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Self Storage Lessons for New Renters

Jon Fesmire | August 24, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

If you’ve never rented a self storage unit, you may wonder why so many people use storage. Why not just get rid of things you don’t need? Many people do and still find they need some extra space to store things that are important to them.

So, what is self storage good for? There are all sorts of uses that make people’s lives easier. In a difficult economy, people often need to move into smaller, more affordable homes and have things they need, but that they don’t have room for. They may then use a storage unit as a place to keep their off-season clothes and sports equipment. When preparing for a move, a self storage unit is a great place to stash boxes. If an adult child needs to move back home, their parents may move the contents of a room into storage to make space. People who run retail businesses often need extra space for inventory. Also, boat and RV owners know they can keep their rides safe in an indoor or outdoor self storage space.

We assume you’ve found yourself in one of those situations, or something similar. Let us help you navigate your first foray into the world of self storage.

Choose a Facility

There are probably dozens or more facilities where you live. Research several using our search engine. You’ll want to compare rental prices and features. One feature we highly recommend is climate control, which will keep your goods in great shape no matter what the climate is like.

Start looking for a facility a week or more in advance of when you’ll start renting. If possible, take a tour of a few facilities. You’ll get an idea of how friendly the staff is and how safe the grounds feel. Make sure it has good indoor and outdoor lighting, an alarm system, and 24/7 video surveillance. If the units are individually alarmed or if the facility has a stone wall surrounding it, rather than a fence, consider those a bonus.

Choose a Unit

When you pick a unit, the two things to consider are size and type. Drive-up units, on the outside of buildings, will not have climate control, but they are convenient. Indoor units may not have climate control either, though some will. If you want that feature, ask for it.

Units generally range from about 5’x5’ to 10’x30’ or even 10’x40’. Our size guide will help you figure out what will work best for you based on how much you plan to store.

Rent a Unit

One thing you’ll learn when you rent a unit is that there are usually additional, standard fees. There may be an account set-up charge, and the facility may require you to add storage insurance. Both are generally low. We do recommend getting that insurance and possibly supplementing it. While storage facilities tend to be quite secure, natural disasters and theft still occur, so it’s best to have the value of your belongings covered.

Also, choose a strong lock and buy it at the facility. They’ll know what works best. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a place with the new Noke locking system, which uses cloud computing and bluetooth to allow you access to the facility and your unit with your phone.

Declutter Your Stuff

We want you to see how helpful self storage can be, so we really don’t want you to store your clutter. Storage is meant to be a place to keep important things, not old junk. Go through what you’re considering storing and figure out what you don’t need any longer. Split it into items to sell, donate, recycle, and throw away. Then, pack the things that you do want to keep for storage.

Box Sizes

Mostly stick to one box size. Some items should go in specialized boxes, such as suits, drinking glasses, and plates, but many will fit well in document boxes. These are big enough for most things and sturdy. They’ll also stack well.

Label and Inventory

This is such an important step, but an easy one to miss. It will add work to your storage preparation, but in the end, it will be worth it. Label each box for the room it goes in and the box number. For example, “Bedroom 1” or “Kitchen 3.” If you’re storing by type, you can use, “Books 1” or “T-Shirts 2” and so on. Write the box label on top of a sheet of paper before you pack it, then write down each item after you pack it. Later, transfer this information to an Excel sheet or Google Sheets file. When you need to retrieve a particular item, you can easily do a file search and know exactly where to find it.

Packing Your Unit

You’re almost done! When you pack your unit, put heavy boxes on the bottom, and lighter boxes on top of them. We have dozens of articles on how to store various items, and we encourage you to explore them.

Now, you’re ready! If you need additional advice, feel free to search for the help you need here in the Renter’s Bent Blog.

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