The whole point of paying for a self storage unit is to give your home or your business additional storage space that is:
- Easy to access, all year round;
- Clean, dry and secure;
There are a few things you need to bear in mind when choosing and using your self storage unit to make sure it ticks all those boxes. Whether you’re a first-timer in the world of self storage, or have been renting them for years and might have become a bit complacent, here are some common mistakes to avoid when renting a self storage unit.
1. Choosing the wrong unit size
Choose a unit that’s too small and you might end up breaking or damaging your belongings when you cram them inside.
Choose a unit that’s too large and you’ll pay for space you don’t need.
It is really difficult to accurately judge the amount of space you’ll need. We’ve created some walkthrough videos showing you what each unit looks like, so you can visualise the amount of space in each size of unit we offer. We also have very knowledgeable staff available to chat online or over the phone - if you tell them what you plan to store, they can offer their expert advice on which size unit will be best for you.
2. Failing to organise your storage
If you’ve got a van full of stuff from a house move, it can be tempting to just unload everything and put it into your storage unit without much thought about how to access it once it’s in there. If you’re using your car and bringing a carload at a time to your unit, it can be even more difficult to organise it all properly.
Ideally, you should load your unit in the reverse order of how you’ll unload it. So, items you’ll need to take out first should be loaded into your unit last so they’re nearest the door and easiest to reach.
Would shelves help you to organise your things better? It might be easier for you to access boxes if they’re stored on shelves rather than stacked on top of each other. Either way, make sure your boxes are clearly labelled, with the labels facing you!
Use the footprint of your storage unit to plan how to store your belongings: are you content to fill the whole space from back to front, or do you need to create an aisle (however short) to walk down and reach items further back?
Large, heavy items will need to be arranged on that footprint, but lighter items can be used to fill all the space above.
If any of that’s impossible when you move in because of a lack of time on the day, find time later on that week to go back to the unit and organise it properly. You might find that when you’ve stacked things carefully and made use of all available space, you could use a smaller unit and arrange to downsize your unit when possible.
3. Not making use of the vertical space
A common mistake is filling a unit’s footprint without using all the vertical space above it. Could the heavy items be stored vertically? Bed frames, for instance, could be stood upright rather than laid on their sides, leaving more room for larger items on the floor and making full use of the available vertical space.
Other tips include disassembling flatpack furniture and standing the items vertically (make sure you keep all fixings together in a sealed plastic bag attached firmly to the item they belong to!) or filling any voids in drawers or cupboards with other items you’re storing.
Once you’re sure you’ve made the most of the vertical space, reassess the size of your self storage unit. If there’s extra space available, speak with one of our team about whether it’s feasible to use a smaller unit without everything getting squashed. Sometimes, it’s important to have a bit of extra space, especially if you’re storing delicate items or need room to access everything regularly, but if not then you could save money by using a smaller unit.
4. Storing damp or dirty items
Damp items cause mould and rot to fester. Storing items that haven’t been properly cleaned and dried will leave your belongings vulnerable to damage and decay. We have provided some tips on how to prepare furniture for storage and the same tips can apply to other items such as personal belongings and business stock.
After making sure everything is clean and dry, use dust sheets and old bedding to cover your belongings to prevent scratches and condensation.
5. Forgetting to take out insurance
It’s very unlikely that anything untowards will happen to your belongings in a secure unit, but accidents happen and, as your Nan has always told you, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Your home contents insurance might cover belongings kept away from home, but a claim for things kept in your storage unit will affect your contents insurance premiums in the future.
Taking out a separate policy for your belongings in self storage costs very little and will give you peace of mind that you’ll be able to recover the cost of replacing anything lost or damaged.
6. Not recording what’s in your unit
For insurance purposes, and for your own sanity, it’s worth keeping a record of what’s in your storage unit - especially if you’re planning to use your unit for the long term.
Not recording your unit’s contents - in a list, or with photos - can mean that if you need to make a claim on your insurance you’ll struggle to prove what’s been lost or damaged. It can also mean that you forget what’s in there and end up buying replacements or just not making use of things you already own because you’ve forgotten about them!
7. Not keeping an eye on dates
When renting a storage unit, it is crucial to be mindful of the dates and take into account any notice periods outlined in the rental agreement. By carefully tracking these dates and giving sufficient notice, you can ensure that you don't end up paying for storage time that you no longer require, optimizing your expenses and avoiding unnecessary costs.
8. Choosing a storage unit in the wrong location
The price of a storage unit will naturally be affected by that store’s own expenses. If a store is located close to a city centre, for instance, the costs that business will have to pay will be greater than one located on an industrial site somewhere more remote.
If you’re seeking to keep your costs as low as possible, you may have to be prepared to travel a little further away from your home or work. Remember, though, that travelling further afield can increase your fuel costs, and may reduce the effectiveness of your storage solution (if it’s important that you can access your storage units contents quickly and easily).
If you’re storing items you don’t often use, or won’t need to access very often, then selecting a cheaper store further away won’t be a problem. Just satisfy yourself that your chosen store meets your budget including any additional travel expenses you’ll incur to access it.
We’ve got a range of storage unit stores across a variety of locations, all of them close to major cities and/or major road and public transport networks. Find your nearest store here
or chat with one of our helpful advisors who can talk you through the price options at various stores nearby.
9. Not giving enough thought to opening times
Before you book a self storage unit, check that the opening times match the times when you’ll be free to access your unit. If you’re an online retailer planning to store your stock, you’ll need access to your unit pretty much all the time so there are no delays in sending sold goods to your customers. If you work long hours and can only really access your unit on a Sunday or bank holiday, will your chosen store be open then?
You are welcome to visit our stores as often as you like during our normal trading hours. We are normally open 7 days a week with the exception of Bank Holidays, always check with the store via the website before travelling.
10. Not using self storage sooner!
Once you’ve settled into your unit, you’ll realise how much extra space you’ve got at home or work and wonder why the heck you didn’t get a unit earlier!
Hopefully, you’ll find renting a self storage unit to be an entirely positive experience. You’ll have more room to move around at home or at work, and you’ll feel confident knowing that your stuff is all kept clean, safe and dry. You can access your unit with Safestore at any time during our extensive opening hours, every day of the year, and if you choose a store close to your home or workplace it’ll be nice and easy for you to take things in and out as needed.
With these tips, you’ll make sure you’ll only pay for the space you need and for the time you need it, and all your belongings will be in the same condition when you take them out as they were when you put them in!