The Do’s and Don’ts of Self-Storage To Help You Get Quickly Organized

Whether you’re a first-time self-storage renter or you’ve been a self-storage tenant for a while now, knowing the ins and outs of self-storage, from finding the right facility to choosing the right amenities for your needs, can sound like a serious research project. Instead of tackling this task on your own, we are providing you with a series of steps that can make renting a self- storage unit and keeping your items in storage feel like a breeze.

Here’s what you can do to start your self-storage journey:

1. Do: Take time to find the ideal facility for you

Start your search early, by looking online and comparing locations, self-storage prices, convenience and even reviews before making a decision. Make sure the storage facility you pick checks all the boxes on your list whether you’re considering pricing, amenities, distance and other criteria that matter to you. Keep in mind that waiting too long might leave you with less choices.

2. Do: Choose a unit close to your home

Convenience is key when considering a self-storage unit, not only because it’s helping you to keep extra items outside of your home but also because you want to make sure that getting there won’t take too much of your time.

3. Do: Choose the right size unit

Once you’ve found the perfect facility for you, it’s time to decide on the size of the unit you will be renting. If needed, you could even take measurements of the items you plan to store to make your decision easier. Pick a unit that’s a little larger than your original measurements to allow your belongings room to breathe and to prevent them from getting damaged. Most people pick a 10×10 unit, which can fit the furniture from a large living room or a small apartment. For smaller items, you are better off looking into a 5×5 unit.

4. Do: Keep a record of the belongings in your unit

Make an ongoing list of everything that goes into your storage unit — make it both a paper and an electronic record so it will be easier for you to check which items are in the unit. You can also make a “map” of the unit so you can locate your desired items much easier as opposed to fumbling through boxes and crates of miscellanea. Labeling your boxes will also help to this effect. Remember to update your records as you move things in and out of the unit. Additionally, this strategy helps you make a claim in case you discover that one of your items is missing from the unit.

5. Do: Be smart about packing

Your storage project begins before you leave home. Keep in mind that items might shift while in transit and they will require additional protection to prevent any damage. Once you’re at the unit, place items you intend to use first at the front of the unit for easy future access. Create a virtual path inside your unit before placing your boxes or items in there, and then proceed to stack them vertically to make the best use of space. Remember to keep the heavier items closer to the ground to avoid them damaging any other boxes under their weight.

6. Do: Buy storage unit insurance

Using a storage unit doesn’t fully guarantee the safety of your items. For this reason, you should invest in self-storage insurance for this particular service. First check whether you have coverage through your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, though. Having your items in storage insured offers you peace of mind for any belongings that you keep in your unit.

7. Do: Purchase a safe lock

Securing your unit should reflect the importance you assign to your belongings. You want to keep them safe and doing so becomes easier when you secure your unit with a strong lock. Some storage facilities might already provide you with one, but in any case, you’re better off with a sturdy lock that can do the job. Despite the video surveillance and the on-site manager’s presence, mishaps can occur unless your unit is fully secured.

8. Do: Ask for help

If moving your items into storage requires a lot of energy and time, why not enlist the help of friends and family. You will reduce the risk of injury when you have other people giving you a hand. Taking things to a storage unit still counts as moving, right?

9. Don’t: Pick a drive-up unit if dust isn’t your friend

You might enjoy the convenience that comes with drive-up units, which usually translates to avoiding wasting time with elevators and a walk down a corridor. But you should know they are prone to collecting dust since they are more exposed to the elements compared to an indoor unit. Discuss with the facility manager if you need a dust-free option

10. Don’t: Forget to consider climate control

Remember that certain belongings are prone to damage if exposed to high or low humidity and temperature variations. Whether you’re renting a storage unit in Austin or in Chicago, chances are your furniture or electronics might be exposed to either excessive heat and humidity or extreme cold in the winter. Choosing a climate-controlled unit will maintain a steady temperature and humidity to help protect your belongings.

Here is a list of items that are better in a climate-controlled environment:

  • Wooden or leather furnishings
  • Electronics
  • Books and photos
  • Antiques
  • Medical equipment
  • Collectibles (including artwork)
  • Musical instruments 

11. Don’t: Store items that your facility doesn’t allow

A large variety of items can typically go into self-storage, but some things are usually not allowed in a storage unit. Here is a short — but not comprehensive — list of items that should not be stored in a unit:

  • Plants
  • Animal products
  • Flammable items (oil, fuel, propane)
  • Food
  • Valuables (jewelry, family heirlooms, etc.)

Make sure to consult with the property manager on this matter prior to the signing of the lease.

12. Don’t: Leave items unprotected

Even though you might have picked a climate-controlled unit for your furniture or other sensitive items, it is still advisable to wrap or cover them. Avoid plastic wrapping for storage purposes. You might have seen movers load items wrapped in plastic as they moved them, but such a solution is not practical long-term as mold might develop due to condensation. These items are better off covered with blankets or tarps to keep the dust away from them.

13. Don’t: Climb on your possessions to reach for others

On your trips to your unit, don’t climb on other boxes or containers to reach for a desired item as this can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, use a sturdy step ladder for items that are above your head to keep yourself safe. Alternatively, get someone else to help you reach for those items. Additionally, try not to pull out a box or an item that’s situated in the middle of a stack. Make sure to remove the items above it first.

14. Don’t: Allow anyone else in the unit

Do not share your key or access code with anyone unless it’s someone you trust. This ensures that your items remain yours.