Military personnel and their families are frequent movers – a change of station every few years is inevitable for soldiers, marines, and seamen. This means that families must be ready to pack and relocate to a new and usually unfamiliar destination quite often. Besides frequently moving, military personnel also get deployed internationally, so all things considered, there’s an increasing need for self storage among our country’s servicemen.

Here’s how to pick the right storage unit for your needs — whether your family is moving to a new military base or you’re being deployed and leaving the country for an extended period.

1. Select the right size for your needs

It’s important to book the right unit size for your belongings. A 5×5 unit will hold a few moving boxes, and perhaps a couple of pieces of small furniture. A 10×10 unit is enough for the items that normally furnish a small, one-bedroom apartment, while a 10×15 one is about the right size for holding the contents of a 2-bedroom apartment. Larger units, like the 10×20 and 10×30 options, have enough space to store all of the furniture and belongings from a three- or four-bedroom home.

If you’re deploying for an extended period of time, and you’re on your own, a 10×10 unit will probably suffice. However, if you’re moving your entire family and all of your belongings across the country, you should probably choose a 10×20 or even a 10×30 unit in advance and ship your possessions there. This way, by the time your family arrives, your belongings will already be on hand and the transition to a new home will be a lot easier for everyone involved.

2. Choose between a climate-controlled unit and a standard one

Climate controlled units are more expensive than standard ones, however, depending on your circumstances, it might be worthwhile getting one. If you’re deploying for several months or longer, and you’re storing things like electronics, books and important documents, or mattresses and high quality furniture, you should definitely opt for climate-controlled storage. A storage unit that ensures a consistent temperature and humidity will keep your stuff in perfect condition until you return.

Consider the location where you’ll be storing stuff, and the time of year. If, for example, you’re renting a storage unit in Tampa, Florida, in the middle of the summer, it’s safer to opt for a climate-controlled one.

3. Ask about discounts for military personnel

Many self storage facilities, particularly those located in the vicinity of a military base, provide discounts for military personnel. When booking a unit, let the storage facility manager know that you’re in the military, and ask about discounts or other incentives they might provide.

For example, CubeSmart Self Storage, a storage company with more than 1,150 locations all over the country, is offering 10% off for soldiers, in addition to any other promotions they might have. Other self storage companies, such as Life Storage, are indicating that military personnel should call and ask for the discounts tailored for them.

4. Use an automatic payment method

An automatic payment method is recommended, particularly when deploying internationally. The rent for your unit will be paid automatically each month and you won’t have to worry about missing payments. Being deployed is difficult from both a professional and personal standpoint — the last thing you need to do is worry about your bills, not to mention that it may be difficult to access online banking while overseas.

5. Determine hours of access

Some storage facilities ensure 24-hour access to the unit, 7 days per week. Others only allow tenants to visit their units during normal business hours, and may be closed on Sundays. If your schedule is preventing you from accessing your unit during workdays and normal business hours, opt for a facility with 24-hour access.

6. Ask about security features

Storage facilities are, generally, a very safe place to store your belongings. However, when storing items long term, it’s wise to ask a few extra questions about the safety features at the facility. Make sure that there are security cameras, and that the facility is well-lit at night. The safest facilities are gated, and access is controlled either electronically or by a guard.

7. Insure your belongings

It’s a good idea to get insurance for your belongings, regardless of whether you’re storing them long-term, during your deployment, or short term, while changing stations. In fact, most storage facilities have begun requiring that tenants purchase insurance for their goods. You can usually purchase an insurance policy for your unit at the facility. However, check your homeowner or renter insurance policy first – depending upon the insurer and the type of policy, your stored goods might already be protected by your existing insurance.

It’s equally important to check out what the policy covers: you need one that covers different types of problems, such as water, fire and smoke damage, as well as rodent damage, extreme weather or burglaries. Determine the value of your stored goods and choose a policy with a suitable coverage limit.



Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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