If you’re starting to notice the extra storage space in your home is getting crowded, it might be time to look into renting a storage unit. Self-storage is a common solution for individuals who don’t have enough space at home or work for their extra belongings. Think of it as an extension of your garage – it's a clean, dry, and secure space to keep whatever you need, for however long you need it.
Renting a storage unit is simple overall, but there are some things you should know ahead of time to ensure you get the most out of your unit and keep your belongings in excellent condition while in storage. Before you dive in, here are five easy self-storage tips for first-time renters.
1. Determine Your Storage Needs
Understanding your storage needs will go a long way toward helping you determine which type of storage unit and storage features might be right for you. To give you a head start, here are some common reasons for renting a storage unit:
- Your extra belongings are taking up valuable space in your home
- You have some items you don’t use often, but aren’t ready to part with them
- You need to temporarily move things out of your home for a remodel
- Your business needs to store files, tax records, and other sensitive information
- Your boat or RV needs a safe place to park in the offseason
- Your neighborhood limits motorcycle, car, or other motorized vehicle parking
Of course, your needs might be completely different! The good news is self-storage is for everyone. The most important step for now is identifying a clear reason for storage and goal to help you decide when renting a storage unit.
2. Make a List of What You Plan to Store
With your needs identified, you should turn your attention to what you plan to store. You probably already have a good idea in your mind. However, we recommend writing out a list so you have an inventory of what’s in your storage unit. Then, if you have the time and space, physically group all these items in one place either in your yard, garage, or driveway. Doing so will give you a good idea of what size storage unit might be right for you.
As you create your inventory, make sure you don’t have items such as food, plants, anything flammable, paint, and anything with a strong odor. For a full list of what can't be stored in a storage unit, check out our do’s and don’ts of self-storage.
3. Research Self-Storage Options
The great thing about self-storage is that it’s a versatile solution. There are many different options out there. We recommend taking the time to research the common storage options available in your area prior to reserving so you know what to look for.
To streamline the research process, here are some of the storage types available with U-Haul:
- Climate Controlled – Rooms are kept at a consistent temperature, just like your home.\
- Outdoor / Drive-Up Storage – Garage-like storage for easy and frequent access.
- Commercial & Business Storage – Perfect for businesses of any size and industry.
- Vehicle Storage – Outdoor/covered spaces for RVs, boats, cars, and motorcycles.
- 24-Access – Available with certain storage options; access your belongings any time.
There are also a wide variety of room sizes. Keep in mind that options and sizes vary based on the facility and market. Learn more about storage unit sizes by reviewing our self-storage size guide.
U-Box containers are another possibility for your storage needs. These portable storage containers are convenient, flexible, and secure, allowing you to move and store your items on your time.
4. Pack Your Storage Unit Like a Pro
Once you’ve reserved your preferred storage unit, you can begin moving in. While this step is straightforward, it pays to be mindful of how you organize your items so you always have convenient access to your stuff.
Think about it – a storage unit that’s filled to the brim with boxes and furniture will be tough to maneuver. When it’s time to break out the family Christmas tree, the last thing you want is to pull everything out just to reach a box that’s all the way in the back. Do yourself a favor and leave walkways for just such an occasion, then review some of our other tips for packing a storage unit.
Placement and labeling is also important. When it comes to placement, consider packing the items you will likely need the most toward the front of your unit so you can reach them right away, and vice versa with items you probably won’t need soon. In addition, clearly label all your boxes so you don't have to dig through them when the time comes.
For best organization, we recommend using the U-Haul Smart Labeling System. This U-Haul App-based feature helps you keep track of your stored items using pictures and labels to create an inventory stored right on your mobile device.
Learn more about organizing boxes for storage with the U-Haul Smart Labeling System.
5. Keep These Safety Tips in Mind
Although your stored goods with U-Haul are well protected, you can do a few things to make sure your items are safe as well. For instance, don’t leave your unit unlocked. Also, only allow authorized people that you trust to access your self-storage unit.
On the U-Haul side of things, we take security very seriously. Some of our industry-leading storage safety features include:
- Security cameras
- Individually alarmed rooms
- Electronic access
- Fire sprinklers
If you want even more peace of mind, there are damage coverage options available to keep your stored items safe from unexpected events. In other words, if your goods are worth storing, they are worth protecting.
Now that you’re prepared with these five storage unit tips and tricks, you’re ready to get started! Don’t forget to revisit these tips when you begin planning to make sure you have the best storage experience possible. Visit our storage page to learn more and find a storage unit near you.