Storage Units 101

Whether you’re downsizing due to a move, or you just want to free up space in your new home, you might be considering putting some of your things into a storage unit.  There are a lot of things to consider when deciding whether to store your goods in a rented storage unit.  

Here are ten questions you need to ask yourself if you’re thinking about it:

1. Do I really need all this stuff?  

If it’s not something that you’re going to use immediately, or if it’s just part of the clutter of your life, consider getting rid of it altogether.  

2. Have I factored the cost of storage into my monthly budget?

Storage unit costs can add up quickly, and you may want to consider renting or buying a larger home to store your things. Items that are close at hand are more likely to be used, and making trips to your storage unit to sort through boxes can be time-consuming and frustrating.

3. How far is the storage unit from my home?

If you must drive across town to get into your boxes, factor into your calculations, the time and expense of driving back and forth from your storage unit to determine if the distance is appropriate.

4. Is the storage unit climate controlled?

Climate can destroy your goods much faster than you realize. Not only are your items subject to the change of weather, but they’re subject to the whims of the storage unit property owners and managers. You can’t guarantee that the climate will be controlled according to your own requirements, and even boxes are subject to decay, leaving your goods exposed to the elements, pests, and so on.

5. What about security?

Many storage units have gates accessible only by a passcode, but even a passcode and a locked gate aren’t a deterrent for a determined thief. Ask the property manager if the storage unit is guarded and monitored by a security monitoring company.

6. What times are my storage unit accessible?

Not all storage units are available 24/7, and you might find yourself getting frustrated if you can’t get to your stored goods when you want to.

7. What if I get locked out/in?

If you forget your passcode or key, or even lose your key, you might find yourself unable to get into your storage unit until you can reach the site manager. Worse yet, if your storage unit is behind an automatic gate, you might find yourself locked behind a barrier until rescue arrives, and in some cases, you may be charged a fee for rousing the manager out of bed to rescue you.

8. What can’t I store?

Storage units aren’t like your home, and every company will have restrictions on what you can and can’t keep on site. Items that are dangerous (such a paint, solvents, flammables, etc.) are typically prohibited. While food may not be explicitly banned, even food that is well-packed is subject to decay and rotting, which may invite insects and pests into your stored goods.

9. Does my homeowner’s insurance cover my stored items?

Not all homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage to, liability from, or theft of your stored goods.  Be sure to check your insurance policy carefully, and if necessary purchase a separate one for your stored items.

10. How long is my contract, and how much notice must I give before moving out?

Many storage unit companies tie you into a fixed period or rent, much like a lease, and some require a week (or more) advanced notice before you move out.  Check your contract carefully before you sign it.

If you’re able to answer these questions to your satisfaction, you can set your mind at ease if you choose to store your items in a storage unit.