Which Temporary Storage Option is best for you?

In their never-ending quest to make things complicated, moving companies usually divide storage into a number of distinct categories.

It’s typically classified as either short or long-term, but in addition to depending on the estimated duration your items will need to be held, it also varies based on whether you’re moving locally or out of state.

Not exactly groundbreaking information so far right?

Perhaps not, but in this article, we’ll take it a step further, because many families on the move need storage in the intermediate range—generally between 30 and 90 days.

Have a few minutes to spare?

Good, because we’re about to take an in-depth look at each.

It’ll help make the decision process easier when it’s time to choose the option that’s best for you.

Short-Term Storage Options

Though most moving companies consider storage under 90 days as short-term, in this article we’ll regard it as anything less than a month.

Regardless of whether you’re moving around the corner or across the country, if you’ll need to store your household goods temporarily, chances are it’ll be for a month or less.

Short-term storage is often called temporary storage, and in some instances, it may be free.

Yes, you read that correctly.

If you’ll be moving locally during the non-peak season (from September to May) when many moving companies operate well under capacity, it’s common to get a free month of storage included in the cost of your move.

This can be a huge value, especially if your family has accumulated a houseful of items over the years.

It may seem odd for moving companies to give away such an expensive service.

You may even be thinking that it sounds too good to be true, but consider the following…

If their warehouse is only 30% full, offering free storage is a cost-effective way to entice customers who may have been leaning toward more low-cost service providers.

These new customers will generate solid revenue for services like packing, crating, loading, unloading, and unpacking.

And they’ll do it during a part of the year in which work is hard to come by, which will in turn keep employees happy and well-fed until the next peak season rolls around.

Keep in mind that you’ll still be charged for the aforementioned services like packing and loading, but there shouldn’t be any charge for the actual storage.

Though it seems like a rosy scenario, there are downsides to storing your items at a professional mover’s warehouse.

They include:

  • lack of access—unlike at self-storage facilities, you won’t be able to get to your items once they’re in the warehouse (unless it’s an emergency and you’re willing to pay a hefty price)
  • even though the actual storage may be free, you’ll need to pay for insurance if you’d rather not settle for the free option
  • if you’ll need delivery during peak season, you may be at the mercy of the company’s availability if you haven’t scheduled well in advance
  • if storage containers aren’t brought directly to your home, your items may be handled multiple times

On local moves, the labor to get your items into storage is generally based on an hourly rate that’s dependent on crew size.

On interstate moves, however, the charges (often referred to as storage-in charges) are more often based on the weight of your shipment.

If you’ll be moving out of state with a big national van line, you’re less likely to get free storage than if you’re moving with an independent company, so considering all the options may pay-off handsomely.

Storage Tip #1:

If you decide on a full-service moving company, make sure they’ll bring the storage containers directly to your home—this will avoid your items being ‘double-handled,’ which often leads to unnecessary damage.

Intermediate Storage Services

For the sake of ease, we’ll classify intermediate storage as that which lasts between 30 and 90 days.

Before moving on, it’s important to note that many interstate moving companies regard storage of fewer than 90 days as SIT, which stands for storage-in-transit.

Even if you’ve been offered a free month of storage with your move, when the pickup and delivery charges and additional storage is added in, intermediate storage can start to get downright pricy.

That makes it prohibitively expensive for many families moving on a budget.

If you’re in this camp, you may want to consider alternative options.

Spending a little time looking into the pros, cons, and cost differences between full-service movers and low-cost storage providers may save you tons of money.

Of course with full-service movers you’ll have access to a number of services like packing, crating, loading, and unloading, but they usually come with significant price tags. Get a quick moving quote.

Companies like PODS and UPack deliver storage containers right to your residence, and their storage rates are usually much less than traditional movers.

On the downside, it’ll be up to you to make sure everything is packed properly, and you’ll need to scrounge up labor to get the items from your home into the container.

If you’re a single college student living in a studio apartment this may be a piece of cake, but if your established family has tons of stuff it could be a monumental undertaking best left to professionals. Check out the best moving container companies.

Comparing actual storage costs is easy enough, but you’ll also want to factor in things that often get overlooked, like:

  • Do you require climate-controlled storage?
  • Does it have an adequate security system?
  • Is if fully insured for things like floods and fires?
  • Is it periodically serviced by a reputable pest control company?
  • Is the storage location close to your new home?

Storage Tip #2

The longer the storage term, the more economically feasible it becomes to use service providers other than traditional moving companies.

Compare Self-Storage Units with Portable Storage Containers

Long-Term Storage Solutions

Long-term storage varies from one moving company to another, but it generally kicks in after 90 days.

Long-term storage is even frequently referred to as permanent storage, though we can probably all agree that 91 days is far from permanent.

The distinction is important, however, because after the initial 90 days the daily rate for storage should decrease significantly.

You may even be told that your items will be ‘transferred’ to permanent storage.

This doesn’t mean that your household goods will be moved to a different warehouse that only handles long-term storage.

They won’t.

In fact, they shouldn’t move at all.

All that’ll change is the rate.

From a dollars and cents perspective, long-term storage is usually the exclusive realm of military, corporate, and well-to-do customers, because storage costs can accumulate at an alarming rate.

This is especially true if you’ve got a large shipment.

It’s not uncommon for the costs to reach many thousands of dollars.

Needless to say, for most families paying for their own moves, it’s just not an option.

If your family falls into this category, using a hybrid mix of non-traditional moving companies and low-cost storage container providers can mean top-notch service for a fraction of the cost.

If you’ll be using moving container companies, you’ll still need to find labor to move your items.

Thankfully that doesn’t necessarily mean recruiting disgruntled friends and family like it did in years past.

Now there are nationwide companies that specialize in providing moving labor.

Many screen their employees thoroughly and only hire workers with experience, and their rates are often much less than full-service movers.

Storage Tip #3

If you’ve already committed to a portable container company but haven’t figured out where to get labor, consider a company like HireAHelper.


These days there are way more storage options than there were in years past.

Though storing your items at a full-service mover’s warehouses has its benefits, it has definitely lost favor with savvy consumers looking to save more of their hard-earned dollars.

If you decide to go the full-service route and are offered a free month of storage (or more), you’ll want to make sure the company you’re dealing with doesn’t add additional charges on the sly to make up for that lost revenue.

They may use terms like ‘warehouse handling charge,’ or ‘additional transportation charge,’ so it’s important that their estimate clearly lists all the charges you’ll be expected to pay.

And as always, if you have the option of moving during the non-peak season you’ll be in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating a better deal.

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