Need to know the best way to store that old sofa? Perhaps you have an enormous collection of china that you are afraid to pack away for long term storage? This set of tips and tricks can help quell that feeling of terror when it comes to self storage in Little Rock, Arkansas and get you off the ground and on your way.
This guide is designed to be read in pieces, so don't feel overwhelmed by its size or the huge amount of information contained within it. Don't feel like you need to read it from cover-to-cover. Just pick out the pieces you need and start there. Soon you'll be storing with confidence.
Finding a storage unit can be an overwhelming task, especially if you aren't familiar with all of the options and features available. It's best to assess all of your storage needs before you even search for a local storage facility.
Consider how long you might need the storage unit. Many facilities offer discounts for long-term storage, but some may also have specials for temporary rentals.
Estimate how much space you will require. Save money by only renting the space you need. Feel free to use the self storage calculator to help you. Many facilities will store larger items including cars, camper and other motorized vehicles.
How often will you need to access the unit? Some facilities are accessible 24/7 and may even have drive-up access. Hours of operations range from facility to facility and should be taken into consideration depending on your needs.
Are any of the items you plan to store sensitive to temperature or humidity? If so, you will most likely need a climate-controlled storage unit. Typically the following items need to be stored indoors with some type of climate-control: leathers, furs, clothing, paintings, film, photographs, furniture, antiques, musical instruments, wine, paper, software, DVDs, CDs and electronics.
All storage facilities should have secure units, but if you require additional security for your possessions ask the facility if they have any of the following: fencing, surveillance cameras, motion lights, alarms, guards or a police presence.
You may also want to consider mobile storage for your items. If you decide to use mobile storage, a unit will be brought to you and removed after you have packed it. The unit will be stored at the facility or can be shipped to another location. The cost and features of mobile storage are comparable to self-storage but if you require regular access to your belongings, it may not be the best option for your needs.
Check out more detailed storage tips on the left hand side of this page. There's a storage solution for every situation.
Renting a self storage unit can be a great way to reduce clutter and free up needed space at the home or office. A storage unit is a smart place to keep a few boxes, old appliances, memorabilia, heirlooms and old toys.
Often self storage units offer more security than homes. Self storage facilities provide security features not normally found on homes. In addition to a lock, facilities are often protected by a security fence, surveillance cameras, a gated entry, limited entry after hours, exterior lighting and possibly security guards or onsite management. You may choose to purchase an in-home security system for your home. While this may protect the items stored in your home, will it protect items left in your yard? What about that backyard storage shed? Self storage units give you the benefits of both extra storage space and added security.
Some items pose potential hazards at home and need to be placed in a secure area to ensure the safety of your family. You may be handy around the house and enjoy renovation projects, but between jobs a self storage unit can keep those power tools, ladders, saws and drills away from curious children and, thereby, reduce the risk of possible accidents around the house.
Homes often do not have the storage space to hold large items. For instance, if you have ski boats, canoes or vintage cars, you may not have room for them in your garage or driveway. A self storage unit could give you a place to store such items that provides protection from the weather and some added security. If your garage has slowly filled with things like your exercise equipment and camping supplies and you want to reclaim it for your car, a self storage unit may be a perfect solution.
When renting a unit you may be required or at least offered insurance. Insurance will replace your valuables if they are stolen or damaged while in storage. Self storage insurance may be cheaper than homeowner's or renter's insurance.
Whether you need to pack a few items to put in the attic, send some boxes to a self storage unit to clear the house of clutter or pack everything you own in order to move, you want to do it right. This means packing carefully and thinking ahead. Take a few precautions to help prevent damage and make it easier to find things later. When summer rolls around, you want to be able to find the other half of your wardrobe without having to open and move stacks of boxes that weren't clearly labeled.
Guidelines to keep in mind as you pack:
- To aid in stacking, use same-size boxes when possible.
- Avoid storing items in plastic bags as they are less sturdy and could trap moisture.
- Fill each box completely to prevent the top or sides from crushing. If your box is filled with odd-shaped or loose items like glassware or toys, fill the open spaces with crumpled paper, bubble wrap or other packing material.
- Don't fill boxes too full. This may cause them to burst.
- Don't make boxes too heavy to move. Use larger boxes for things that don't weigh much and smaller ones for the heavy stuff.
