Have you ever had or considered renting a storage unit? No matter what stage you are in your rental, these storage unit tips will help you get the most out of it.

Storage unit tips

Sometimes people have urgent questions about renting storage units, even if they’ve been a customer for years. We never assume everyone knows what is involved with renting a storage unit, which is why we find it so necessary to educate our potential and long-standing customers whenever we can.

There are so many various storage unit tips we’ve gathered over the years. Some of these tips might seem obvious. On the other hand, a lot of our advice is not so obvious.

Whether you’ve had a storage unit for a while now or you’re just starting to shop around, hopefully, this guide will leave you feeling like a much more educated consumer by the end. We cover everything from needing storage unit insurance to exactly how you should pack your space.

1. Research the best storage unit deals before renting.

2. Figure out which size storage unit makes the most sense for your belongings.

Different Types of Storage Units: How to Choose

Most people make a mental estimate when they rent a storage unit on a whim. Sometimes this estimation can end up costing customers money because they end up with a space that’s larger than they need. In other instances, underestimating the area you need can cause a lot of stress because you’ll end up running out of room halfway through unpacking your items.

Before you rent, create a rough inventory of everything you plan to keep in the storage unit and for what duration of time. Taking the time to measure larger items before you rent will help you better estimate the size and type of storage unit you need. If you work well with visual aids, check out this storage unit space estimator to get started.

3. Weigh the pros and cons of indoor vs. outdoor storage.

Believe it or not, there are a few different types of storage units you can opt to rent. In general, an outdoor storage unit is going to cost less than the same sized indoor storage unit. However, sometimes it’s vitally important that you pay the extra money and get indoor storage when possible. All of this depends on what you will be storing and when.

The benefit of an outdoor storage unit is that you can drive right up to it, making it convenient. The advantage of an indoor storage unit is that weather will rarely ever become a problem. Only you can decide which option works best for your situation, but it’s important to consider the pros and cons of both.

4. Determine how you will insure your belongings.

Storage Unit Insurance Do's and Dont's

Most large-scale storage unit companies require that their customers attain adequate insurance against loss or damage. This requirement isn’t to get extra money. In fact, Life Storage uses a third party vendor to provide storage unit insurance, so it’s not something our company offers itself. Having storage unit insurance will help you in the unlikely event that your belongings are compromised.

There are a couple of different ways you can attain coverage, some of which include:

  • Using an applicable renter’s insurance policy.
  • Adding the storage unit to your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Purchase third-party insurance through the storage facility.

5. Keep your belongings as safe as possible.

Much of keeping your belongings safe depends on the storage facility and how well they protect their space.

For instance, storage facilities should have some of the following safety measures in place:

  • Adequate lighting
  • Surveillance monitoring
  • Gates with access codes
  • A well-maintained property

However, there are simple things the customer can do to keep their items out of harm’s way. For instance, make sure you purchase the best lock money can buy. Some locks are much easier to break into than others. Make sure you rent from a reputable company. Also, make sure you always know what is kept inside your unit at all times.

6. Organize everything in your storage unit for easy access.

How to organize a storage unit for easy access

Often when customers are putting items inside a storage unit for the first time, it’s done in a very chaotic and un-thought-out fashion. That usually changes once they vacate a storage unit for the first time, or they go inside their unit to find something and have no clue where it ended up.

Before you unpack one load of stuff, make sure you have a rough idea where you are going to put things. Load large items first and create aisles, so everything is easily accessible. You should also have a working inventory on hand complete with a diagram that shows where things are located. In this process, a label maker will dramatically improve your chances of maintaining an organized storage unit.

7. Make sure everything is stored correctly.

For any given item, there is a right way and a wrong way to store it. In fact, there are so many factors to consider, that we’ve created storage guides for some commonly packed items.

In general, try to do the following:

  • Keep as much as you can off the floor. Use pallets and other shelving to lift everything at least a few inches off the concrete.
  • Never use cardboard boxes that stored perishables, like those you would find outside a grocery store.
  • Consider investing in climate controlled storage when storing fragile items, such as wood instruments or classic cars.

8. Give proper notice when vacating your unit.

If you only plan on renting short-term, make sure you ask what the policy is for canceling your rental. Some companies might require one month written notice. If this is the case, plan so that you don’t get charged an extra month rent. Plan to move out at the end of the month instead of at the first of the month. Depending on when notice was given, you might get penalized by having to pay the entire month’s rent instead of having it prorated.

9. Make sure you don’t break any rules.

Are you allowed to live in a storage unit.

One thing that could end up costing you is breaking some common storage unit rules. As a worse case scenario, breaking the rules or the terms of your contract could ultimately end up with your stuff being evicted or auctioned off.

Some common rules that apply in most storage facilities include:

  • Under no circumstances can you live inside a storage unit.
  • Unless it’s a special unit, you’re not allowed to conduct business out of your unit.
  • Using power tools and storing items like gasoline is a big no-no.
  • Most facilities won’t let you keep items like firearms or fireworks on the premise.

Also, make sure you always pay your rent on time. Inquire if there is an auto-pay option so that you don’t miss a payment and get a late charge. Ask the store manager what other things you might need to be aware of before renting. Make sure you read your contract word for word, so there are no surprises!

We hope these storage unit tips weren’t too intimidating and helped you understand more what goes into a rental. We are here to help, so if you have any other questions about renting, make sure you reach out to us directly.

About the Author


Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at The Spruce and Martha Stewart.

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