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Storage: self-storage vs. movers (guest blog)

Storage: self-storage vs. movers (guest blog)

I have been having some clients that are struggling a little bit to find self-storage units that have the availability that they need so I’ve been having more questions about movers and storage lately.  When Peter approached me about doing a guest blog on the subject I was happy to have him as I see this as a need I am running into more and more.  I hope this helps!

– Julie


Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-storage vs. Storing with your mover

by Peter Sander, Stevens Van Lines

With inventory down this year and homes selling fast, I am encountering families and households every day that are faced with the same dilemma:


– We sold “too fast”

– We don’t know where we are moving to

– Where do we store our household goods?


This last question is exacerbated by the fact that most Grand Rapids self-storage facilities are at maximum occupancy and very often do not have many sizeable storage units available.  And, even if there was a self-storage facility that had immediate availability, is a self-storage unit the best way to store your household goods?  After addressing self-storage options below, I will explain why storage with a mover is often a better option than renting self-storage units.


Self-Storage: The Advantage and the Disadvantages

With a self-storage lease, the lessee walks away from the storage unit[s] with her own key. She manages access to the unit: who, when, how often, etc.  The convenience of storage access is one advantage that a self-storage unit offers over other options. However, self-storage units have several disadvantages.



Self-storage units in Grand Rapids are almost always on the ground level (compared to multi-floor buildings with several floors of storage units), and this means that your household goods are at ground level., on the cement.  Even if your unit is climate controlled, ground-level placement is very risky.  Concerns with flooding exist, but even riskier is the formation of condensation from seasonal fluctuations of ground temperature.  If your items are on the cement floor, the seasonal changing of the ground temperature can cause condensation (sometimes heavy amounts) to form on your furniture.  Condensation and moisture left unaddressed can lead to mold, mildew, wood warping, and other irreparable damages which often will not be covered by a home owner’s or renter’s policy.


Insurance and Liabilities

If you are hiring a mover to place your items into a self-storage unit, the mover’s liability for your items ends once they have been placed into storage.  As a result, it is important to inspect items as they are placed into your storage unit, and note any damages on the mover’s paperwork before they leave.  Similarly, home owner’s and renter’s policies sometimes do not cover off-site storage.  This generally will leave you, the self-storage unit lessee, either without coverage or having to rely on whatever self-storage insurance is offered through the self-storage facility. However, most self-storage insurance policies negate coverage, ironically, if items are placed directly onto the ground level floor.  It is assumed that the lessee will place all of their items onto pallets some three to four inches above the ground.


Pads, Quilts, Stacking: Additional Costs

When a professional mover handles your household goods, they wrap your furniture with moving quilts. However, when your pieces are placed into a self-storage unit, they can either retail the pads (they are not cheap — $8 – $12 per pad) or they retain them.  This means that your furniture is unwrapped and, without wrapping and protection, it cannot be stacked as efficiently. Less-efficient stacking can lead to a greater need for more storage space leading to higher storage costs.


Mover Storage: The Disadvantage and The Advantages

The disadvantage of carrier (or mover) storage is limited access. Movers generally vault household goods into tight vaults, and items are accessed generally with a labor cost to the customer.  So, the area where self-storage carries an advantage is the area where mover storage is at somewhat of a disadvantage: accessibility. However, the reason for the inaccessibility also alleviates some of the concerns drawn out above.  Let me explain the advantages of storing with your mover.


Above-Ground Storage

Movers store household goods on pallets that elevate household goods three or more inches above the ground.  This allows air to flow beneath storage vaults and prevents ground-temperature fluctuations form affecting your household goods.  In turn, we have customers who have retained their storage in one of our warehouses for upwards of twenty (20) years without water damages.


Insurance and Liabilities: Single Contract

Depending on how your move is set up, movers are often able to provide a single move contract to cover your items from door to storage (warehouse) to door.  This allows whatever liability agreements are in place between you and your mover to continue throughout your time in their warehouse – making the mover liable for the content and condition of your items.



Every household and move situation is unique, but movers are often able to work out storage pricing that is competitive with self-storage options.  And, considering the benefits mentioned above, that are far better use of your storage costs.  When applicable or available, many movers can load your household goods into storage vaults right at your home – leading to less handling and less costs.



When a mover brings your items into storage, you do not need to be present for unloading.  This cuts the time for your move in half.  In contrast, if a mover delivers your items into a self-storage, you will need to be present and attentive at both loading and at delivery to make sure everything arrives.


Stevens Moving offers free, in-home estimates. Please contact us today to review your storage options and to customize pricing for your upcoming storage needs.  Call our toll-free line at 800 234-2035 or locally at 616 452-0550.  We value our partnership with Julie Grevengoed and her dynamic team, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Peter C. Sander

Relocation Consultant / Stevens Moving – Grand Rapids

616 452-0550

Stevens Warehouse