- Use the right type of box or packing crate. For instance, use a heavy-duty box for your books as this is less likely to break than a standard box. You still need to be careful not to overfill it, though. Cell kits may work best for stemware or knick-knacks. Wardrobe boxes allow you to hang up clothing and fabrics while in storage.
- Stack books; don't stand them on end as this could damage the spines.
- Stack plates on end. Wrap dishes individually and place like-sized items together. Nest individually wrapped cups together.
- Wrap framed art in bubble wrap. Look for protective cardboard or plastic corners at your packing supply store.
- Criss-cross masking tape across the face of mirrors or glass-covered art.
- Store framed mirrors, photographs and artwork vertically rather than flat.
- Label boxes clearly and on more than one side. Consider providing a general description like 'kitchen goods' and then providing a short inventory such as 'potholders, towels, aprons, silverware' so that no one opens this kitchen box when they need the pots and pans. Be sure to mark boxes full of breakables as 'fragile.'
- Clean items like clothing, blankets, drapery or furniture before packing them to prevent germs and dirt from being transported to a new location and odors from spreading throughout your storage unit.
- Polish wood before you pack to provide a little extra protection from the elements.
- Treat leather items with a specially made conditioner before placing them in storage.
- Wipe metal objects with machine oil or another type of rust preventative.
- Take apart items like bed frames and tables, and remove lampshades from lamps. This will help protect them from breaking and make them easier to move.
- Cover furniture with sheets or tarps to protect them from stains, tears and scratches.
- Place heavy items on the bottom of your moving van or self storage unit.
- Place least used items in front of the van so they can easily be placed behind other items in your new garage or self storage unit.
- Place valuable items like your television behind other items so that they will be more difficult to see and to steal.
- Place boxes of fragile items on top of other boxes.
- Consider the environment where you plan to store your valuables. Will it be very hot or cold? Consider renting a climate controlled storage room for items that could be damaged by extreme temperatures or humidity. This includes things like software, paper, electronics or clothing. Some items do best in cold storage such as wine and furs. In self storage units without climate control consider using a dehumidifier.
- When choosing a storage unit, factor in a little more room than your belongings take up in order to allow space for you to walk between stacks of items. This will help you to find what you need after you store it. Leave a little room between the walls and the stored goods to improve ventilation.
- Take a little time to plan and organize as you pack. This should make it easier to finds things in the future and less likely that anything will get damaged during a move or while in storage.
As you look around your house, you realize that you have accumulated more than will fit into the square footage available in your home. It may be that you cannot abide junk and regularly rid your home of worn out items and things no one wants anymore. Still, you see that too many things are cluttering your home and hiding its style and pizzazz. You decide to rent a self storage unit. It will allow you to rotate your treasures in and out of your house at the whim of your inner design guru. Now comes the hard part. What should stay and what should be tucked away in your self storage unit?
- Hold onto clothes that are in season and that you wear regularly.
- Keep at home practical items in regular use like silverware, towels, bedding and soap dishes.
- Retain often used furniture.
- Keep photos and wall hangings that add a spark to the decor.
- Hold onto board games and enough toys to fill your child's toy box.
- Keep enough of your college student's personal objects to make them feel at home when they visit.
- File current bills and private documents like social security cards and bank account information at home.
- Show off collectors' items in a display cabinet.
- Make room for sporting gear that someone in the house uses every few days (basketballs, yoga mats, bikes and more).
- Carve a niche for that emergency household tool kit.
- Store out-of-season clothing and footwear.
- Box up extra items that clutter your cupboards like excess towels, the good silver used only on holidays, extra blankets needed only in winter and toothbrush holders that have been replaced by a fresh design.
- Store the rocker that only grandma sits in when she visits every six months or the footstool that no one uses but everyone trips over.
- Store photos and wall hangings that make the room look too busy or just don't fit your current design scheme.
- Pack away extra toys that you have no room for. Rotate them in and out every few weeks so that your child can enjoy all of them. Involve your child in the decisions.
- Put away your college student's bags, balls and other belongings that spill out of his closets into other rooms or that make his room uncomfortable for guests.
- Stash tax documents and other papers that may be needed but are seldom reviewed.
- Store collectors' items that take up too much room and don't look good on display. If you have several collections or many items, you may want to rotate them.
- Pack up out-of-season sporting gear.
- Bundle garden tools together in the off season and stick them in a garbage bin in your self storage unit.
