Storage Guide: Removals - Truck Rentals and Mobile Storage Units

Congratulations! - You have made the decision to use an outside self service storage. What now?

You will need to do your homework to find out what options are available to you in your area. Some storage companies offer the option of a free truck so you can move your stuff to the unit. This is an incentive to get your business but beware there may be restrictions. There could be a set number of miles free and after this you could be charged a high rate per mile or there may be restrictions on the number of hours you can use the truck for free and you could be charged a premium rate for any time over this.

So beware and read that small print. Some storage companies offer a truck rental service at "special" prices, however, do check to ensure you are really getting a bargain by comparing rates with local truck rental companies. Others may offer negotiated discounted rates with truck rental companies and you should inquire about this service also. You may decide to rent your own truck or you may not need any truck if you use a mobile storage unit.

Many storage companies are designed so that you can drive directly up to your unit and back the truck up to the door of the unit and simply unload.

Mobile Storage Units:

Some storage companies offer mobile storage options. This is where a mobile storage trailer of a size specified by you is dropped off to your home and you pack up your items in to this unit and the storage companies comes and collects it on an agreed upon date, usually a few days after dropping it off. The storage company may also offer a packing and loading service where workers come to your home or office and pack up all the items professionally and load up the trailer, you then lock the trailer using your own lock and the storage company moves it to the storage destination.

This service offers even more convenience with the added advantage that your goods are packed up correctly which may prevent damage and the space in the trailer usage is optimized due to proper loading. It is common for people who pack up trailers themselves to run out of space due to poor packing and loading. Generally however you are responsible for packing up the trailer securely and safely and locking the unit with your own lock.

This offers greater security. The storage company collects the trailer and drops it in to a designated storage unit at their location. The big advantage is convenience. You do not need to go to the hassle of renting a truck and you will have plenty of time to load the unit yourself or can use the storage company's workers if this service if offered.

Some thing to consider when looking at the mobile storage unit option include ...

  • The storage container should be moved to a storage unit when it is loaded. It cannot remain at the home or office location indefinitely, in fact most storage companies will insist on the trailer being moved as soon as possible after loading.

  • If you live in a condo or apartment you may need to get permission from your homeowners association or landlord respectively in order to have a trailer parked outside for a period of time.

  • If your office or home is located on a steep hill it may not be a good idea to use a mobile unit unless you have a flat had surface on which the unit can be loaded.

  • If you live or work in a city with underground parking, don't expect the storage company to drop of a trailer as this is not allowed.

  • Rates for this service will differ depending on location and even the time of year

  • When compared to the option of renting a truck it offers many benefits for people afraid to drive a big truck.

  • You are in total control of how the goods are packed so you will know exactly where everything is when you wish to remove items from storage.

  • Insurance companies may not be willing to insure your goods in storage if you pack up the goods yourself so it may be better to allow the experts in the storage company to pack up items

Truck Rental:

You may be fortunate and the storage company you are planning on using may have an offer for a free truck rental or a deal with a preferred truck rental company with discounted rates for their customers. Beware of any offer than seems too good to be true and read the small print on the contract. You may have to pay for any time used over a specified number of hours and the rates may be very high or the negotiated discounted rate may not be very competitive so you may want to rent your own truck anyway. The following is a guide on what to look for when renting a truck yourself (DIY or Do It Yourself) to move your goods to storage.


If you are considering moving some items to storage by renting out a truck, loading it up and transporting the items to the storage lot yourself you will need to be sure to do some detailed planning upfront. Moving one item by your self may be easier than moving the contents of a large six bedroom home to storage however some preparation will be needed in both cases in order that your move be successful and hassle free. The three most important resources you will need are a truck, people and of course money.

