How to Live in a Storage Unit

There are many places that someone could live, but why not consider a storage unit? But, with the right purchases and steps, you can set up a minimalist habitat that satisfies your every need. In this article, we examine the factors to consider before moving into a storage unit. We also assess the necessary steps and items that you must buy to achieve your goal. It is a long process that takes careful thought and actions.

Why Live in a Storage Unit?

When you move out of your childhood home and begin to live on your own, you may start to realize how much costs add up. While you pay a hefty price in rent, you might not even spend the proper amount of time in your apartment to account for this cost. You often go to work, take care of errands, and return home late into the night. Why not pay minimal fees for a location that you only sleep and relax in?

In 89 of the 100 most sizable housing markets in the United States, rent increases year over year. After a while, you realize that you are throwing more cash away each year for an asset that you are not maximizing. Storage units, on the other hand, run for anywhere between $100-$300 per month, which can save you a couple of thousand dollars each year.

Storage units can also offer you a minimalist lifestyle that could be attractive. Because of the limited space, you are forced to keep and use the things you truly need. Your bed, kitchen, closet, hygiene area, and maybe an entertainment center are the only things that will fit into your home life. Keeping your life simple with few necessities will keep your mind clear and enable you to become more organized.

If you live in a storage unit, it will motivate you to only use the apartment for sleeping and relaxing, at least during the week. This schedule can influence you to maximize your time outside of the home, whether at work, hanging with friends, or bettering yourself through physical exercise. Later in this article, we will examine activities that you can still enjoy when you have downtime in the storage unit.

Factors to Consider Before Living in a Storage Unit

While a storage unit can offer you financial savings benefits and a simple, organized lifestyle, there are some drawbacks to consider. Before taking on this challenge of living here, make sure you do your research. You should be mindful when choosing the right storage community, where your unit is, and what area of town you are located. Below are some of the necessities you must consider before renting.

Living in a Storage Unit is Illegal Activity

First off, it is considered a legal activity for you to live in a storage unit. There are laws in place that are designed to protect you, your safety, and the owner that manages the storage unit.

Storage units are not like regular housing units. When these spaces get built and designed, they do not adhere to the proper city housing codes. If you are living in a building that is not up to code in the long term, both you and the owner of the storage facility can get in massive legal trouble. You could put yourself in danger because of the design, and the liability will also fall on the management group.

When you reside in a storage unit, it is also a violation of health, sanitation, and safety laws. Because residential uses are against almost all city zoning laws, that can put you and the owner at legal risks. After all, storage units were designed to house inanimate objects and things, not living and breathing human beings.

Lastly, if you stay overnight at a storage unit, you could be violating trespassing charges that get associated with a storage facility. Frequently, there are rules about when people can be in and out of the facility, and you could qualify for trespassing if you are caught there during forbidden hours. If you look closely at your storage rental contract, there might also be clauses in the contract that prohibits this kind of activity.

Storage Facilities Have High Security

When ownership takes over a storage unit, it will consider all types of objections and things that could go wrong. Entrepreneurs are always figuring out how his or her product and service can be exploited, outcompeted, or vulnerable. This mindset is why storage unit facility ownership sets up high-security systems to monitor suspicious activity, such as trespassing or people living in the facility.

These precautionary methods are entirely unrelated from the owner not having empathy for you or being uptight. By placing security throughout the building, this will protect themselves, their clients, and the people who are trying to rent. They want to prevent prohibited guests from being on the ground during late-night hours, especially for people who are there just to pick up items from storage.

The security is there to account for any injuries or accidents that may happen in the facility. If someone gets hurt moving something, or it looks like someone is stealing something, a camera system can notify security, and they can take appropriate action. If an injury occurred on the premises, or if a unit is trashed or destroyed, the company or employee could be liable.

Storage Facilities Could Be Unsanitary and Dangerous

Because the storage unit is designed to hold things and not people, the infrastructure will be designed to accommodate them. If you decide to reside in these units, you should create an environment that will provide you with the clean necessities that life in an apartment would also offer. The main reason is that the set of safety codes in a commercial building is entirely different from that in residential.

A typical safety unit does not get built for proper sanitation because it lacks the three essential components of cleanliness, ventilation, or fire safety. In each space, there is no bathroom for someone to use freely. There are no vents or windows for air to flow through, or for you to let in the fresh air. Within the unit, no fire safety features are included in there either.

What You Need to Live in a Storage Unit

As you can see, there are many obstacles for you to overcome if you decide to live in a storage unit. You need to create an environment that creates safety for you in the areas of sanitation, ventilation, and fire hazard combat. In the following sections, we provide you with the necessities and conditions that you must create to live safely in these units.

