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How to Get the Most Out of Your Self Storage Unit

Jon Fesmire | March 1, 2021 @ 10:30 AM

You’ve decided to rent a self storage unit.

Maybe you want to store your off-season clothes, gardening supplies, and sports equipment.

Maybe you’ve moved into a smaller place and need somewhere to keep important things that you don’t really have room for.

Or, maybe you run a business and need a place to keep overstock and paperwork.

Whatever the case, self storage is an affordable way to get that extra space you need.

Even though space in a storage unit rents for less per square foot than residential or commercial space, you’ll still want to get the most out of your unit.

Let’s go over how to accomplish that, from picking your facility and unit to moving your stuff in.

Compare Facilities

When possible, it’s always a good idea to comparison-shop, as this can save you money, lead you to discovering better products, and ensure you get quality for your dollar. When you’re ready to rent a storage unit, look into multiple facilities in your area.

Look for facilities with great features and affordable prices. If you live somewhere that can get hot and humid or cold and dry, we highly recommend you find a facility that has climate-controlled units.

In these units, the temperature is typically kept between 50 and 80 degrees, and sometimes in an even tighter range, and the humidity is kept between 30% and 50%. These are ideal conditions for most of your stuff.

Compare the gate hours as well. Some facilities are simply open earlier and later than others, making it easier to get to your unit when you need to.

Look for good security, including a high barrier around the facility, gated access, and a good surveillance and alarm system. Bonus points go to facilities that have features like a stone or concrete surrounding wall, an on-site manager, or individually-alarmed units.

Remember that the rental price is just one factor. The cheapest facility may not be your best option.

Pick the Right Size Unit

Once you’ve found a great facility with the features you need, you’ll want to pick a unit that’s the right size for your stuff.

If you pick one that’s too small, you’ll end up packing your unit so tightly that it will be hard to get to any particular box. If the unit is too large, you’ll end up spending more than you have to.

Get Insurance

When you sign up for your storage unit, whether you book it in person, over the phone, or online, the facility will offer you insurance on your stored belongings.

In most places, this is a requirement. If you don’t already have storage insurance, sign up for what they offer you.

Check your renters or homeowners insurance policy to see if you’re covered already. Most of these policies don’t cover things you put in storage, but it’s worth making sure.

You may be able to add a rider to your insurance covering your unit, or you may want to find a third-party insurance vendor.

If you get this coverage, let the facility know. As long as your stored stuff is insured elsewhere, you don’t need to use the insurance the facility provides.

Pack Your Stuff Right

No matter what you plan to store, there are right and wrong ways to do it. Fortunately, we have a lot of articles all about how to pack and store everything from books to appliances. Feel free to peruse the blog for specific tips.

It comes down to this.

Make sure whatever you store is clean and dry before you pack it. Wrap fragile things in bubble wrap or packing paper, and use packing paper as a filler when there’s extra space in a box

There may come a time when you need a specific item you put in storage, and you’ll want to get to it as quickly as possible.

So, we encourage you to not only label each box but to keep an inventory of everything in your unit. The easiest way to do this is to write down everything you put in each box as you pack, and then transfer that information into a spreadsheet like Google Sheets or Excel.

Make sure to store the file in your favorite cloud storage service, and you’ll be able to search it wherever you go. This will take a bit of time, but it’s a big step toward getting the most out of your unit.

As you put items in your unit, draw a map of the interior and not which stack each box is in.

Use mostly uniform size boxes. We find that matching plastic bins or document boxes work best, as they’ll be easy to stack. Both are sturdy and good for just about any of your household items.

When you pack your unit, put the heavier boxes at the bottom and lighter boxes on top, getting lighter as you go. That way, the heavy boxes won’t smash the lighter ones.

Notes on Furniture

When possible, we encourage you to disassemble your furniture when you’re putting it in storage. This makes it easier to pack it into your unit and save space.

We also recommend wrapping table, desk, and chair legs in bubble wrap and tying the set together.

Cover your furniture with blankets and or tarps to provide extra protection. If you get a drive-up unit, consider covering everything in blankets. These units are not air-tight, and being right at the edge of buildings, they can let in dust.

Now, we hope you find the perfect storage unit for your needs. If you’re looking for additional storage tips, please peruse our blog.

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