A few months ago, my boyfriend and I downsized from a spacious apartment to a small area of his mom’s house. Not willing to part with our furniture for a stay that will likely be short, we decided our best option was to store our things until it’s time for us to pick up and move somewhere new (not an uncommon situation for us as recent grads and writers). Thankfully, because we currently live in a pretty residential, family-dominant town, finding an excellent storage facility wasn’t difficult. But, it did take some digging and a little investigation to figure out which of the many, many options available would ultimately be right for us, our things, and our budget. So, here’s 10 tips for choosing a winning self-storage facility!
1. Read Reviews/Ask For Recommendations
Before you start making contact and inquiring, my advice is to read plenty of reviews online and ask around for recommendations from friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Although I don’t suggest putting complete faith in reviews or word-of-mouth assessments, it’s worth your while to find out about a facility’s reputation before wasting your time with in-person inquiries.
2. Interact With The Staff Personally
Often, your interaction will staff members can tell you a lot about how the facility runs and does business. If you have a positive experience from first meeting to lease signing, then it’s likely that you’ll continue to have good experiences with the staff as you continue to rent a storage unit. If it’s negative from day one, you can usually count on more problems to come. The way a business treats its customers (both current and potential) says all you need to know!
3. Meet The Manager
In addition to meeting the regular office staff, I also recommend taking time to meet the manager. The big man or woman in charge often sets the tone for how business is conducted, so meeting the boss will give you a good idea if the storage facility is a place you can trust with your things.
4. Ask About Security Measures
When storing your things, whether they are of great value or not, security is SO important. Before you pick a facility, make sure to go over their security measures. When it comes to keeping your things safe, you really can’t be too careful.
5. Ask About Pest Prevention & Control
Additionally, make sure to talk to the facility about their pest prevention and control policies. In order to keep your stored goods bug and rodent free, make sure to choose a place that receives regular pest control services. Trust me, you’ll be so glad you did.
6. Ask About Climate Control Options
If you’re storing items that could be damaged by certain weather conditions and temperatures (books, old furniture and musical instruments, for instance), be sure to ask the self-storage facility if they offer climate controlled units. Why should you pay to store your things if they’re damaged by the time you’re ready to use them again?
7. Pay Attention To Cleanliness
When you’re checking out a potential storage place, be sure to keep an eye out for cleanliness – in the main office, in the units themselves, the grounds around the units, etc. A dirty facility is a sign that the owners aren’t going to do much to take care of your things, especially when it comes to keeping bugs and pests away.
8. Inform Yourself About Rules/Policies/Guidelines
Not all self-storage facilities are the same. Some offer long-term or short-term leases only, while some offer a variety of options. A lot of facilities will charge more because of a convenient location while you’ll find cheaper ones in a less busy area of town. Also, some storage businesses will only allow you to access your things at certain times of day and on certain days of the week while some facilities have 24/7 access. Details like these and any other rules the place may have are important to keep in the back of your mind when deciding if a place is right for you.
9. Price Compare
You’d think because self-storage units are in the same area that they’d all have similar, competitive pricing across the board. That’s not even close! During my search I found that units of same size could be up to $20 more a month at some places. So, as you look around for facility to store your unused items, makes sure to price compare like crazy. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for special deals — you’d surprised how often you can score a discount just by asking!
10. Find Out If Moving Trucks/Packing Supplies Are Available
If you’re aren’t able to move your things yourself (a.k.a you don’t have a car big enough to tote everything or you don’t know anyone with a truck), it’s important to also look for a storage facility that has moving trucks and packing supplies right on site. This will help reduce your costs and will make the entire process of moving your things from one place to another so much more convenient and hassle-free.
Fellow renters, do you have tips of your own to add? Let me know in the comment section below!