- Ultimately, use your discretion to decide what stays and what goes. Label your stored goods well. If you are keeping them, you should rotate what you can into daily use every so often.
The presents are unwrapped, the boxes are emptied of their contents, and tissue paper is strewn about the room. Time to clean up from all the holiday merriment; but don't be too hasty to throw out the tissue paper and empty boxes - recycle them. This article will give you some "ah ha" ideas for storing holiday decorations, and self storage is a convenient place to holiday items when the season is over.
- Run used gift wrap and tissue paper through a paper shredder and use the fluffy strips as filler.
- Keep fragile ornaments at the top of a box.
- Egg cartons are perfect for tiny ornaments.
- Have a partitioned cardboard wine box? Use it to store tissue-wrapped ornaments. Several ornaments can be stacked on top of each other in each slot.
- Reuse a shirt box or shoebox to store ornament hangers. Fill it with hooks, rolls of small ribbon, cording, scissors, twist ties and craft wire - everything you'd need to replace the inevitable lost hanger.
- Store food-based decorations (like the cinnamon and applesauce ornaments your kids bring home from school) in sandwich bags to protect them from humidity, and then place the bags in an empty cookie tin to keep rodents out.
- Store bulky garlands in large plastic storage boxes. You can push a lot into a big box, since there's nothing to break, and the garlands can be fluffed out.
- Mark the center of a long swag with a colored twist tie before you remove it so you won't have to measure it again next year.
- Label segments of garland with a pen and masking tape as you take it down so you'll always know which piece to hang in the entryway and which is just the right size for the mantel.
- Instead of coiling your lights in a bundle that somehow turns into a big tangled ball, wrap them around empty wrapping paper tubes and tape the ends of the string to the tube.
- Put extra bulbs and fuses in a sandwich bag and place inside the tube.
The wedding is over. Perhaps you wore your grandmother's elegant silk gown with the flowing train and the delicately embroidered veil that matched, or maybe you and your girlfriends spent weeks searching for the perfect wedding dress that you felt best reflected your personality. Now, you need to store this treasure so that the years do not steal any of its beauty. You may want to leave the possibility open for your little girl to one day carry on the family tradition and walk down the aisle in that very wedding gown. To best maintain its timeless grandeur, follow a few important steps:
- Check the gown's label for care instructions. Some must be dry cleaned while others can be "wet-cleaned," which means cleaned with water, a process that can be handled by a professional. Often polyester dresses can be hand washed, but test a small, hidden area to be sure. Labels may provide special instructions that specify the type of cleaning solvent that the dress requires. Check with your bridal shop for an experienced dry cleaner that carries the type of supplies and equipment your dress needs.
- Have the gown cleaned as soon as possible to prevent stains from setting. Check out the dry-cleaner and make sure the individual who will handle your dress has solid experience cleaning wedding gowns. Not all gowns require the same type of treatment. Some chemicals work great on silk but will damage sequins. Look for a cleaner that uses virgin solvent, rather than recycled. A gown cleaned in impure solvent will smell likes it has been dry cleaned, and it shouldn't.
- Avoid storing the gown in a plastic dry cleaning bag or a plastic garment bag for very long, even if the wedding boutique sent the dress home with you in such a bag. Plastic may emit fumes that could yellow or otherwise damage your gown. In addition, if moisture gets trapped in the bag, the dress could mildew.
- Decide whether you want to have the gown professionally boxed or hung or if you are going to handle it yourself. The following professional procedures should help you protect this heirloom.
- If you choose to have the gown boxed by a company that specializes in preserving wedding gowns, they will likely use an acid-free wedding box, preferably not simply one with an acid-free coating as it will not provide as much protection in the long run. They should pad the bodice and folds with acid-free tissue. Fabrics like rayon or polyester should use buffered tissue while natural material like silk should use un-buffered tissue. If you have the gown boxed, do not get it sealed. A dress that has been folded will need to be taken out and rearranged every year or so to prevent folds from creasing and permanently damaging the dress. An added benefit of storing your dress in an unsealed container is that you may take it out, try it on and enjoy it occasionally.
