Self-Storage tips for first-timers!

June 26, 2019 by: Lee Preston

People tend to accumulate a lot of stuff these days.  Stuff like furniture, clothing, collectibles and nik-naks. Others have larger items like lawn equipment, snow blowers and sports gear that need to be stored. However, if you don’t have sufficient space to store your things where you live, a self-storage unit may be an affordable option.  Never used self-storage before? No problem! We have tips that anyone especially first timers can find helpful.

You know that items you want to store and now need to look for where.  When it comes to storing things, there are some things to consider first.

Where to store your stuff?

There are several factors to consider when selecting your storage company: location, accessibility, reputation, amenities and of course price.

Let’s start with location. How often will you need to access your stuff?  If you plan on accessing your stuff on a regular basis, you might choose a storage facility closer to where you live or work.  Storage companies near town tend to cost more than ones further out of town. However, if you won’t need to access your stuff for a while, you might save money by storing your things further away. 

What kind of access does the facility offer? 24 hour access or do they have special gated hours. Are they open on Sundays and holidays? Accessibility is important and should closely match your availability.

Location is not the only thing to consider when selecting a storage facility. You also want to make sure the company is reputable and reliable. Ask for referrals from friends and family or check online reviews and past customers experiences before booking a unit. 

Amenities, you ask? Am I renting a hotel room or a storage unit? Many storage companies offer amenities such as:

  • Security – There are different types of security.  In person security, video surveillance or on-site managers. Also is the facility well-lit at night? Is it fenced? No matter what you are storing, you want to be safe as well as your belongings.
  • Climate Control – Are the items you’re storing susceptible to weather conditions or humidity?  If so, protecting your belongings in a climate controlled unit may be worth the investment.
  • Can you pay your monthly fee online or do you have to go there each month? Believe it or not, there are still facilities that don’t accept online payments.
  • Drive up access or elevators may not seem that important, but if you have heavy stuff, you will want to be as close to your unit when unloading and not have to use stairs.
  • Does the facility offer the use of a truck for move-in? What about dollies and hand carts? These items can be quite convenient and make your move in or out better.

So many sizes to choose from:

Now that you narrowed down which facility you want to store in, what size unit should you rent? Many storage companies have storage calculators that will help you determine how much storage space is needed. You don’t want to pay for a unit larger than you need. By the same token, you will want a unit where you can conveniently organize your stuff especially if you frequently need it.  

You will want to reserve a unit as soon as possible especially during prime moving time, summer. Waiting for the last minute may mean the unit you want is not available. Don’t be shy about asking the manager about any specials or discounts. Some facilities offer discounts for reserving online or affiliate discounts for military, AAA or other. Even a small monthly discount can add up quickly depending on length of stay. You can also protect your stuff by purchasing insurance from the facility or save additional money by seeing if your homeowners or renters insurance will cover your property in storage.

You have selected your self-storage unit in a reputable facility and ready to move in. Wait! Before you pack, there are some key things that can assist you later on:

  • Protect your stuff by wrapping breakables. Your storage facility may sell packing supplies like boxes and bubble wrap. Storing linens? Use them to wrap your stuff and fill in any gaps in boxes to prevent movement.
  • Things you can’t store and whatever you do, don’t pack any food or plants that can attract pesky critters.  Or flammable or toxic materials such as gas for lawn equipment and paint.
  • Label and inventory your boxes so you know what’s inside.
  • Don’t pack extremely valuable items or family heirlooms.  You might want to find a secure place at home or a trusted family member to store these items.
  • Even furniture needs attention and should be covered in blankets or special moving pads. You don’t want to wrap in plastic especially in humid areas where the plastic can trap moisture resulting in mold and mildew.
  • Buy a strong lock. So many types of locks out there, which one is best? Tips here
  • Have a couple pallets? These are good to get your belongings off the storage unit floor and thereby protecting for rising water.
  • Ask for help! Chances are you will have some heavy boxes and/or furniture. But even if you don’t, extra helping hands will make your moving process easier and much more quickly and reduce risk of getting injured.

Moving day is here.

It’s finally time to load up and head to your researched storage unit. A little organization goes a long way. Don’t just start loading the moving truck; stage your stuff for a strategic move. Think backwards! Load the things you will need to access frequently, first on your truck, so they will be unloaded last and therefore in the front of your unit. Stack heavy stuff on the bottom. Furniture such as sofas can be loaded standing up. Lighter stuff can be stacked, but be careful with fragile items, they should be placed as such that heavy stuff won’t fall on it or where they won’t shift in transit. 

At your unit, stack furniture on side walls then your boxes. Remember lighter boxes on top. Things you need frequently in front. It is helpful if you have room to leave a path to back of unit, so you can access things on each side.  Before you close the unit door, snap a picture of your unit.  You will be glad you took the time to do your research, pack smart and label your boxes and organize your units. These tips help you to store smart and do it right.