The SpareFoot blog is full of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your self-storage experience, from how to store furniture to how to avoid unexpected moving expenses. But being as close to the subject as we are, it’s not always possible for us to anticipate all of the problems that first-time storage renters might face. To get a better idea of issues faced by new renters and the solutions they came up with, we asked our customers a simple question:

What is one tip or piece of advice you’d like to share with other people researching and booking a storage unit?

Out of more than 1,100 responses, here are some our customers’ top tips in six key areas.

1. Finding the Appropriate Size
One of the most common problems encountered by new renters is size expectations not meeting reality. Some felt misled by size guidelines supplied by the facility or booking service:

“Don’t just follow the standard size guidelines. Every site said I needed a 10×15, but I actually needed a 10×20, at minimum. Take the time to figure out the size of your furniture and the volume of your boxes.”

Like this customer, many found they’d underestimated the size they needed and recommended going with a larger unit to err on the side of caution:

  • “Make sure you realize that the storage unit sizes are not always as large as they seem.”

  • “Don’t underestimate the size of the unit you will need.”

Other renters offered advice on how to better estimate the size you need:

  • “The best way to figure out what size you need is by experimenting with how your things fit together using an empty corner in your home, then measuring the best fit.”

  • “Be organized and know exactly what’s going into the unit in order to make sure you book the right size.”

One of the best pieces of advice was a reminder that while storage unit sizes are listed in two dimensions, taking advantage of that third dimension is an important part of fitting everything in:

“Realize that even though the size of the room is small, your items can always be stacked. You aren’t reserving a space that is 5 feet tall.”

Actually, storage units generally are between 8 and 10 feet tall.

2. Choosing a Facility
Another challenge that storage-seekers cope with is finding the right facility. While a resounding number of customers recommended using the Internet to find and compare facilities, many also advocated checking out the facility in person before signing a lease:

  • “Go to the unit in person to check on the security and appearance of the unit you require.”

  • “The Internet is easiest way to find storage. But after looking at facilities online, you need to physically check out the ones you have selected.”

Other customers added that the perks a facility offers–and potential downsides, like limited opening hours or additional fees–often can be more important than price itself:

  • “Check out at least 3 facilities and compare them, apples to apples, including any move in discounts and free truck usage.”

  • “Ask about time access to your unit as far as entrance goes. Ask about any rate increases and additional fees and insurance. For example, do they have a truck available to help you with your move?”

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One of these most important perks is climate control, which is more expensive but helps guarantee the well-being of your belongings:

“Cheaper is not always better. The extra $5 or $10 you may pay each month is well worth the peace of mind knowing that your items are secure, free from pests and ever-changing weather.”

Finally, our favorite hint on finding the right facility:

“Finding a facility is simple and easy with SpareFoot.”

3. Getting the Right Price
The most common piece of advice for getting a low price on a unit was to expand your search area:

  • “I found that storage is cheaper in the outlying areas of town and surrounding communities.”

  • “At first I wanted a storage location closer to where I live, but this one was better by far than those close to home.”

  • “Shop around, try other cities nearby.”

Perhaps our most most budget-minded customer recommended some old-fashioned haggling to score a deal:

“Shop around for prices: you can usually bargain for first month free!”

4. Sizing Up the Unit
Many respondents suggested giving the storage unit itself a thorough inspection before signing any paperwork:

  • “Measure the inside of the unit: sometimes measurements like 5′ x 5′ are not exact.”

  • “Make sure you check the lock holder on your new unit. Sometimes they are loose from wear and tear.”

  • “Make sure the storage unit is not easily floodable.”

5. Watching Out for Extra Fees
Some readers warned of hidden fees tacked on by facilities at the last minute, like insurance charges, which can be avoided in most cases if you carry homeowner’s or renter’s insurance:

  • “Insurance is mandatory and the plan the facility sells is not cheap. Remember to bring proof of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance instead.”

  • “Make sure to see if there are any added fees like the ‘admin’ fee that they charged me an $20 extra for.”