- Choosing to have a wedding dress preservation company professionally hang the gown will help prevent wrinkles and will require less care in the future. Since it will not be folded, creases will not develop; therefore, the dress will not have to be removed from its packaging every couple of years to be rearranged. The dress should be placed in a cloth bag that contains no dye and hung on a thickly padded hanger. Dresses with narrow straps or none at all should be reinforced to prevent breakage. The bodice may be filled with acid-free tissue to help it retain its shape.
- Check the dress at least once a year for problems. A spilled drink may be invisible when it dries, but over time it can oxidize and turn the area where it spilled brown. Have such spots cleaned right away. They can become harder to remove once they have been there awhile. Normally, they will show up in the first year after the wedding.
- When removing the gown from storage, even for a little while, wear plain white cotton gloves to prevent sweat or dirt from leaving residue on the dress. This could lead to stains later. In addition, perspiration might cause the cloth to become brittle.
- After the wedding dress has been cleaned and preserved, keep it in a location where the temperature is cool and the air is dry. Minimize light. Ultraviolet radiation can hurt textiles over a long period of time. A dehumidifier may help, or you may want to lease a self storage unit with climate control features that allow you to keep the temperature low and the air dry to better protect all your stored clothing, most especially this one-of-a-kind symbol of your family's beginning that when preserved, may bring happiness to generations.
It can be difficult to make space in your home or garage for unused appliances. But because new appliances are expensive, many people prefer to hold on to old ones for hand-me-downs, vacation homes, or back-ups. A self storage rental can be a convenient, affordable solution -- short-term or long-term. However, if you don't properly prepare your appliances for remote storage, you may return to find useless, moldy boxes. Below is some useful advice for secure appliance storage.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding appliance storage, remember that your self storage facility manager may be a great source of information and guidance.
Run a final cycle
Consider running an empty clothes washer and dishwasher through a complete wash cycle using either a cup of bleach or white vinegar instead of detergent prior to placing in self storage.
Empty any water from hoses, holding tanks, plastic tubing and other internal components. This will help prevent freezing and mildew.
Clean the interior
Scrub and dry the interior completely -- especially in refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens. Food and sugar remnants can attract bugs, even in interior storage units. In refrigerators, clean and dry the defrost pan -- you'll find it underneath or behind the refrigerator. In water-using appliances, wipe the rubber cushion seal around the perimeter of the door. Mildew tends to collect in this area.
Treat for insects
Insects that infest food are found almost everywhere. To prevent an infestation, be sure to spray your clean appliance for bugs.
Clean the exterior
Any motor-driven appliance will have an intake area (lint filter, tube or grid). be sure to clean this vent. A vacuum may do the trick, but if the opening is greasy, you might use an old toothbrush.
Remove glass and protect finish
If your appliance has glass shelves or fragile parts, remove them and transport them separately. Appliances with finishes that can scratch or dent should be wrapped in blankets or bubble wrap. Refrigerators should be transported upright.
Secure with tape
Use a strong tape to hold the appliance door closed. Even though the tape should only stay in place during the move, you may want to choose a type that won't leave residue (such as blue painters tape). Once in storage, remove the tape and prop the appliance's door open to prevent mildew.
Choose a suitable storage unit
If you are storing your appliances in a region that experiences high temperatures, low temperatures, wide temperature swings, or high humidity, you may want to consider a climate controlled storage unit. Because climate control temps are kept constant, the mechanical/electronic parts of your appliances are better protected from rust and fissures.
If you're moving more household items into your self storage unit, put the large appliances on the truck last. This way, they will be the first to come off the truck. Refrigerators should be transported upright.
By placing appliances in the back of your storage unit, you'll have easier access to smaller items that you retrieve more frequently.
Turn the power off
The large majority of storage facilities will not offer electricity outlets in your storage unit. But if yours does have power, do not use it. Leave your appliance off for the duration of the rental.
Protect fragile parts
If you store appliance parts separately (glass panels, shelves, etc.) remember to mark them as fragile and avoid stacking or leaning heavy items on them.
Prop open the door
Find a way to keep the appliance's door ajar for the duration of the storage rental. This will help deter mildew.
Avoid unwanted odors
Place an open box of baking soda in stored appliances.
Although some storage and moving companies advise against stowing items inside your appliances, careful preparation will offer additional storage space. A clean, dry, open appliance is a good spot to store lighter items, including fragile things. Do not jam-pack your appliance with heavy items, like books.
Cover and protect
Use a breathable material such as a tarp or sheet to shield your appliance from dirt, dust or accidental scratches.
