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Long-Term Storage -- Ever Used It?
Old 07-05-2007, 03:58 AM   #1
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Long-Term Storage -- Ever Used It?

This thread is related to the rent vs buy thread.

To rent for a while after ER while traveling for extended periods would require us to store some furniture and stuff.

Three questions:
  • Has anyone had any experience with long-term storage?
  • How much would it cost to store furniture (and assorted stuff) for a 3 bedroom house? We would give away furniture and stuff not needed to relatives.
  • Are these places safe and reliable? What should we look for... are there rules for choosing and picking a reliable and safe storage facility? Or does one usually purchase insurance?
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Old 07-05-2007, 05:04 AM   #2
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Although we didn't store furniture when we first retired, we did use one of these places to store some really important stuff. One year later we asked each other what was in there. Neither of us could remember exactly. So, apparently that really important stuff wasn't all that necessary in our new life. We cleaned out the place and moved forward.

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Old 07-05-2007, 06:43 AM   #3
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I think you have to run the numbers:
Moving in
Storage Cost
Moving out
Breakage in moving
Incremential cost of short term lease vs long term lease on the apartment
Storage costs vary accourding to area.
Check out www.pubicstorage.com to get an idea.
The cost of keeping the rental vs storage might not be that great after all the costs are factored in.
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Old 07-05-2007, 09:23 AM   #4
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I think you have to run the numbers:
...Check out www.pubicstorage.com to get an idea.
The cost of keeping the rental vs storage might not be that great after all the costs are factored in.
They have storage areas for THAT Wow, who knew?!
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Old 07-05-2007, 09:37 AM   #5
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They have storage areas for THAT Wow, who knew?!
Too funny!
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Old 07-05-2007, 11:23 AM   #6
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There's an opportunity here....:

The following domain is for sale:

PubicStorage.com

We are currently accepting offers on this domain
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Old 07-05-2007, 11:38 AM   #7
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Hope it's air conditioned.
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Old 07-05-2007, 11:48 AM   #8
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I used one for 2-3 months one summer. I just had a small apt worth of furniture to store, it fit in a 5x10 space (barely), and I got a climate controlled one for summer. I can't remember the cost. $40/month maybe? You'll need bigger, obviously. I had no problems at all. I think they offered insurance but I put nothing of great value in there so I passed.

Things to watch for:
Bugs -- they'll probably spray now and then, but you might want to do your own spraying just before putting stuff in.
Mice -- likewise, some poison might not be a bad idea
Theft -- Tough to gauge. Obviously good lighting, fencing and gate, survellience are very important, but the fence and gate won't stop someone who has their own unit who might want to see what they can get to in other units. I'd probably recommend a place that has someone on site whenever access is allowed. Some places allow after hours access, which is convenient if you need it, but it also means someone else may come in and cut locks. There also may be ways to break in through or over the wall from an adjacent unit, so look out for that in the unit.

If your area has it, pod storage might be best. They drop off a unit (8x16, I think), you fill it at your convenience and call to have it taken away and stored. When you return, you call to have it delivered, and call when it is empty. I don't know where they store them, but I imagine it is not in a place where too many people have access. pods.com and 1800packrat.com are the two I've seen.
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Old 07-05-2007, 02:56 PM   #9
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www.pubicstorage.com

Heard they don't rent to crabs
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Old 07-05-2007, 08:27 PM   #10
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I've had one for about 4 months now. It's a 10x12 & costs me $52 a month. I'll keep it till we get the house sold, hopefully in a couple more months, and then most likely I won't need it anymore. It's primarily so we can de-clutter the house some while we try to get it sold.
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Old 07-05-2007, 09:01 PM   #11
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As I recall, about 6 years ago, we paid for three 10x12 storage units for several months as we moved to a new city. It cost about $150/mo.

BEWARE! Make sure you pay your bill EVERY MONTH! We left credit card information and we thought it was enough. We screwed up. They were sending our bills to our OLD address and we were in arrears. We should have made sure the bills were being paid every month. When we came to start moving stuff, we found a second padlock on the units and we just escaped having our stuff sold for junk.

You should seriously think about getting rid of a lot of stuff. After all, you will have to eventually, in the retirement home, in the infirmary, and your heirs will probably keep very little.
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Old 07-05-2007, 10:51 PM   #12
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You should seriously think about getting rid of a lot of stuff. After all, you will have to eventually, in the retirement home, in the infirmary, and your heirs will probably keep very little.
I'm with you on that, Ed... I read a recent article about the use of storage units in the States, and they said the average person began using them to declutter their homes, then they liked the idea of having more room, etc. etc. etc. and now they are paying a good deal of $$ monthly because they 'can't get rid of the stuff' -- too emotionally attached...

I think it's easier in the long run, unless you want to pay for your items over and over again, to simply gift them away. Unless, of course, they are heirlooms or something priceless... Judgment call there...