6. Making the Move
Finally, after selecting a facility and a unit and filling out the paperwork, many renters offered solid advice on what to do when you’re actually moving in. A common theme was communicating closely with the storage facility:

  • “Make sure you call before you arrive at the facility because some facilities are closed for lunch or at other designated times. They could also be closed due to an emergency or a shortage of staff.”

  • “Don’t just assume things went smoothly on the facility’s end. Call the facility to confirm your reservation, including the size and price of the unit prior to moving in.”

Others dished out some superb packing tips:

  • “If you have furniture, remember to bring a blanket, sheet or canvas to lay out to protect it from the concrete floor.”

  • “Leave some extra empty space inside the unit if you think you’ll ever need to get to anything while it’s in storage. You can’t find anything unless you move it all out of the storage unit, and after that you’ll have to put it back. Lots of wasted time.”

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  • dennis douglas

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  • SmoothCriminal

    Please provide some more info about furniture storage in Ringwood. As I want to choose that place for furniture storage.

  • http://www.3dshoots.com/forums/member.php?u=41939 littleton storage

    Although some self-storage companies will offer packing as an additional service, you will pay for the privilege and, in most cases, you’ll be packing up yourself. Packing for self-storage is an art and you’ll need to put some thought into it before you begin. After all, one of the primary advantages of using a self-storage facility is the fact that you can continue to access your items even in storage.

  • http://www.myplick.com/view/aj3R_O0M9fn/Storage-King-Arthur Janell Casey

    I have I have some here in storage units utah

  • Jensen

    Great tips! I am helping my brother find some tips for self storage since he is renting for the first time. I hope it works out for him.
    Jensen | http://www.gostorageone.com/locationsrates/henderson/

  • CelineSand

    It’s so true that you shouldn’t underestimate the size that you need in your storage unit. I’ve found that you can always use extra space. It’s crazy how all the things you put in storage just add up so much!
    Celine | http://www.i-70selfstorage.com

  • Paul Herman

    It seems really easy to start renting a storage unit for a specific purpose and keep adding things to it. I need a place to put all of my old furniture right now. It would be nice to put them in storage so that I can make room for all of my new furniture in my house. I’m sure that I’m going to need it for other things in the future.

    http://www.hollywoodselfstorageaugusta.com/todays-specials/

  • Jason Strong

    My good friend is getting ready to go away for a couple months for work, and he needs to find a self storage unit to put his stuff in. He asked me to help him look, but I’ve never done this before, so I’m just as clueless as he is. This article has some good tips that I think could help him find what he’s looking for.

    http://www.atlasselfstorage.net/atlas-self-storage-storage-unit-faqs.htm

  • Hanna Mae

    Great blog and information. I actually was told I could store my vehicle. I am assuming I would be needing to get the biggest storage unit they have. I would like to have both my car and my personal belongings in one unit. In fact, I might leave some items packed in my car. Would that be a possibility? I hope it is! http://www.arcticstorage.com

  • Michael Foster

    Getting insurance would be a really good idea for a storage unit. I don’t have one, but have thought about getting one recently. I probably have too much stuff, but most of it means something to me. With that in mind, I want to make sure my things are protected.
    http://www.illinistor-it.com

  • Wally West

    This is great advice, thanks for sharing. I have been wanting to get a storage unit for a while now and my wife is really pushing for me to get one. We have a room that is full of stuff that we need to either get rid of or put in storage. Either way, I will need to get a storage unit and I would like to get it done before the bad weather gets here. I don’t have any way to protect my stuff from the weather when I am transporting it.

    http://www.bakerviewstorage.com

  • Gary Birtles

    I like what this article said about visiting the facility in person. That is what helped ease my mind when I was searching for a storage facility. I was able to ask questions and express any concerns before I made a choice. I was then able to make an educated decision from there. http://www.hollywoodselfstorageaugusta.com/todays-specials/

  • Hollie Truesdale

    I really liked the tip about stacking some boxes in an empty corner of your house and then measuring how much space you would need! I’m really bad with estimating sizes, especially square footage, so that’s a great tip for me. I also really liked the tips about how to find the best price, since that’s usually my main hang up with renting space. http://www.foothillsstorage.net/

  • Nina Cruze

    Looking for more posts on self storage from your side soon.

    http://www.store4you.com