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Storage: Where to Begin?

Tips on Choosing Storage

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There are various reasons why you might need to look into storage options. Maybe you're moving from your old house before your new place is ready? Perhaps you're down-sizing and your new home does not have enough room for all your treasured items? Or you've just inherited Aunt Sally's furniture and you want to save it for when your daughter gets her own place. Whatever the reason there are a few things you should know about storage.

If your household goods need to be put into storage for any length of time, your moving company may provide this service. Ask your movers and have them prepare a quote. Even if it costs a little more to use their service, it may be worth the extra amount for the convenience of having your moving company deliver your items directly from your home to the storage facility. If this is an option, make sure you ask if you have access to your things and if you do, what kind of notice is required. Also, research their storage facility as you would any other company.

How Much Storage Do You Need?

So you need a place to store your things, but before you start investigating various options available, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need all this stuff?
  • If I got rid of some of this stuff, would I really miss them?
  • When was the last time I used it? (if you can't answer this, you should probably chuck it!)
  • Does it have any sentimental or monetary value? Will this value increase with time?

Of course, you really should ask yourself these questions before you start packing. The key to any successful move is to sort, strip-down and sell. If you can't sell it, donate it.

The next question is, what are you storing? Items such as wine, boats and vehicles all require special storage. Or if you're storing valuable papers, you may want to ask about climate-control facilities. Just keep in mind that climate-control storage costs more, but will prevent temperature changes from damaging your belongings. So, determine which items will be stored, take inventory, make a list and have this information ready when you start calling companies.

Now that you know how much and what kind of stuff you'll have to store, you need to determine the size of storage unit you will require. The information provided below is pretty standard for most companies, although most companies can accommodate what you need by rearranging moveable walls. (Note: the measurements below are represented as L x W x H in feet)

  • 5 x 5 x 10 = Small items, boxes, books, etc...
  • 5 x 10 x 10 = Small 1 bedroom home
  • 10 x 10 x 10 = 1 bedroom home
  • 10 x 15 x 10 = 2-3 bedroom home
  • 10 x 20 x 10 = 3-4 bedroom home
  • 10 x 30 x 10 = 5-7 bedroom home

How to Assess the Company

Do your research. Just like choosing a moving company, you want to be sure your things are in safe hands. Unlike hiring a moving company, storage is often needed at your destination. This can be more difficult to orchestrate. If you've hired a moving company, it is best to have the moving company make an additional stop at the storage facility so you don't have to move twice. Just remember to properly label storage items and load them as a group either first or last depending on when the truck will be unloading at the storage facility.

Arranging storage from another location is a little harder to arrange as word-of-mouth suggestions and quick checks are not as easy to obtain in a city or town that is unfamiliar. I recommend starting with online checks. The Better Business Bureau will be your primary source for any complaints issued against the company.

Another option is to contact the local police station. Ask about the crime rate in the area where the facility is located. Find out if they've had any break-ins or reports of any problems. This is important information to obtain, especially if you're moving to another city or town and are unfamiliar with neighborhoods.

Ask your landlord, if you're moving into a rental, or the real estate agent who helped in purchasing your new home. Larger real estate companies have offices across the country and can usually give you a reference in another location. This holds true for the Chamber of Commerce as well. Most cities and towns have local representation, and although companies who are members of the Chamber will be smaller, it's a good place to start. And when it comes to service, sometimes smaller is better.

No matter where the storage facility is located, preliminary information can be obtained over the phone. You can ask about size, cost, climate-control, and your ability to access your things when it's convenient to you. If you are able to conduct an in-person tour of the facilities, set-up an appointment with your top 3 companies. If this is not feasible, ask the company enough questions so you can make an informed decision.

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