Self-storage can be a valuable tool for your life, but it can also be a little confusing. Here are answers to questions or concerns first-time storage customers may have.
When you need to use self-storage, for the long term or just a couple of months, you want to know what to expect. To help you with that, here are answers to the most common new-customer questions about self-storage. Please note, not all information applies to all self-storage companies so be sure to ask these questions when choosing a specific storage company so you can be sure of their policies.
When is my space rent due?
Storage companies tend to run along two lines with regard to your due date. Be sure to clarify this issue when you sign your storage agreement so you can avoid late fees or other penalties.
Some storage companies will want you to pay on the first of the month, regardless of when you started storing. Your initial rental payment will normally be prorated until the end of the current month, and your full rent amount will be due on the first.
Other storage agreements renew on the date you sign and your rent is due on that date every month. For instance, if you sign your agreement on the 14th of June, you’ll pay for an entire month and your next rent payment is due on the 14th of July, then August and so on.
How long do I have to rent for?
When you rent storage, be sure to pay attention to this part of your agreement. Many companies offer a month-to-month rental with no minimum term required beyond the first month. Other companies will require that you rent for a specific length of time; there may even be a penalty for vacating early!
If you know you only need short-term storage, or if you are unsure of how long you may need your unit, a month-to-month storage contract is what you want.
What methods of payment are available?
As a general rule, the majority of storage companies will accept cash, checks, and most major credit cards; these may include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. Some also offer automatic credit card payments and platforms for online payment which you can generally find on their websites. Again, ask about accepted methods of payment when you sign your agreement.
When will I be able to access my unit?
Your storage contract will list both office hours and access hours, which are usually different. In many cases, you’ll be able to enter your unit every day of the year, during the specified hours; a few storage facilities will limit access on some days like holidays or Sundays, so if you are unsure, you’ll want to ask.
Do I need insurance on my unit?
Most storage companies have insurance on their property, but this will not cover your goods. Your storage contract will usually address this fact and advise you that yes, you do need insurance. Fortunately, you probably already have protection for your belongings and won’t need an additional policy.
If you are a homeowner, your home insurance policy likely covers items you keep in storage. Check before you rent storage and bring your policy with you when you sign your agreement. Renter’s insurance may cover stored items, too.
If you haven’t already got a policy to insure the items you store, you can usually buy one from your insurance agent or your storage office for a small monthly fee.
Do I need to buy a lock?
No matter what security features a storage property offers, your lock is important and you want to be sure it’s strong, secure, and up to the job of protecting your belongings.
Some self-storage companies provide a free lock when you store with them. As long as the lock is new and tamper-resistant, that’s a great value-add for you! If the lock has been used by another tenant you don’t want to use it; there’s no way to know who may have the key or combination to that lock; pass it up and buy a new one. Same goes If the packaging doesn’t state that a lock is “high security” or “tamper resistant.”
What should I do when I want to move out?
You will want to notify the storage office before you vacate your unit. How much notice you need to give, and whether that notice needs to be in writing, will be addressed in your rental agreement. It’s important that you follow the correct procedure for terminating your rental so that you don’t accrue additional rent or other charges.
Beyond notice, be sure to completely empty your unit and make sure it’s clean when you leave by sweeping it out, dusting off any shelves you may have used, and wiping up any spills you may find.
What else do I need to know?
Your self-storage company may have specific rules or policies that others don’t, but these should be clearly spelled out in either your rental agreement or some other document you’re given at the time you sign up.
You might also receive a list of items that are not permitted in storage. This is likely to include things like:
Fuel and explosives
Weapons and ammunition
Your storage company may prohibit the use of your unit for manufacturing, auto repair, band practice, or other activities. There may be other restrictions as well, so be sure to read the rental agreement and any addenda carefully.
All of these limitations, of course, can be clarified by just asking your self-storage staff about them.
Are there benefits to self-storage that I may not have considered?
YES! In addition to the obvious benefit of being an affordable way to protect your property, self-storage offers benefits and options that you may not have considered.
For instance, you might find that you can rent a mailbox at your storage office, which could be very convenient for you. Many self-storage companies also offer shelving rental for your unit, which can help keep your unit organized and is especially helpful if you’ll be in and out of your unit on a regular basis.
