People don’t typically wake up one morning and say, “I’m running out of space, I’d better find a good self storage facility.” That’s not how it works. What usually happens is that an event occurs that propels people into a chaotic search for the closest facility to their home. Maybe they’ve passed it by on a daily commute or seen it advertised on Facebook.
The reason for needing storage does not matter. What matters is finding a convenient, secure, well-maintained, affordable facility that is the perfect fit for your needs. There are so many great facilities available, that you may have some trouble narrowing down your choices. Remember, even though the demand for storage is ever-present, storage providers are working hard to win your business.
Find the Self Storage Facility That’s Right for You
Life transitions that prompt the need for extra storage space are countless: moving, remodeling, marriage, downsizing, and new business, to name a few. Don’t make the mistake of moving into the most convenient location without looking at amenities, security, and price.
To get you started on your self storage journey, here are a few suggestions to help you organize your ideas, prioritize your needs, and find storage that is the perfect fit for you.
Understand Your Needs
Think about what you’re storing and how long you plan to store these items.
- Create an inventory of the items you plan to store.
- Identify the items that you may need to access while they are in storage.
- Measure and estimate the collective packing size of these items.
- Account for extra space to provide ventilation and ease of access.
When storing items for short periods of time, it’s fine to pack everything close together. For example, if you’re storing your entire 5-bedroom house while waiting for your new home to be completed, you’ll be unpacking within a few months. On the other hand, if you’ve cleaned out the garage and your storage unit is the new permanent home for those items, you need to allow extra space for easy access.
You May Need a Climate-Controlled Unit
Depending on what you’re storing, you may want a climate-controlled unit. These units keep the temperature and humidity within a specific range. For example, dry climates can cause wood to crack and split and humid climates can cause mold and mildew. Climate-controlled units can be more expensive but worth the cost if your items are temperature sensitive.
Think About Location
How many times will you need to visit your storage facility? If you’re going to need regular access, a convenient location is important. However, be aware that a facility located in the heart of the city will be more expensive than one outside of town. If you don’t need quick access to your items, a facility farther from the city will be less costly.
Consider Unit Size Options
Self-storage units are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations. Naturally, larger units cost more per month, so it’s smart to have an overall idea of how much space you’ll need. You don’t want to pay for extra, unused space unless you’re planning to store more items over time. Another factor to consider is the design of the space. Some units are narrow but have a lot of vertical space; others are wider with lower ceilings. In some cases, one layout is preferable.
Storage Facility Cost Can Vary Considerably
Because many storage facilities are independently owned, business owners have the option of setting their own prices. It’s always smart to shop around because you may be able to find a better deal by making a few phone calls. Storage companies frequently offer promotions. If your preferred facility isn’t offering any deals, it pays to ask. You can also mention a competitor’s promotion; deal matching is always a possibility.
Cost, however, should not be your only consideration. You need a reputable company with state-of-the-art security, a variety of customer amenities, and a range of unit sizes that will work for your needs. Look for video surveillance, perimeter fencing, security locks, and electronic access. Many companies are now offering Bluetooth electronic lock and access control that allows you to access your self storage facility and your unit from your smart device. You’ll also want a knowledgeable management team that is willing to provide you with answers to your questions as well as a tour of the property.
Check Insurance and Tenant Protection Plans
If you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, call your agent to verify that your stored belongings are covered under your present policy. You may find that your facility must provide specific security features for your items to be covered. If your policy does not cover stored items, you should be able to purchase insurance from your preferred storage company.
Some facilities are now offering tenant protection plans. These plans are not insurance. They are a contract between the tenant and the facility owners with the facility assuming limited responsibility for the tenant’s belongings while they are stored in a locked unit. Ask your facility manager for more details.
Whatever you do, choose carefully. It’s worth the time and effort to find the facility that is the best option for your needs. Once you’ve moved your belongings into a unit, it’s highly unlikely that you will want to go to the trouble to switch facilities.