That time of year has arrived when the days get longer, and it becomes easier to do something about the carpet stains, dust and stale air that have built up during the last few weeks and, perhaps, months. Finally, you can throw open all of the windows and let in the fresh air without freezing. Now, get ready to revitalize your home with a good spring cleaning.
Whether you conduct a full-house cleaning once a year or once a month, you may want to consider renting a self storage unit to get things out of the way during the process. In addition, cleaning and organizing easily can turn into redecorating. Self storage facilities are great places to store items for the long-term that do not fit into your updated home design scheme but that you are not ready to toss, sell or donate.
Spring cleaning tips:
- To keep track of what you have already accomplished, clean from the top down, dusting and washing ceiling fans, light fixtures and corners first. Then wipe and wash walls, windows, counters, furniture and floors.A similar philosophy works with windows. Try cleaning the inside from left to right and the outside from the top down. This will make it easier to tell which side has streaks, if either.
- Replace smoke detector batteries, test the smoke detectors and give them a good wipe down.
- Clear counters and shelves and wash them thoroughly. Wash knick-knacks and dust books. If you have accumulated stacks of papers or bills, now is a good time to file the important documents in your self storage unit. Recycle junk mail, outdated magazines and used envelopes. Shred old bills and other papers that contain personal information.
- Pull out appliances and wash the sides and floor. Clean normally hidden spills and wipe the walls.
- If you plan to paint or thoroughly shampoo the carpets, consider moving your furniture into a self storage unit. Many companies will rent units for as little as a day. Mobile storage companies will even bring a storage unit to your house and remove it when you are done with it.
- When cleaning mattresses and other furniture, consider laying down a tarp and leaving the bedding and upholstery outside on the driveway for a few hours. Some strong sunlight and ultraviolet radiation can help eradicate microscopic creatures that are trying to take up residence there. A thorough steam cleaning may leave your furniture feeling and smelling fresh, also.
- Sort through seasonal clothes. Wash or dry clean them, and sew on buttons or stitch up minor tears. A wardrobe box with a hanging rod will help keep clothes looking good and can easily be placed into your storage unit. Remember to look critically at your garments. Get rid of overly worn garments and things you never wear.
- As you clean the nooks and crannies, you may find leaky faucets, broken door handles or cracked tiles. Take time to make these repairs now to prevent them from becoming more serious or costly problems later. Get seldom used tools out of the way when you are done with the repairs by placing them in your self storage unit.
- Remember the small stuff. Sweep the corners where you vacuum does not reach, wash down air vents, clean the dirt from the tracks in your windows and patio doors, and wipe crown molding and window frames.
- Don't forget the outside of the house. Use a power sprayer to remove grime, empty wasps' nests and spider webs from exterior walls and windows. Spray down the garage floor while you are at it to rid the space of fluid leaks and road salt or sand that can easily be tracked inside and stain your carpet.
- Remove lawn furniture from your basement, garage or self storage unit. Clean it. A good spraying with the hose will usually do the trick. Replace the furniture with snow blowers, snow shovels and winter toys like sleds and snowboards. These bulky items can get in the way when stored at home. As these seasonal items don't need to be removed often, you may find that when you tuck them away in a self storage unit you have taken a very practical step toward keeping your home free of clutter.
- Trim bushes, aerate the lawn, lay down fresh mulch, and maybe even plant a few flowers. Garden tools can be bundled together and placed in trash barrels in your self storage unit when they are not needed.
Spring cleaning may be a lot of work, but the payoff is a brighter, safer home that can give you a new perspective and prepare you to meet life's other challenges.
So you want to have a garage sale to get rid of some of your old things? The question is where to store and organize your items while you are getting ready. A self storage unit is your answer.
Your basement storage room may be so full that you have no idea what is in there, and no room to sort through it. Your garage may be full of tools, bicycles, kids' toys, yard tools, and sporting equipment, not to mention your cars. An empty storage unit is the perfect place to sort and price all of your items.
The best way to keep things in order is to categorize things as you drop them off at the storage unit. Sort your items by categories you might see in a department store or secondhand store - kitchen, clothing, toys, appliances, linens, sporting goods, etc. It will save you lots of time as your sale approaches. Instead of having to scramble to sort things as the sale date nears, all you will need to do is go in and tag things. (You can even price things as you drop them off.) As you go through things in your storage room or people give you their hand-me-down clothes, you take them right to the storage unit.
