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When I lived in a two-family townhouse in Brooklyn Heights, I had absolutely no storage space. There was no attic or basement or even so much as a big walk-in closet.
But that was okay because being newly married, I didn’t have much to store.
But within 10 years, by the time I had moved to a large house in the country, my wife and I had piled up quite an inventory for storage – the remains of a couple of businesses, including leftovers of an antiques shop we had owned in the city.
Basically, there are two types of storage: the kind where you keep items that are no longer needed for day-to-day use and the kind where you have easy access for more occasional need.
If there isn’t a daily or even an occasional need for possessions, they probably should just be discarded. That decision took years for me to come to. However, both short- and long-term storage with easy accessibility is a great way to house belongings during a transition period or to free up space in your home.
I happen to live in a condo that offers a reasonably sized storage room just down the hall from our unit. We keep items such as Christmas decorations and supplies for heavy cleaning; in other words, those things not needed on a daily basis. For other things, mostly leftover accessories from when we lived in a larger home, I made the early, smart decision to invest in large see-through plastic containers, where I don’t have to guess or even label what’s inside.
We don’t need any additional storage space that is easily accessible. But for those who do, to ensure optimization of storage and keeping things safe, there are tips on how to attack the job like a pro.
It’s important to do some research and choose a reliable storage company. When you store items, you’re placing trust in a third party to take care of your belongings and even if you’re not storing anything of major value, it’s still important that you choose a company with a proven track record. Read reviews and past customer experiences before choosing a space. You can research options online in our area or ask your friends and family for referrals.
The storage unit you ultimately choose should be based on a few key factors, including size, price and convenience level that makes the most sense for your situation.
Be sure to take an inventory of what you have to store. This is helpful because, one, it helps you determine what size unit you’re likely going to need, and two, it helps you stay organized once everything is there. Based on that inventory, you’ll be able to use a storage unit sizing guide provided by the storage company to select the best fit for your belongings.
If it’s not practical to use see-through containers, precisely label each box, even if you swear to yourself that you’ll remember what’s in them. It’s too easy to forget what a box contains once it’s sealed.
Don’t store anything that is super valuable. To be safe, find an alternative way to house art, jewelry, family heirlooms and other valuable items that you don’t want to take any chances with.
Pack your belongings yourself – and strategically. The one time we had a moving company pack all our things when we made a long-distance move from Boston to New York, we discovered some heartbreaking results, such as our hammer and nails packed in with a small Tiffany bowl that was destroyed.
In our storage unit, we keep those items we are more likely to need toward the front of the space, and things we can live without for a while in the back. Also, we approach storage vertically. Instead of crowding things across the bottom, we have taken advantage of the room’s height and stacked most of our items, keeping the heavier things closer to the ground. Also, I have left a pathway from the front of the unit to the back so that no item is completely out of reach.
Don’t leave items unprotected. Prevent them from getting damaged by taking the time to properly pack and wrap them. Furniture should be covered with blankets or moving pads, and anything small should be boxed up. Fragile items should be carefully wrapped in bubble wrap.
Check to see if your renters or homeowners’ insurance covers personal property in storage. If it doesn’t already, you may be able to add it to your policy or purchase a separate storage insurance plan.
It should be obvious, but don’t store anything perishable. In addition to leading to bad odors, rotting food and plants could attract bugs and rodents, and you definitely don’t want to discover either of those when you open your unit.
General self-storage advice might also include being wise about who you share access to your unit with. Always use your best judgment and never allow someone into your unit unless you already know that you trust them around your belongings.
Following these self-storage tips will help ensure that you have the best storage experience possible and that your belongings are kept safe and in good condition for when you’re finally ready to use them. You’ll be glad you took the time to do it right.
Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest-running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.