Moving Out of a Storage Unit: A How-To Guide With Tips

Moving out of a storage unit isn’t as straightforward as moving into one because you often have to tie up loose ends, clean up, and ensure you follow all the terms set in your rental unit.

You can hire top movers to do the heavy lifting, or work with one of our best moving container companies if you have the time and energy to handle parts of the process yourself.

Either way, it pays to have a plan. In this article, we’ll review some crucial tips to ensure a smooth move-out day.

Tips for moving out of a storage unit

Notify your storage facility

Take the time to reach out to your storage facility’s property manager and find out the exact move-out procedures. Many storage facilities require written notice to terminate your rental agreement, so it’s important to handle this first to avoid unexpected fees later.

Request several moving estimates

Use our moving cost calculator to estimate the going rate for your desired services, then request quotes from several companies to find the best value.

We recommend Mayzlin Relocation if you want a full-service moving company with excellent customer service and Safeway Moving if you’re relocating cross-country.

If you’re looking for a more cost-effective DIY solution, storage containers companies like U-Pack and PODS deliver a hybrid moving solution that allows you to handle some parts of the process independently.

Repack fragile items

If it has been a while since you moved your items into storage, we recommend that you go through all your boxes and repack in an organized fashion, especially if you have fragile items. Repacking allows you to take stock of what you have in storage and carefully prepare it for the move.

Declutter, if needed

You can save money on your move and even downsize your storage space rental needs by decluttering unwanted items. While repacking, take note of any of the items you no longer need and make a plan to depose or rehome them.

Be there in person or appoint an overseer

If you hire professional movers, don’t leave it up to them to handle everything for you. It’s important to be there in person to physically oversee the move-out process and complete a final walkthrough to ensure all items have been removed.

If you can’t be there in person, consider having a trusted friend or loved one there as your eyes and ears.

Leave your storage unit better than you found it

Clean out your storage unit, dispose of any junk and debris, and leave it in optimal condition for the next renter. A quick clean at the end of move-out day can ensure you get your whole deposit back.

Common mistakes to avoid when moving out of a storage unit

Before moving out of a storage unit, renters should try to avoid the following common mistakes.

Not providing written notice

Many storage companies require advance notice in writing to terminate your lease agreement. Make sure you contact the facility manager before move-out day to avoid paying extra fees or losing your deposit.

We recommend at least one full month’s notice, but your rental agreement should have details about your exact requirements.

Not keeping an inventory list

It’s easier than you think to lose stuff during the moving process. Take the extra time to thoroughly catalog the items in your storage unit before moving anything. One organized way to do this is to create a spreadsheet with photos and the approximate value of your items in case you need to make an insurance claim later.

Improper disposal

If you expect to have a lot of trash or unwanted items after your storage unit move-out process, plan to contact a charity organization, rent a dumpster, or hire a junk removal company to finish the job. Using the onsite trash cans or abandoning items in your unit can leave you on the hook for additional fees, so it’s important to ask the facility manager about proper disposal procedures.

Insufficient labeling or haphazard packing

Take the time to safely pack your items in an organized fashion or hire a professional packing company to do it for you. It can be tempting to throw loose items into moving boxes thinking you’ll remember later, but absentmindedly storing your belongings can leave them vulnerable to damage or loss.

Group similar items and label the box on all sides in easy-to-read capital letters. We also suggest covering furniture with moving blankets or plastic wrap.

Exceeding moving truck limits

Whether you’re renting a U-Haul or hiring a professional moving company, it’s important to understand exactly how much square footage you have available and any applicable weight limits. If you’re using a professional company, we recommend requesting an in-person survey to ensure your assigned truck can accommodate your move.

We also recommend packing boxes tightly and taking advantage of vertical space to avoid items moving around in transit.

Biting off more than you can chew

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Enlist your friends, family, or a professional moving crew to help you navigate the moving process. Trying to do everything alone can lead you to cut corners, misplace items, or make mistakes. 

How to cut moving expenses

Moving always comes with its fair share of expenses, but if you’re savvy, you can reduce the financial burden.

Consider a portable storage container or rental truck

Using a portable storage container or rental truck allows you to do a mostly DIY — without putting wear and tear on your personal vehicle.

With a portable storage container, you’ll load it yourself, then the company will return to pick it up and deliver it to your new storage facility. Some companies, like U-Pack, will even store the container at one of their partner facilities, and you won’t have to unload it later.

If you use a rental truck like U-Haul, you’ll need to load and drive it yourself, but it’s often a fraction the price of a full-service moving company.

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Work with a labor-only moving company

Third-party companies like HireAHelper allow you to hire independent contractors to load your moving truck or storage container. You can build a package that meets your needs by picking and choosing your services from an à la carte-style menu.

Move to a self-storage facility

If you’ve kept your items in a full-service storage facility, switching to a self-storage facility can save you money. Many self-storage facilities offer free first month promotions, which can make a big difference if your money is tied up in other expenses during the move.

Look for price-match guarantees

Some moving companies offer price-match guarantees to box out the competition. We recommend you request quotes from several companies to understand the going rate for your desired services.

Even if it’s not explicitly advertised, negotiating with movers can get you a deal.

Take advantage of work expense reimbursements

If you’re relocating for work, ask your company about moving packages or reimbursements.

There are different kinds of corporate policies for reimbursing moving expenses. Some might have a standard mileage rate based on how many miles it takes to move from your former residence to your new home. Others may only reimburse specific travel expenses.

Move outside of peak season

The best time to move for budget-conscious customers is outside of peak moving season. Peak moving season occurs from mid-April to mid-September, so we recommend that you schedule your move in the late fall or winter if you’re looking to save money. It can also be cheaper to move early in the day on a weekday, as weekends tend to drive up demand.

FAQ about moving out of a storage unit

How do you pack a storage unit for moving?

You can pack a storage unit for moving by following these tips:

  • Pack your personal items in plastic storage bins and square boxes when you initially move into your storage unit so it’s easier to relocate them to their new home when it’s time
  • Declutter to reduce unwanted items and the burden of packing them later
  • Put heavy items along the walls so you can move around the storage unit freely as you pack and load your moving truck
  • Stack your items or use shelving to make the most available space and reduce shifting in transit
  • Protect furniture and fragile items by using furniture blankets, newspaper, and bubble wrap

What happens if I leave stuff in my storage unit?

If you leave stuff in your storage unit and stop paying rent, most storage facilities will auction your items to pay your outstanding balance. You can consult your lease agreement to determine how long you have until your items are sold. If the sale of your items doesn’t cover your entire balance, you will be responsible for paying the remainder.

What is the first thing you should do before moving out of a self-storage unit?

The first thing you should do before moving out of a self-storage unit is consult your rental agreement or property manager to ensure you follow all the right steps. Many storage facilities require a written move-out notice with an explicit date, even if you are on a month-to-month contract.

Once you’ve informed the facility of your move-out date, you can remove your lock and personal items.

How do I organize and declutter my storage unit before moving out?

There are a few things you can do to organize and declutter your storage unit before moving out:

  1. Inventory all items
  2. Enlist friends, family or hire a professional organization company
  3. Categorize items into keep, sell, toss, or donate
  4. Remove all trash

What should I do with unwanted items when emptying a storage unit?

You can do a few things with unwanted items when emptying a storage unit depending on how much time you have:

  • Hire a junk removal company
  • Request a Purple Heart or Green Drop pick-up
  • Host a yard sale or sell items online

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