2014-07-14 Tips for seasonal storage.jpg

Tips For Seasonal Storage

5 Tips for Seasonal Storage

Now that it’s summer, all you want to do is get outside to the barbecue and the beach – but first, you have to dig through the clutter of ski boots, heavy down comforters and Christmas decorations. How do you lighten up your load and shift into a simple lifestyle for summertime? Here are 5 tips to get those seasonal items stashed away safely so they’ll be all ready in that far distant future when the days cool off again.

1. Don’t Feed Unwanted Pets

Your home may harbor tiny clothing moths, and their batches of babies grow big and strong by eating protein fibers like wool and fur. If this touching little wildlife scene doesn’t appeal to you, make sure to wash or dry clean every item before storing it. Any method of cleaning will discourage moths by removing sweat or food stains, which make the fibers especially appetizing to them. The dry cleaning process kills off the larvae, and washing will do the same if you can use water that’s at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. For those items that really don’t need cleaning (or if you’ve procrastinated and just haven’t gotten around to going to the dry cleaners), putting your items in the freezer for 24 hours before storing them will also destroy any eggs or larvae that happen to be hitchhiking in the folds. Avoid mothballs, though – they’re toxic, and they’ll make you smell like your grandmother’s attic.

2. Pack Your Suitcases

That is, if you’re not planning to use them anytime soon. Lots of us have empty luggage hanging out in our closet or under the bed waiting to be pulled out for those rare trips where we need to carry more than we can fit into a little carry-on. If you have a couple of large suitcases just sitting empty, use them as organization aids. They make perfect self-storage spots for a few simple items such as winter blankets or holiday tablecloths.

3. Treat Your Down Gently

You probably have some down items stuffed into that closet full of winter treasures. Down-filled jackets, comforters and sleeping bags need special treatment in order to stay fluffy while in storage. The experts at REI recommend washing these items by hand and putting them in a cool dryer or hanging them up to dry. They don’t recommend dry cleaning because the chemicals can strip the natural oils out of the feathers and decrease the fluffiness quotient. Once you have your down item clean and dry, put it gently into a mesh or fabric bag online slots that allows some air to circulate. Don’t press and squash it to try to make it fit. Water-tight storage and vacuum-sealed bags are not good for down because condensed moisture can accumulate inside them and cause mildew.

4. Baby Your Winter Sports Gear

It’s important to give your skis, snowboards and boots some attention before moving them to storage for the warm seasons – and it’s also kind of fun. You can dream of next winter’s adventures while you’re tuning your skis and snowboards and putting a fresh coat of wax on them. It’s a good idea to remove liners from ski boots and then hand wash them. After the liners are thoroughly air-dried, replace them inside the boots, and then lace up the boots so they maintain their shape. Make sure that skis are stored upright, and (like down items) not sealed inside of plastic. Air circulation is helpful for all ski equipment.

5. Add an Herbal Finish

In addition to discouraging insects of all sorts, natural oils like cedar and lavender will ensure that when you open your storage containers next fall, you’ll be greeted with a fresh and pleasant fragrance. You can buy little balls of cedar wood, or simply go to the pet store for cedar shavings to tie securely into small net bags. Lavender is also available in many fresh and dried forms. Tuck sachets into the pockets of your clothing (you might find some money you’ve forgotten!) and into storage bags and boxes.

Once you’ve cleared away all your bulky winter items, you’ll be able to find that beach towel and barbecue grill you were looking for; after all, summertime is calling!

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Reasons Why Self-Storage Is A Good Idea

Let’s say you’ve just made the decision to lighten your load by putting a bunch of your stuff into storage. To you, it’s totally obvious why this is a smart thing to do – but your co-worker, your neighbor across the street and even your sister are questioning your decision. Of course that neighbor has a living room so cluttered she won’t even let anyone into her house – but that doesn’t stop her from asking you if you think maybe you own too many things. Below are a few great reasons for choosing to store some of the objects you’re responsible for. You can use any of these reasons to shut down naysayers and leave them secretly wondering whether self-storage might be the perfect solution for their own clutter disaster.

