The Military Family’s Guide to Self Storage

Jon Fesmire | December 6, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

When you’re a full-time member of the U.S. Armed Forces, odds are you and your family will move often. You will live either in housing on base, or somewhere nearby. In fact, many bases contract with real estate companies to help provide off-base housing in military communities.

In any case, moving often means you will need a storage unit. Here’s what you should know about self storage as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines.

Your Needs May Change

Depending on where you’re stationed and your living accommodations, you may need a 5x5 unit at one location, and a 10x10 at the next. On each move, search for a unit that meets your needs. Ideally, you’ll be able to find one near where you’re living, but there are other considerations. Perhaps you only go to your unit once every several months, and you’ll save money by renting a unit a little farther away.

In most places, we highly recommend you rent a unit with climate control. In areas with dry, cold weather or hot, humid weather, or worse, areas that fluctuate between extremes from winter to summer, items from electronics to musical instruments to books can wind up seriously damaged if not protected. Circuits and wood can crack, metals can get warped, and cloth and paper can grow mold. Climate control not only keeps the temperature in your unit within a safe range, it does the same for the humidity. Fortunately, climate controlled units rent for only about 25% to 30% more than standard units.

Your Military Discount

Here’s some good news for you. Most self storage facilities, especially those near military bases, have a discount for active duty members of the armed forces. Call ahead to make sure, and when you go in to rent a unit, make sure to bring your military ID with you. You’ll need it to get the discount.

Usually, this will save you 10% off the rent on your unit, but deals may vary.

Storing Guns

If you have your own gun or rifle, you may want to store it in your unit.

When looking for a facility that allows firearms, call several and ask if guns are on the prohibited items list. Most won’t allow them, but some do. Either way, ammunition is always a prohibited item in self storage, so while you may be able to store your gun, bullets are out of the question.

If you can’t find a facility that allows you to store your firearms, that might not be a problem. Ask about the rules for personal firearms at your base. Many won’t allow you to have a gun or rifle in your quarters. If you have children, you may not want to keep your firearms at home, anyway. Your base may have other options as well.

If neither of those options are available, there are other possibilities for safely storing your firearms.

Handling Storage During Deployment

Whether you’re a full-time member of the armed forces or a reservist, you know that you could be called to active duty or deployed at any time. We can’t speak to your experience while serving in a foreign nation, but we can inform you about your rights when it comes to your storage unit.

When you’re out of the country, your storage unit will probably be the last thing on your mind. As such, you may forget to pay your self storage bill for a few months. To avoid this, we recommend setting up automatic bill pay with your storage provider. The facility can let you know what options are available. Take advantage of whatever they offer, since you can actually get in trouble with the military for being behind on payments in the same way the military might penalize you for missing rent payments on an apartment. You may prefer to have your spouse or another family member pay your self storage bill while you’re away, and that’s fine, too.

If you do miss multiple rent payments for any reason, you are still protected more than civilians. Each state has its own set of lien laws governing self storage. The lien laws cover is the procedure a facility must follow to take an unpaid storage unit to auction. Deployed troops have extra protection against their units getting sold at auction, however, thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This act contains various financial protections for servicemembers called to active duty.

With discounts, a variety of unit sizes, and protections for deployed service members, self storage can be a tremendous asset to anyone in the armed forces. To learn more about getting the most out of storage, check out our articles on how to store specific types of items, on home organization, on having a successful move, and more.

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