A College Student’s Guide to Self Storage

Jon Fesmire |

As a young adult leaving home for the first time, you may never have needed self storage before. However, when you head off to college, you will either live in a dorm room or in a shared apartment or house with other students. Your accommodations will probably be smaller than you’re used to, especially if you’re in a dorm room.

It can all be a little confusing. Fortunately, we at StorageFront have written a number of articles about moving to college, and this one brings all that knowledge together.

What to Bring

Once you know what college you’ll be attending, start thinking about what you’ll need to bring. Always keep in mind the size of your dorm room. Then, make a list of things you think you’ll need, and things you’d like to take with you. Next, consider what you don’t really need, and cross those items off your list.

How do you know exactly what you’ll need until you’re there? Well, we can suggest a few things. Bring a mix of casual and nice clothing, but don’t bring too much. Bring your tablet, smartphone, and laptop. In the past, we would have recommended bringing CDs and DVDs for entertainment, but these days, when you can purchase and download music, television programs, and movies digitally, you’ll save space in your luggage by simply bringing these electronics.

Your dorm floor probably has a shared bathroom and shower situation, but you’ll want to bring your own toiletries, which you can keep in your room and bring to the bathroom at shower time.

Bring a few books, if you like, but you won’t need to bring notebooks, pens, or pencils. Get those things locally when you arrive. The same goes for snacks to keep in your room.

Bring any medical prescriptions you have, and remember to transfer any prescriptions you may have to a nearby pharmacy and find a local doctor. Many universities have a health clinic and provide health insurance for their students.

What Not to Bring

Sometimes, it’s easier to know what to do after you’ve learned what not to do. So, it will also help to know what not to pack when moving into a dorm. These include your pet, furniture (you’ll have a desk, chair, and bed waiting for you), appliances, curtains, wallpaper, a printer, an iron and ironing board, dishes, sports gear, and items your roommate is bringing that you can share.

To that end, if you can, get in touch with your roommate before you leave. Introduce yourself, and coordinate what they’ll bring, and what you’ll bring. For example, we recommend not bringing any appliances, but sometimes you can. Check with your university to find out what is included, and what is allowed. Perhaps you can have one mini-fridge, and a coffee maker. You can bring one, and your roommate can bring the other.

Things You Must Have

Here, we’re referring to things you really want to bring, even if they would clutter up your dorm room. No, not your pets. You still need to leave those with your family.

Here are some examples. Perhaps you have a serious art hobby and like to paint. You may have an expensive eisel, a few canvases, and a paint set, but you just won’t have space in your dorm room to keep them.

Yes, we did say not to bring sports equipment, but maybe you have a baseball bat or a basketball that has some sentimental value. Or, maybe you’re moving from one coastal surfing town to another, and you just have to bring your longboard and wetsuit.

The problem is that these things will take up too much space in your shared room. The solution? Get a self storage unit. When you want to do some painting, you can retrieve your supplies and go somewhere quiet, to a park or on campus, set up your eisel, and spend a few hours on your latest work of art. On weekends, you can stop by, pick up your surfing gear, catch a bunch of waves, and drop them back off later.

As you progress through your college years, you may accumulate things you want to keep, but that won’t fit in your dorm room or shared home. These could include dishes, art, and amazing furniture you found at a thrift shop and had to get. In other words, things that you will want for after graduation, when you’re no longer in student housing.

Sizes and Prices

There’s a good chance that you’ll be fine with the smallest standard unit, a 5x5, which is about the size of a walk-in closet. As the years go on, you may need to switch to a 5x10 or a 10x10, and most facilities make doing this easy. Take into consideration how often you may need those things you’re putting in storage. If you plan to access them once a week or more, then you should probably rent from a facility near your college. If you plan to go once a month or so, one farther away, with lower rent, may be for you.

The monthly rent on a self storage unit depends mainly on three factors: the location of the facility, the size of the unit, and whether or not it has climate control. For reference, a typical rental price for a 5x5 unit is about $50. Add 25% for a climate controlled unit.

In cold, dry areas, and hot, humid areas, or areas where the weather fluctuates greatly throughout the year, we highly recommend getting a unit with climate control. Many items, from musical instruments to clothing, can suffer damage simply due to temperature and humidity, from wood drying out, to metal warping, to clothes growing mold. Climate control helps ensure your belongings stay in good shape.

Valet Storage

In college, not everyone has a car. If you take the local busses and metro to get around (and a free pass is often one of the benefits of attending the local university), then it may be impractical to retrieve your things from your storage unit. One alternative to traditional self storage that many find convenient is called valet storage.

The way it works is this. You contact a valet storage company, usually on their website, and ask for them to bring you a few storage boxes. You then put what you want stored in those boxes, and schedule a pickup. They come to your home or dorm, retrieve the boxes, and store them in their secure facility. When you want an item back, you contact them and schedule a delivery for the box that contains it. Search for valet storage near you to check their pricing and policies.

With this information, you should be equipped to not only decide if you need self storage, but to rent wisely. We hope self storage helps you make the most of your college years.