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Smart Storage Solutions for Students: Think Beyond the School Year


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Just when you finally figured out how to organize your dorm room, winter comes along and you need room for your hockey gear. Or you get picked for a coveted overseas study program and have no idea where to keep your stuff. Whether you are headed home for the summer from University of Chicago or looking for more space in your DePaul dorm room, finding a self storage unit just makes sense.

First Things First

Before you ever set foot on your college campus, figure out your plan for the whole year - not just those eight or nine months you are in class. If you are planning on staying in the dorms until you graduate, what will you do with your belongings during summer break? Is it more cost effective to sign a lease just for the months you are in school and put your things in storage during summer? Your university may have resources to help you make this decision, but here are some questions to ask:

  • Can you sign a lease just for the school term or do you need to sign a year-long lease? If you have the option for a nine-month school year lease, you'll find that storage fees are a lot less expensive than maintaining an apartment while you're away through the summer - especially when you consider that a typical Chicago apartment can cost between $600 and $1800 per month, not including utility charges.
  • Does your college offer onsite storage or will you have to pay an annual cost to keep your dorm room to store your stuff?
  • If you are planning on studying for a semester overseas or if your internship will take you across the state, what will you do with your things? Will you have to give up your dorm room? Sublet your apartment? Having access to a storage unit can make these transitions easier without costing an arm and a leg.
  • Another consideration is the cost to take it all with you. Many airlines are charging between $20 and $50 for luggage items and much more for oversized bags. You may soon discover that it is far cheaper to rent a storage unit for the majority of your items than it is to take everything home.

Choosing a Unit

At first glance, it might seem like the best storage unit is the one located closest to your dorm. In reality, there are several factors you should consider when selecting a storage facility.

  • Terms and conditions - Select a storage facility that takes into account your status as a student because it's likely you will only need the unit for a few months at a time. Make sure your facility offers special rates for students or month-to-month agreements.
  • The extras - 'One-stop shopping' works best for busy college students. It's likely that you only have a short period of time in which to empty out your dorm room. Choose a facility that sells tubs or boxes to lighten your load and offers a free truck rental on moving day.
  • Size counts - You don't want to rent a unit only to find out it fits nothing more than your TV stand and a few boxes. Just as bad is renting a unit that is way too big for your needs. Carefully consider the size of a unit before committing. For example, a 5x5 unit is ideal for the 'stuff' found in a small room and some smaller furniture, while a 10x20 unit will fit almost everything from a small house. Use these handy space planning tools to determine your space requirements.

Year-round Storage

Let's face it - college is about more than studying. (Don't tell your parents.) Chicago offers students a wide range of activities guaranteed to make college years fun. Easy access to Lake Michigan and activities on two rivers means there are plenty of opportunities for watersports. Beautiful parks and a gorgeous shoreline make hiking and mountain biking favorite pastimes, too. The cold winters are perfect for ice skating, hockey and cross-country skiing. Luging, downhill skiing and ski jumping are also popular outdoor activities.

Unfortunately, all of these activities mean lots of extra stuff. Dorm rooms are often tiny, making it almost impossible for anyone bigger than Thumbelina to keep all of his or her belongings in the dorm room and live in it at the same time. Consider renting a smaller storage unit to store off-season equipment and clothing.

Store It and Forget It

College students are often faced with storage problems because of part-time residence or because students have more items than dorm rooms can hold. Renting a storage unit is the economical solution - especially if you share the unit with roommates or friends or plan to leave during summer months and other holidays. Don't fret, a close, easy-to-access, and affordable storage unit will help you manage costs and free you from rent during those months away from school. Storage units are readily available near Chicago area universities and colleges. Find a storage unit near your apartment or dorm.

Storage Tips for College Students, "College Students: Store Smart"

Chicago Magazine, "Things to do this winter in Chicago"

Moving Guru, "What Size Storage Unit do I Need?"

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