Storage for Dummies

Lubabah Memon | Jun 22, 2016 @ 03:00 PM

Putting belongings in a storage unit is a foreign concept to quite a few people.  Most of us just pile our extra stuff into our closets and hope that nothing falls out the next time we open the door to go find something.  Garages are also becoming more commonly used to store old things rather than for safe keeping of our cars.  Instead of overcrowding your home and creating potential fire hazards, consider renting a storage unit to put your belongings in.  If this is new to you and you’re not sure where to start, we can walk you through the basics to ensure that you choose a storage facility that best suits your needs.

To Store or Not to Store?

The first thing you need to know about storage is what you can and cannot store.  Storage facilities generally allow you to store a wide array of things, from cars to coin collections.  However, there are some things that you should never even consider putting into your storage unit.

Never put food, items that attract pests, or perishable items in your storage unit.  Not only will there be a major mess in your unit, but the facility’s manager won’t be too happy with you if you create a breeding ground for pests.

Radioactive materials and gun ammunition are other big no-no’s.  Some storage facilities will let you store guns, but not all—you’ll have to ask around if you’re looking to store your gun collection. However, you won’t find a facility that will allow you to store ammunition, so you might want to find a place for that at home.

You’ll find a lot of facilities that allow for vehicle storage, but the vehicle must be registered, insured, licensed and in drivable condition.  Also, don’t try to use your unit as a car workshop—you’ll definitely get kicked out!

If you avoid storing these things, you shouldn’t have any problems.  However, if you’re confused about a particular item that you would like to store, talk to your facility manager to see what is or isn’t allowed.

Location, Location, Location!

When you’re looking for a storage facility, your best bet is to store your stuff in one that’s closest to your home, workplace, or university.  The closer your stuff is to you, the more easily accessible it will be.  When deciding on a location, you should also take traffic into account.  Try to avoid storing in facilities that are located in heavy traffic areas, such as particular freeways that are known to be jam-packed at most times of the day.  Depending on where you live, you might not be able to avoid traffic at all.  If you live in a city like Los Angeles, you probably spend more time on the road than you do anywhere else.  In this case, it would be best to find a facility that allows for 24-hour access so that you can get to your belongings at odd times to avoid traffic altogether.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

When you’re renting a storage unit, you’ll have a few options as to what kind of unit you would like to use.  You can rent an indoor unit, which is great if you live in a city with harsh weather.  This way you can be indoors and comfortably access your belongings without having to worry about the weather.  You might want to opt for an outdoor unit with drive-up access if you’re storing heavy or more delicate items such as artwork or antiques.  It’s definitely easier to drive up to your unit and unload your belongings directly into your unit rather than carrying your items through the facility and making them more susceptible to damage.  We recommend choosing the type of unit based on the weather conditions of the city in which you live and the nature of the items that you’re storing.

Vehicle Storage

If you’re planning to go away for a few months and need a place to keep your vehicles safe from damage or theft, consider putting them in storage.  Storage is also a great place to put vehicles like boats and RVs so they’re not in the way during the months in which you are not using them.  Most facilities only have outdoor storage, but you’ll find quite a few facilities that have options for indoor storage as well.  This is a bit more expensive, but it might be worth the investment depending on how secure you’d like to keep your vehicles.

Climate Control

A storage unit isn’t just four walls with a roof on top.  Most storage facilities give you the option of climate control so that you can keep temperature sensitive things such as wine, art, antiques, and furniture in your unit without having to worry about any damage.  Keeping delicate items at home can be a little difficult, especially if you need to store things that have to be at a certain temperature at all times.  This is particularly difficult if you travel a lot—you don’t want your air conditioning bill going through the roof.  Instead, make sure you store your stuff in a climate controlled unit.  This is especially important if you live in a very humid city like Orlando.  In more humid cities, you’ll probably want to rent a climate control unit no matter what you’re storing so there’s no chance that your items will be damaged.

Security

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a storage facility is its security.  Storage facilities generally have good security measures in place to ensure the safety of their tenants’ belongings.  Some facilities have very basic measures, while others get kind of high tech, but either way, your stuff is much more likely to be safer in storage than it is at home.  Here are some basic security measures that you can look for when finding the right facility for you:  24-hour video surveillance, on-site managers, security guards, units with individual alarms on them, fenced and well lit grounds, and gates with personal access codes.  If you can find a facility that has a few of these security features, you’re good to go!

Last But Not Least

After going through so much trouble to find the perfect facility for your needs and storing your belongings there, you should definitely get all of your items insured.  If your things get stolen, there’s a fire, a flood, or some other natural disaster, you don’t want to be at a complete loss.  Being somewhat compensated for your belongings is better than getting nothing at all.

Very few storage facilities provide insurance, so you’ll probably have to go to a third party.  Your best option is to check your homeowner/renter insurance company to see if they can cover your items.  Your current policy might already cover items that you put in storage, or you can probably get coverage for an additional cost.  Although you should look around at other insurances, this is probably your cheapest and best option.  Whichever insurance you end up choosing, don’t wait to get coverage or it may be too late.  Remember:  if it’s worth storing, it’s worth insuring!

Following this basic guide to storage will help you in selecting the right facility for your needs.  Putting your stuff in storage is a lot easier and more convenient than you would think.  If there is still something that you’re unsure of, don’t hesitate to ask a facility manager questions about your options—they’re always happy to help!