If you are having a sale with friends or family, you can split the cost of the storage unit. That greatly increases the benefits of using a self-storage unit to store your items because it reduces the expense.
As the date of your yard sale approaches, set up the racks and tables in your garage before you bring your things over from the storage unit. Have some idea of where you would like things to go. All you will need to do is load up your van or truck with your items and unload them onto the tables and racks in your garage. Everything will already be sorted and priced.
Having the storage unit also will let you concentrate on preparing for the sale without distractions. Leave the kids, computers, and phones at home and spend time sorting and tagging without the common interruptions.
If you have an annual sale, you can bring items to your storage unit year-round. If you keep it well-organized, setting up for your sale should be simple.
Anyone who needs to store documents, whether a business or an individual, should take special care in where and how they save this data. Documents require special care when they are placed into storage. Fire safety is imperative, but special precautions should also be taken to avoid even small amounts of moisture as this also can destroy documents. A little humidity may be enough to cause documents to mildew when they are not stored properly. In addition, documents worthy of the expense involved in placing them into storage may be important enough to require strong security measures.
A self storage unit may be the answer for those who would like to remove document clutter from their workplace or home, but who also want greater personal control at a lower price.
Self storage facilities allow you to remove documents from your business or household and store them at a secure location, and storage facilities come in many forms. Those planning to store documents should look for more than just a room that protects goods from wind and weather.
- Look for a self storage unit with adequate security. Consider features like lighting, cameras, fencing, onsite management and security guards.
- Find a facility that offers climate control features like temperature and humidity control. Find out if the unit has individual controls or if the entire facility is adjusted by management.
- Consider pest control. Ask the facility how they deal with this potential problem and look around the facility to see if it is clear of weeds, foundational cracks and other signs of trouble.
- Be sure you can access the unit whenever you might need to review your stored documents.
- Look for self storage facilities that specialize in document storage.
Military members and their families understand that relocation comes with the job, often on short notice. Whether your move involves a Permanent Change of Station (PSC), Temporary Duty (TDY) or Temporary Additional Duty (TAD), self storage can be a convenient option for long or short-term use.
To prevent unnecessary expenses and last minute decisions, it is important to plan ahead. Whether you have six months or one week before moving, the smallest amount of organization can help.
Before you start packing, visit your military financial center and learn which travel and transportation stipends are available to you. When moving, the option is to either do it yourself or hire a moving company. There are military programs that can assist you if you decide to do it yourself. According to www.military.com, "The Do-It-Yourself (DITY) move is a voluntary program that allows you to be reimbursed by the government for moving your own belongings."
Once you've started planning, there are many things to consider during your search for a public storage facility.
Determine your needs
How much storage space will you rent? Identify the items you will be taking with you and decide which items will be left behind. Are you storing a few small boxes or an entire household worth of furniture? Many storage facilities offer outdoor parking for car or boat storage, as well. Once you have figured out the items you will be stowing, a storage calculator is a handy way to determine the storage unit size that meets your needs, and it can also prevent you from overpaying for a space that is too large. If you're relocating to another state or overseas for a long period of time, amenities like climate control and property security are important features to consider. Once you've established how much storage and which type, planning your budget and moving options is a much easier task.
Locate specials and discounts
Many storage facilities offer military discounts for active-duty personnel and their families. Also, if you will be deployed for many months or years, there are many long-term rental specials available and if it works within your budget, many storage companies offer pre-payment discounts.
Consider other services
There are a variety of additional services available at most self storage facilities. A majority of locations offer online and automatic payment options, which is very helpful for someone whose military deployment is an extensive assignment or in a remote location. Also, many storage businesses sell packing and moving supplies (such as boxes, locks, furniture covers and more), and also provide their customers with the option of truck rental - which is sometimes included in the rental at no additional charge.
Moves and deployments can be stressful experiences for military personnel and their families. When there are bigger issues to consider, moving your household and family should be a simple undertaking, and with proper preparation, using self storage can be a hassle-free process.
Choosing a Moving Company
Let's face it: moving to a new home can be a frustrating and demanding process. But sometimes it's a necessary evil. For many people, like military personnel who receive permanent change of station (PCS) orders every few years, moving is a part of life. The good news is: proper research and planning can make your move much less distressing so you can focus on the fun things, like arranging your new place.
