Tips for Moving Out of a Storage Unit

According to Neighbor, there are more than 23 million individual storage units in the United States, and occupancy rates typically exceed 90%.

In other words, whether downsizing, decluttering, or stashing seasonal items in a short-term space, we Americans store lots of “stuff.”

Storage units are convenient, affordable, and plentiful, but moving your items out requires a few extra steps that aren’t necessary when vacating a home or apartment.

In this post, we’ll cover lots of helpful storage tips, but first, take a few minutes to check out these free resources –

  • Best interstate movers – With so many shady movers out there, hiring a top-rated long-distance moving company with verified customer reviews is crucial.
  • Moving cost calculator – Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move, and the magic algorithms will do the rest
  • Best moving container companies – You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks.

Give the storage company enough advance notice

Nearly all storage contracts stipulate how much notice you need to give before moving out.

Failing to give ample written notice may result in losing your security deposit or having to pay for another full month of storage that you don’t need.

Either way, it’s money wasted, so make this a top priority.

Get moving estimates (but don’t expect them to be particularly accurate)

Reputable moving companies send representatives to storage units to do surveys, but it may be difficult for them to see what’s inside.

This isn’t usually a problem with small partially-filled units, but it can be nearly impossible to calculate your items’ weight accurately on larger ones that you fill to the gills.

If so, your surveyors will have to rely on what you tell them, along with figuring out a rough estimate based on the unit’s dimensions.

Better yet, provide them with a detailed inventory of what’s inside, and let them base their estimate on that.

Just be warned, they’ll probably give you a non-binding estimate if you’re moving out of state, which means you’ll have to pay for the actual weight of your items whether it’s higher or lower than the original estimate.

Plan on repacking some of your items

Moving is tough on backs, bank accounts, and boxes.

If your items have been in storage for years and you originally packed them in used moving boxes, you’ll probably have to do some repacking.

On both DIY and full-service moves, plan on having extra packing supplies like boxes, paper, and tape at the ready.

Check out this post for tips on packing breakables.

In addition, if you moved items like mattresses, lamps, and glass tabletops into the unit unboxed, your mover may require that you pack them appropriately before handling them.

If you’d rather not pay extra for professional packing, you may have the option of signing a liability waiver, after which they’ll move them as is.

Your storage unit may not be accessible to big moving trucks

If you’re embarking on a long-distance move, chances are your household goods will be transported on a full-size tractor-trailer.

The problem is that most mini-storage facilities aren’t accessible to large commercial vehicles.

In this case, you may have to pay for a long carry or shuttle.

Even with smaller local moving vans and U-Haul trucks, access can still be tricky, so start early and get extra help because your move time will increase.

Don’t forget about elevators, dollies, and carts

If your storage unit is on the second floor, you’ll need to use stairs or an elevator to get your household goods to the moving truck.

Especially if you have heavy items like refrigerators and appliances, you’ll need more helpers.

Many storage facilities provide free carts to facilitate the move-in and move-out processes.

However, they usually offer these on a first-come-first-serve basis, and they go fast.

When in doubt, it’s best to rent or bring your own moving equipment.

Appoint a responsible person to oversee the move if you can’t be there

If possible, make it a point to be onsite when moving out of a storage unit.

When being there personally just isn’t an option, it’s your responsibility to designate a trusted friend or family member to manage things and sign the paperwork on your behalf.

If so, let the movers and mini-storage staff know this before moving out.

Leave your storage unit clean and free of debris

Storage contracts require renters to clean out their units after removing their items.

This is usually as easy as sweeping and disposing of old boxes and other refuse.

It only takes a few minutes, and leaving your unit spic and span will ensure that you get your deposit back.

For more helpful long-term storage tips, check out this post.

Frequently asked questions (faqs)

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

Once you’ve decided to vacate your unit, notify the storage facility management of your move date. Then ask them for a checklist to ensure you don’t overlook anything that will prevent them from returning your security deposit.

How many moving boxes will I need?

Since most of the items in your storage unit are probably already packed, you shouldn’t need too many extra boxes. However, some damaged cartons will need to be retaped or repacked. Professional movers will help repack loose items, but you’ll be charged for their labor and for each box they use.

What is the cost of a storage unit?

Prices vary based on location, demand, and the length of your storage contract, but on average small 5′ x 5′ units cost between $60 and $75 per month, while climate-controlled 10′ x 20′ units can cost well over $200 per month.

How many items will fit in a storage unit?

Assuming you’ve packed well and can stack your items efficiently, standard 10′ x 10′ units can generally hold two or three rooms worth of furniture. Always use your company’s storage unit size chart as a guide, but it’s wise to assume that you’ll need more space than they say you will.

What is the cost of the first month’s rent to move into a storage unit?

Though many storage unit providers advertise low move-in costs, they often exclude hidden fees like mandatory insurance and locks.

Can I live in a storage unit?

No, living in a storage unit is illegal. If caught residing in one, you’ll be evicted and perhaps reported to the authorities. It’s better to consider a cheap apartment in a bad part of town instead.

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