The ultimate beginner’s guide to self-storage


Finding and using self-storage can be a daunting task, and if you’re looking for storage you probably already have your hands full. Maybe you’re undergoing a life change such as a move or military relocation, or maybe you simply are trying to restore order to a home that’s overgrown with clutter. Whatever your reason for self-storage, here’s the lowdown on the self-storage basics.

Why use self-storage?

One of the most common uses for self-storage is for home use. When a homeowner or renter realizes they have accumulated more than they can comfortably keep in their home, they may turn to self-storage to help manage the chaos. Some people seasonally rotate their items between their home and storage unit, including summer and winter wardrobes, swimming pool supplies or holiday decorations.

You may also consider self-storage if:

  • You need to store personal or business documents in a safe place
  • You’re a service member or college student with frequent moves
  • You’re a car collector or boat owner

How do I choose a storage unit?

When selecting a storage unit, while location matters, it isn’t the only critical factor. Also ask yourself which amenities you may need. For example, if you have any items that are sensitive to heat, cold, dust, or moisture, you may want to ensure the storage unit is climate controlled. Items that need climate control may include:

  • Documents
  • Fur coats
  • Electronics
  • Computer equipment
  • Vehicles

Additionally, think about when you are hoping to access your belongings. Some storage units have fixed hours, while others have 24-hour access. If safety is a concern, ensure the facilities have surveillance cameras, ample lighting, security fences, or management that lives on-site.

What size storage unit do I need?

For determining your storage unit size, make a list ahead of time of the items you would like to store. Units can range in size from 5’ x 5’, which is like a standard closet, to 10’ x 30’, which can contain the contents of a 3- to 4-bedroom house. In-between, there are sizes comparable to standard and large walk-in closets, as well as those that can hold the contents of multiple rooms or a small home. When choosing a size, be sure to go for something a little bigger than the items you actually have so that you are able to walk around freely as needed. Also leave some room between the walls and stored items for better ventilation.

Do I need self-storage insurance?

Generally, self-storage units do not automatically provide self-storage insurance. We highly recommended you research insurance options before storing your items. Even if a self-storage company is highly secure, floods, fires and other natural disasters could still happen. Your first stop should be your homeowner/renter’s insurance policy, as you may already have coverage. If not, you may be able to purchase add-on coverage at a better price than if you were to purchase directly from a self-storage company.

The next step if you are unable to secure insurance through your current provider is to see what kind of insurance the self-storage facility can provide. If you have items of high value, either monetary or sentimental, it may be worth the investment to pay more to insure these items. When insuring your items in storage, be sure to always include a detailed and current list of the stored items and their values.

Self-storage packing tips

If you decide to pack and move items on your own, organization and forethought are key. Try sticking to boxes that are the same size for easy stacking and avoid plastic bags, where contamination can breed. Be sure to fill out the boxes completely to avoid caving, but not so full that your boxes are overflowing. If you have oddly-shaped items, fill in the empty spaces with newspaper or packing material. Be sure not to pack your boxes so heavy that you are unable to lift them, and be sure to choose the right type of container material. For example, you may consider more heavy duty boxes for your books.

Here are some additional packing tips to get you started:

  • Stack books rather than standing them on-end to protect the spines.
  • Plates, on the other hand, should be stacked on-end and wrapped individually.
  • Use bubble wrap for framed art and criss-cross masking tape for mirrors and other glass.
  • Don’t forget to label your items and mark boxes as fragile as needed. You may consider drilling down your contents even more with a brief list of what’s in the box.
  • Clean, polish, wipe and treat items before their relocation to preserve and keep germs away. Cover furniture with tarp or sheets.
  • Take apart bed frames and other furniture for easy transport and storage. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® recommends taping all the pieces to the main base during the packing process to avoid misplacing them.

Self -storage alternative

Sometimes moving your home requires additional space and added flexibility. An alternative option to storage is seeking out availability from a moving company such as TWO MEN AND A TRUCK. They provide secure onsite storage facilities whether you have just a few boxes or countless crates and furniture. This option is a perfect fit during home renovations, downsizing or during transitional living between homes.

Moving your items to self-storage

When it comes to loading the moving van, place heavy boxes at the bottom and fragile items on top, with rarely used items toward the front of the van. This way, during the unloading process, the least-used items will be pushed behind more frequently used items. Keep highly valuable items out of plain view to deter theft, and place fragile items on top of heavier, less fragile boxes.

