Military Storage Tips
Are you enlisting, changing stations, or getting deployed and in need of a storage solution? Check out these tips and tricks to get the most from your self-storage unit.
Military members and their families understand that relocation comes with the job, often on short notice. Whether your move involves a Permanent Change of Station (PSC), Temporary Duty (TDY), or Temporary Additional Duty (TAD), self-storage can be a convenient option for long or short-term use.
To prevent unnecessary expenses and last-minute decisions, it is important to plan ahead. Whether you have six months or one week before moving, the smallest amount of organization can help.
Before you start packing, visit your military financial center and learn which travel and transportation stipends are available to you. When moving, the option is to either do it yourself or hire a moving company. There are military programs that can assist you if you decide to do it yourself. According to www.military.com, “The Do-It-Yourself (DITY) move is a voluntary program that allows you to be reimbursed by the government for moving your own belongings.”
Determine your needs
How much storage space will you rent? Identify the items you will be taking with you and decide which items will be left behind. Are you storing a few small boxes or an entire household’s worth of furniture? Many storage facilities offer outdoor parking for car or boat storage, as well. Once you have figured out the items you will be stowing, a storage calculator is a handy way to determine the storage unit size that meets your needs, and it can also prevent you from overpaying for a space that is too large. If you’re relocating to another state or overseas for a long period of time, amenities like climate control and property security are important features to consider. Once you’ve established how much storage and which type, planning your budget and moving options is a much easier task.
Locate specials and discounts
Many storage facilities offer military discounts for active-duty personnel and their families. Also, if you will be deployed for many months or years, there are many long-term rental specials available and if it works within your budget, many storage companies offer pre-payment discounts.
Consider other services
There are a variety of additional services available at most self-storage facilities. A majority of locations offer online and automatic payment options, which is very helpful for someone whose military deployment is an extensive assignment or in a remote location. Also, many storage businesses sell packing and moving supplies (such as boxes, locks, furniture covers, and more) and also provide their customers with the option of truck rental – which is sometimes included in the rental at no additional charge.
Moves and deployments can be stressful experiences for military personnel and their families. When there are bigger issues to consider, moving your household and family should be a simple undertaking, and with proper preparation, using self-storage can be a hassle-free process.
Choosing a Moving Company
Let’s face it: moving to a new home can be a frustrating and demanding process. But sometimes it’s a necessary evil. For many people, like military personnel who receive permanent change of station (PCS) orders every few years, moving is a part of life. The good news is: proper research and planning can make your move much less distressing so you can focus on the fun things, like arranging your new place.
Families essentially have two choices for relocating belongings: do it yourself, or hire a moving company.
If you choose to do it yourself, you will have total control over the fate of your things, which is certainly a nice benefit. What’s more, you will probably save a lot of money. But you will also have more work, fewer helping hands, sore backs, and no one to blame but yourself if your things get damaged.
Professional movers, on the other hand, are typically well-trained in the laborious arts of packing, lifting, and moving. Their process can go much faster than do-it-yourself and good movers know how to protect your stuff. If they don’t, replacement costs may come out of their pockets!
That said, finding and choosing a “good” moving company isn’t always easy. A Google search with keywords like “bad movers” can attest to that, and we’ve all heard horror stories from friends or family about disreputable companies. That’s why it’s vital to sort the good from the bad as early as you can. To ensure you get a quality moving company, you’ll want to put in some legwork.
Think about what you want from a move. Then, before you reach out to any companies, make a checklist of what you need and expect from your relocation experience. This list will help you keep your questions on track, your expectations clear, and your estimates accurate
Prepare yourself before you request a quote:
- When do you need to move? Keep in mind that movers are often busy at the end of the month, on Fridays and weekends. They may charge more for service in these premium times. Consider moving on an “off day” and ask if they offer a discount for relocation during the company’s less busy times.
- Where are you coming from, going to? Are you looking to move locally, long-distance, or overseas?
- How much stuff needs to be moved? Write down the number of rooms in your home. Mentally walk through every room, listing the big items first (like furniture, appliances, and other items that don’t fit into boxes). Then try to work out how many boxes it will take to remove the rest of the stuff in the room. Don’t forget to think about garden furniture and the contents of your garage.
- Do you want help with packing, or do you want to do the small stuff yourself?
- Will you transport valuable or fragile items?
- How much insurance will you need? Use your list to estimate the replacement value of each item.
Now you’re ready to start calling around for estimates. But whom do you call?
The best way to find a reliable moving company is by word-of-mouth. If you know someone who has recently moved, find out which moving company they chose and what they thought of the service. Your real estate agent might also be able to give a good recommendation (as well as tell you which movers to avoid!).
Use the web to search and compare local and national companies. Several terrific independent websites offer unbiased information and comparisons of movers, like 123Movers.com. But be alert: some mover-directory websites gather your contact information and sell it to multiple movers; your phone may start ringing a lot. A consumer ratings site, like Yelp.com, aggregates customer feedback for an expansive customer review.
Shopping and comparing; what to ask a mover:
- How long has your company been in business?
- Do you own your own equipment, or do you contract out?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Are you a member of the American Moving and Storage Association?
- Do you have any references that I may contact directly?
- Will you do an in-home estimate, at no charge?
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of your movers, you should do a final check with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make sure none of them have serious problems with unresolved complaints.
After talking to a handful of companies, arrange for at least three or four in-home estimates to get a better idea of your moving costs. It’s the only way to get a close-to-accurate moving quote, and it’s usually a good way to screen out scammer moving companies (who often don’t like to take the time to give you an in-home estimate).
Show the moving company everything you plan to move. The more thorough you are in detailing what has to be relocated, the more accurate the estimate will be. Also, let the estimator know about any issues at your home — or the home you’re moving to — that could complicate the process. Lots of stairs, narrow angles, and poor driveway access are just a few examples that might add to your overall costs.
Comparing quotes will help you decide which company to choose, but try not to make your choice by cost alone. It may be smarter to spend a little more money and get the company with the best reputation. If you just have a bad feeling you can’t explain but the price is right, trust your gut over your wallet.
Once you make a decision, you’ll be asked to sign a contract outlining the details of your move. Read. The. Contract. If anything seems strange or confusing, ask for clarification. Make notes right on your contract. If the mover dismisses any phrase in the contract by suggesting, “Don’t worry about that,” cross out the sentence. Ask the mover to initial and date any contract changes in pen.
Don’t forget to give your movers a call a few days beforehand to confirm your arrangements. Be sure you (or a trusted friend) attend all inventory counts and truck weigh-ins in person. Make your own notes. Keep all documents and records in a safe place where they can’t be misplaced during the move.
These basic guidelines should help you position yourself for a successful move. But in the end, if you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of, cheated in some way, or robbed by a mover, report it immediately and report it often.