When purchasing your objects for the unit, keep the minimalist attitude in mind and remember that smaller and simpler is better. With the reduced space, you want to make sure that you give yourself enough room to relax and operate. This environment begins with you measuring the space and planning for what items will fit properly within the confines of the area.

Cellular Signal

Cell phone service is severely limited in metal buildings, such as a storage unit. Walls that are made of steel or aluminum hinder wireless signals. A lot of the interior walls at a storage unit contain this material, so you will need to create a game plan to overcome this.

If you are technology-oriented and intend to use your phone or internet in the unit, you want to make sure you manufacture a high cellular signal that will circumvent the wall structure. If the only thing you are looking to do in the unit is sleep, then you will not need to worry about creating a cellular signal for the internet and phone.

The first step is the most essential, which is to make sure that you rent a unit close to the edge of a building. This location will give you direct access to the outside and roof, which is where you will hang the outdoor antenna. The cellular boosting system will contain four parts, including the outdoor and indoor antenna, the signal booster, and the cable, which will bring everything together.

Through this system, you will be able to boost the signal strength for one or more cellphones that are within the storage unit. You can also enhance the cell signal by connecting it to a hotspot or cellular router more effectively, which will speed up your data flow. Make sure to set up the system so that both antennas get connected to the signal booster through a coax cable.

To make sure everything works, you will need to ensure that the outdoor signal strength is strong enough to connect the outdoor and indoor antenna. Once you establish this connection,  the indoor antenna will send data waves to your phone, hotspot, computer, or any other data source.

If the system is successful, you will have at least three bars of signal from the outdoors. It is also crucial for you to not run too many devices at once because this will hinder the effectiveness of the data connection and speed.

Dummy Lock and Security System

Because the storage unit is not meant to live in, you will need to adjust the security and lock system. A typical unit comes with a lock that only locks from the outside. You usually drop or pick up your stuff by unlocking it from the exterior. When you leave, you secure from the outside. But, what will you do when you are staying on the inside and locking it from there?

To complete this system, you will need to place a “decoy” lock on the outside of the unit. This distracting lock will be magnetized so that you can attach the real functioning lock or latch on the inside. Depending on the type of group that you are dealing with, it will usually be a sliding lock that is magnetic and can connect with the fake outside lock.

Once you have this setup, it will give off the impression that the unit has been locked from the outside. Because you will be hiding your identity and do not want people to know that you are residing in there, this is a great decoy. People will not be the wiser while you are living in the unit, especially security guards who may be roaming the halls at night while you are sleeping within.

This part is an essential step in the move-in process because you want to protect yourself efficiently, but you also do not want anyone to know that you live there. You can find most magnetic locks on Amazon or at your local home building store. You should also ensure that you have an actual lock that you can place on the outside of the unit when you leave for work or the day.

Water Source

For your prime water source for drinking, you should purchase regular bottles for consumption. This system will allow you to have a consistent drinking source and prevent you from having to drink from a nearby water fountain or water source your product yourself. Water bottles are simple and easy, and they can even be an excellent way for men to go to the restroom if they do not want to wander to a bathroom.

For hygiene, however, a great idea would be to place a reservoir that will serve as your impromptu sink. This basin will then lead to a tube that will trickle down into a bottom tub. This container at the lower level will finally drain into a box. For you to maintain this correctly, you should work to empty the bottom tank and refill the top one about once per month.

This process is an excellent system because you still feel like you are using a natural sink to wash your face and brush your teeth. At the same time, you have a simple process of water flow that separates the clean water from the dirty portion. An important thing to remember here is to dump the tank of water during the day time hours when it is light out, and you are “allowed” to be there.


The electricity source is equally important as the cellular signal because this will be the primary source for your lighting, hotplate, phone charger capabilities, and your fans or heaters. The location of your unit is also important here because you want to make sure you are near an outlet in the main hallway.

Most storage units do not come with an outlet because ownership does not want anybody living there. But, the management company will most likely be flexible and allow you to run the cord to an external plug. If they are okay with it, they may charge you $5-$10 extra per month.

Although you have the okay from the owner of the building to use power, you want to make sure this stays hidden from the other paying customers. If someone sees you using an extension cord, everybody will want to use one for their purposes, whether they are living there too or not. On the wall in the main hallway, there will be a ledge that you can tuck the cord under to keep it hidden.

As you live in the unit throughout the year, be mindful about keeping a low profile so that you do not have to continue unplugging the power. You should install a surge protector that contains a switch for all your strength and devices at once. To keep your unit safe and preventative of a fire hazard, you should tape or mount the cord to the ground or wall within your room.

Hot Plate and Appropriate Foods

You will most likely not be able to install a microwave because of power usage reasons so that the hotplate will be your best friend. You should adhere to your minimalist lifestyle by making careful use of your space when it comes to food preparation. When setting up your kitchenette, put it next to your sink in a tidy corner of the unit.

