Self-storage, both short and long term, is a great way to house belongings during a period of transition or to simply free up some space in your home.
But when it comes to doing it right, it turns out that figuring out how to pack a storage unit is only part of the battle. To really ensure you’re optimizing your storage and keeping everything safe (not to mention making the process as easy on yourself as possible), you’ll want to take a few extra steps.
Follow the self-storage tips below for advice on how to tackle your storage like a pro.
Choosing a unit
Do make sure to choose a reliable storage company. When you store items, you’re placing trust in a third party to take care of your belongings. And even if you’re not planning on storing anything of major value, it’s still important that you choose a company with a proven track record of reliability. Read reviews and past customer experiences before booking a unit, and don’t choose to store your items with a sketchy seeming company just because their rates are cheaper than the competition. You can search our storage unit finder to locate a trustworthy provider in your area or ask your friends and family for referrals.
Don’t start searching at the last minute. The storage unit you ultimately choose should be based on a few key factors, including the size, price, and convenience level that makes the most sense for your situation. To make sure you’re checking off all three boxes, start your search early. If you wait too long to book, you may find that what you’re looking for isn’t available, or you may just not have enough time to do the necessary research. It’s better to start a little early and have a plan in place than start late and have to make a hurried decision.
Do take an inventory of what you plan to store. This is helpful for two reasons. One, it helps you determine what size unit you’re likely going to need, and two, it helps you stay organized once everything is in there. It doesn’t have to be super detailed, just a general overview of what you intend to be keeping in the unit; for example, two dressers and six medium boxes. Based on what you inventory, you’ll be able to use a storage unit sizing guide to select the best fit for your things.
Packing a unit
Do label your boxes. If you’re using self-storage, chances are you don’t intend to be needing the items you’re packing up for at least a couple of months. And even if you swear you’ll be able to remember that the boxes packed in the right-hand corner contain your extra kitchen utensils or sports equipment, you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget what’s what once everything is sealed up and out of sight. Labelling your boxes makes the unpacking process much easier, and is also useful if you ever need to come in and grab something.
Do pack strategically. Some of the most crucial self-storage tips you’ll want to follow are those around how to pack your things, particularly if you’re using a moving container that may shift in transit. You never know if or when you’ll need to access your unit during the storage period, so organize everything in a way that makes it easy – just in case. Store items you’re more likely to need toward the front of the unit, and things you know you’ll be able to live without for a while in the back. And think vertically. Instead of crowding things across the bottom, take advantage of the unit’s height (most are at least eight feet tall) and stack your items, keeping the heavier things closer to the ground. If you can, leave a pathway from the front of the unit to the back so that no item is completely out of reach.
Don’t leave items unprotected. Prevent items from getting damaged by taking the time to properly pack and wrap them. Furniture should be covered with blankets or moving pads (not plastic, which can trap moisture, resulting in mildew and mould), and anything small should be boxed up. Fragile items should be carefully wrapped in packing paper, and stored in a way that they can’t move around.
Do purchase insurance. Check to see if your renters or homeowners insurance covers personal property in storage. If it doesn’t already, you may be able to add it on or purchase a separate storage insurance plan through the insurance company or the storage company. It’s good peace of mind to have extra protection just in case, especially since if you didn’t care about the items in your unit, you probably wouldn’t be going through the trouble of storing them in the first place.
Don’t store anything perishable. Be careful not to pack anything in your unit that could spoil. In addition to leading to bad odours, rotting food and plants could attract bugs and rodents, and you definitely don’t want to happen upon either of those when you open your unit.
Do ask for help, if you need it. Moving things into storage is still a move, and it can be difficult to tackle all on your own. Ask a friend or family member for help, especially if you’re going to be loading heavy items or stacking things up high. Having an extra set of hands will help the process go smoother and faster, and will reduce the risk of injury when lifting furniture or other heavy things.
General self-storage advice
Don’t share your key or access code. Be wise about who you share access to your unit with. Always use your best judgment, and never allow someone into your unit unless you already know that you trust them around your belongings. Storage units – or more specifically, the items within them – have a lot of value for people with bad intentions. Unless it’s a person you know and trust, you shouldn’t be letting anyone in.
Do purchase a strong lock. In the same vein as the advice above, be smart when it comes to securing your unit. If you’re working with a storage company that requires you to supply your own lock, spend a little bit of extra money to get a sturdy lock that can’t be easily tampered with. Even storage facilities with cameras and on-site staff can’t completely prevent something from happening, so rest easy by putting a lock on there that you don’t have to worry about.
Always store smartly.
Following these self-storage tips will help ensure that you have the best storage experience possible and that your stored belongings are kept safe and in good condition for when you’re finally ready to obtain them. You’ll be glad you took the time to do it right.