You may think that storage units are packed full to the rafters of unwanted rubbish. Items like dusty old school books that no one will ever look at again, out-dated sports equipment in permanent retirement, or just the curtains and furnishings that suited the last house but really don’t work for this one: All these possessions being stowed away and then forgotten in this ‘half-way house to landfill’.
Actually, that’s only a tiny part of the story. Those storage units, whether used commercially or domestically, contain a lot of surprises and some secrets, with some rather strange and creative uses.
Here are some of the most unusual from around the UK:
In Berkshire, a martial arts company were running cage fighting sessions from a storage unit because a commercial gym didn’t offer the flexibility for them to have a suitable cage. Similarly, dancers have been known to use storage centres for practicing, thus avoiding the prohibitive costs associated with other more obvious locations.
Dedicated musicians can often upset their neighbours and indeed their own families. Some innovative maestros store their instruments in a self-storage facility so they can go there to play to their heart’s content. Some even offer lessons to pupils too, which keeps their work separate from their home life. For those whose houses suffer from damp, then a maintained, consistently dry unit is also a much better place for sensitive instruments such as pianos to be kept.
Those with illicit romantic intentions have been known to hire a unit to store an “unwanted” bed. They then arrive à deux with some vital items to store and emerge some time later... Romantic? Maybe not, but it is certainly cheaper than a regular hotel booking and less likely to cause suspicion on the bank statement.
Wine buffs lacking the space for their own wine cellars have realised that a storage unit provides a decent alternative. With the addition of a wine cellar conditioner machine to create the perfect environment, and some wall racks, the perfect vintage can be stored for posterity.
Some of these unusual uses are likely to be with the permission of the storage centres, others are surreptitious and clearly not to be recommended! However, the most sensible people are using a trusted storage facility when going through a house renovation or relocation. In both situations, you need your possessions well-looked after and out of the way – and you need a flexible agreement that can be shortened or extended depending on how all the arrangements go.
If you are pressed for time, you’ll welcome a firm that will send a consultant to you. That way, you can show them the scale of the task and get a proper, all-encompassing quote. This can include booking a team to carefully pack and move everything for you, so you don’t have the bother of endless wrapping, hiring a van and carrying out multiple trips to a lock-up.
Chances are that whatever you think you don’t need will sometimes become vital (those old exam certificates if you have been offered a new job or your ski gear because you’ve been invited on a last-minute holiday). It makes sense to choose a storage centre that will allow you quick access to your belongings should the need arise.
If you’re relocating abroad, you may be unsure if it is a permanent or temporary move. Brexit has brought with it a good deal of uncertainty. At time of writing, no one is sure if the pound will be strong or weak in a year’s time or if the Euro will crash, and what all of this means for interest rates and mortgages.
So it’s good to keep your options open, or “diversify your portfolio” as they say on the Stock Exchange. Having your possessions in storage allows you to be flexible about which country you live in and whether you rent or buy. Do make sure you can have items sent abroad directly from the storage unit though because that will make any future relocation decisions easier.
If you are moving, you might also need to think about car storage too. If this isn’t a temporary arrangement, you can save money by making a Statutory Off Road Notification with the DVLA so you don’t have to tax your vehicle.
You may find that when you end up in your new home, there isn’t as much storage space as you’d expected. Indeed, reports show that new-builds have been shrinking over the past 30 years. They are now too small for the needs of the average family. So it makes sense to find safe storage for anything you don’t need on a daily basis.
You may not be planning on cage fighting this year, or a secret rendezvous or a piano lesson, but sorting out your storage problems will certainly make for a smoother move. That way, you’ll be just as quick on your feet as any cage fighter.