How to Use Self Storage: How to Pack Your Storage Unit

Team Tetris 2009

Packing a storage unit is like playing tetris with boxes

This is Part 5 of our 5-Part series: How to Use Self Storage.  We’d love your feedback on the series in the comments!

A lot of people who are searching for and comparing storage units are veteran storers who have learned, one way or another, the most efficient and effective way to store their things. But just as many are first time renters who didn’t expect to need storage or just never considered it an option until now. Finding a storage deal presents its own challenges (though Storitz.com aims to make it much easier!) but what about once you actually do find that perfect unit — in the right location with all the right features, at the right price? How do you go about packing all your stuff into that little metal box efficiently and effectively without completely losing your mind? I’ve pulled together some of the most important tips that will get you in and out in no time.

1. Before you move, get organized.

We went over this last week, but we can’t emphasize this step enough.  Decide exactly what it is that will be going into storage, more specifically than waving your hand and saying “pretty much everything in here”. Make a list, take pictures (this will also come in handy should you decide to have your unit insured). This process will also help you determine what size unit you need, how many boxes you should acquire, if you need to rent a truck and other important pre-moving day decisions.

2. Label everything

You may think you’ll remember what’s in that second brown box that you pack up by just writing “Clothes” on it. But what happens when you get to “Clothes #4″ and next winter you have to dig through 4 boxes to find your favorite sweater? Better to be as specific as possible with one box of “Sweaters & Mittens” and one of “Mismatched Socks & Free T-Shirts”. This will also be helpful when deciding which boxes you may not actually need at all.

3. Fill your boxes to the top.

Not only to save space in your unit but also because boxes with empty space at the top have a tendency to collapse under the weight of boxes stacked on top of them.

4. Think about the future.

I don’t mean, in broader terms (though now that you mention it, grad school is an interesting option), I mean what is going to happen after you pack up your unit when you come back to retrieve things? You’ll want to make sure, yes, that everything is labeled, but you’ll also want to make sure that you have easy access to the things you’re going to need. If you’re keeping seasonal clothes, for instance, you’ll probably want those near the door since you’re going to need to get to those regularly.

You’ll also want to make sure you leave yourself space to maneuver between your boxes so you can access everything. Depending on the size of your unit, stack boxes around the perimeter and leave space in the middle, or leave walkways between the rows of boxes.

5. Weatherproof

A dark enclosed space, depending on the climate of your storage unit, can breed a lot of things, mainly moisture. It’s smart to leave space between your boxes and the walls of the unit to minimized condensation and promote air circulation. Laying down plastic on the floor or using pallets to keep your boxes off the floor will also prevent damage from moisture.

6. Take security precautions

Though most storage facilities are very well secured, you can be extra safe in storing expensive items farther from the door, behind boxes or other large items so that they are not visible from the entrance to your unit.

7. Use all available space

You won’t be able to fit everything neatly into boxes (have you ever tried to box up an amoire?) but since your storage unit won’t be moving around you can stack your books in bookcases, put clothes in drawers and basically anything on top of anything else, wherever you find space. You’re spending your hard earned money renting storage, you want to maximize your space.

When you actually start moving in, you’ll probably find you don’t follow all of these tips to the letter and no doubt you’ll hit a few snags along the way, but these should get you started on your way to a pain free storing experience.

What did you think of our blog series?  Did you find it helpful?  What other questions about how to use self storage do you have?

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