Whether you are running low on storage space at home or need to store your belongings somewhere because you’re leaving the country for a while, finding a storage solution comes with its own challenges. People who haven’t used external storage before often don’t know how important it is to choose the right kind and how much work it requires to properly manage that storage.
Starting with good research, learning about your options, and knowing how to store your items properly can make all the difference. This is particularly important if you need to store sensitive items or plan on storing things for a longer period of time. Here are some useful things to know if you’re looking for a good storage solution.
Types Of Storage
Before you buy any kind of storage, understand the different options available. The different options will work better for individuals with specific needs, and costs for each will also vary tremendously. These are two of the main kinds of storage options you will find.
Self-storage is the most common, cost-effective, and the most prevalent form of storage service you will find. This is used to store everything from a few extra bags and boxes to extra food, to boats and other vehicles. Within this category, you can find some high-end options as well but you won’t easily find specialized storage solutions such as cold storage. People prefer self-storage options because they are easy to use and cost-effective.
Since they are so common, there’s a high chance that there will be an easily accessible self-storage service in your locality. Depending on the kind of service you choose, you can get a few additional services but managing the storage is largely the responsibility of the person renting the unit. Self-storage facilities also do not provide pick up or delivery of your belongings though some may provide this service at an additional cost.
As the name suggests, this kind of storage saves you a lot of work since the storage company provides a lot more services. In fact, you don’t even need to personally go to the storage or ship your belongings. You can simply get in touch with the full-service company and they will pick up your belongings and store them for you. Again, this is available for a lot of different products but not every full-service storage provider will be able to handle every kind of product.
For certain items or items with certain dimensions, you might have to get a different full-service storage option. Higher-end storage companies will even provide you with an inventory list of all your belongings together with pictures to help you keep track of what you have in storage. They will tag, pack and stock all your things. Naturally, all these services come at a much higher price tag but if you want convenience, this is the best option to go for.
How To Prepare
Shifting your things into storage is more challenging than it sounds. It is only when you start to access your things from storage that you understand how important it is to store things properly. To make your life easier, here is what you can do to prepare.
Getting remote storage costs money. When you’re storing for longer periods of time, every item you own gets more expensive the longer you have it stored. Many storage buyers end up spending a lot more than they intended simply because they’re storing things they don’t really need.
Start off by going through all your belongings and removing things you don’t see yourself using or needing. Sell or donate things you can do without. You can drastically reduce your storage expenses just by thoroughly decluttering and only allocating the essentials to external storage.
Understand why you’re storing things in external storage. This might be because you are short on space, need a special kind of storage for items you can’t have in the house, need better security, and so on. When you have a certain purpose you can store different things in different storage cells depending on what you need.
If you have a lot of things, you can get two smaller cells. One can be dedicated for things you will rarely need to access while the other can be quick self-storage for things you will frequently access. This will make it much easier to manage and use your storage space.
The things you store also need to be prepped for storage. If you’re storing furniture, for example, disassemble everything, add a small bag of supplies you’ll need when you want to reassemble furniture, make sure the material of the furniture can withstand storage, and tag the different parts so you can make sense of it all later. Within your storage cell, you can also dedicate different portions to different things.
Rather than piling everything on top of each other, being more organized in how you store things will be more efficient. If you have fragile items, make sure you have a proper container for them and place them in a spot where they won’t fall or be under the weight of other heavier items. Shortlisting the kinds of things you want to store will help you make a better plan for the organization.
Things To Consider
When narrowing down individual storage space companies, these are a few things to look for.
Online Vs. In-Person
In the past, buying a storage cell was done in person. Usually, you would get an appointment with a leasing agent who would be available on the premises to show you the facility and guide you through the process. This is still an option today but you can also do this online.
You can simply make an account with the storage company and do all your paperwork and even billing through the online portal or the website. Ongoing fees and service charges can also be paid online. This gives you the option to work with a storage company virtually anywhere in the world. You can always visit the facility to see it in person and still manage things digitally.
