By Amy DeYoung
Updated Oct 11, 2022
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Renting a storage unit space can make moving and changing addresses less stressful, especially if you haven’t settled on a permanent address. A storage facility can keep your valuables safe and items you haven’t had time to declutter in one area until things from your move settle down.
However, the cost of renting a storage space, which is around $240 on average in the United States, can quickly add up. So, choosing a storage unit just large enough for your belongings and smartly packing it will help you to avoid overspending during your move.
Place large and cumbersome items along the walls of your self-storage unit, such as furniture or awkward items that cannot be easily stored and stacked in boxes.
Use an “outside to inside” strategy to place items in your storage unit, starting with the walls and then moving to the inside as you organize and pack your space. By utilizing this strategy, you’ll save room and avoid needing to rent additional storage space.
Place large and heavy boxes inside your storage unit, then stack smaller items on top. Never place lightweight or small storage boxes on the bottom, as this can lead to your items being crushed or stacked boxes toppling over on you.
If you stack the heaviest and largest boxes on the bottom and smaller items on top, you should be able to safely stack your items from floor to ceiling within the storage unit, allowing you to maximize your space.
Always pack your items in high-quality, sturdy cardboard boxes and moisture-proof containers to prevent damage to your belongings and your boxes buckling under the weight of other boxes stacked on top of them. Clear plastic bins are a great alternative to cardboard boxes if you want to be able to see what is inside each box easily. However, clear storage containers will be much more expensive, so consider your priorities before choosing between the two storage options.
Leave space for pathways inside the storage unit. Unless you’re planning to take everything out of storage all at once for your move, you’ll want to create pathways so that you can safely move between stacked boxes and have easy access to items you need to pull.
Even if you plan on taking everything out at once, you may want pathways so that you can take large, awkward items like furniture out and load them onto your U-Haul or moving truck before adding smaller boxes.
Furniture can take up a lot of space in your storage unit, and it usually can’t be stacked. If possible, remove furniture legs and disassemble the furniture as much as possible so you can pack more items into the unit.
If you have furniture that you can’t dismantle, avoid wasted space by placing small boxes on open areas or shelves to maximize available space. For example, you could place lightweight boxes on a dining room table, couch, or bookshelf.
Place all furniture upright to keep your floor space open for more items. Avoid laying any items flat other than your mattress, which should be stored face down.
Take time to vacuum seal as many belongings as possible to create more space in your unit.
Fabric items, such as linens, comforters, pillows, clothing, blankets, and coats, can all be vacuum sealed. You can even vacuum seal food for storage, just be sure to only store nonperishables in your storage unit or check if a climate-controlled storage unit is available.
It’s challenging to remember everything that you have stored away, especially when it comes to small items, like clothing, artwork, or heirloom items. Help your future self by creating an inventory list that documents everything you have in the storage unit. You can even take photos of the contents of the boxes as you go for easy reference.
While filling the storage unit, create a hand-drawn map showing where your items are placed. For example, you could mark holiday decorations in the back of the storage unit, books in the front of your storage unit, and where your furniture is within the unit on the map.
Even small spaces and gaps can quickly add up, allowing you to store more in your unit. Take advantage of any pieces of furniture or appliances with compartments, such as a refrigerator, washer, or dresser, by placing small items inside them.
You can use the same strategy with household items, such as laundry baskets, trunks, or Tupperware. Fill these with lightweight items or stuff them with flexible items, such as clothing or blankets, to maximize this extra space.
You should label every box and clear bin in your long-term storage unit. You’ll thank yourself later for taking a few minutes to label boxes while you pack.
Label each box with printed labels or a permanent marker. Record what is inside the box and where the items belong, such as in the kitchen or office. You can also purchase fragile labels for boxes that should be carefully handled. When storing your boxes, place the boxes facing forward so that you can see the label easily.
With a little planning and creativity, you can easily maximize your storage unit space and spend less money on a smaller unit. Start by packing your boxes methodically and label everything. Then, create a plan, inventory list, and map of your belongings as you fill the storage unit. This step will save you a lot of time and frustration later on when you’re looking for specific items to bring to your new home.
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