So, you’ve taken a look around the home and decided you have a ton of stuff – perhaps too much. Perhaps you’ve downsized to a home that’s a bit smaller than your current pad, and you don’t really want to trash those prized possessions that won’t fit. You’ve probably decided your best route is to stow them away in storage. You still want access to your belongings any time you need them, but how do you go about finding a storage company you can put your faith in? Nearly 1 in 10 people use a self-storage unit today, but the process of renting one isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. So, what should you be keeping your eyes out for before you sign a monthly agreement?
Finding a dependable storage unit is sort of like locating a trustworthy landlord, only with a storage company, you may only be dealing with them once or twice when you sign up and move your stuff in. After which, you (hopefully) will not hear from them at all. It’s as simple as paying your rent, making the short drive to your belongings when you need something, and that’s it. There are however some sure warning signs to be mindful of when selecting a storage company to assure everything works out for the best.
Determine Which Storage Unit Type Fits Your Specific Needs
Start your journey by taking a good long look at the different items you intend to place in storage. You probably have a rough idea of the space you want in a storage unit, but try to keep in mind that you probably want to rent a unit that provides a little extra room. After all, you want to be able to move around your belongings inside the unit when adding or removing items so you probably don’t want items filling the space top to bottom, wall to wall. The last thing you want is to be that guy that has to remove half of everything in his unit, just to get to the box in the very back.
If you have belongings that are sensitive to temperature (like expensive musical instruments, or a wine collection), it may be worth considering a climate-controlled storage unit, which is generally located indoors. If you are storing expensive items, you’ll want to ask the storage company about the security measures they utilize. You’ll definitely want to get insurance on your storage unit. In some cases, your renter’s insurance or homeowner’s policy will cover the items you have in storage, but you need to check to be safe. If not, look into how much more you’ll need to spend to add the additional coverage or you can check with the storage company to see if they offer the ability to buy insurance from them. If they do offer it, it’s probably worth the low cost vs. replacing your belongings.
Do Your Research
Finding a storage facility isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but there are some things to consider before even picking up the phone.
Don’t box yourself into a specific location.
The last thing you want to do is find yourself storing your irreplaceable belongings in a facility that just isn’t all that great so don’t just settle on the option closest to home or the cheapest in your area. Consider a wide enough area such that you at least have a few options to look at. You might also be able to score a great deal just by driving or walking a few extra minutes at another storage company.
Look at reviews.
Look up the storage company on Google or Yelp. Definitely, take reviews with a grain of salt, but if they’re bad or there’s a recurring theme, you may want to steer clear. The reviews can also give you some pointers on what to look out for when you actually visit the location later.
Check office hours and access hours.
Some locations only post the hours you’re allowed to access your belongings vs. the hours in which employees are actually on the property. This can make it seem like they’re open later than they really are. If you have an issue or need to talk to someone, you may only be able to address those problems during business hours (although a growing number of storage companies now offer after-hours or emergency service). Also, if the storage company you are looking into only allows you to access your belongings until 5 pm on the weekend, it’s probably going to be inconvenient for you and there’s probably a reason why they did this.
Go Take a Look and Ask Questions
So now that you’ve explored a few options and you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to go visit the storage companies you’re considering. Don’t feel like you have to sign a contract as soon as you walk in the door either. Many companies will tell you that units are limited but most will allow you to hold a unit overnight to think things over. Try to get everything you can out of your visit to take a good look around and ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for permission to see one of the units you might get.
Check into what the process is regarding late payments.
Getting a storage unit isn’t like renting an apartment. On the first of the month, you’re already late on rent. Grace periods vary quite a bit from one storage company to the next, and in some cases even being a few days late with your payment means your belongings could go up for auction. You may also be stuck paying late fees. Make sure you know what the storage company’s exact policy is before you find yourself trying to make an online payment because you made a trip out of town and forgot to drop off a check.
Once you’ve had an opportunity to look around, and understand what you might be getting into, check with the property manager if you can put a unit on hold. They may or may not be able to, but don’t feel pressured to sign or agree to anything at this point. Even if you can’t place the unit on hold, ask for a business card so that you can easily get back in touch with the person who helped you out.
Before Signing, Take a Look at a Few Locations
Go through these steps a few times with different storage options on your list before you get anyone back on the phone or sign up for a specific storage unit. Check if you can take a contract home to review over the details. This way you aren’t trying to rush through a legal document while standing in front of the property manager (which can be nerve-wracking enough). When you’ve had an opportunity to take a look at a few different places, reviewed all of the documents provided, and have had time to mull over the facility that is most convenient for you and will meet your needs, then you can be comfortable knowing that you did your due diligence and sign a contract (or month-to-month agreement which is even better) with confidence.
Again, you probably won’t have the same type of experience you would when dealing with a landlord, but it’s important that you place your belongings with a company you trust and with those you are confident will protect your property. With a little research and time, you’ll end up with an affordable space perfect for you! If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you need help finding a reputable storage company, give us a call and we’d be happy to help provide some recommendations and answer any questions you have.