Be well,
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Old 07-05-2007, 11:57 PM   #13
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I justed wanted to share with you all what I learned (the hard way) about selecting a public storage facility. I left the US in August 2005 to travel and work via my laptop. At that time I downsized giving away a huge amount of my goods to the Salvation Army (the old stuff that had been stacking up). I kept only things that were sentimental, heirlooms, valuable, etc. I was able to fit these contents (from my 1 bedroom apartment) into a 5x10 self storage facility, I was very excited to save a lot of money.

Nearby there were two storage facilities right next to each other. One was brand new and the other had been there for about 8 years. The older one offered the first two months free since they were trying very hard to compete with the curb appeal of the new facility literally next door. I took the deal and started to move into my new space. Towards the end of moving in I realized I had some more goods to give away and the person working at the facility said they had a unit dedicated for donations to the local battered womens shelter, so I gave them the last of the stuff I no longer wanted. I told the guy how excited I was to leave the summer heat and head to Buenos Aires.

My storage unit was on the top floor of a 3 story climatized building. There was an external gate to the property where you needed a code that included part of your SS#. Then on the building there was a push code lock that was shared by all tenants.

Well when I went home at Christmas I went to my storage to get a few things. The lock was still on as I had left it but to my surprised, when I opened it up, 90% of my things had been stolen. The only things left were a box of photos (thank god) some random clothes and a few other odds and ends. It was a horrible feeling to open up the storage unit and see that your most prized worldly belongings had been stolen. I was shocked.

I called the police and they came out and wrote up a police report. I gave them all the details of what was inside so they could check with the local pawn shops and that was it. They never found anything and it took me about 6 months to get over the angry of thinking about the whole episode, it still hurts a little.

So what did I learn? A lot. Here's the scoop on how they did it and what to look for in a storage facility.

The way this scam works is the thieves sign up for the free rent. They use that to get access to the facility and a temporary storage place to hold your stuff until the monthly cycle of the surveillance tapes lapses. They pick the locks of units, move the stuff to their unit and then wait until the tapes have been erased before they move the stuff out of the building.

Here is what you should look for in a storage facility.

Always find one that has alarms on individual units. These are usually going to be newer and maybe a bit more expensive, it's worth every penny. They will give you a code for the gate to the facility (once again with the last 4 of your SS or something like that). Then you use the same code on the door (not shared codes like the one I was in) then you have to type a code in the elevator (which will only stop on your floor). This prevents people on the 2nd floor wandering to the 3rd floor. Finally when you put your code in at the door, that disables the alarm on your individual unit for a set period of time (a couple hours I think). That way when you go to open the unit no alarm sounds. The great thing is that all the other units are constantly monitored and have alarms. So if a person next you tries to break into your unit then an alarm will go off and they will likely flee.

Also, the newer facilities that have the advanced alarm systems also have better surveillance systems in place to watch more strategic places and often have digital archives of the cameras that they can store on DVD. Ask the office what their retention policy is.

One last thing, is something very simple. DO NOT USE YOUR OWN LOCKS. I had one of those big round locks that are marketed at looking solid and hard to cut through. It did not matter, all they did was pick the lock. For a criminal, picking a tumbler lock is very easy, so it's like not having any protection at all. Alway use a cylinder lock that inserts into the door (see attachments). I have been told the only way to get into those is to drill the core out with a powerful drill, so it will not be picked or cut open.

One last part to my story is that some drug addicts got a hold of one of my check books that was stolen with my stuff. The woman had stolen another ladies purse (stolen identity) and was writing checks from me to this other victim to cash them while on a road trip through the Texas hill country. They caught her at a hotel (when they did not have money to pay for the hotel) and the staff called police. The man with her fled the scene but the police took her into custody. She had my checkbook in her pocket when she was arrested! The police informed me she had some priors for amphetamines (a junky) and would probably post bail, at which time her man would come pick her up and would probably not go to her trial. Boy did I want to track her down in order follow the trail to get my stuff back. The banks put the stolen money back into my account very quickly but it was still difficult to deal with once I was trying to bring closure to the robbery.

So be aware to not store checks or anything that can lead to identity theft.

One of the people working at the facility that I became friends with while moving in would open the unit for the battered womens shelter. I kept telling him about how excited I was to go to Argentina. He even said, send me a post card from down there. He told me he was originally from the town of Cleburne, Tx. That also happened to be the town where the first check was written from my account. So I also suspect that it could have been an inside job. He would have known every vulnerability in the security system and cycle of the surveillance tapes. I could not prove anything but it was definately suspicious. So be careful with what you say, don't tell them you are going away for along time or anything like that. It might even be better to say something like "we will probably be coming by each week for something or other"

I hope that did not scare, self storage is a great and cost effective option but get educated and select a high quality facility, their worth it.
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Old 07-06-2007, 12:44 AM   #14
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Absolutely choose a climate controlled facility.. in my area heated.