Families essentially have two choices for relocating belongings: do it yourself, or hire a moving company.
If you choose to do it yourself, you will have total control over the fate of your things, which is certainly a nice benefit. What's more, you will probably save a lot of money. But you will also have more work, fewer helping hands, sore backs, and no one to blame but yourself if your things get damaged.
Professional movers, on the other hand, are typically well trained in the laborious arts of packing, lifting and moving. Their process can go much faster than do-it-yourself and good movers know how to protect your stuff. If they don't, replacements costs may come out of their pockets!
That said, finding and choosing a "good" moving company isn't always easy. A Google search with keywords like "bad movers" can attest to that, and we've all heard horror stories from friends or family about disreputable companies. That's why it's vital to sort the good from the bad as early as you can. To ensure you get a quality moving company, you'll want to put in some legwork.
Think about what you want from a move. Then, before you reach out to any companies, make a checklist of what you need and expect from your relocation experience. This list will help you keep your questions on track, your expectations clear, and your estimates accurate
Prepare yourself before you request a quote:
- When do you need to move? Keep in mind that movers are often busy at the end of the month, on Fridays and weekends. They may charge more for service in these premium times. Consider moving on an "off day" and ask if they offer a discount for relocation during the company's less busy times.
- Where are you coming from, going to? Are you looking to move locally, long-distance or overseas?
- How much stuff needs to be moved? Write down the number of rooms in your home. Mentally walk through every room, listing the big items first (like furniture, appliances, and other items that don't fit into boxes). Then try to work out how many boxes it will take to remove the rest of the stuff in the room. Don't forget to think about garden furniture and the contents of your garage.
- Do you want help with packing, or do you want to do the small stuff yourself?
- Will you transport valuable or fragile items?
- How much insurance will you need? Use your list to estimate the replacement value of each item.
Now you're ready to start calling around for estimates. But whom do you call?
The best way to find a reliable moving company is by word-of-mouth. If you know someone who has recently moved, find out which moving company they chose and what they thought of the service. Your real estate agent might also be able to give a good recommendation (as well as tell you which movers to avoid!).
Use the web to search and compare local and national companies. Several terrific independent websites offer unbiased information and comparisons of movers, like 123Movers.com. But be alert: some mover-directory websites gather your contact information and sell it to multiple movers; your phone may start ringing a lot. A consumer ratings site, like Yelp.com, aggregates customer feedback for an expansive customer review.
Shopping and comparing; what to ask a mover:
- How long has your company been in business?
- Do you own your own equipment, or do you contract out?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Are you a member of the American Moving and Storage Association?
- Do you have any references that I may contact directly?
- Will you do an in-home estimate, at no charge?
Once you've narrowed down your list of your movers, you should do a final check with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make sure none of them have serious problems with unresolved complaints.
After talking to a handful of companies, arrange for at least three or four in-home estimates to get a better idea of your moving costs. It's the only way to get a close-to-accurate moving quote, and it's usually a good way to screen out scammer moving companies (who often don't like to take the time to give you an in-home estimate).
Show the moving company everything you plan to move. The more thorough you are in detailing what has to be relocated, the more accurate the estimate will be. Also, let the estimator know about any issues at your home -- or the home you're moving to -- that could complicate the process. Lots of stairs, narrow angles and poor driveway access are just a few examples that might add to your overall costs.
Comparing quotes will help you decide which company to choose, but try not to make your choice by cost alone. It may be smarter to spend a little more money and get the company with the best reputation. If you just have a bad feeling you can't explain but the price is right, trust your gut over your wallet.
Once you make a decision, you'll be asked to sign a contract outlining the details of your move. Read. The. Contract. If anything seems strange or confusing, ask for clarification. Make notes right on your contract. If the mover dismisses any phrase in the contract by suggesting, "Don't worry about that," cross out the sentence. Ask the mover to initial and date any contract changes in pen.
Don't forget to give your movers a call a few days beforehand to confirm your arrangements. Be sure you (or a trusted friend) attend all inventory counts and truck weigh-ins in person. Make your own notes. Keep all documents and records in a safe place where they can't be misplaced during the move.
These basic guidelines should help you position yourself for a successful move. But in the end if you feel like you've been taken advantage of, cheated in some way, or robbed by a mover, report it immediately and report it often.
