Choosing a Facility or Unit

  1. Decide if you will need to rent a unit for a long period of time or if the need is temporary. Maybe you have a few extra things you plan to sell online in a month or two or some extra furniture that is too big for your new house. Look at your items realistically. If you don't want to spend money on long-term storage, make a plan for getting rid of the items and then follow through on that plan. Schedule time to go to the unit and remove items.
  2. Decide how much space you will need. You realize that you need to do some spring cleaning, but not everything needs to go into storage. A lot of items around the house like the clothes the kids have outgrown and that old faded patio furniture can be donated to charity or sold at garage sale. Many items can be organized in boxes and stacked in a careful manner that saves space. Place breakables on top and items that may be needed more often near the front. Do not sacrifice space for price. If you rent too small of a unit, you run the risk of stuffing the unit too full and breaking some of your most prized possessions. On the other hand, if you rent too large of a unit, you may waste money. Be careful, measure the largest items, count how many boxes you have and note the size of those boxes. Check with management at your self storage facility for recommendations on how to save space.
  3. Consider self storage as an option while moving. Many folks discover that they need temporary, short-term storage while planning a move. This is especially true when purchasing a house and waiting on it to close or when planning a long distance move. Coordinating the exact date of your move with the move-in date requires accounting for a lot of variables, including the amount of time needed to drive across country, the start and stop dates of employment for all working family members, and determining the time needed to load and unload.  This can be challenging. In many cases, you will need to rent a storage unit for your belongings for a short amount of time until your home is ready for you to move into it.
  4. If moving, decide if you would like to rent your storage unit near your existing home or your new home. Consider pricing as this can vary from one location to another as will the security of the facility and the safety of different neighborhoods where the self storage companies do business. Will you have more help moving items in and out of storage here or at your destination (i.e., family, friends, business relocation services)? Make sure you can access the items in storage when you need them.
  5. If moving, do you want to pack and store your items yourself or hire someone to do it for you? If you value ease and saving time over saving money, you may want to hire professional movers who will come and pack up your belongings, move your items to their company-run storage site and then pack them up again and move them to your new destination. Make sure that you do your homework before hiring a mover. You'll want to know that the company you hire is a reputable one before you entrust them with your valuables. Another thing to consider is that if you pack and store the items yourself you will have to pay for insurance, which can be costly. When hiring someone to do the work for you, insurance is often included in the cost of their services.
  6. Do you need more time to pack, closer proximity to storage? You also may opt to rent a mobile storage unit. The mobile storage company will bring the storage unit to your house where you can pack it at your own pace. Then, they will move it to your new destination where you can unpack at your own pace. Some companies also offer to help with the packing for an added fee.
  7. Are the items you wish to store sensitive to cold, heat, moisture or dust? If you are storing valuable items such as documents, furs, electronics, computer equipment, stereos or television sets you may want to opt for a climate-controlled unit. Many storage facilities also offer dust-free storage for your sensitive electronics.
  8. Ask yourself if you will want to switch out the storage contents seasonally? Often you will want to store your summer wardrobe or seasonal household items such as swimming pool equipment or patio furniture during the winter months. During the summer you may want to store your family's skis, snowmobile, snow blower and shovels. Space may vary for these items and perhaps even the need for climate or dust control. Make sure that you consider all your possible needs before renting your unit.
  9. Accessing your storage unit 24/7 Be aware that not all facilities will allow you access to the unit during any given time of the day or night. Rules vary from one facility to the next. While some units are accessible 24 hours a day, other facilities have limited hours of operation that limit access to your belongings. Check the rules before signing a contract if round-the-clock access is important to you.
  10. Do you need to store large items such as cars, campers or other motorized vehicles? Self storage can be a great option for storing vehicles. If needed, you can rent a climate-controlled unit to help preserve these items. You will want to be sure that you rent from a company with an established reputation. Safety is another factor to consider. You will rest easier knowing that your valuables are properly secured.
  11. Make sure the facility you choose is secure Compare the safety and security features of facilities before renting. Ask if there are security cameras on the premises. Is the facility equipped with motion lights or otherwise well lit? Some storage facilities offer security alarms and security fences. Still other locations have an onsite manager living on the premises who will keep an eye on whose coming and going.  They will alert the police of any suspicious activity.
The advice on this website is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only. "Storage Tips" are offered as-is and no warranty is expressed or implied. For more information, see our Terms and Conditions.