All the previous comments excellent.
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Old 07-06-2007, 01:25 AM   #15
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IMHO.....so much better to just get rid of it. There might be a few boxes of sentimental things such as the kids' baby pictures that you might ask a friend or relative to store, but storage fees can quickly top any value your furniture, etc. might have.

When we left to go on the road, we left a housesitter in our house. By the time (five years later) that the housesitter ended up buying the house, when we went back to get our stuff, we ended up taking out two boxes of stuff (like the kids' baby pictures), and giving away the rest.

We walked through that house and marveled that we had accumulated all those belongings, even enlarged the house to accomodate them, spent untold hours keeping them clean and ordered, and paying insurance on them......because after being without them for five years, we realized that, to us, they no longer had worth. Just an incredible amount of stuff we had been living happily without.

The hard truth is that you are going to shed ALL your belongings at some point. Better start sooner rather than later. IMHO.

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Old 07-06-2007, 05:03 AM   #16
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You should seriously think about getting rid of a lot of stuff. After all, you will have to eventually, in the retirement home, in the infirmary, and your heirs will probably keep very little.
Agreed. If we did what I described... I would give away all unneeded stuff... No need to keep (and bear the cost of storing) things that will not be needed later. We would probably only things that would be needed later for the house. Furniture, dishes, cookings stuff, clothes, books, etc.


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I justed wanted to share with you all what I learned (the hard way) about selecting a public storage facility...
Thanks for the insight. You are describing my primary concern. What would be nice is a summary of the horror stories and what to look out for... In addition a checklist for selecting a storage facility. If these facilities provide some sort of insurance against the loss, it would be helpful. That would remove the risk.

I would definitely put valuables and very important papers in a sizable bank safety deposit box.

Other important papers and things would be stored at a trusted relatives house. Even with that anything sensitive would probably be in a locked box just in case one of their children's friends snooped around.


Andy, it seems to me that a simple solution for any facility with a basic electronic alarms system would be the following:

1) all people have to sign-in at the desk with a person and present some identification plus some token that shows they should have access. The desk person could cross check records to identify the person.
2) If any place is opened that is not their storage cube... call the cops.

This simple manual check and procedure would ward off most opportunist criminals... They would likely look for an easier target.
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Old 07-06-2007, 10:44 AM   #17
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There is a storage facility in NW Portland which is available only when the office is open, where visitors (even tenants) must ID themselves and enter through a locked personnel gate the office controls. There is little turn over in the office, they seem to know many of their customers. Because it is in a old warehouse with massive floors and walls temperature and humidity is not a problem. While it is no Fort Knox I know of no theft problems. Oh yes, the loading dock is also visible from the office so if they notice that the type of goods you say you are storing doesn't match what you are unloading, out you go. Obviously, not cheap.

OTOH, the garage type storage places are rarely temperature/humidity controlled and have had a variety of issues. I have seen them used as temporary housing and for small manufacturing. Same theft problem mentioned by others (evidently meth addicts become so skinny they can wiggle through the smallest of spaces).
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Old 07-06-2007, 12:21 PM   #18
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I have a climate-controlled 15 X 20 foot space for my sister's stuff for now. $140 a month, with 24 hour surveillance, and it's an indoor secure unit.


She had a lot of nice stuff, so I will keep it until I get rid of the things I don't want, and then will get rid of it.
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Old 07-06-2007, 12:47 PM   #19
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It seems to me that keeping stuff in storage for many years might be more expensive than buying new stuff.

A lot of people put stuff in storage and forget about it over time. Look in your local paper, there are auctions at these places every week.

Auction companies have sections that do nothing else but hold storage unit auctions.
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Old 07-06-2007, 11:10 PM   #20
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AndyR - What a story! Thanks for sharing. That would be a very devastating feeling, I would think...

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Quote:
IMHO.....so much better to just get rid of it....We walked through that house and marveled that we had accumulated all those belongings, even enlarged the house to accomodate them, spent untold hours keeping them clean and ordered, and paying insurance on them......The hard truth is that you are going to shed ALL your belongings at some point. Better start sooner rather than later. IMHO.
I couldn't agree more!
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It seems to me that keeping stuff in storage for many years might be more expensive than buying new stuff.
When we first retired, I purposely kept my very expensive work wardrobe including high end shoes, bags, scarves, etc... thinking " who knows if this retirement thing will work out? I may have to go back to work..."

Well, of course, we didn't go back to work, the clothing went out of style (except for the very high end shoes, bags and scarves) but I never wore any of that stuff ever again. I figured for the $$ we paid for the storage, I could easily have replaced a starter wardrobe for myself if necessary.. live and learn!

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