Your storage company may also offer business services in addition to storage. Fax and copy services, delivery acceptance, extra-large spaces for contractors, multiple space discounts and, in some cases, 24 hour access to some spaces.
Don’t forget to look for the free stuff, too! Do you get a gift on your first visit? Often, these gifts are useful items or gift cards; a commuter mug is always a good thing! As previously mentioned, there may also be a free lock when you rent storage; this can save you some real money!
Other storage benefits might include the free rental of a move-in truck, drive up units, sales of boxes and packing supplies, additional security for more valuable items, and gift card giveaways throughout the year. Look for offers like these when you’re considering self-storage since they add both value and savings to your storage experience.
And finally, don’t overlook the value and benefit of an experienced, helpful, friendly staff. Your self-storage professional should be able to offer answers to your questions and advice on how to store and protect your belongings. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t seem to know what they’re talking about, reconsider that company; the person behind the counter should be able to help you with all of your storage needs, including storage ideas and information.
Self-storage doesn’t have to be a years’ long commitment and it doesn’t have to be a major inconvenience. Today’s self-storage facilities offer options for lease terms, unit sizes, and more to make your experience easier than you might imagine even if it’s just for a month or two.
There are many reasons why temporary storage can be a benefit to you. But whether you decide to store a few things or an entire houseful, you can relax, knowing that the modern security measures implemented by most storage companies will protect your belongings and keep them safe until you take them home again.
So, why would you want temporary storage? These five reasons may be the most common, but there are many more times when self-storage can be a great help in your life.
Moving. There are, of course, many reasons for moving. Relocating for a job, military orders, or retirement for instance. But no matter why you’re moving self-storage can help. You may need to send your belongings ahead to your new location while you take a vacation on your way to your next home. Conversely you might find that you have to leave vehicles, boats, or RVs behind for a time until you can retrieve them, or you might need to live in temporary housing before you move into your new abode. No matter the why of you move, self-storage is an invaluable help. When you’re away from your property, self storage offers security and protection for your peace of mind.
Remodeling/Repairing. Houses are an investment that require upkeep and maintenance, but even if the house or apartment you live in is rented, there will still be times that you need to have your furniture and belongings out of the way. Whether you’re painting the entire house or just one room, replacing carpeting, or upgrading your kitchen and bathroom, having sofas and the like out of the way can be very helpful. Self-storage doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment, so even if your project is only going to take a few weeks, you can protect your belongings while you finish the job.
Downsizing. Empty nest? Retiring? Moving in or out of a shared living situation? There are many things that happen in life that might require us to live in less space than we’re used to. Whatever the reason, when you need to have fewer possessions in your living space for a few weeks or even longer, self-storage is the answer.
Seasonal vehicles. Your RV, boat, motorcycle, canoe, snowmobile, and any other seasonal conveyance can be stored in self storage during the “off” season. Consider the advantages to having these items out of the way rather than taking up all the space in your garage or shed! You can rent storage or a parking space for almost any of your large seasonal equipment, keeping it secure when it’s not in use and convenient to retrieve when you’re ready.
College. It’s not always convenient to carry all of your belongings and furniture home for the summer and then back with you in fall. But a great many colleges reassign residences every year so you can't leave your belongings in your room all summer long. If you’ve been living off campus, it’s not sensible to pay rent while you’re away for several months in the summer. It is far more cost effective and convenient to rent a storage unit to hold your belongings during the summer break, and it will be easily accessible when you return in the fall. To make it even better, share a unit with friends to save money!
The garage is often the most cluttered, least organized, most difficult to clean up areas of most people’s homes. Oftentimes, the garage is so full of stuff and junk, equipment and tools, that there’s no room for the car that’s supposed to be there. But cleaning the garage is just too daunting a task for most of us. Keep reading for our easy, garage clearing tips and tricks that you can do in just one weekend.
The walls of your garage are probably not being used to their full capacity. Sure, some of them are covered by shelving (we’ll get to that later) but not all of them! So, make use of that extra space. Wall storage using peg board or systems designed specifically for this purpose can not only make your garage more organized, but also increase floor space.
Once you’ve added some wall storage, make use of it as fully as possible. First off, hang your garden tools. Rakes, shovels, hoes, and more tend to be shoved into corners or dropped wherever it’s convenient. Keep these things easy to find by hanging them from hooks on the wall. Many automotive tools can be stored this way, as well.
