Lisa Schmeiser, who writes the Dollars and Sense blog for the San Francisco Chronicle, has put her house on the market and taken her first voyage to the land of self storage.
Decide early on if you want enough space to move around in or if you only want to rent enough space to cram in everything. We decided on a slightly bigger space than we really needed, because this will make grabbing things easier if we decide we really do need to use our Cuisinart or if we need our winter coats. Decide whether or not drive-up access matters to you. Here's the advantage to renting a space where you can drive your car right up to the door of the unit: Loading and unloading a car is a breeze. The disadvantage: They are not usually climate controlled. Decide whether or not climate controlled storage matters to you. Here in the Bay Area, we do not have to contend with insane humidity levels, sweltering heat, frigid winters or very dramatic temperature changes -- but that doesn't mean things like upholstered furniture or carefully curated book collections aren't vulnerable to the vagaries of temperature changes. Know what you're putting in storage. In our case, I made an inventory list, and labeled each box on all four sides so we'd be able to instantly suss out the contents. I have friends who also recommend photographing items before they go into storage; having a visual record can come in handy if your items get damaged through the fault of the facility. Find out whether the facility charges you for using their locks on the door. If they do, bring your own. At least you'll get to keep it once you're done with the facility. Stop by and check your stuff on a regular basis. This way, you can catch water leaks or pest damage early. Shop around for the best deals -- a lot of places will give you a month's rental for free, many offer better deals if you book through their websites ... it's important to comparison shop here.