Depending on your schedule and budget, you may decide it’s worth the investment to hire professional movers to pack and move your belongings. If this is the case, be sure to thoroughly research the moving company before entrusting them with your items. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® frequently moves items in and out of storage and arrive with fully trained, uniformed movers to ensure the process is completed with care and efficiency. If you move frequently, you may even be interested in mobile storage, where movers come to your home and pack and store your items in a cube that travels with you.

And that’s it – you are now ready to take charge of your self-storage future! Whether your life is in transition or you just need some of your space back, self-storage units help make daily living a whole lot easier.

Content developed in association with The Parham Group and Noah’s Ark Self Storage.

Creative Tips for Storing Holiday Decorations

Written by Nick Howison and Brad Hillard

The holidays are in full swing, but they end as quickly as they come. The bittersweet combination of decorating, time with in-laws and shopping is an emotional roller coaster; especially when the season comes to a halt. If it seems like a good idea to simply throw all of your holiday decorations in a box in the attic, this post is for you.  The results of a hasty holiday tear-down can be disastrous and make decorating for the next year even more complicated. Take the edge off by using the following tips to efficiently pack and store your holiday decorations:

  1. Rally the Troops: In my house, everyone is determined to “deck the halls”, but when it comes to taking it down, nobody wants to help. Every year I earn their help by taking them out to a dinner and a movie-of-choice after the decorations are down.
  2. Label your Boxes: Writing “fragile ornaments” and “singing-Santa clause”  on their respective boxes helps organize the entire decorating process from start to finish. It’s helpful when assigning tasks to family members. It allows me to ask, “Can you bring down the hand-carved reindeer set from the attic? It’s in box labeled ‘Xmas Living Room’.”
  3. Choose Wisely: TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® has a variety of boxes tailored to your packing needs.  Some unique ones include a dish pack box with an insert for your Christmas tree ornaments. These boxes are big and hold a variety of items so you can use them year-round. Click here to see a few options available to you.
  4. Recycle: Did your gift come with bubble wrap or protective foam? Reuse these perfectly good packing materials in the place of the old, mostly-popped, bubble wrap in your decoration boxes.
  5. Christmas Creativity: Pack smaller ornaments and decorations into an empty egg carton (leftover from the plethora of consumed eggnog). This provides a protective shell for the ornaments and the cartons can be stacked inside a larger box.
  6. Light bulb!: Wrap your lights around pieces of cardboard.  This is a great way to keep the lights from tangling which in turn  protects them from annual damage. Once they are wrapped, place the cardboard pieces in a labeled box for next year.

No matter which method you choose to pack up your holiday decorations, the blog team at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® strives to move you forward no matter the task and we are always available to help with any packing challenge. Share your holiday packing tips with us in the comments!

We hope you enjoy the time spent with your families and wish you a happy holiday season!

Storage Tips 101: Choosing a Storage Facility and Safeguarding Your Valuables

Written by Lisa Kirchhoff

For many, a household move often means placing some items in storage. Whether it’s long-term or short-term, nearby or far away, there are some tips to keep in mind if storing items is in your future:

Choosing a storage facility

Choosing a facility should be based on how long you anticipate your items will remain there, as well as the season and climate.

For longer-term storage of more than three months, or if you must store items over the course of changing seasons, a climate-controlled storage facility is best. Although they do cost more than non-climate-controlled centers, your valuables will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, which is ideal for everything from large appliances to small keepsakes.

For short-term storage up to three months, a non-climate-controlled unit will suffice, but be sure to take extra precautions to prevent mold and mildew from forming.  If your short-term storage takes place during the winter in a northern climate, do not store computer monitors or televisions, as extremely cold temperatures can cause screens to freeze and break.

Check into insurance

As with any valuables, insurance is important with stored items. Even if the facility you choose appears to have a great security system against theft, don’t forget the possibilities of fire, flood, explosion, storms and natural disasters.

Check with the storage facility manager about their insurance coverage. Few facilities provide full insurance coverage for stored items. Some may provide basic insurance, but it will more than likely not be sufficient to cover replacement costs.

It’s also a good idea to check your homeowners or renters policy you have with your own insurance company. It may provide full coverage for your items even when they are stored away from your residence.

You may want to consider purchasing extra insurance coverage if:

  • Items will be stored long-term in a non-climate controlled unit
  • The storage unit is in a flood plain
  • You intend to store extremely valuable items

Watch for our next installment on using a storage facility: Storage Tips 102: packing, preparing and unloading.

Lisa is a guest writer for Movers who Blog and has 19 moves under her belt. She works for US Cargo Control where she blogs about moving supplies