Using Self-Storage: How to Pack a Unit by Yourself

By Dermound Becker
Special to

Self-storage facilities are a great option when you need to stow away items for extra space --whether it’s for a short amount of time or for the long run. But it is important to know that when using a self-storage facility to house your belongings there are some practical guidelines that you should follow. These guidelines will ensure that your items will remain in good condition and be easy to move when the time comes.

The first thing you should do is to begin boxing items for storage. Once you have a better idea about the number of boxes you need it will be much easier to determine how much space you will need. Most cardboard shipping/storage boxes have their volume/dimensions written on them (and you can always measure); this will allow you to figure out exactly how much square footage you will need. Come up with a color coding method to rank boxes that are of higher priority so that they can be positioned closer to the front of the storage unit. You should also plan to put heavier/sturdier boxes toward the bottom of each stack in order to avoid crushing sensitive or expensive items. Don’t use plastic bags; they are not practical and invite mold and mildew. Seal all your boxes with tape so that dust cannot get in. Avoid putting any liquids or other wet/damp items in any boxes. All boxes should be clearly labeled with information regarding their contents. Create an inventory list for practical as well as security reasons.

Choosing your space:
After you’ve found your ideal location, schedule a meeting with the storage facilities' owner, operator or manager in order to work out any details. They will be able to help you figure out just how much space you are going to need based on the information you provide. Make sure your facility of choice isn’t prone to floods, rodents or extreme weather or you’re looking at potential damage in the future. Take into consideration how much “walking around room” you are going to need once the unit is fully packed.

Let’s start moving:
Once you’ve cleaned out your unit you should be ready to start moving your belongings in. Some people prefer to actually law down liners or tarps, but it isn’t completely necessary. Remember to put the heavier/larger items in first as they are going to provide the base for your support structure. When stacking boxes you should try to fit them together like puzzle pieces so that they have a slimmer chance of tipping over, crumpling or becoming unstable. Anything that is valuable or important to you should be stored as far away from the door as possible and be hard to reach easily. Probably the most efficient way to organize your materials is to line them up against the walls of the unit; this will leave a space open in the middle that will allow for much easier access. If you are storing furniture like cabinets or dressers keep in mind that those items can be used to store other items; which will give you more space.

When packing a self-storage unit just try to be practical and think about what’s really necessary. If you take the time to do the job right the first time, your life will be a lot easier later; and your items will still be in great condition when you come to reclaim them.