March 20, 2011

Summer Storage

Courtesy of SSA Storage King Joseph Tan

When you move out of your dorm for the summer holidays, or to study abroad, you’re going to need a storage unit to put all the stuff that you don’t want to bring with you. Many companies will start giving out flyers and posting ads on Facebook closer to the end of the academic year, but if you are willing to spend some time and energy planning for your own storage unit, you can easily save 70-80% that these companies charge you (under my tutetage, some of usually pay only approximately $30-40 each for a whole summer).

Here are some of the factors to consider when looking for your own storage unit:

Renting a unit

Sparefoot is my favourite website to browse through storage units. Its sorta the expedia / trivago of storage.

When you key in your dorm address on storage websites, most will calculate the closest storage unit to your location. Obviously, the closer, the more convenient it is to move your stuff there, and the less you spend on transportation.

However, more ulu locations might be cheaper to rent out, so you will need to balance both variables in choosing a suitable location. All legit storage units will have vehicle access, and lorries will comfortably fit through the gates and driveways.

You really only need to consider three sizes (you will probably never need anything larger than that):

  • 5 feet x 5 feet. Suitable for 5-6 people.
  • 5 feet x 10 feet. Suitable for 10-12 people.
  • 10 feet x 10 feet. Suitable for an SLG’s common room stuff plus maybe 4-5 people’s stuff.

Be prepared to fork out approximately $20-30 a month, but with more people, the cost can really be brought down

Climate-controlled units
Some storage units offer climate-controlled environments which have humidifiers and keep the temperature within a predetermined range. If you have sensitive items (electronics, art and craft materials, etc), you might want to consider renting such a unit.


Where to get them
The Duke store sells boxes but they’re a rip off. Get yours from Home Depot for about $1.50 each. You could also get those plastic storage boxes from Target and reuse them for the next three years (save the Earth!) These tend to be much more durable and easier to wheel around. However, they might not stack well if you’re sharing the same storage unit with others (if everyone brings boxes of different sizes, organization of the storage unit becomes complicated).

Getting L or XL boxes may not necessarily be the best option, as loading these boxes full of books can make them extremely hard to carry and stack. They might also warp and break when piled up for long periods of time. Medium boxes are usually a good compromise.


Rental Car
Enterprise CarShare does the trick if you’re moving stuff for three people or less. You can generally fit 2 boxes in the trunk and 3 in the rear, filling up the rest of the space with random things. Rent the Nissan Rogue on central campus for a little more moving power.

Rental Truck
If you really want to cut costs and move 10+ people’s stuff in one go, rent a Uhaul. It saves so much time, money and petrol. Uhauls are charged by a flat fee, followed by a per-mile charge. You probably won’t spend more than 50 dollars in total if you plan well.

You don’t need a special driver’s license or special insurance to use the truck. Insurance is also OPTIONAL (but would highly recommend you get).

When driving beware of BRIDGES!!! CHECK THE HEIGHT OF THE UHAUL AND MAKE SURE THAT THE ROUTE YOU GO BY DOES NOT HAVE ANY BRIDGES UNDER THAT HEIGHT. See video to understand why this is important: (by the way, this is in Durham).

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