Welcome back to the final blog in our two-part guide to self-storage for expats and other movers. Here’s how to keep all those daily things you need accessible, while still making sure to get everything in to your unit. And beyond!


Create your self-storage plan
The effort and the time you spend creating a storage plan is totally worthwhile, though it may not feel like it at the time.

First, make a master list of all boxes and things you’ll need to store. If you have lots of boxes with similar items, your list could include them in in general groupings – “bedroom 1” or “bike tools,” for example. Make sure to label each box clearly; best on one long side and one end. Label your boxes clearly, with numbers, category and/or room it’s going to. You’ll be carrying your most valuable things with you on the day of the move itself, of course. You can’t take everything though!  You may not want to write ‘family heirlooms’ for all to see, but you could write something in an agreed nickname code between you.

List the items that must be accessible. You can pack these into your storage unit last of all. Wise movers keep a record of these, with numbers on each. Detail the distinguishing or important item in each box in the spreadsheet record.

Place heavier boxes at the bottom of each stack, with the lightest nearest the top. Ensure boxes are packed out fully; if there are empty spaces, stuff them with newspaper, packing peanuts, or non-essential clothing to prevent your boxes crumpling when stacked. Get the thickest, double-walled boxes you can get – storage facilities usually sell them.

Turn the boxes with the labels facing out towards the front so you can easily find things. Save more space by disassembling kit furniture. Put fittings, screws and bolts into bags and tape them securely to the furniture itself, to avoid those arguments later!

Read below for tips and ideas on how to maximize your storage space.


Make the most of what you have
Think of it as a sort of jigsaw game. See if you can find how it all fits together in the most space-saving way possible. You’ll be surprised!

Fill furniture drawers and spaces in food mixers, microwaves, anything. Use extra clothing, towels, or other flexible items as fillers in partially empty boxes to bring stability. Store your disassembled furniture flat, where possible, to maximise space. Stack tables and chairs, remembering the empty shapes under large items.

Turn your furniture or large items at different angles to offer hidden spaces and hollows. A sideboard or couch will take much less space stacked on end. As well as maximising space, think about leaving small spaces between stacks to allow air flow and prevent mold.


Keep your daily things accessible
If you need to get at specific clothes, documents or work/business items, they need to be near the front door. You’ll need to pack these into the storage unit last, so it’s worth having a list for those things too.

If you need immediate, any-time access for one or two things, you’ll need to make space around each of them so you can get  them without unpacking your whole unit every time you need them.

If there are lots of things you’ll need to access, you can make a narrow gangway through your items. If your unit is high, it may be worth having a short ladder to haul boxes and things off the top of your stacks.


Future Planning: Your next move
You’re either going home, or on to a new country, and now you probably have more things to remind you of your travels. Organising it all is fairly similar to getting there first time round.

Based on the Internet, family and friends and your experience, you have to decide what to take with you: suitable clothing and appropriate items.

If you’re taking lots of large furniture, shipping it will be best. You’ll probably need to send these items first (it can take weeks on the water, and also in ports), so keep them by the front of your unit. Put anything to be taken later to the back. Smaller items can be air freighted, or carried with you.

Use the time before your move to prepare. Wrap large items in dust cloths and plastic film. Box smaller items securely in strong boxes, as discussed above. Look at other articles here for further tips on storing specific items (links here below).


Your new place
When you get to your new home, a storage unit might just be exactly what you’ll need there, too. It’ll help you to store valuables safely, keep work items accessible but out of your way, and provide somewhere for your unseasonal clothes too.