storage unit rental

Need a Storage Unit Rental? Here’s Some Storage Advice

Before we sold all our stuff and moved abroad we had some big decisions to make, which I detail in my book: Sell All Your Stuff and Move Abroad. But to give you a freebie, we basically had to decide if we wanted to sell everything or to put stuff in a storage unit rental.

We had a two year plan, so we opted to forgo a storage unit rental, mainly because of the cost. A small 25 square foot storage unit rental was going to be minimum $40/month. Over the course of 24 months that would cost us over $1000 (after taxes). We just felt that money could be put to better use after moving abroad.

A storage unit rental can be convenient for moving OR decluttering

Had we decided to go with a storage unit rental it probably would have been used for some pilled bed sheets, maybe a storage bin or two of clothes that were already becoming both out of style and well-worn (we didn’t buy a lot of new clothing or housewares because we knew we’d be moving). It also might have housed some tools (my sister is graciously storing those), possibly some small kitchen appliances (but we did bring a few with us on our move), and maybe a piece of furniture or two (doubt it though). Wow, that was a lot of parentheses.

A storage unit rental does allow you to keep some stuff should you move back or are undecided about a permanent relocation. And if you decide to stay long-term in another country, you can assess the costs of shipping your stored stuff to your new country. So we’re not against a storage unit rental by any means.

My mom used to work for a moving and storage company (and I was a mover in my teen years thanks to her). I was always amazed at the stuff people would store, then if they didn’t pay their bill it would be auctioned off. We got some amazing deals on other people’s stuff! Anyway, that’s one thing to keep in mind about your storage unit rental – pay your bill or your stuff will become someone else’s. Ever seen the shows Auction Hunters and Storage Wars? People make a living off of unpaid storage unit rentals.

Another thing to keep in mind, and an important one, is to organize your storage unit rental. Depending on how much stuff you have and what you’re storing, you could be looking at some added expenses for storing your stuff. You might have to buy some of these things to help in that regard:

  •  Moving boxes. These cardboard boxes are good for storing stuff you know you won’t want to access in your storage unit rental. Pack the box, tape it up, and store it away. Be careful when packing heavy items. Books are REALLY heavy, so don’t toss an entire case of books into the biggest box you can find.
  • Wardrobe boxes. Great for hanging stuff (clothes) that needs to be hung.
  • Vacuum bags. I love these things and they’re a must if you want to maximize space if you’re storing clothing or other textiles. You’ll be able to fit SO much more stuff by removing the air. Plus, if you live in a warmer climate you won’t have to worry about mold growing on your duds.

The thing with storage unit rentals is you’ll want to maximize the space in the smallest possible unit – unless money isn’t an option.

There were probably a few items I would have preferred to leave in a storage unit rental, but not enough to necessitate the cost. And that cost didn’t include insurance either – something you may want to consider if you’re storing valuables in your storage unit. Although valuables like jewelry are better suited for a Safe Deposit Box at a bank. Storage units can be broken into and ransacked, so don’t take a chance when it comes to your…family jewels!

box of stuff
label your stuff!

Ideally, if you know you’ll need to grab some stuff from your storage unit rental you should pack your stuff so you can access what you desire; moreover, that stuff should be packed in a way that allows access within the unit. Meaning don’t pack stuff in a cardboard box that’s been taped up and put at the bottom of a pile of boxes in the back of your storage unit if you know you’ll need stuff from that box. And don’t label the box “stuff”, who does that?

Solid, durable and stackable plastic storage containers are a great option to maximize space and protect your beloved stuff. And clear storage bins allow you to see some of the contents inside, so that could be an option too.

Some people just need to store stuff and aren’t moving anywhere. Maybe they just want that stuff out of their house to help declutter, or maybe they collect things. We don’t judge. But if you need access to your storage unit rental on a regular basis, you may want to buy some good quality shelving units to help keep things organized. If the unit is big enough you can make “aisleways” to help make getting your stuff easier. Or if you have bulky items you can’t put in boxes or containers, shelving will help you stack them out of the way.

All the links here are to Amazon so you can see what I’m referring to (and make applicable purchases if you need to). Again, having worked as both a mover and also at a big-box store that sold these types of storage containers,  I do have some experience with this topic. And of course, we’re here to help!

Now go STORE all your stuff!


12 thoughts on “Need a Storage Unit Rental? Here’s Some Storage Advice”

  1. I like what this article mentions about getting stack able boxes to help with the miscellaneous things. I think that proper organization is important to make sure everything remains in good condition. I’ll have to make sure I keep track of where I am putting everything when I manage to get a storage unit.

  2. I agree that storage units can have their use. For instance, if there’s water damage in your house and you need to do some work, you can temporarily move some of your furniture and other items to a storage unit while the work is done. Of course, there are people like yourself who won’t decide to use one, but storage units definitely have uses while moving, decluttering, or just making room in your house. Thanks for the article.

    1. Hazel, thanks for commenting! Yes, many “minimalists” will say storage isn’t part of a minimalist lifestyle. We totally disagree with that for the same reasons you mention storage units are useful. And great idea about renting a storage unit while work is being done!

  3. I literally have several boxes sitting in a half full storage unit and I can’t remember what half of the stuff is. I think it is time for me to take either side of advice in this article. I should either get rid of it all or organize it more efficiently

    1. Chase, it’s funny when we set things aside and “find” them later on how much we realize we didn’t need it in the first place! Good luck with either method you choose!

  4. I agree that books packed in boxes are really heavy! I helped my sister move, and I’m pretty sure she had as many boxes of books as she had boxes of everything else. I also liked the advice of using vacuum bags. I’ve used some for travel, and it’s awesome how much stuff you can pack in small places.

  5. Hey Al and Shelly,
    Thank you for such an informative post. Yes, the cardboard boxes and the vacuum bags are a life saver when we have to move items from here and there. But, for the bigger stuff, such as shifting my furniture and electronic items, we brought a shipping container which is now kept in our backyard.
    We have converted it to a store room now and we use it whenever we have to transport stuff 🙂
    Looking forward to more such awesome posts from you 🙂

    1. Thanks Richard, while we do try to promote having less stuff, sometimes stuff happens and is part of life. If you end up having less stuff in your shipping container, you can always transform it into one of those fancy shipping container homes!

  6. I agree that storage units are very convenient for storing all of your belongings. Because you don’t have to check up on them it makes it so that you only have to think about your things when you actually need them. Like you said, it is important to make sure that you pay the fee for keeping your things there of your stuff will become the property of others.

    1. Thanks for commenting Dave. My mom worked for a moving & storage company and we scored some decent stuff for cheap at auction. It really is like that show Storage Wars, you don’t pay they auction it off!

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