How to Find Your Best Storage Option

By Staff

Our dwellings might be getting smaller, but the amount of stuff we accumulate hasn't changed. Storage facilities have consequently gotten more popular in recent years.

Even though you won't be living there, your belongings will. You should scrutinize a storage facility almost as closely as you would a home.

This article will help you choose a storage unit and decide what should go in there.

The Options:

Moving company storage services. Many moving companies also offer storage services. The benefits of using the services provided by your moving company is having only one entity handling the move and storage, saving you on the effort, and possibly saving you money as well. The moving company will generally move the items into storage and then deliver them to you when you want them.

Self-storage. You can also choose a self-storage facility, where you do all the heavy-lifting (literally), from loading up a truck -- which the storage facility will sometimes offer up for free, to unloading your goods at the storage facility into a storage container.

Mobile storage. This is a hybrid offering where companies will deliver a large, portable storage unit to your home or business that you load. The container is either stored on your property or at a large facility with other mobile storage containers. (Make sure you have enough parking on your property to accommodate the unit.) Pack at your own pace; when you're ready to move, they'll pick it up and deliver it to your new digs. You do all the grunt work, but there are two key benefits: You can leave any excess belongings in the unit for long-term storage, and they'll hold onto the unit if there's a gap between your move-out and move-in days.

What to Consider:

Location, Location, Location. It might seem obvious, but if self-storage containers are your preferred choice, consider using a facility close to home. This can save money and time if you make frequent visits.

With all options, be sure to take note of access times for your stuff. Some facilities offer 24-hour access, others have normal business hours, while some facilities, like mobile storage centers that require 24-hour notice to access your unit.

Security. Investigate the security standards of the facility you wish to use. How do they intend to store your goods within the unit itself? Are the security measures different during regular business hours versus after-hours? What kind of neighborhood is the storage facility in? Would you feel comfortable visiting at off-hours?

Size. Discuss your specific current and future needs with the storage facility. This will help companies offer you the most suitable unit for your budget.

Price. The price range depends on size, storage period, special needs, and the storage facilities' own marketing objectives. Special offers and discounts from the storage facilities will be fewer during busy periods. Storage companies will try to offer incentives to persuade you to commit to a longer rental period. You'll often find deals that give your the first month free, so look around.

Estimates. An estimate from a storage company is different from a mover's estimate, in that no extra charges can be added without the agreement of the customer. Before the storage company accepts your goods, they will supply you with a written estimate upon your request. The written estimate is usually free, but ask. The warehouse operator will inspect the items you are storing, and issue you a copy of the estimate.

Insurance. Insurance is an important issue to investigate, especially if you plan to store high-value items. Storage companies offer their own insurance, and it is recommended to find out about the facility's procedures in unplanned scenarios, such as fires, floods, and etc. Make sure you fully understand whether the insurance they offer will cover any potential damage. Also, check with your own agent to see if your insurance or homeowners insurance will cover you.

Special Needs. You may be looking for a storage unit that provides climate control and/or other special storage accessories and needs -- humidity and extreme temperatures can wreck havoc on some of your more valuable items, like furs. When you speak with the company's sales representatives, state your specific requirements so that they can find the best option.

What can I store?
Given the appropriate environment, almost anything can be stored for a certain period of time. It's easier to list the things you should not store: perishable food (to avoid attracting pests), any combustible materials, plants, high-value items, and firearms. Ask your storage company for specific items you can't store.