concerned about keeping things environmentally friendly.

Furthermore, although storage tents are covered with strong polymer materials, they are still most certainly not meant to be permanent structures. With their light framing and material covers, storage tents do have a limit to what kind of weather conditions they can handle. Excessive wind can also pose a problem since, as with most tents, these are anchored to the ground with weights and nails. Still, storage tents can be excellent options for short-term, onsite storage.

Leasing Buildings

The inside of an empty warehouse building.

Another good option for temporary storage is leasing buildings or warehouses. Image courtesy of Inospace.

If you need lots of storage space and aren’t too picky about where it’s located, leasing space at a warehouse might be an excellent option for temporary storage. Warehouses, unlike tents, are of course permanent structures, which makes them ideal for areas with consistently harsh weather conditions. Their sizes range from small to sprawling, so if you need more storage space than a tent, self-storage unit, or shipping container can provide you, this is something to keep in mind.

Permanent warehouse buildings can also be used for much more than storage. Although generally, leasing a building will mean that your belongings are not at your business location, you can certainly set up temporary office spaces inside a warehouse. This enables you to carry on your day-to-day work while also having immediate access to supplies instead of having to transport it from one location to another.

If you need your storage space to be close to your main business– meaning that a satellite office won’t work for you– then warehouses can be a little bit cumbersome. Since you can’t just pick up a warehouse and set it down wherever you want, you may be forced to spend some travel time getting to your storage space if you can’t just set up an extra office inside of it. However, if the convenience of having so much space at your disposal outweighs the inconvenience of having to travel to get to your warehouse, it may still be a viable option.

The other thing to keep in mind if you’re considering leasing space at a warehouse or other storage building is the fact that these are in high demand, and in some locations, there aren’t really many leasing opportunities available. If there simply aren’t many buildings or warehouses to lease in your area, you’ll probably want to consider other types of temporary storage, too.

Self-Storage Units

A long hallway lined with self-storage units with orange doors.

Self-storage units may be used for very small businesses, but are usually reserved for personal use. Image courtesy of StorQuest Self Storage.

We’ve probably all passed self-storage units on the road before. They’re easily recognizable– just big buildings packed with rows of identical locker spaces for storage. They’re also super convenient and rather cheap, which might make them the perfect temporary storage option for you.

Self-storage units can be found in several different sizes, depending on your needs. However, they are usually significantly smaller than the other storage options on this list. They may work well for you if you own a small business, but they’re usually best suited for personal use.

Another benefit of using a self-storage unit for your temporary storage is that you have some control over where it is and what conditions it is exposed to. Self-storage units can either be outside, where they may have some more exposure to the elements, or inside, where they are protected from wind, rain, and flooding. Many units are also climate-controlled, which makes them an excellent choice if you need to store something at a specific temperature.

What Type of Temporary Storage is Best for You?

A bunch of brown boxes loaded on skids.

Consider your personal needs when deciding what type of temporary storage to use. Image courtesy of THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY.

The type of temporary storage space you decide to use is largely dependent on your specific needs– whether that’s for a large business, a small business, or personal use. It also depends on how much access you need to have on a regular basis to your storage space.

For personal use, self-storage units are the go-to for most people. Although they’re off site and may be somewhat inconvenient to get to sometimes, they are blessedly cheap and provide a decent amount of climate-controlled storage space that works for most people.

Self-storage units aren’t the only type of storage that are good for personal use, though. It may seem a little out there, but shipping containers are increasingly being used as personal storage space, both temporarily and permanently. Renting a shipping container is relatively cheap and gives you plenty of storage space, while buying one outright gives you the opportunity to develop that space into any number of other structures– including offices and sheds.

As far as businesses go, the type of storage space you need depends largely on where you need it. Some businesses need on site storage and quick access to their supplies– on construction sites, for example. For businesses like this, storage tents and shipping containers are excellent choices. For manufacturers or other businesses that don’t need constant and immediate access to storage, leasing buildings is often a good choice. Although it limits you geographically, leasing warehouse space still provides you with plenty of storage and space to set up temporary workstations if needed.

And, once again, shipping containers are excellent storage options for businesses, too. They can be located on or off site, can be stacked to maximize storage space, and come in varying sizes. Even better, they can either function as outside structures or be stored inside. As such, shipping containers are extremely versatile as temporary storage options for businesses.

How Can Rent-A-Container Help?

So– where does Rent-A-Container come in?

Rent-A-Container has a variety of shipping containers available for rent or purchase– so we can fit both your short-term and long-term storage needs. As we’ve already explained, shipping containers are extremely flexible in their features, sizes, and usage.

Rent-A-Container offers three different sizes of shipping containers. 10′ containers are great storage options if you don’t need too much storage space or only have a limited area in which to put your container. The standard lengths for shipping containers, however, are 20′ and 40′, which provides you with much more storage space while also fitting neatly into most outside spaces.

Shipping containers can also come with a variety of features to suit your needs. If you need to be able to move your storage containers on a whim, Rent-A-Container has plenty of cargo-worthy containers available– these can withstand the wear and tear of road travel. High-Cube containers offer an extra foot of vertical storage space, which can prove a lifesaver for some businesses, while other containers are watertight and windtight, making them ideal as outdoor structures that can withstand weather conditions.

Rent-A-Container’s prices are more affordable than the average shipping container, too– so if you’re in the market for a shipping container, keep us in mind! 10’ containers are for purchase only and generally run between $3,000 and $4,500. 20’ containers cost, on average, between $75 and $90 per month to rent or $1,100 to $5,000 to buy. 40’ containers, with their larger amount of storage space, rent for $95 to $120 per month and cost between $1,350 and $9,800 to buy, depending on what features you want them to have.

Whatever your specific temporary storage needs are, hopefully you have a better understanding of what options are out there for you. Just keep in mind your location and accessibility needs when choosing storage units.