Another excellent way to organize your garage is to use drawers. Not just tool box drawers, although they’re certainly a great place to keep small parts and tools, but storage drawers. You can buy inexpensive plastic storage at most stores. These are great for keeping things that can’t be hung on the wall and that aren’t well suited to shelving.
Don’t create a “junk drawer,” though! Use labels to denote what each drawer holds and stick to that. A disorganized drawer or two is probably better than an entire garage, but it’s a lot easier to keep your space uncluttered if you stick to your plan.
Shelves are a good choice for holding yard necessities such as hoses, soil, seed, and fertilizer. They’re great for tarps, sporting equipment, and other items that you want to keep close at hand. You can also use shelving to store camping and hiking supplies, canned foods, and other things that may not be easily stored anywhere else.
Get Rid of the Junk
We all know that there’s a large quantity of the stuff we keep in our garages that we just don’t need, but can’t find the motivation to sort through. But there are some things that you can toss out without a second thought, which will make getting rid of other things easier. The things to discard immediately include:
Outdated electronics. Walkman, VHS tapes and VCR? Really? Corded telephones, analog televisions, excess cords you’re saving “just in case,” and anything else that’s taking up space and serving no purpose.
Broken or duplicate things. If that weed-eater has been broken for six months, it’s not likely you’re going to fix it. You also don’t need those cracked football pads, or that electric skillet that has no lid and no cord. Get rid of all the broken stuff you’ve been holding on to for . . . what?
Old reading materials. That collection of 42 issues of Family Circle, or the entire last year’s issues of your local newspaper aren’t worth hanging on to. Get rid of all those old newspapers, magazines, unneeded repair manuals, and all those catalogs you’ve never ordered from.
DIY project leftovers. Dried paint brushes, pieces of wood that weren’t needed, and anything else that’s been used, saved, and never touched again. It’s just taking up space.
Old clothing. If it’s been in boxes for more than a year, you’re not likely to be wearing it again ever. Get rid of it. The same goes for kid’s clothes; outdated, out of style, and stained or damaged clothing can go.
Waiting projects. How long have you been planning on upcycling that old dresser into an entryway bench? Any projects or crafts you can’t seem to get around to need to go. We’ve all got that habit of procrastinating with good intentions but it might be time to admit that it’s not going to happen.
Clearly, some of these things, such as clothes, craft supplies, and duplicate stuff, can go to the thrift store. Most other items can go in the garbage. However, electronics, chemicals, and old tires should probably be recycled; check for local facilities that can handle these things.
As you’ve hung and shelved the contents of your garage, thrown out everything you don’t need or won’t use, and filled your drawers with all manner of things, what’s left is the stuff you want to keep. Maybe you lack enough room for it, or maybe it’s something seasonal, like Christmas decorations. You might have a stack of things you only use rarely, or something you can’t part with but don’t need to have nearby. These things can be kept in secure, affordable, convenient self-storage.
When you use self-storage to protect your belongings, you can access them easily yet relax, knowing they’re protected by excellent security measures and strong locks.
It’s not always necessary to have all of our belongings in our homes, sheds, or garages. When something isn’t frequently used or serves a limited purposes, or when seasons - and your needs - change, self-storage is an excellent option for keeping your things safe and accessible, while helping to keep your life less cluttered.
Moving means packing, loading, and transporting things, and it can also mean a lot of stress. In addition, there are many opportunities for injury to yourself or damage to your belongings. A little care and proper technique can make your packing, moving, and storing experience much safer!
Before you even assemble your first box, make sure you’re well-rested and focused on your task. Packing a box of books or kitchen supplies or bedding might not seem like something you need to concentrate on, but being distracted might cause you to make a mistake (like over packing a box) that could cause problems later on. When you’re ready to start packing, do it on a good night’s sleep when you’re feeling well and can focus on your work.
When packing, keep these rules in mind:
Pack boxes for stability. Use towels, clothing, bedding, bubble-wrap, or other items to pack things so they don’t shift.
Limit the weight of your boxes. You know how much you can lift comfortably; don’t exceed your limits simply to save space. Don’t forget you’ll be lifting and moving those boxes later, so make sure you won’t be straining to do it.
