Updated: Dec 10, 2019
There are many life stages and moments where you may consider moving some of your household items to a self-storage unit. And typically, the first consideration is size: how much do I need to store the things I have? Size matters, but it’s actually not the most important factor. Choosing the right self-storage unit is a multi-step process, at the root of which are two key questions:
Why are you storing items?How and when do you want to access those items?
Why You’re Choosing a Self-Storage Unit
Life happens, and there are a number of times when you may look to a self-storage unit, including:
Seasonal change (clothes and equipment)
Downsizing an apartment or home
Welcoming a new family member
Relative moving in
Storing yard or patio furniture
Major home renovation
Simplifying your lifestyle
Business Files and Furniture Need Storage
Contractor Needing Extra Space to Store Tools and Equipment
College Student Moving
No Space at Home for that Boat or RV (as well as other recreational vehicles)
All of these reasons require that you create more space in your existing apartment, home, or office, without selling, donating, or ditching the items presently housed there. You’ve decided keeping these items and paying to store them is more important than parting with them – so you need the best possible space to do so.
How and When You’ll Access Your Self-Storage Unit
Identifying the reason you need self-storage then leads to the next question: what are you storing, and how often will you need to access it?. Storing seasonal items like holiday decorations or yard and patio furniture is very different from storing in-home furniture you don’t plan to use in the near future, like an antique desk or family heirloom you’re moving to make way for a crib.
Knowing how often you’ll access your unit and for what purposes will help you figure out what type of storage facility to choose, where your unit lives in the building, and how easy it is to reach from your car or truck.
Estimating the Best Self-Storage Unit Size
Once you’re clear on why you’re looking for a self-storage unit, and how you’ll use it, be sure to fully inventory the items you plan to store. If you start to visit self-storage locations without a clear idea of exactly what you need to store, you’re more likely to choose the incorrect size.
Check Out our Storage Estimator for more help on selecting your unit size.
Proximity to Your Home
Beyond size, you may think this is the most important factor, but don’t let it blind you to better options a little farther down the road. Think about when and how often you’ll visit the unit. Is driving another 15 minutes worth it to store your valued items in a clean, well-run establishment?
Storing Your Items
Unlike a moving truck, your items will be in a self-storage unit for a long time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think like a mover. Consider carefully how things are organized, stored, stacked and protected, but give a bit more time to what containers they’re stored in. Moving boxes are susceptible to environmental changes, can attract pests and break down over time — which is bad news for any items you’re keeping inside. Instead, choose heavy duty storage containers.
Disassemble large furniture — like dining room tables— wherever possible, and use storage bags and moving blankets to protect larger items like mattresses, couches and other upholstered pieces.