You can use a cutting board for your food prep because this can serve as multifunctional. Not only can you cut vegetables, fruit, or other ingredients on it, but you can also use this as a flat space to prepare and eat food too. You need to keep a stack of cloths and soap in an accessible spot so that you can easily clean up after yourself consistently.

The hot plate will be your savior because it can function like a microwave does, but it will also take a fraction of its space. There are many foods that you can prepare using a hotplate, and these meals can serve functionally for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Boiling water will be a focal point for you as you create meals that consist of rice or noodles. Below are some essential foods and snacks that you can prepare.

  • Soft French Toast
  • Bacon and Eggs
  • Banana Pancakes
  • Omelet
  • Shrimp and Pasta
  • Mixed Roasted Vegetables and Pasta
  • Stovetop Chicken Parmesan
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Fried Rice
  • Thai-Peanut Ramen

Entertainment Center

The next step in setting up your apartments is your entertainment center. You need to set this up on a smaller table that does not take up too much space. You can make sure that this is in a nestled and secluded area that allows you to enjoy it. You can also make it multipurpose by doubling this up as a pantry or shelf for drinks and other food items.

If you want to save space and simply watch television or content of your laptop, this is also another viable option. Since you are embarking on this living experience as a minimalist, you want to find ways to cut down on extra items.


Your two goals for your bed should be to make it as small as possible, but also make it comfortable. You will not be able to keep a king- or queen-sized bed, but you can nestle it up against the wall to create it so feel comfortable. Another option here is to implement a futon, so that you can use it as a foldout bed, but also as a sitting area for guests, for when you watch television, or when you are eating meals.

Fan or Heater

For the extreme temperature months, you must have a backup plan. Because the building is inanimate housing objects, ownership is not required to create an environment that has the proper temperature. When you use your extension cord and surge protector, your heater and fan should have a spot on the lineup. When you hook it up, make sure that the cord is not causing a fire hazard.

Activities to Enjoy in a Storage Unit

During your stay in the storage unit, there may be times when you will have to spend extended time in the group. These instances could be when you get off work early or are there on the weekend. Hopefully, you will have enough activities to keep you occupied throughout. Still, there are many activities for you to partake in that develop you as a person but also entertain you.

Read a Book

A book is an excellent way to advance yourself intellectually, especially on days when you do not have a strong cell signal. Books make you a better reader and speaker, and the concepts will enable you to expand your mind and apply relevant information in useful situations. Books on leadership may make you a better employee or business owner, and fictional texts make you more creative and imaginative.

Best of all, reading is often free or very cheap. Visit your local shelter or thrift store and you will find that they give out books to those who ask, or sell them for pennies.

Listen to a Podcast

Podcasts are also an excellent way for you to pass the time while living in a storage unit. A radio show is a way for you to digest information without dedicating your full energy and attention to learning the material. You can put on a podcast while you are preparing dinner, eating dinner, or lying in bed. There are podcast topics on anything and everything, which are a fantastic way for you to educate yourself.

Journal and Write

Self-authoring your life is an excellent way for you to reflect on how you can develop as a person, learn from your mistakes, and put your thoughts into existence. Writing your thoughts down enables you to connect with yourself emotionally and understand what makes you tick. It might be easy for you to overthink while living in a storage unit, but writing down everything will allow you to clear your mind.

Watch a Movie

A movie is also an excellent way for you to lock in on activity for hours. A film engages your brain and thinks about lessons and concepts abstractly. Every movie contains lessons on body language, character development, and overcoming diversity. You can easily watch a video on your phone or laptop, especially when you do not have an entertainment center available to you in the unit.

FaceTime a Friend or Family Member

If you have a stable enough connection, you can FaceTime a friend or family member. While some of the people in your life may not approve of your decision to live in a storage unit, you can find your close alliances to share your journey. It could be easy for you to feel lonely when you are living in an environment like this, but having someone to open your thoughts to could be very beneficial.


Meditating is a lot like journaling because it enables you to connect with your emotions and inner thoughts. The unique benefit of meditation is that you can create a crucial connection between your mind and body. You can work on your breathing, slow down, and reflect on what the day did or will bring you. Make sure to have calming music playing so that you can optimize your concentration and mindfulness.

Conclusion: Be Careful

As you can see, there are a lot of components that go into living in a storage unit. You must keep as little baggage as possible in the room, but we still covered the things you need. Simplicity will be your friend because although you are living in tight quarters, you will feel more organized and in control of your environment. You want to make sure things are where you expect them to be.

The essential variable in this equation is your safety. You should remember that you are living in a building that is not meant for humans, so you must create a sanitary, ventilated, and fire-resistant environment. Be mindful of security and how you might portray yourself to the people who are managing the property. You are essential, so treat yourself as such when you embark on this adventure.

Leave a Comment