So you’ve gotten to the point in your life where you need to rent a self-storage unit. Congratulations! That’s quite an accomplishment, especially when you consider that your family is probably twice as big as when you first moved out of your mom and dad’s house. Now if only there was some sort of guidebook for what to do next that could make this whole self-storage thing a little easier, right?

Well, good news! There is. We’ve put together a list of simple life hacks to help you with storing your stuff. Before we get started, though, there’s something else we want to tell you: if you haven’t already done so, now might be a good time to make sure you know how much storage space you really need. 

Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to get started on some life hacks! (Note: we recommend printing this article and checking off each step as you complete them.) 

Life Hack #1: Keep a Stowaway Box Handy

Make sure to keep one box labelled “Stowaway” that you can use whenever you acquire new things. You don’t have to worry about what goes where, just tuck it into the back of your storage unit. When the Stowaway Box is full, you’re probably ready to upgrade your storage unit.

Life Hack #2: Make Your Own “Moving Day” Box

Every family member gets a box that they can fill up with the things they need for their big move. Then, on moving day, you’ll have everything you need in one place and won’t have to go rifling through all of your boxes looking for that one box of cereal you’ll need before the movers show up.

Life Hack #3: Store Furniture on its Side, Not Flat

Furniture looks better on its side than it does flat, so get your storage unit ready by storing all of your furniture on its side rather than making it stand up straight. On the other hand, make sure to stand any items with legs up on their own, lest they fall over under their own weight.

Life Hack #4: Think Outside the Box

This is an easy one, but it’s important. Think outside the box when you’re buying your storage unit. Consider how much space you’ll need in 10 years when your kids are all gone and it’s just you living there alone (or maybe with a pet that’s gotten big enough to eat half of your stuff). 

Life Hack #5: Sort Your Items as You Put Them Into Storage

This one’s a little bit tricky, but it’ll save you time and energy in the long run. As you place items into your storage unit, sort them as you go. The sooner you know where everything is, the less likely you’ll be to lose something important.

Life Hack #6: Take Inventory of Your Storage Unit Once a Month

Some self-storage facilities, like Prestige Storage, have packing supplies that they sell to their customers, but not all do. Make sure you’re never caught without the proper supplies by taking inventory of your storage unit once a month. This way, if you need something, you can buy it before you lose it.

Life Hack #7: Store Like With Like

Make sure that you’re storing like with like when you’re packing your storage unit. For example, group all of your kitchen supplies together and label the label with a marker or piece of tape (you didn’t think we were going to make you go buy labels for this, did you?).

Life Hack #8: Label Your Boxes On All Sides

This is another one that you might need packing supplies for, depending on the storage facility. Label all your boxes so that you know what’s in each one. You’ll thank yourself later when it comes time to unpack. It’ll also make unpacking less stressful because you won’t be wondering where things go.

Life Hack #9: Don’t Forget to Label the Top of Taller Boxes

If you’ve ever had a tall box with something small and delicate on top that you forgot to label, then this one’s for you. Always make sure that at least one side of your taller boxes is labelled so that moving day doesn’t end in tears because someone accidentally dropped your television on a foot.

Life Hack #10: Decorate Your Storage Unit With Family Photos

This one’s personal, but it really does work wonders if you plan to be storing something for a long time. Make sure that at least some of your family photos are visible from the outside of your storage unit. For example, if you’re storing your winter clothes, tuck some photos in with them so that you can remember what family members were still around when it was warm enough to wear those sweaters and boots.

Life Hack #11: Don’t Store Valuables Without Insurance

No matter how much you trust your storage facility, never store valuables without insurance. If you’re storing anything of value, like your grandmother’s old china or that television you bought on Black Friday because it was unexpectedly discounted, make sure to protect yourself with insurance. It may seem like a waste of money now, but think about how much money you’d save if something happened to your storage unit and everything inside.

Life Hack #12: Store Liquids Separately

This is a no-brainer, but it’s important enough to mention. If you decide to store liquids in your unit, make sure that they’re stored separately. Liquids are heavy and they’ll take up space you could better use for something else. Plus, if they spill or explode (depending on what they are), you don’t want them spilling on everything else.

Life Hack #13: Only Store Things That Won’t Spill

This is another one that’s not specific to self-storage, but it’s still important. If you’re storing liquids, then make sure they can’t spill easily (although we all know that things like milk and juice do end up spilling sooner or later). It might seem like a pain to go through each box to pull out the liquids so that they’re stored separately, but it’ll be worth it if your clothes or other belongings are damaged.

Life Hack #14: Be Sure to Use Dividers

Dividers can help you organise your unit and make sure nothing’s getting lost. They’re especially helpful if you don’t have much storage space, because you can use them to set separate sections for winter coats, summer clothes, camping gear, etc. Plus, the more you fill up your unit with dividers and other storage units, the less chance there is of something falling over onto something else while you’re storing it.

Life Hack #15: Keep the Doors Open When Moving In and Out

If you’re storing things for a long time, it might be tempting to keep your unit’s doors closed. Don’t do this! Keep those doors open as much as possible. It’ll save you money because you won’t go over the allotted time limit, and if something does happen to your stuff, it’s easier to see what’s missing if all the doors are open.

Life Hack #16: Use Your Own Padlocks

This one’s linked to Life Hack #15, but it needs its own entry. When you’re moving into a self-storage unit, use your own padlocks. If you don’t, then there’s no guarantee that your stuff will still be there when you return. There are horror stories of people renting units and putting their belongings in, only to come back and find they’ve been stolen or vandalised. You don’t want to be that person, so bring your own padlocks and lock the doors behind you.

And that’s it! Those are the best self-storage life hacks we could find. There might be more out there, so let us know if you know of any and we’ll add them to the list!

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