The Basics of Self-Storage Containers: A Beginner’s Guide to Renting Your First Unit

Self-storage containers, also commonly known as storage units or lockers, have become an essential solution for those looking to declutter, move, or simply store their valuables. Whether you’re downsizing, travelling, or just need some extra space, these self-storage containers can come to the rescue.
At Xtra Space NI, we offer self-storage solutions based in Belfast, with an incredible range of storage options available, we can help you find the best solution for your temporary storage needs.
If you’re considering renting a storage container but don’t know where to start, this beginner’s guide is here to help.

What is a Self-Storage Container?

A self-storage container is a dedicated space that you can rent in order to store your belongings for a short or long period of time. A self-storage container should provide you with a secure and reliable solution, ensuring that your goods are kept in safe hands whilst you do what you need to do.

Xtra Space - Self Storage Units

Why Would You Need a Self-Storage Container?

There are many different reasons why a self-storage container is an ideal solution for both individuals and businesses. Check out some of the reasons why you might need one below.

A tidy environment can lead to a clearer mind and more efficient use of space. Utilising a storage unit can help keep your living or working space organised by relocating items that are not needed on a daily basis. This is especially helpful in smaller homes or offices where space is at a premium. It also aids in maintaining a minimalistic or aesthetically pleasing environment.

Transitioning from one home to another can sometimes involve a time gap. During this period, a storage unit serves as a safe haven for your belongings. It’s a practical solution that provides security and protection for your items, alleviating some of the stress that comes with moving.

Xtra Space - Loading Storage Units

Seasonal Storage
Many households have items that are only used seasonally, like holiday decorations, lawn furniture, or winter sports equipment. Storing these items in a storage unit when they’re not in use can free up space in your home. This way, you’re not tripping over the snow sled in the summer or the beach chairs in the winter.

Business Needs
Businesses, particularly those with limited space, can benefit greatly from using storage units. It’s a cost-effective solution for storing excess inventory, old records, or seldom-used equipment. For retail businesses, a storage unit can serve as a secondary stock room during busy retail periods or sales.
Additionally, self-storage can be a viable option for home-based businesses looking to separate work materials from personal items, helping to create a more structured work environment.

Xtra Space - Business Storage Units

If you are renovating your home or office, a storage unit can provide a safe space to store furniture and other belongings to prevent them from getting damaged during the renovation process.

Asset Protection
Some individuals use self-storage units to protect valuable assets such as antique furniture, artwork, or collectables from potential damage that could occur in a less controlled environment.

Estate Storage
In the event of a death in the family, a storage unit can be a temporary solution for holding the belongings of the deceased until decisions can be made regarding the distribution or sale of said items.
Each of these scenarios demonstrates how self-storage containers can provide practical solutions to real-world space constraints.

Choosing the Right Size

One of the first decisions you’ll make is determining the size of the container you need. There are many different sizes of containers available, but some of the most popular dimensions include:

  • 10ft: Similar space to the boot of a small car.
  • 25ft: Similar space to a small van or estate car.
  • 35ft; Similar space to an average garden shed.
  • 50ft: Similar space to a large transit van.
  • 75ft: Similar space to a Luton removal van or similar.
  • 100ft: Similar to the space of a typical small single garage.
  • 125ft: A little bit more space than a typical single garage.
  • 150ft: Similar to the contents of a small three-bedroom house
  • 200ft: Similar to the contents of a small double garage

As a good rule of thumb, you should only pay for the storage space you need. If you can, it’s also a good idea to see the unit in person if you’re uncertain.

What if I need to change the size of my self-storage container?

Before agreeing to a contract, you should always check whether your self-storage provider will allow you to change the container size during your contract. At Xtra Space NI, there is no commitment to a specific size, you can adjust your container size whenever you need.

Indoor vs. Outdoor self-storage containers

Indoor and outdoor storage units cater to different needs and choosing between them depends on what you are looking to store.
Indoor storage units provide an added layer of protection against the elements, making them ideal for valuable or delicate items like electronics, antique furniture, or important documents.
On the other hand, outdoor storage units are usually more accessible, often allowing for drive-up access, which can be a huge benefit if you have heavy or bulky items to store. They are also generally larger and can even accommodate vehicles or large pieces of equipment.

Xtra Space - Drive Up Outdoor Storage
However, they may not offer the same level of environmental protection or security as indoor units. The choice between indoor and outdoor storage will largely hinge on the nature of the items you need to store, your budget, and your accessibility needs.

Security Measures

When it comes to storing your possessions, security is paramount. Before choosing a self-storage facility:

  • Ensure they have 24/7 surveillance cameras.
  • Ensure that you can use your own lock for your self-storage container.
  • Ask if the facility has a gated entrance or security personnel on-site.
  • Consider the overall reputation and reviews of the facility.

Xtra Space - Security

Security is one of the most important factors in selecting a self-storage container, ensuring that you are choosing a reputable company to trust with your items.

Access and Hours

Consider how often and when you’ll need to access your unit. Some facilities offer 24-hour access, while others have restricted hours. If you think you’ll need to get to your belongings frequently, choose a location that’s convenient and offers flexible hours.

Costs and Contracts

The price of storage containers can vary based on size, location, and added features such as out-of-hours access. Most facilities will ask you to sign a lease, which could be month-to-month or long-term. Always read the contract thoroughly and ask about:

  • Deposit requirements
  • Late fees
  • Insurance options (some facilities offer insurance, or your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance might cover stored items)
  • Minimum and maximum contract length

Should I ask for a discount?

If you plan on storing your items for a longer period of time then asking for a discount is not entirely unreasonable. At Xtra Space NI, we offer discounts for longer stays, so it is always worth asking.

Preparing Items for Storage

Before moving your items into storage, ensure that you:

  • Clean and dry everything to prevent mould and pests.
  • Disassemble large furniture to save space.
  • Use quality boxes and packing materials.
  • Label all boxes for easy identification.

While it might take some time to prepare your items for storage, you will thank yourself in the long run when it comes to unpacking them again.

Find a self-storage container that is right for you

Renting a self-storage container can be a seamless process once you’re armed with the right information. By understanding your needs, doing thorough research, and preparing your belongings properly, you can take full advantage of the benefits that storage units offer.

Dont Hesitate To Contact Us

At Xtra Space, we’re here for you; our friendly and welcoming staff are happy to help. Whatever your storage needs, we can help. We look forward to hearing from you.