When you are moving and need to store your items, you have basically 3 chooses: Containerized storage, self storage, portable storage

Containerized storage

storage vaults


Containerized storage is usually only available when you hire a professional licensed mover. Your items are placed in huge containers, usually made of plywood, stackable and measure 7′ by 7′ by 5′, The furniture is blanket wrapped and remains blanket wrapped until it is delivered from storage. It is usually not climate controlled and is more accurately called climate conditioned. To air condition a warehouse where trucks drive in and out of is an impossible task. The warehouse will be heated in the winter and may have fans and dehumidifiers for the warmer seasons.  They will generally keep the temp in a comfortable working range. If you’ve been in a large warehouse, you may have noticed it tends to keep a consistent temperature and doesn’t have wild fluctuations. The movers inventory every item, its description, its condition, flaws and give you a complete report of what they are storing for you. They do not accept hazardous materials, smelly, or bug ridden items. This oversight makes it safer for everyone’s storage.  Containerized is the most expensive option because it is more labor intensive and the mover is liable for its safety. Many companies will allow a visual inspection of their warehouse before you store but only with an appointment. You should ask about security and pest control. Containerization is best when you want it to disappear and reappear later.

  • Pros Blanket wrapped, full value coverage is available, you pay only for space used, secure, no public access, fees are stable.
  • Cons: No public access  (you pay a fee to access your storage), usually more expensive, usually not climate controlled.


Self storage

self storage

Self storage units

Self storage is a rented space, similar to a garage. The industry has standardized and settled on sizes from small units 5′ by 5′ to large 30′ by 10′ units. They are generally 7′ to 10′ tall. Climate controlled units are usually no larger than 10 by 20. Ground units are easily accessed by driving and parking next to the unit. Inside units may have a long walk. Climate controlled units are inside and on the upper floors. You provide the blankets and labor. It is highly recommended you physically check out the facility for security, access and pest control. Location is a consideration as well, do you feel safe when you’re there?  When you rent your unit, inspect it for leaks and cleanliness. Oil odors will get into your upholstery and mattresses.

  • Pros: less expensive than containerization, easily accessed when you want, climate controlled is available, facility is usually alarmed and gated
  • Cons: Storage contents aren’t monitored (your neighbor may have bugs or hazardous materials), adequate insurance may not be available, you provide all labor and furniture protection, no privacy (others can see what you have when you access your unit).


Portable storage


Very small portable unit for moving or storage

Portable storage is a small container delivered to your home. They are usually about 7′ wide, 7′ tall and 16″ long. Specialized containers can be found at 8′, 12′ or 20′, though not all providers carry every size. You access it through the back door which can be a roll up or swing doors.  A special truck delivers them using a boom, a tilting bed or a huge forklift. Typically, it is placed in your driveway or parking area. Most are only a few inches off the ground for easy loading, but some are more and may need a small step ladder or ramp. You should inspect the unit before you accept it, check for obvious damage to floors, doors and walls. Step in and close the door to look for leaks (sunlight coming into a dark box will tell the story you need to know) and check for any odors that will get into your mattresses and upholstery.  It should be swept clean and no oil on the floors

  • Pros: Most convenient, easy loading, easy access, low monthly rates.
  • Cons: You supply labor and blankets. Only as secure as your neighborhood, insurance coverage may not be available, must be placed on pavement or a very firm area. Tying off and securing for movement is a skill, items can shift during moving. Miscellaneous fees for delivery, pickup, storage can add up quickly. Many towns have strict regulations on long term use


Important notes

Most movers will move you into or out of self storage, they will also provide labor for loading self storage units or portable storage units. Hiring a professional licensed mover will provide a basic level of liability coverage during the move. They are trained to make the best use of space and securing a shipment for moving.

Liability coverage and insurance coverage are very different things. Check with your storage provider to see what they offer, its limits and what it covers. Homeowner or renters insurance may cover it. Movinginsurance.com offers coverage if you prefer to get it on your own.

Every storage option should have program for controlling pests. It’s a reality that can not be ignored.

Often you’re moving at the same time you need storage, your solution should encompass both. Finding the individual businesses and services and combining them yourself is hard when compared to one professional doing it all. When you break your move and storage into individual parts, you lose the continuity of responsibility. You may save some money, but any liability issues could become a nightmare.

Containerization in a movers warehouse is generally accepted as the best option for protection and convenience.  Portable storage is the least expensive option if you are using only one and don’t need it moved multiple times. Self storage is usually the most economical option if you need 2 or more portable storage units, if you are storing low value items (you decide the meaning of low value, if varies person to person) or if you need to access it often

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