The average home may be bigger, but it seems we have no problem filling it up. Feeling cramped? Starting a renovation? Staging your home? Going away temporarily? It may be time to look into securing storage and the choices have never been better.

If you’re looking for some additional room, read on.

Assess your needs

How much do you have?

Organizational experts agree that the first step is to purge, purge, purge. In addition to the ubiquitous “Has this been used in the past year?” you may want to ask yourself “Are these items important enough to pay extra to house them?” Some storage companies offer on-line calculators to determine how big a unit is required. Try one, not only to get a sense of your monthly costs, but also to see how the rates vary depending on the volume of your contents.

How long will it be stored?

Are you looking to house your belongings during a renovation or move? Or, do you need to house extra furniture until you have the appropriate home? The duration of the contract will affect your rate.

How often will you need to access it?

The less access you need, the farther afield you can search for a storage location. In addition to giving you more vendors to choose from, the rates may vary significantly.

Do you need special arrangements?

Are your items valuable, therefore necessitating extra security? Do you need to ensure a stable temperature and humidity level? Then a climate-controlled environment is imperative for you.

Check out your options

Off-site storage

Numerous vendors offer storage at dedicated facilities. Storage unit capacity ranges from the contents of a closet to the contents of your home. Special offers and services abound, so shop around. Take notes of the offers so you can compare effectively.

Some key items to ask about include: deposits, monthly rate, duration of contract, security, climate control, and access to your space.

On-site storage

Storage lockers can come to you! By having the unit deposited on your property, you can have your belongings literally right at your door. Check your municipal guidelines to avoid unpleasant surprises.

On-site packing/Off-site storage

You may be interested in having the storage locker brought to you for packing, but then have it removed to an off-site location for storage. You will be able to pack at your own pace and be spared the trouble of transporting your goods to an off-site location.

Helpful hints

  • DO pack your belongings as if they are being moved: take the time to wrap fragile elements, clean and dismantle furniture, and seal boxes.
  • DON’T store food, explosives or corrosive material.
  • DO ensure all boxes are labeled and the contents listed on a master inventory.
  • DO pack the unit strategically: Place items that will need to be accessed near the front, stand mirrors and picture frames on end, place heavy items on the bottom and fragile items securely.
  • DO create a floor plan of where each box is placed in the storage unit. This is particularly critical if your storage space is densely packed.
  • DO note the end of contract date on your calendar.
  • Don’t keep it a secret! Ensure someone else is aware of the unit and has the capacity to access it in your absence.
  • DO know what constitutes abandonment: You don’t want to see your personal belongings appear on an episode of Storage Wars!