America is home to around 1.7 billion square feet of self-storage space.
With people moving, downsizing, renovating, or traveling, there are endless reasons you may need a storage unit for your belongings. However, if you’ve never used self-storage units before, finding the right fit your for needs can be intimidating.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a tell-all guide with everything you could ever need to know about this self-service storing method.
Ready to discover the best tips and advice for storing your items? Follow along to learn how to choose the best storage facilities, which items to pack, and why self-storage is the perfect option for you.
What Is a Self-Storage Unit?
There are two types of storage facilities. Full-service storage and self-storage. Think of these options like a valet-service versus parking your items yourself. While having that luxurious valet parking can feel great, most of us manage just fine parking our cars on our own.
These facilities are made up of large metal ‘rooms’ that vary in size. Most units will feature a large garage-style door to allow for the movement of large items, however, small units may contain just a swinging door due to the limited space.
Depending on the facility, the access to these units may be indoor or outdoor and are arranged in rows to make accessibility simple and easy.
Benefits of Using Self-Storage
The primary benefit to choosing self-storage over full-service units is the reduced cost. Since you’ll be packing your items in on your own, you won’t have to pay for movers to do the job for you. This can make storage a much more affordable option for short or long term stays.
Additionally, the self-conducted packing and arranging of your unit can provide peace of mind in knowing that all your items are safely stacked and locked away in your unit. You’ll have full control over where each box sits and can guarantee no breakages of fragile or precious items.
Self-storage also makes it easier to access your items when needed. If you decide at any point that you’d like to pull one or two items out of storage, you won’t need to contact the company and have this done. Instead, you can turn up at the facility, open your storage unit on your own, and access the items you need.
How to Choose Self-Storage Units
When choosing your self-storage solution, there are a few factors you’ll want to take into consideration. Before you commit to any facility, don’t be afraid to shop around and ask questions about key features that are important to you.
Determine how large of a unit you will need by calculating what will go in it. Self-storage unit sizes range from 5×5 to 50×50, so be sure you know exactly what you need before you sign the contract.
Keep in mind that you’ll be able to stack your items and break down large furniture so you won’t need to match the square footage of your home in order to pack it all in.
For reference, a 10-foot x 15-foot storage unit is about the size of a standard single car garage. This is usually the size a renter would select if they were to store the contents of a 2 bedroom home.
Depending on your storage purpose, you’ll want to choose a location that is suitable for your needs. If you are going away on a trip and need to leave your belongings somewhere safe, consider choosing a storage unit near a friend or family member in case something goes wrong and you need someone to access your things.
If you are moving or renovating, we suggest choosing a facility that is a reasonable distance from your new home. This will make it easy to stop by if you need to retrieve an item or stash something else away.
The close proximity will also help cut down on moving van rental costs because you won’t have as far to haul your belongings once you are ready for them again.
Take note of what security the storage facility has in place. Are there sufficient locks on all the doors? Is there a tall fence and secure entry system for outdoor storage units? Are there ample cameras and sufficient lighting to catch unusual behavior and theft?
All of these factors will be important for your peace of mind and the guaranteed safety of your items.
Are you storing items that are sensitive to changes in climate? If so, you may want to consider renting a climate-controlled unit for your storage needs. This will ensure none of your valuables freeze or boil up while they are tucked away.
Self-storage unit prices will depend on the features you choose. With average rental prices ranging from $60-$250 per month, the size, location, security, and climate control of your unit will determine your rate.
Each facility will have a different policy for storage so be sure to pay attention to contract length when you are signing up. Some places may require a 3-month commitment or even offer discounts for contracts longer than 1 year.
Packing for self-storage may look a bit different than your average move. The labeling of your boxes will be crucial for finding items after they have been sitting for a while.
Because time will have passed since you boxed it all up, it’ll be much harder to remember what items to put together. Use extra detail when packing and try to be mindful of the size and weight of each box as you will want to stack them accordingly.
Always place your largest items such as furniture in your unit first. Your boxes will be much easier to arrange around the large items than trying to squish a sofa in at the last second.
It’s a great idea to make a plan of how you want your storage unit laid out and organize in a way in which you can access each item without disturbing the entire unit.
And of course, be sure to take inventory of what you’ve got in storage. This will be helpful if there is ever a theft at your storage facility and help you remember which items you’ve stored away if it’s been a while.
Mastering Your Self-Storage Unit
Now that you know how to choose, pack, and use your self-storage units, you can set forth with confidence on your storage rental needs. Whether you need to store your belongings for a month, a year, or a decade, you can rest easy knowing you’ve got the best storage facilities on your side.
Ready to pack your things away at the best facility in Virginia? Get in touch with us today to secure your self-storage unit and guarantee an easy and convenient experience.