Public storage facilities are popping up everywhere and the move-in specials and seemingly low rental rates appear to be a tantalizing and easy solution to having more stuff than room.
It is so tempting to take your stuff and shove it into a storage unit and promise to “go through and toss it out when I have time.”
Believe me, you will NEVER take the time and effort it takes to go purge your unit until the day you move out.
The people that sell storage units know this, which is why they make it very cheap to get a unit and very costly to leave. Many storage facilities give you the first month free, but when you vacate, anything that is left in the unit is removed at your expense by their favorite (costly) junk hauler.
Unless you have had a fire or water damage to your home and your insurance company is paying for the moving and storage of your stuff or you are using a storage unit for business purposes to store merchandise that is actively being sold, then it is a budget drain to obtain and maintain a storage unit.
If you absolutely must move stuff into a storage unit, then try to avoid these costly mistakes:
- Do not move unexamined boxes into a storage unit. Once those boxes are in the unit – no matter how good your intentions – you will most likely never go back through them.
- Do not put things in random boxes and bags. Organize your storage unit. If you don’t, it will be too hard to find something when you need it and you may buy the item new. This defeats the purpose of having a storage unit in the first place. Instead, number your boxes and then inventory each box. Put items of a similar nature together and put the name of the box on the outside of the box on ALL sides (since the boxes end up getting turned around.) Keep the inventory list on hand.
- Do not store anything that is liquid. I don’t care how expensive it was or how tightly the lid was put on; it is Murphy’s Law that the $3.99 bottle of transmission fluid will leak and forever destroy everything in all the boxes underneath it.
- Do not store any food item. NOTHING! Storage units are already prone to bugs. Don’t invite them in.
- Do not store anything flammable. No propane, no matches, no lighters.
DO keep in your storage unit the following items:
- Broom and dustpan – to clean up at the beginning and end
- Handcart – to move your boxes
- Toilet paper and hand sanitizer – most facilities have bathrooms but no paper
- Large and strong garbage bags – for taking items to dump and donation dropoff
- Marking Pen – for marking boxes
- Packing Tape – to tape back up boxes you have opened to look inside
- Extra flattened boxes – stuff reproduces, I swear!
- Flash light – to see into the dark recesses of your boxes and unit
The results of my efforts with my friend’s stuff? I completely cleaned out her two storage units. It took three people working several very long days over the course of a month, but we cleaned it out. With my bargainista advice, she made almost a thousand dollars selling items, will get a hefty break on her taxes, and donated much needed materials to several schools and non-profits. Plus, she no longer has the expense of the rentals. Not bad, considering she was planning on paying someone to take it all away in a truck.
What has been your experience with storage units?