Smaller houses, increased mobility, a growing foreigner population and a rise in divorce rates have inspired the growth of a new service in Costa Rica: self-storage.
Throughout the San José metropolitan area and in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, people now have the option of renting a storage space, loading it with everything from paperwork to boats, locking it up and forgetting about it until they are looking for a receipt or heading to the water.
The facilities, many of which have opened in the past two years, are for the short and long term, offer security, and allow clients to get rid of clutter that surrounds them, according to Belinda Henderson, general manager of Bodegas America, S.A.
“People use the space to store things they don’t have room for in their houses, and don’t need all of the time – their Christmas decorations, papers,” Henderson said. “Also, visitors who are here for a while leave larger suitcases while they travel… Offices store their paperwork that they have to keep for five years for the Finance Ministry.”
People who are moving to Costa Rica often store their things while they look for a permanent home, as do homeowners working on remodeling projects.
Bodegas America offers self-storage facilities next to the Forum office park in Santa Ana (282-1579), southwest of San José, and near the airport in San Joaquín de Flores (265-0445), northwest of San José. The former has 147 units, and the latter 237 units.
Their spaces range from 25-380 square feet, and prices range from $37-380 a month. Clients who speak only English can call 392-1921 for information.
Clients have round-the-clock access to their belongings, which are protected with guards, security cameras and “other methods” Henderson would not disclose.
While foreigners are often accustomed to the idea of self-storage, Costa Ricans are only recently starting to open their minds to it, according to Kenneth Leon, administrator of Mini Bodegas La Uruca (291-4656), in northwestern San José. Sizes range from nine to 15 square meters, for $72-120 a month.
The facilities are open 24 hours a day and offer security guards and 16 cameras.
Boats, cars, jet skis and other items can also be stored at Mundanzas Mundiales (259-2222, www.mundanzasmundiales.com), which opened in 1975 and was the first company in Costa Rica to offer selfstorage services. In addition to their facilities in San Francisco de dos Ríos, east of San José, they recently opened facilities in Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste (667-1000). Also serving Guanacaste is Claymore Self Storage (663-2153).
Part-time residents in Costa Rica often leave their more expensive items in safe hands at Mundanzas, explained Victor Román, sales manager.
Mundanzas Mundiales offers complete relocation services, door to door, from anywhere in the world to Costa Rica, and vice versa; therefore, its storage options are more varied than other companies. For example, the company has mobile storage, in which they bring a 20-40 cubic meter container to a client’s home, fill it, provide a packing list, and then take it to the storage site. This service is available for the Central Valley and all of Guanacaste.
More traditional storage spaces are also available, ranging in price from $45-300 per month. Access is 24 hours a day, and extensive security is provided. Román suggests that people considering self-storage tour the facilities, “because there are a lot of alternatives, but not all are the same and some have little security.” The company offers special rates when using other Mundanzas services.
Bodegas Guachipelín (215-3190), in the western suburb of Escazú, also offers special rates. Clients who sign a six-month contract get half a month free, and those who sign a year contract get one month free.
Spaces from three to 24 square meters rent for $35-160 a month. The company also offers access 24-hour security guards and internal and peripheral alarms.
Administrative manager Carolina Salazar says Bodegas Guachipelín also provides its clients with information on how to insure their items, a service the company cannot offer itself because it doesn’t know what is being stored, to allow privacy.
“Houses get smaller every day; sometimes families even live in condominiums with no storage space,” Salazar said. “We provide them with greater freedom.”