If you have more stuff than your current home can hold, or if you are moving and staying in an apartment for a while, then you may have to resort to storage. The most popular option is self storage - and also the cheapest.
Self storage, though, can come with some major downsides:
- Generally, you have to transport stuff to and from the self storage unit. This means renting or borrowing a van - or hiring movers to do it. Or it means making multiple trips to try and squeeze things into your car. If you are moving a long distance then you will need to have your movers drop stuff off at the unit, adding to the complexity of the move.
- Self storage units tend to be unwatched most of the time. Especially if you have a unit that faces the outside, there is always the risk of burglary. If you do rent a unit, talk to the manager about the kind of padlocks, alarms, etc they use. Units in a building are safer, but tend to be more expensive. And, as we all know, if you pay late they can auction your stuff.
- Availability can be a problem - although often only if you need a storage unit quickly. It may be that your preferred facility is full, and you may have to resort to one that doesn't meet your needs.
- Self storage can be an organizational nightmare. It's tempting to just throw everything in where it fits, and that can make for extra "fun" when you take stuff out, especially if you're mixing it with the stuff you didn't put in storage.
- Some people end up paying to store items they don't use. Because the storage unit is a distance away and you just automatically pay for it it can actually result in more hoarding.
Other than getting rid of the stuff you don't need (often a good idea) the alternative is to have your movers store stuff in their warehouse.
Storing stuff with movers has several advantages:
- It is much more secure. The warehouse has people in and out of it all the time, making it safer than a storage unit thieves know is seldom visited (after all, you might not notice something is missing for weeks or months). The movers' reputation also depends on your stuff being safe, meaning they have much more of an investment.
- The warehouse is temperature-controlled. Most self storage units are basically small garages and have no temperature control. Although temperature-controlled units are available they tend to be more expensive and less available. This allows you to store things that might be damaged by heat and humidity or, in more northerly climes, by extreme cold.
- If you are storing as part of a move then everything is being handled by the same people. This avoids added complexity and improves organization (there is no temptation for you to just throw things in). You know where your stuff is and in who's hands at all times, and can give them special instruction about handling specific items or boxes. For example, if something absolutely has to be kept in a temperature controlled environment, like a musical instrument, you can tell them this and they will make sure it happens. They want a happy customer.
- You will not need to rent a van to move stuff - the movers will offer door-to-door service, including loading and unloading. If you use the same company for everything, they will also move your stuff from a temporary apartment and then put it in your house exactly where you want it, in the right rooms. Your move will be much more seamless and you won't have to drive a van, load and unload, and worry about getting everything in order.
- If you are only using the storage for a short period of time, your stuff will continue to be protected by moving or relocation insurance, whether bought through the mover or independently.