Little Known Self Storage Tips
Many self storage tenant have a storage unit during a particular stage in life – marriage, divorce, temporarily relocating for a job, the kids are off to college, or sadly, the death of a loved one. Then there are the life-long storage tenants that enjoy the convenience of hiding away their lesser used items out of site (OCD de-clutterers). Even these avid self storage users probably only frequent their storage units on occasion to swap out summer and winter wardrobes and exchange Fourth of July American flags for Christmas lights. Then there are the self storage freaks, life myself, that know entirely too much about all things self storage.
So here are 7 things you should know about self storage (but probably don’t know):
- Disc locks are the most popular kind of lock to use on your storage unit. However, if you have an exterior unit exposed to the elements, they can and do rust. I’ve had many keys break off in the lock. Then you have to get the manager involved and a quick trip to the storage unit becomes much more time consuming. It’s a good idea to bring WD 40 or specialty key lubricant with you to loosen up any rusty locks. I’ve also been starting to notice that my “storage neighbors” have disc locks with a plastic covered keyway to protect it from rusting in wet weather. Genius.
- Keep track of the keys to your storage unit. This is harder that it seems (or should be) so it’s kind of essential to have an airtight strategy. You think I’m joking, but there’s nothing worse that loading up your vehicle, driving to your storage facility, and not having your keys. Personally I keep a set of keys in each vehicle. Since I’m a self diagnosed storage freak with three units, I label each key with the unit number. Sharpies will rub off, so a label maker is ideal. I also add the storage facility contact info in my phone and note my storage unit numbers. Again, it’s harder to remember your storage unit number than you think. And they all look the same, so this is kind of problematic.
- Organize your storage unit based on what you access. Everyone is different, so there’s no standard rule of thumb. You might constantly be accessing old files, or these might be the boxes you put in the far back corner. The point is, unless you want to rearrange your storage unit in lieu of going to the gym, thoughtfully pack your storage unit. Also be sure to leave an alley down the middle so you can access both sides and the back of your unit. And label your boxes clearly!
- Periodically organize your storage unit. Maybe this is just me, but I think this is incredible. In fact I do it regularly. The thing is, sometimes you forget what you stored. A friend of mine purged her house to list it for sale, and recently rediscovered a bunch of fabulous boots in her storage unit that she forgot she had. It was like shopping except she didn’t even have to pay for them and they were already broken in. The opposite is equally as true – you find things that you could have gotten rid of in the first place, or no longer like or need. Don’t take up space, donate these items! Many storage facilities even have a charity unit [charitystorage.org] you can donate items to. This makes it incredibly easy for you and the unit is sold during the facility’s auction and the money goes to charities. That’s the perfect segue for my next two points.
- Stay current on your rent so your unit doesn’t end up on Storage Wars. Reality TV shows, wherein storage units are auctioned, are just that – reality. Each state has laws that require a storage facility to auction a unit if a renter doesn’t pay for a certain period of time. This allows the facility to empty out the space so they can rent it out to a customer that actually pays. However, sometimes delinquencies are honest slip-ups. It’s great to put your storage unit on autopay, but if your card if replaced, be sure to update your credit card information with your storage facility. It’s also important to keep your contact information current with the storage company. They might try to contact you by phone, email, or snail mail if your payment is late, but if you gave fake information, or have moved or changed your number, they won’t be able to reach you! As an aside, if you want to check out a live on-site storage auction or bid on a unit online, check out the industry’s #1 storage auction site, www.StorageTreasures.com
- Opt for an interior unit or a containerized self storage facility. Drive up exterior storage units are more expensive, and for good reason, they are incredibly convenient. However, your stuff will stay cleaner in an interior unit and pristine in an airtight shipping container. Personally, I like to keep my stuff totally clean and save myself a few bucks.
- Be intelligent about what you store. Don’t store things that could melt in hot weather – or if you do, don’t store them in a way that could damage other items. You don’t want red lipstick melting onto your white cashmere sweater. Don’t store oily or greasy things that could leak and stain or damage things (or also potentially be explosive). Plastic totes can also be superior to cardboard boxes. If something does melt or leak, at least the problem and any damage is contained. Also be intelligent about how you store. If there’s an earthquake are heavy items going to fall on boxes of fine china or your glass Christmas ornaments? When you initially load up your storage unit you are going to be over it and want to haphazardly place items wherever, but it will pay dividends if you give it a little bit of thought.