Reason #1: Self-storage lets you run a home business and still have a home to live in.

Maybe you’re one of those proactive people who haven’t let unemployment get them down. More people than ever are making ends meet by buying up second hand goods and selling them online at a profit. Or maybe you’re skilled at producing handmade creations, and you need a place to store your inventory and extra raw materials. How many times have you passed up a great deal on bulk supplies just because you haven’t got anywhere to store them? Self-storage works as a warehouse annex to your home business, and – guess what? – at tax time, you get to deduct the full cost of storage as a business expense.

Reason #2: Self-storage gives free rein to self-expression

Sometimes our creativity expresses itself through a passionate attachment to collecting. If this applies to you, then it’s not that you’re a hoarder; you just accumulate giant Christmas nutcrackers. Or taxidermied wildlife. Or 19th century tables that you plan to restore. Living together with someone who doesn’t share your collecting passion means you have to deny yourself the perfect new addition to your collection, because your housemate has announced, “You can’t bring one more cuckoo clock into this house! You already have 23 others!” Self-storage allows you to curate, organize, label and enjoy the full extent of your collection without getting on anyone else’s nerves.

Reason #3: Anything that reduces moving stress is good

Let’s face it: moving is a bit nerve-wracking even under the best of circumstances. But that stress goes through the ceiling if you’re madly trying to get a new home ready to bring your stuff to, while managing to clear out your old home by the required date. If you’re using professional movers, they’ll charge high storage rates for just a few days that will end up costing you far more than a month of self-storage would. Having that self-storage key in your pocket a few weeks before your move means you can start packing in a slow, relaxed way and fill your storage unit with nice rows of neatly labeled boxes.

Reason #4: Because sometimes life transitions just happen

When our families are shaken by death or divorce, there’s often a set of belongings that suddenly need to be dealt with. A house has to be sold, perhaps, or someone is moving out of a shared home and needs to put important possessions into safekeeping. Each person accumulates belongings and when life brings changes those belongings often need a safe place to be kept while everyone sorts themselves out.

Essentially, when you think about it, the fundamental reason for self-storage is to put the needs of human beings above the needs of things. Organization and storage of objects allows for a clear mind and a simple lifestyle, so that you can focus on what truly matters in life.

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Moving targets: How to avoid moving company scams

As if moving wasn’t stressful enough, you’re sure to receive half-whispered warnings when you tell people you’re hiring professional movers. While the stories of moving scams abound, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself and make sure the company you hire is on the up and up.

Protecting yourself is as easy as doing some simple research, preparing your belongings properly, and being a savvy consumer. Here are some tips that will help you avoid becoming the target of a moving scam.

Finding a moving company

1. Get recommendations from a trusted source. You gotta start somewhere, and that should be a person you know who’s either moved recently, or whose business puts them in regular contact with moving companies. Nothing beats a firsthand recommendation. If you don’t know anyone who’s had a good moving experience, you can ask those who have a professional interest in knowing reputable movers: real estate agents, interior designers or retailers who sell home goods like furniture and appliances.

2. Check out the movers’ online reputations. Once you have a few names in hand, it’s time to Google. Search phrases like “[Name of moving company] scam” or “[Name of moving company] reputation” to get more targeted results. And, of course, check out any user reviews on sites such as Yelp or Google Local (found within Google Maps). Movingscam.com and ProtectYourMove.gov are also valuable resources.

Get it in writing

3. The moving company conducts a home

visit. Ask your top pick to do a home visit. Show the movers the specifics: how many rooms, the size of the furniture, how many flights of stairs they’ll have to walk up and down. It’s important to note any specialty items that will be moving with you, such as a piano, large works of art, large plants, furniture that doesn’t break down easily, appliances, and anything else that would require special attention. You’re sure to get some bonus points if you go over the measurements of your doorways, hallways, and any large furniture that might not fit through them easily. The movers should be able to suggest how to move even the most awkward or bulky pieces.

