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With an increasing number of Australians living in apartments, self-storage units offer a simple and effective way to overcome a lack of space. But if you need a little extra room for storing your belongings, how do you find the right storage unit for your needs?
From security and insurance to accessibility and cost, there's a lot you need to consider when choosing a self-storage provider. Read on to find out what you need to know.
What's in this guide?
- What is a storage unit?
- Compare storage unit providers
- When to use a storage unit
- Where to find a storage unit
- What to consider when choosing a self-storage unit
- Factors affecting the cost of storage units
- Work out how much space you need
- Insuring your belongings
- How to prepare your items for storage
- Frequently asked questions
What is a storage unit?
A storage unit is an area of storage space available to rent, typically on a monthly basis. There are two main self-storage options available:
- Self-storage units. These units are found in purpose-built facilities and are designed for one purpose: storing stuff. These secure facilities are what most of us picture when we think of storage units, and they offer a safe and affordable way to house your possessions. Units range in size from lockers and cupboards through to mini warehouses large enough to hold all the furniture and possessions of a five-bedroom home.
- Mobile storage. A relatively new option, mobile storage operators deliver a storage container to your door. You can then pack it with your items and, once it's full, the provider will collect it and keep it in a secure storage facility until you need to access your stuff. Some mobile storage providers also offer shipping containers for hire.
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When to use a storage unit
There are many different situations where renting a storage unit is a handy solution. In the short-term, examples include:
- Storing items while you move
- Clearing space in your home when it's for sale to make it look for attractive to prospective buyers
- If you're a seasonal worker who only resides in the area for a few months a year
- Storing your possessions while you go travelling.
There are also several reasons why you might rent a storage unit on a long-term basis, such as:
- If you have too much stuff to fit in your apartment or house
- If you're downsizing from a house to an apartment
- If you need somewhere to house seasonal-use items (such as skiing gear) or collections and memorabilia.
Where to find a storage unit
You'll find storage facilities in cities and regional areas right around Australia. Some of them are operated by major national chains, others are run by smaller companies that may service one state only or just a local area.
Let's take a closer look at a few of the major national providers:
- National Storage. With 190 storage centres in Australia and New Zealand, National Storage offers personal and business storage as well as space for wine, vehicles and more.
- Kennards Self Storage. Kennards has over 90 locations in Australia and New Zealand, offering everything from personal and business storage to wine cellars and gun lockers.
- Storage King. Storage King offers over 150 locations in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT.
- Taxibox. A mobile self-storage provider, Taxibox has facilities in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. You can store your Taxibox in one of the provider's warehouses or keep it on-site.
- Super Easy Storage. Another mobile storage provider, Super Easy Storage has locations in Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney.
There are also plenty of other providers with one or more facilities in cities and regional areas around Australia, so it's worth researching and comparing the options available near you.
It's also worth mentioning that if you're moving house, many removalist services also offer storage services. This can be a convenient option to save you transporting items and packing a unit yourself, so compare quotes to find a service that offers good value for money.
Finally, you can also consider finding a storage unit through a peer-to-peer storage provider like Spacer. Similar to Airbnb, these platforms allow people to lease out the storage space they own to renters looking for short-term or long-term storage.
What to consider when choosing a self-storage unit
You'll need to compare storage units to find the right facility for your needs and the best value for money. Factors to consider include:
- Location. If you'll need to access your stuff regularly, a convenient storage unit close to home is a must. If not, you can search for something more affordable a little further afield.
- Ease of access. Is the unit on the ground floor or will you need to move your belongings to a higher level? Is there a freight elevator for transporting your belongings? Also, check the ease of vehicle access to the facility, and whether you can access your belongings at any time of day or only during certain hours.
- Size of the unit. It's not just about the amount of floor space available — you can stack your items up to the ceiling if it's safe to do so — so remember to think in three dimensions when choosing storage. Many storage centres will provide an approximate guide to the amount of stuff you can fit into different-sized units.
- Security features. Next, check what security features the unit has. Is it located in a secure, fenced facility? Is the facility under 24-hour video surveillance? What sort of alarm system is in place and are there regular security patrols?
- Specialist storage options. Check whether there are options available for storing items like cars and motorcycles, important documents, guns and your wine collection. Is climate-controlled storage available if you need it?
