If you are considering using self-storage for the first time – whether you are downsizing, travelling or need to accommodate some of your possessions when between homes – you can ease the stress involved by taking the right preparation. If you have never used self-storage before, keep reading for our 5 tips for first time self-storage users.
Tip #1 - Research storage types and facilities.
The type of self-storage which is most appropriate for you will largely depend on two factors. Firstly, what you are planning to store and secondly, how much space you need. A guide to space and what that means in real terms is available here. What you are storing is relevant to the type of storage you choose, especially if you are storing things over winter, Items which are prone to mildew or mould such as upholstered furniture, soft furnishings, clothes and footwear are better stored in an indoor, climate controlled unit which protects the contents from extremes of heat and cold. Some outside metal storage container type units less suitable for these kind of items as they are more likely to allow issues with mould and mildew to occur. The amount of space you need will also have an impact on what facility you choose from a cost perspective so get some comparative quotes - It is absolutely worth looking around and comparing facilities and prices, may of the larger storage facilities offer good deals for the first couple of months but watch out for prices once the offer ends. For more information on the types of storage available and to work out what type is most suitable for you visit our Storage Types page.
Tip #2 - Consider how easy it will be to get access to your stuff
Whilst you won’t necessarily want to get to your storage facility regularly being able to get there easily is important so consider how accessible your chosen location is. You certainly won’t want to be travelling far to get to your storage if you do need to get access to anything you have packed away. You should also note what times you will be able to get access to the facility, especially if you are opting for indoor storage. As well as accessibility of the unit itself, think about what you may need to get at once to when you are organising your storage boxes - you are not going to want to get everything out and restack it again if you suddenly need to get something which is stored at the back of your unit!
Tip #3 - Make a detailed inventory list
Although it may seem like a tedious task, making a thorough inventory list of the items which you are storing and where they are located is worth the time it takes. Over time you will be likely to forget what is stored where so a good list is a really useful aide-memoir. Keep a copy of the list at your storage unit to refer to if you find yourself looking for something which you have packed away. An inventory will also help you to work out the value of what you are storing – see tip #5
Tip #4 - Pack and label like a pro
Don’t scrimp on packing materials. Use sturdy cardboard boxes or plastic crates to keep smaller items contained. This enables you to make use of the vertical space in your storage unit buy stacking (heavier boxes on the bottom). When you are packing away your items, make sure you label your boxes well (on the top and on the front) so that you know exactly what is packed where - you are sure to need to find something unexpectedly whilst your stuff is in storage and this will be a lot easier with well labelled boxes. This will also help you when the time comes to move your stuff back out of storage again.
Pro packing tip - Writing on masking tape or labels instead of directly on boxes enables you to re-use and re-label boxes another time.
Larger items of furniture, which you will not need to access are best stored at the rear of the space with smaller items of furniture and boxes at the front. Using thinks like bookshelves to store boxes of smaller items helps to maximise the storage space and keeps it well organised. Some larger items of furniture may be best dismantled if possible to maximise space – keep any fixings for specific items of furniture together in a plastic bag which can be taped or tied together to prevent fixings from getting lost or becoming separated from the furniture they belong to.
Tip #5 - Shop around for Insurance
Insurance offered by Storage companies may seem like the simplest and most convenient option when it comes to insuring your stored items – this perceived convenience comes at a price however. As well as being more expensive (as much as 3 times more in some cases), insurance purchased from a storage operator may also be inadequate in terms of the sum insured – read The Great Storage Insurance Swindle and ’I lost £180,000 in a self-storage fire’ for more information on why it is always best to shop around for insurance to make sure you are getting exactly the cover you need, at the right price.