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Storage for Students: Portable or Stationary?

If you're a college student, temporary storage is probably the last thing on your mind. So, let's move it up a few notches on the mental to-do list. Here's everything you need to know about the whys of temporary self-storage and the options that are available to you.

Why You Need a Storage Unit

The first order of business is realizing why you need to think about storage at all. Actually, there are some pretty solid reasons. Number one, you really don't want to leave your personal possessions in your dorm room when you go home for the summer. Even if you have the utmost faith in your fellow classmates, your school may have rules that require you to empty out your room. You could lug your mini fridge, futon, books and hockey equipment home with you, but your folks probably won't be thrilled. See, right after you left, your mom turned your bedroom into her craft room and your dad reclaimed the garage for his car.

If you're planning to do a semester abroad, you're not going to want to schlep all of your gear to a foreign country-very pricey. Besides, space tends to be at a premium in homes outside the U.S. Do your hosts a favor and store your stuff stateside.

Are you graduating this year and planning to take a job in a strange city? You'll probably be on a tight budget and living in an apartment the size of a phone booth. If you're lucky, you'll be able to afford to live alone. If not, you'll be sharing that phone booth with another person. Using self-storage means you'll never have to sell your prized possessions just because there's no room for them in your new crib.

Your Self Storage Options

Now that you're on board with the concept of self-storage, let's look at your options. Basically, you have two: portable storage units and self-storage facilities.

According to Lynette Walczak, a contributing editor for, a portable storage unit "is a moving and storage system where they drop off, pick up, and transport your stuff-virtually anywhere you want. Basically, it's a combination moving truck and storage unit." In your case, you'll probably want a portable unit provider who will store the pod at its center until you come back to your dorm or find an apartment.

Sounds convenient-and it is-but do your research before you rent. Adam Sweet, an employee and blogger for 2Brothers Moving Company in Portland, Oregon, says, "Depending on local laws, you may not be able to store units on your street." Check with your campus, too. They may have regulations that restrict where you can put the portable unit.

If you choose a traditional self-storage facility, you'll have to do the transporting. That can be a hassle if you don't own a car or know anybody who does. Unless you can find a facility that includes free truck use, you'll have to pony up for a rental and the gasoline. You'll also have to rent the unit for the minimum amount of time, typically a month. If you're only away for three weeks, you'll be paying for something you're not using.

Both portable and traditional self-storage units come in a variety of sizes. If you opt for a self-storage unit, blogger Rachel Greenfield says, "Most students opt for 5'x5' units, which will hold about as much as a walk-in closet. This size is ideal for storing chairs, cabinets, electronics and boxes." The smallest portable unit available is 7'x7'x8'. In either case, if that's more space than you need, you may be able to split the space and cost with other students. Just be aware that only one name can go on the rental agreement. Be sure everyone is in agreement about who will be the financially responsible party.

To find a stationary storage unit near you, you can search online based on geographical location.


"Household Tips: How Those Storage Pods Work", -

"PODS vs. Self Storage", 2Brothers Moving -

"Self-Storage 101 for College Students", The SpareFoot Blog -


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