For appliances, furniture, and stacks of boxes, use a dolly and straps. If you don’t have one, and if your moving truck didn’t come with one, you can usually rent one for a small amount of money.
Close boxes securely with strong tape. Use rope, bungee cords, or shrink wrap to secure the doors and drawers on furniture and appliances. You don’t want anything popping open mid-move!
Protect your back!
If you’ll be lifting a lot, or very heavy items, invest in a back-protecting brace or lifting belt.
Get help! If an item is too big or heavy for you to lift or move without undue strain, stop! Ask someone for assistance.
Once everything is packed and you’re stacking boxes on your dolly, put the heaviest containers on the bottom and the lightest ones on top.
When lifting, bend at the knees, pick up the load and hold it to your body near your core, then lift with your legs.
Get help! If an item is too big or heavy for you to lift or move without undue strain, stop! Ask a friend for assistance.
A secure load is a safe load!
Load furniture and appliances first. Stack them tightly and use rope, shrink wrap, or locking bars to keep them snug. A shifting load is an accident waiting to happen, both inside the truck and on the road.
Now load your boxes, just as in item 7, above. When they’re all in and packed tightly, secure them as you did your appliances.
When you arrive at your destination, whether it’s your new home or a self-storage unit, unpack from the top down. Pulling items from the bottom or middle can cause things to fall, maybe on you!
When unpacking, be careful; even with your best efforts, items may have shifted or come loose; be aware of potential hazards.
Moving is never fun or easy, but it can be safe. Use the information above to help make your move accident-free, and to get everything to your new location in one piece.
With spring and summer comes gardens, which also means equipment and supplies. Here’s how self-storage can help you manage your gardening, and do it affordably.
Spring is in full force in the Pacific Northwest, and gardeners are out in their yards in every neighborhood. Whether you’re planting fruits, vegetables, or trees, or even if you’re just nurturing your lawn or encouraging perennials, gardening can be a relaxing, rewarding hobby. Read on to find out how self-storage can make gardening easier.
All that equipment takes up space!
If you’re the owner of a power tiller, or just a large collection of shovels, rakes, hoes, and other gardening tools, it’s not always practical to store them in the garage or shed once you’ve got your garden going. Take all those big tools and machinery, unused pots, leftover materials from your raised beds, and anything else you don’t need once your seeds are planted and put them in self-storage. Make sure they’re clean and dry when you store them, and that’s how they’ll be when you pull them out next season.
At the end of the summer, you can also put your lawn mower, garden hoses, and other yard maintenance equipment in this unit, too! And with all this stuff out of your way, you’ll be storing bikes, kayaks, motorcycles, and other summer stuff in your shed or garage until fall.
Pile on the Sale Stuff!
Your garden’s in place, but you just found a huge sale on terra cotta pots or organic compost. Did you just pick up a bunch of free pallets for making garden boxes next year? No worries. A self-storage unit is a great place to keep things you’ve bought during the season so they’re safe and protected until you need them next year. As fall approaches, all those gardening supplies are going to have reduced pricing and it’d be a shame to miss out on a good deal because you didn’t have room for it in the shed!
Seeds and stuff.
Do you have a large or extremely varied garden? You might want to think about picking up a display rack (check thrift stores and retailer close-outs) to store your seeds in, and maybe some shelving or drawers to protect bulbs. Whether you’re buying supplies for next year’s garden or storing the seed harvest from your current plants, a safe, dry, climate-controlled place to store them can be a great thing.
Garden Storage can be very affordable.
Self-storage units come in a variety of sizes, and are designed to be packed from floor to ceiling and wall to wall if you want. This means you only pay for the space you’re using and no more. A small unit to keep manual garden tools, hoses, bags of supplies, racks of seeds, and stacks of pots and boxes won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Check with your local storage facility to find out just what size of unit you’ll need and how you can make the most of the space.
Self storage isn’t just for boxes of possessions, furniture, and moving. We’re here to help you in everyday life. Gardening is a great way to de-stress, cut your food budget, have great fresh fruits and veggies for the winter, and keep your yard looking beautiful with all those flowers and shrubs. Self-storage can make gardening easier and more organized while keeping your home, garage, and shed less cluttered. Just be sure to check with your storage facility about how to store things like soil, fertilizer, and gas-powered equipment.