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Finding the Right Self Storage Facility

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We all have different needs. One of the goals of this website is to make moving a more normative process, but every single move is going to have its own quirks. There are many reasons that you may want or need to put some of your things in self storage, and many of these reasons (including what kinds of things you are storing) will determine which location is best.

Moving is stressful. One is often tempted to rush to judgment on things just to get them out of the way. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior will wreak havoc on your budget. Before you decide to store anything, keep the following in mind:

  • The more stuff you have, the more storage is going to cost you. Consider holding a garage sale or donating items that you know you won't actually miss.
  • It matters how long you plan on storing these things. Do all of them need to go in storage, or can some of them just go to a friend's house for a little while?
  • There is always the option of portable storage (see below).
  • Always get more than one quote.

TIP: A garage sale could actually make you money, not to mention cut down on waste and the weight of your total shipment.

Things to look for in self-storage

When you are checking out a potential facility, the first thing to do is use your eyes; how does it look? Is it well-maintained, or rusty and dirty? You can probably expect similar treatment for your things. The company should have clear pest control policies in place. Check out their offices, too; make sure the area looks organized and professional.

Ask about their security policies, especially if you are very concerned about your items' protection. Do they have surveillance or 24-hour security? Inquire about their insurance policies and compare them to what your own company might provide. Assess whether or not they seem comfortable answering these questions.

What do they allow, and what is prohibited? This will vary from location to location.

Specific needs and facilities

  • Automobiles. Many facilities will let you store your car in addition to other items. Some specialize in just cars. There are even businesses that cater specifically to RVs; they offer certain features, like climate control, that will protect your vehicle better than just leaving it in the driveway or a more standard storage location.
  • Boats. These facilities are often located close to a marina or body of water. In the offseason or during your move, you will have the comfort of knowing that your boat is weather-protected.
  • Wine. These temperature-controlled facilities specialize in caring for your rare or expensive wine during your move. In addition to preserving the integrity of what's in the bottle, you can count on them providing security for your possessions that you wouldn't have just leaving them somewhere else.
  • Smaller facilities. If you just want to store some important documents, compact discs, or jewelry, there are facilities that specialize in much smaller spaces with high security.

Climate-controlled facilities

At these locations, changes in weather won't affect your belongings because the ventilation keeps things at a constant temperature. The units are built solidly, and don't allow a lot of outside dirt or dust in. If you have antiques or other priceless possessions, you can make sure that they receive the best treatment possible.

Portable storage

There are companies that specialize in portable storage, wherein they drop off a mobile container at your home, you pack it, and they pick it up. From there, they can store it in their own facility, or move it to your new location (pick-up and delivery service). You are responsible for unpacking. This option is more economical, and can also be a convenience; if you have them leave the container at your new home, you can access your things as often as you want for as long as you want.

Photo by: Hankwang (Wikimedia Commons)

Patrick Hanan  Posted by Patrick Hanan on August 27, 2009

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