The college years may be a time to expand your mind, but physical space can be a problem. There are only so many cubbies, nooks and crannies in your dorm room. After you have completely suffocated and crushed whatever gear you neatly stowed under your bed in the fall with all the extra clothes and books that you accumulated throughout the year, what do you do to make space in your room to walk? Mom will be furious if she finds out that her child lives in a pigsty. Dad will surely give another lecture on male etiquette, which, as usual, ends with "You'll never impress a girl like that!" A quick fix and a breath of fresh air -- literally -- may come with a call to the local self storage company.
Depending on the time of year, it may be tricky to find a cheap, available self storage space right away, especially if you live in a small to medium-sized college town. It may even be nearly impossible if you try to search within the last month of the semester unless you are willing to travel a few extra miles from campus. However, if you are looking just to free up some space during the year and you do not want to ship your "valuables" across the country to mom and dad's basement, then renting a small storage unit may be worth the cost. There are just a few things you may want to ask a company before renting a unit:
- How is the security? (Cameras, personnel, fencing around property, etc.)
- Is there a sign-up, administration or deposit fee?
- Are the first and/or last months prorated?
- Do you need to provide your own lock?
- Will you be able to access your storage unit 24 hours a day?
- What happens to your stuff if you forget to pay or your automatic credit card payment doesn't go through?
- Are there late payment fees?
- What can you store there?
- Are there any student discounts?
Now that you have a self storage unit, what do you store? Nothing illegal, of course, but also nothing flammable or perishable! Some places offer outdoor storage, which works great for your car if you have to leave it over spring or summer break. Others offer special features like air conditioning or climate control that protect your goods from extreme temperatures and humidity. Things to be stored include old textbooks, seasonal clothes, clothes you know you are not going to wear until maybe next Halloween, and that box you've had since freshman year that you know is not important enough to take the time to open.
Here are a few tips to help make things easy to find in your self storage unit:
- Label boxes.
- Place least likely to be used items in back.
- Place breakables on top.
- Leave space between rows of boxes, so you can walk between them.
- Consider adding shelves.
By freeing up some space in your room, not only will you make your parents proud (and potentially that cutie in Chem lab), but you will also be able to start doing all of the things you couldn't in that wasteland you used to call home.
Deciding what to do with all of the things you have accumulated during your years in college can be stressful, even frustrating. At the end of spring semester it may be difficult to decide if you are really ever going to wear half of your clothes again or read through that pile of books stacked on your shelves one day. Regardless, you may find yourself moving all of those extra things from year to year into a new dorm room or apartment as you watch them take up more and more valuable space that you could be using to live more comfortably.
Some things you may be able to get rid of, but you know that occasionally you need random things that are important to have even if they are seldom used. Knowing which things will be needed may be a challenge, but decluttering your college home can make your days there much more enjoyable. Outsourcing your extra items to different locations will give you more options. It may make it possible for you to design your living space and tailor it to your own personality.
First, plan out what you need and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your load of extra stuff getting out of hand?
- When do you need to free up some extra space?
- Is this going to be temporary, such as over the summer or for a semester when you study abroad?
- How much time do you wish to spend sorting through the items and separating them into the things you might use in the near future and the things you can live without?
Leasing a self storage unit near campus may open up some beneficial options, as illustrated below:
- You will be able to go to the self storage facility and pick up the items you need at your convenience. When you find that a reference to last year's science book would fit perfectly into this year's research paper, you may be relieved to know that you just have to drive down the road to find it.
- Easy access will allow you to rotate seasonal clothing throughout the school year.
- You will be able to pack furniture near campus during breaks.
- You can take things to the unit anytime and quickly make space in your room.
- It will provide a place to store items, such as last term's books, until you can sell them online.
If you decide to rent a self storage unit, there are some things you should keep in mind:
- Storage facilities, especially near large campuses, get booked fast as summer approaches, so make plans to reserve a unit well in advance.
- Avoid the degeneration of your items. Be sure to wash clothes and blankets, and to store your items properly.
- Leave room in and around boxes of clothes for ventilation, and keep the door of your mini fridge open. Over time, especially with the increase of humidity, moisture and mildew can build up.
- Remember storing electronics like a television or video game system will require a climate-controlled unit to ensure that parts do not melt.