How to Get the Best Deal on Storage

If you have a small home -- or just a lot of stuff -- you might want to look into a storage facility, whether for a short or a long-term stay.

Here are some tips on storage -- what you should be asking, and what you should be choosing for your storage needs.

Your Options
Many moving companies offer storage services. The benefits include one entity handling the move and storage, saving you on the effort, and possibly saving you money as well.

You can also choose a self-storage unit, where you do all the heavy-lifting (literally), loading up a truck – which storage facilities will sometimes give for free -- and unloading your stuff into a storage container.

Mobile storage is a hybrid offering: a portable container is dropped off at your home or business, you load it, and it's either stored on your property or at a large facility with other storage containers.

Location Location Location
If self-storage is your preferred choice, consider using a facility close to home. This can save money and time if you make frequent visits.

With all options, be sure to take note of access times for your stuff. Some offer 24-hour access, others have more normal business hours, and some facilities, like mobile storage centers, require advance notice to get at your unit.

Security
Investigate the security measures for the facility you wish to choose. How do they intend to store your goods within the unit itself? Are the security measures different during regular business hours versus after-hours? What kind of neighborhood is the storage facility in? Would you feel comfortable visiting at off-hours?

Price
The price range depends on size, storage period, special needs, and the storage facilities' own marketing objectives. Special offers and discounts from the storage facilities will be fewer during busy periods, and storage companies will try to offer incentives to persuade you to commit to a longer rental period. You'll often find deals for the first month free, so look around.

Don't choose solely on price; security and other factors are key as well. Get recommendations from friends and family, and check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints about a specific company.

Insurance
Insurance is an important issue to investigate, especially if you plan to store high-value items. Storage companies offer their own insurance, and it is recommended to find out about the facility's procedures in cases such as fire, flood, etc. Understand how the insurance will cover any damage. Also, check with your own agent to see if you renters insurance or homeowners insurance will cover you.

What can I store?
Given the appropriate environment, almost anything can be stored for a certain period of time. It's easier to list the things you should not store: perishable food (don't want to attract pests), any combustible materials, plants, high-value items and firearms. Ask your storage company for specific items you can't store.

Do I Need It?
When deciding whether to store your items, consider what you really need to keep, what can go and what may be needed some day. Keeping only what you really need will reduce storage costs and you won't have to move them again later. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do I need the item?
  • Will I ever use this item again?
  • Will you really ever repair the items that need to be repaired?
  • Clothing items -- if you have not worn a specific garment, will you ever wear it?

Junk It or Sell It

After you have made your final decisions regarding all the items, think about how to dispose of everything you have decided you don't need and will not store. Throw the items out, give them away, or donate them to various charities.

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