The less people you have helping out the longer the move will take and the more money it costs, so be sure to solicit help early on from family and friends and try to get firm commitments. Remember the longer the time you rent the truck the more money it will cost you .If you cannot get enough folks to help out you may need to hire labor and this will certainly add up and increase your total move cost. Generally once you get to the storage unit the storage company will help with the unloading however be sure to check if this service is available and if any extra charges apply.


The following are some valuable tips when considering a truck rental to place items in storage
  • Book early and save money

  • Try to rent a truck mid week, you can save needed dollars as rates are generally mover competitive during the week days.

  • Obtain the right packing supplies. If your goods are not packed correctly they may become damaged in storage.

  • Ask folks for help as early as possible.

  • Check out the truck before you drive so you are comfortable with the various unfamiliar gauges and controls.


There are advantages and disadvantages to any move type.Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a DIY move.


  • The move may be cheaper than a full service or self service move.
  • You get to take a road trip.
  • You are in total control.
  • You can follow your own schedule and move on your own time.


  • You will need pads and dollies which will add to your costs - The truck rental company may provide these for free, if not each pad will cost approximately $12 and each dolly will cost about $7 to rent per day

  • If any of the goods are damaged in transit you are responsible. If the storage company moves the items for you they are responsible

  • You can take out insurance however this is more expensive than standard insurance offered by the truck rental company.

  • You may not be comfortable driving a large truck.

  • You will have to pay for gas and tolls and be sure to return the truck full of gas or you will be charged a premium rate for the refill.

  • You may have to pay for extra miles or if you go over time you may be charged a premium rate per hour there after.

  • You will have to pack the items you need stored yourself. If the items include valuable furnishings or antiques you may want experts to pack these for you to prevent damage while on route to the storage unit and whilst in storage. The last thing you want to see when you take your goods out of storage is damage so pack well and wisely. The storage company may offer this service however this is usually offered when you rent a truck from them directly or from a preferred vendor they use.
You are going to have to rent a truck and you will need to reserve one as early as possible.

A truck is just a truck!

Not so, you will need to investigate and find out which type and size best suits your needs. It is best to shop around and get a number of estimates. You will need to provide the estimator with a list of the house contents you are planning to move so that you can get an accurate estimate. Here are some other questions to ask when renting a truck.
  • Do you feel comfortable driving a truck? - Remember it drives differently from a car.

  • Do you need a permit to drive a commercial vehicle?

  • Are additional miles covered?

  • Does the truck run on gas or diesel?

  • Does the gas tank need to be full on returning the truck?

  • Where is the most convenient drop off location near the storage unit?

  • Can the truck be used to tow your car or boat if you are planning to store these?

  • How do you operate the lift?

  • Is the cab and trailer air conditioned?

  • Does your auto insurance cover you while operating a truck?


You will need to find out if your auto insurance protects you while you drive the truck. You may be protected however it is not common. Contact your auto insurance office and find out how much extra it will cost to insure you and the truck. Also check to find out if roadside assistance is provided by the company renting the truck.

The items being moved to storage will also need to be insured and many trucking companies do not offer protection or if they do it is minimal. Full and self service movers offer insurance with better protection and even if you need additional insurance an insurance company will have better rates for full and self service movers. You may think everything is covered by your household policy however when exactly does that policy end?

It is fair to say that most mom and pop rental truck operations do not offer many extras such as insurance or roadside assistance. Price alone should not be the only consideration when examining the estimates you have requested

Truck Size:

Nobody wants to pay for space they do not use so why should you be any different. Rent a truck that meets your needs. To do this you will need to know what you want. As a guide you will need approximately 125 to 150 cubic feet for each furnished room. To convert cubic fee to actual truck size use the following as a guide to determine what you will need.
  • 10 ft truck - 1 bedroom small apartment - approximately 350 cubic feet
  • 15 ft truck - 2 bedroom house or apartment- approximately 750 cubic feet
  • 20ft truck - 3-4 bedroom house- approximately 1250 cubic feet
  • 25 ft truck - large 5-8 bedroom house - approximately 1550 cubic feet