4. Get a written estimate. Now that the movers have a clear idea of what they’ll be hauling, ask for a detailed quote in writing. Then, together, go over each item line by line to make sure you understand what all they entail. Some of the definitions may surprise you: Is a box considered “packed” if it’s closed but not taped? Do the two steps down from your front door count as a flight of stairs? Will they provide dollies and padded blankets for free? Or is there an additional fee? Will they add a gratuity charge for the moving crew to the final bill, or is tipping the movers and the driver left to your discretion? Asking about these things might seem nitpicky, but they’ll save you from the unwelcome surprise of any hidden charges that might pop up later. Finally, do not sign anything that is blank or incomplete.

5. What’s their policy regarding items and/or property that gets lost or damaged during the move? Should the worst happen, you need to know what recourse you have. Ask how they handle claims of lost or damaged items, as well as any damage that might occur to either your old home or your new place.

Check their background

6. Make sure the company is licensed and insured. A reputable moving company will have all of their paperwork in order. Some states require movers to be licensed with the state’s Department of Transportation and/or the federal D.O.T. Make sure your mover is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and they have a Motor Carrier number for their vehicles (which means their trucks are approved for operation on the road). Also ask for a certificate of insurance that details how much their policy covers; you want to be sure you’re covered in case of damage or injury.

7. Who are their workers? You’re bringing strangers into your home and trusting them with your life’s possessions. Therefore, being concerned about safety is only rational. Ask about their screening process for workers. Ask if background checks are performed. Some companies might subcontract their laborers and have no idea who they’re sending to your home.

Keep track of your stuff

8. Clearly label your boxes and other items. Different companies have different methods of labeling. Some will provide labels; but it never hurts to have your own set handy — just in case. Not only do you want to mark where your boxes should go once they arrive at their destination (KITCHEN, LIVING ROOM, etc.), but you should include your name, contact information, and both the origin and destination address. Yep, on every box. (Preprinting a bunch of labels makes it easy to just slap them on as you go.) That might seem like overkill; but for long hauls where you can’t keep an eye on your stuff at all times, it’s a good idea. Also consider using a label or other unique sticker to “seal” your boxes so you can tell if they’ve been opened at some point during their journey.

9. Make an inventory and take pictures. A couple of moves ago, I knew I was going to put most of my stuff in storage because I was moving into a small home temporarily. As I packed my things and decided what I’d need in my new place and what I wouldn’t, I wrote down the contents of every single box and then entered that info into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet contained the name of each object, the number of the box, a description of the box, and where the box ended up, whether it went into storage or came with me to my temporary space. If I found myself looking for something — such as a book or a particular kitchen utensil — I could look it up in my spreadsheet.

This will help you not only track your belongings as they move (which will also prove they were accounted for prior to the move, should they go missing), but also prioritize your unpacking. If you don’t have time to create an item-by-item spreadsheet, take a picture of the contents of each box. Then back up those photos — they won’t do you any good if your camera or phone gets lost during the move! If you want to get fancy, you can also use apps like Delicious Library to keep things sorted.

Be a good customer

10. Be cool. Don’t be a jerk. While this last piece of advice should be a no-brainer, here’s your reminder, just in case: If you treat your movers with respect, they’ll treat you and your stuff with respect. Your efforts to make their job easier will be appreciated. Provide water, snacks, and a place to use the restroom and freshen up. Make sure there are extra packing supplies and markers on hand, and give them your cell phone number as well as printed directions to their destination (they probably have GPS, but it never hurts!). Get the driver’s cell phone number too, in case there’s an emergency and you can’t get a hold of anyone at the moving company office. And finally, have some cash on hand to tip your movers (standard tip is between $20 and $30 per mover). That’s one way to make sure everyone goes home happy — including you.

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Hired hands: Should you hire pros for your next move?