- Other supplies. Does the facility provide packing boxes, tape and other storage essentials? How much do they cost?
- Insurance. Self-storage providers typically offer insurance as an added extra. Check how much this insurance costs and exactly what it covers before deciding whether it's worth buying.
- Cost. Consider how much it will cost to rent the unit for your desired length of time. Look for discounts on long-term bookings, and check whether you'll be locked into a fixed contract or offered a more flexible arrangement.
- Customer support. Are the staff friendly, knowledgeable and helpful? Does the storage provider have good reviews from other customers?
If possible, take a tour of the facility before hiring any space. This is the best way to check whether a facility is secure, clean and well maintained.
Factors affecting the cost of storage units
The cost of a storage unit varies depending on a wide range of factors. These may include:
- The size of the unit. The more storage space you need, the more you'll need to pay.
- Where the facility is located. Expect to pay more for storage in the city centre than you would for a facility in a quiet industrial area
- How long you're renting the unit for. Some providers offer discounts for long-term bookings
- Extras. If you take out insurance for your possessions or you need specialist storage for rare or expensive items, this will drive up the cost.
Most storage units rent on a month-to-month basis, meaning there are no long-term leases or contracts. You can usually set up an account and easily make your monthly payments online. You can also set up recurring monthly payments automatically for added convenience.
To give you a rough idea of the costs involved, we sourced quotes from three major providers for a half-garage space near Parramatta in western Sydney. Prices ranged from $201 to $235 per month, with the units closer to Parramatta at the more expensive end of the price range.
Work out how much space you need
Storage units range in size from small lockers right through to spaces that can handle all the belongings of a large family home. So how do you calculate how much space you need?
To work this out, make a detailed list of everything you plan to store. Then you can:
- Check unit sizes. Check the unit sizing guide on the storage provider's website. These will give you a rough idea of the number of items you can store in a given unit, such as the contents of a two-bedroom apartment.
- Use an online calculator. Many storage providers offer online space estimators. All you have to do is list the items you want to store, then the calculator will tell you the recommended unit size.
- Ask for help. You can also ask the staff at the storage facility to help you choose an appropriate space.
Insuring your belongings
Hopefully, you'll never have to worry about anything happening to your items while in storage, but it pays to be prepared for the unexpected. Fire, water damage and theft are just a few of the potential risks, so be sure to research your insurance options with care.
Self-storage facilities usually offer insurance for your items as an added-cost extra. However, cover limits and exclusions apply, so read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) closely before you buy.
An alternative to storage insurance is to check whether your belongings will be covered by your home and contents insurance. You may need to pay an extra premium or inform the insurer before putting your items in storage, so contact your provider for the key details first.
How to prepare your items for storage
There are lots of simple things you can do to prepare your belongings for safe and efficient storage. These include:
- Put smaller items in boxes for easy stacking
- Use packing material to ensure that boxes are sturdy
- Ensure items are clean and dry
- Disassemble large items to ensure that they take up minimal space
- Vacuum furniture, carpet and rugs to remove any excess dirt
- Cover furniture with sheets and blankets
- Defrost freezers and fridges
- Tie down and secure any cables and hoses
- Use vacuum bags to save some space when storing clothes, bedding and linen
- Use packing paper to protect glassware, crockery and fragile items
- Remove batteries from electronic equipment.
Your chosen storage unit business is once again your friend here. They'll be able to provide plenty of simple tips to help you pack your items as safely as possible.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need climate-controlled storage?
Some items, such as artwork and electronic equipment, are susceptible to damage when exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity. If you need to store such items, a temperature and humidity-controlled unit may be a good choice.
How do I pack a storage unit?
There are lots of handy tips to remember when packing your storage unit, such as:
- Place heavier items on the ground and lighter ones on top
- Leave an aisle so you can access all areas of the unit
- Pack larger items like wardrobes and fridges with smaller items
- Keep frequently used items at the front
- Label boxes so you can easily find what you're looking for.
Can I store my car in a storage unit?
Yes, many self-storage facilities offer vehicle storage services. Covered and lock-up spaces are available, while some facilities also provide uncovered storage for boats or caravans.Back to top
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