One of the most important considerations is the size of the facility and the size of the individual cell you’re getting. Smaller facilities will have less space so it can be hard to get a unit. However, people are leaving units all the time so there is no harm in trying your luck with a smaller facility that may be closer to home.
Larger facilities nearly always have room but they are usually located further out from the city. The storage cells themselves also come in a variety of sizes and price points. You can get a small unit measuring just 5ftx5ft or extra-large units going all the way up to 20ftx20ft. Some storage providers also offer custom-size storage areas so you can store things like vehicles, large machinery, or even just a lot of personal belongings.
When calculating the desired area, you also need to keep in mind that you need some space to get in and out of the storage cell and access all your things. This will not be necessary for small cells but for larger cells, this is an important consideration.
Generally, you can use a storage unit for as long as you like. Much like a residential or commercial property, as long as you are paying the rent and the associated fees, you can use the space. Most storage companies will have their contract sorted either in weeks or months. You can sign the agreement to use the space for a certain amount of time and then you can keep renewing the contract for as long as you need.
However, storage companies will also usually have a minimum rental period. In most cases, this is going to be 12 weeks or three months. In the case that you want to let go of the storage unit, the company might also have a time period within which you must submit your application. If you submit the application to give up the storage cell too late, you will end up paying for the next week/month as well.
Each storage company will offer some basic services and some advanced services. The main difference is in how they deliver those services. For instance, they all provide ‘security for your belongings but how they provide that security is what matters. Some might just have a simple padlock on the door or the shutter.
Others may have video surveillance, on-site guards, and specialized locks. Some might also provide climate control for the cell, some may provide remote video access to the cell, and many other additional services. These can either be a part of your agreement or you can buy them as add-ons. Look into different companies and what they offer and see what suits your needs best.
Keep in mind that different companies will provide you access to the facility at different times. Some offer 24-hour access, some provide access only on weekdays, some may allow you to visit on Saturday, and some are closed on special occasions while others are not – so there are a lot of different access options. Talk to the service provider about how and when you can access the facility beforehand. Not having suitable options can be a major deal-breaker.
The cost of storage depends on how much space you have and how long you are occupying the space. Some companies market extremely low rates but those are only possible when you are in a very long contract with the company. The contract itself can be on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annual basis.
The most convenient option is a monthly contract. This way you can continue or terminate the contract whenever you need and you aren’t tied into a very serious commitment. If you are certain you will use the space for a year or more then you can get better rates by starting off with a longer contract term.
Just like access times, the location of the unit itself is essential for self-service units. Lower-priced units are usually located further out from the city or even in other parts of the country. While you do save money on the rent itself, the task of getting the stuff from the unit can cost a lot more in time and fuel.
A slightly more expensive option that is close by will be a more efficient solution. In the case that you are getting a full-service option, the physical location of the storage doesn’t matter that much since everything is shipped to you or picked up from your doorstep.
The rental agreement or the rental contract are the terms that you finalize with the service provider. It will cover the liabilities of both parties and list all the services, costs, and agreements related to the storage space.
Depending on the service you choose, it can cover a lot of different things. Have a look at what you are liable for if you don’t play your part and what the storage company is liable for if there is any fault in their service. Make sure you go through this in detail and discuss anything you don’t understand with the service provider.
It’s a good idea to get insurance for your goods. Some of your items might already be covered in your home insurance or your home warranty plan. You can also get third-party insurance for belongings you are putting into the storage unit. Most storage companies provide asset insurance either as part of their service or as an add-on. Whichever one you choose, it is useful to have.
To get an idea of a company’s overall service quality, have a look at online reviews. You can also ask around your network for recommendations for good storage facilities. In any case, it’s also a good idea to visit the facility itself to get an idea of the quality of the infrastructure and the team that is managing the operation. Some crucial things to look for are the quality of security features in the facility and how well the storage cells are built. With all of these tips and tricks in mind, it will be much to make the right choice when selecting a storage solution.