College Course: Self Storage 101

Peter Soto | May 06, 2015 @ 02:33 PM

Self Storae 101

It’s almost the end of the semester. Here’s a short list of what’s currently occupying your thoughts.

  1. Final Exams/Projects
  2. End of Finals Parties
  3. Summer Vacation

Chances are your mind is being consumed by one or all of the aforementioned and that’s how it should be. You’ve worked hard (hopefully) and are trying to finish strong (hopefully), so you can enjoy the fruits of your semester-long labor. In all this commotion you’ve neglected one very important consequence of the ending semester.

You probably have to move soon.

Maybe you’re studying abroad this summer. Maybe you’ve decided to go home and spend May-August on your parents’ couch. Maybe your fraternity or sorority doesn’t allow you to stay when regular classes aren’t in session. If you’re an underclassman in the dorms, chances are you’re getting kicked out no matter what in a few weeks. Summer is a time when many college towns transition to ghost towns. Luckily the friendly staff at StorageFront have put together a little college students’ self storage guide.

Curb Check

Trash on curb. Or treasure?

You’ve accumulated a lot during the academic year. Who knew so much nostalgia could be packed into a dorm room the size of a prison cell?

Messy Dorm Room

And when I say “nostalgia” I really mean “junk.” Step one of using self storage is to determine what’s worth storing. Break out the trash bags and get rid of everything that hasn’t been used during the last semester. It should go without saying that all trash should be thrown away. That includes the bottle collection you heroically drank into existence. Be sure to show your folks first. They’ll be proud.

The trash isn’t your only option when purging your living space. Higher quality clothing can be sold to local thrift shops or gifted to friends and family. Electronics and furniture can be sold on eBay, craigslist and other e-commerce sites. Charities like Goodwill and the Salvation Army accept both furniture and clothing in good condition.

It should be noted that the weeks leading up to finals and the weeks immediately following can be a great time to find free stuff on the curb. The end of the spring semester is traditionally a time when cash-strapped co-eds can find quality electronics and furniture on the street. Don’t turn up your nose at second hand scavenging. Just make sure whatever you find is clean and in good working order. As the adage goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Ok, you’ve pared down to the essentials. What next? Choosing a storage facility, silly!

Race to the Finish

If it is move out day and you haven’t reserved a storage unit yet, you may encounter some difficulty. April/May marks the beginning of the busy season in the self storage industry, meaning you might have trouble finding a unit that is the appropriate size to house your belongings. For most students a 5x5 will cover what you need. If you are storing larger items like beds, desks, dressers and futons, an upgrade to a 5x10 may be in your future. Ceilings average about 10 feet high, so be sure to maximize space by stacking.

This also means that occupancies are higher than at any point in the year, so discounts, coupons and specials may not be available the way they are during other seasons. If possible try to reserve your unit in advance and lock it in before the rush comes.

Money Talks

Of course we think you should use StorageFront to find the facility of your dreams. No matter where you store, price is going to be a factor.

I know I just said that specials may be hard to find, but most self storage facility managers are friendly and willing to work with you to help get you moved in. Unless every facility around you is full, you’ll be hard pressed to find a facility near campus that isn’t offering some kind of special. Senior citizen and military discounts are the most common, but facilities in areas near colleges and universities often run student discounts. If you aren’t sure whether or not your facility of choice is offering specials, don’t be shy, go ahead, call and ask the friendly manager.

Location also greatly affects price. Be sure to perform some due diligence before deciding on a facility. Facilities near campus may be much more expensive than facilities that are a short drive away. A little travel can end up saving you a lot of money.

Team Up

Two friends moving a couch.

You can apply the dorm concept to self storage as well, by teaming up with friends to cut costs. Using this tactic can make your storage bill a fraction of what it would be if you were storing on your own. If you can find friends who also need storage and a unit that fits your needs, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to cost, length of stay and the rules of the storage facility. Since you probably know exactly how long you’ll be storing, ask the manager if they can give you a quote for your stay. This will give you an idea of how you need to budget over the summer or mom and dad can pay up-front.

Unless you’re able to coordinate really well, moving out of the storage unit will happen in stages. Have everyone make a list of what they’re going to store and make sure everyone has a copy. Take pictures of what you’re storing with your phone to add another layer of organization. It’s also a good idea to label all boxes with the owner’s name. Those who will need to move out first should store their belongings in the front of the unit. Those moving out last should store in the back of the unit.

Ask the facility manager if it is possible for each person using the unit to be assigned a different gate code. This will help keep track of who has accessed the unit in case there’s any funny business.

Consider the Environment

Take the time of year into account. Summer in the United States can be brutally hot and humid. If you’re storing furniture, electronics or anything else that might be sensitive to the environment, ask the facility manager if climate control will be necessary to protect your belongings.

The Alternative

Depending on how far away you are from home and by what means you’re using to transport your belongings, moving everything back into Mom’s basement could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than renting a storage unit. When you factor in the stress moving puts on you and your family, self storage becomes that much more appealing.

Do you have strong feelings on self storage? So does Peter. Email him directly at peter.soto@storelocal.com or let him know in the comments.