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Safe, secure self-storage tips

By on February 3, 2008

photo by philipsphotos
While I advocate simplifying your home by decluttering, there are times you might need to pack stuff away. According to the Self Storage Association, 10 percent of U.S. households are currently renting a self-storage unit. For various reasons, such as moving, remodeling, college, military deployment or business, you might be one of the people who needs to park your stuff elsewhere. You can explore free options such as using space at friends and relatives, but no one wants to be inconvenienced for long, so self-storage can be money well spent.

There are a few things to consider before hauling all your goods that will save you time and money. I asked my Web readers to share their best self-storage tips, and now I’m passing the most useful tips on to you.

BUY INSURANCE: Get renters insurance. It’s not expensive, but thieves do sometimes get into these things, and your possessions are not covered by the owners insurance. Also, don’t miss a payment. They have the right to seize your possessions as part of the signed rental agreement. — Lisa C., Texas

KEEP RECEIPTS: Rent a unit with a door inside the building, not a unit with the door on the outside. Check your unit periodically to be sure everything is OK. Keep all records of payments. — Shoiji, e-mail

USE PALLETS: Check your space after the first big rain and make sure there aren’t leaks. Use pallets, plastic totes or sheets of plastic on the floor to keep stuff from getting wet. — Ilovechocolate, Georgia

A heavy-duty lock is a must. Disc locks are good because they don’t break as easily as cheap locks. If it’s winter, get lock de-icer because it doesn’t take much for locks to freeze. The place you rent your storage from might have both for sale. Ask whether they have 24-hour monitoring or an onsite manager, too. — Jim L., New York

Know the hours of operation. Also, you might want a place that’s nearby if you’re storing anything you might need. Find out whether you can pull a vehicle right up to the door and whether they provide carts or dollies. I was worried about feeling safe being there alone at night, too. — Caroline G., Florida

BE ORGANIZED: Plastic isn’t a good way to protect your things. It can encourage mildew from humidity. I found out the hard way. Boxes need air and space for ventilation, so don’t stack them smack against the walls. You want a little space left to get in and out. Put heavy boxes on the bottom when stacking. Have a good labeling system so you know what is inside boxes, too. — Jennifer B., Pennsylvania

SHOP AROUND: Compare prices and features of storage facilities to get the best deal. You might be offered discounts. Get written estimates and ask about deposits or any additional fees, so there aren’t any surprises later. Know what methods of payment they accept, too. — Beth Hunter, California

USE SPACE WISELY: Fill boxes up all the way.You might be able to rent a smaller space. Plus, half-empty boxes could get crushed. Spaces like dresser drawers and suitcases are usable space. Boxes and totes that are about the same size take less space and stack easily. Furniture items, such as bed frames, futons and tables, take less space when taken apart. — Cindy F., via e-mail

USE COMMON SENSE: Avoid storing valuables. If the place isn’t temperature- or humidity-controlled, then don’t store anything that you wouldn’t stick out in a garage in extreme temperatures. — Gina, via forums

One Comment

  1. Christopher J.

    2/10/2008 at 9:51 am

    Consider Mobile Storage: You can save a lot of time and effort using mobile storage. There are a lot of options and it’s easy to find a local company at Good luck and happy storing!

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