Just as packing up your belongings will most likely lead to an honest assessment of your possessions (why are you hanging on to those soccer trophies from the fourth grade, anyway?), the process of moving requires you to take a good, hard look at yourself. No matter how stoked you are about your new home, moving can be exhausting and expensive. So being realistic about your priorities and acting accordingly will save you heartache, backaches and, hopefully, wallet aches.

Answer these five questions honestly, and you’ll find yourself on the path to a less stressful and less expensive move.

1. How much stuff do you have?

This is the big question when it comes to moving. No matter how enthusiastic you are, you can’t move the contents of a four-bedroom house all by your lonesome with nothing but a rented furniture dolly and your mom’s minivan. So let’s break it down: two or three people can realistically move a studio or one-bedroom apartment. An energetic group of friends can easily move a two-bedroom apartment. But anything beyond that will likely require a team of pros because the sheer amount of stuff found in a home much larger than that can easily overwhelm you.

During a recent four-year study of 32 middle-class families in Los Angeles, researchers

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at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) found that an average family’s home contains 2,260 “visible possessions” (and that doesn’t include any items that are stored out of sight in drawers, boxes, cabinets, etc.).

I’m going to write that number again — just in case you missed it the first time: two thousand two hundred and sixty visible possessions. If that number scares you, consider hiring professionals.

2. What kinds of stuff do you have?

Do you have any special items that would require expert knowledge to move them safely? Big-but-delicate items such as pianos and pool tables need special attention to ensure they survive the trip. Even everyday appliances can be hard for the average layperson to handle. You might be very experienced in lifting and carrying a cardboard box full of books, but chances are you haven’t attempted to heft a refrigerator into a U-Haul trailer. If your move includes anything bigger or more unusual than a sofa, you should seriously consider bringing in the experts.

3. How far are you moving?

While your friends may be loyal and dedicated, asking them to schlep all of your earthly possessions across the country might be pushing the limits of your relationship. Large moving companies already have an infrastructure in place to get your stuff from Point A to Point B without too much hassle — and that’s even if those two points are located many states apart. While “local” is typically defined on a state-by-state basis, within a 60-mile radius is a good rule of thumb. Anything further out than that and you’re officially making a “long distance” move.

4. What resources do you have at your disposal?

One of my best moves happened pretty painlessly, thanks to my pals at the gym. I’d taken up boxing at my local Y, and I’d made friends with the people in my classes. I was considered the “adopted little sister” of a half-dozen friendly and very, very strong young men. So when it came time to move, all I had to do was provide the requisite pizza and beer, and my manual labor was taken care of!

But not everyone is so lucky — perhaps your friends have a more delicate disposition, or maybe they’re claiming to be “unavailable” during the weekend of your move (and you know that no amount of Domino’s pizza and Budweiser will get them to show up on the big day). That means you’re going to need a few hired hands, which should be easier to find than new friends.

However, if you do decide to enlist your friends’ help, Apartment Therapy has some good tips for keeping them happy during the move.

5. What’s your budget?

You’ve probably just dropped a pretty penny on the deposit for your new pad. Do you have the funds to spend on movers too? If you’re moving locally, most movers will charge by the hour — and that’s whether they’re helping you pack or haul boxes. They might also charge a fee for travel expenses, depending

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on how far you’re moving. To hire two movers and a truck, you’re probably looking at between $90 and $120 per hour, so around $1,500 total to move across town. A good way to reduce that cost significantly is to be completely packed before the movers arrive — just use them for the heavy lifting.

If you’re moving a long distance, however, the final cost will depend on the weight and cubic

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feet of your stuff. You’re probably looking at a minimum of around $5,000. But you can use this handy moving calculator from MoveSource to get a better idea before you decide.

After an honest examination of your priorities and capabilities, you should have a clearer sense of whether or not you should attempt to make the move with a few of your buddies, or if you should call in the professionals. Either way, you’ll be able to sleep in your new space soundly, knowing you made the right choice for you.