Self Storage: A Guide for International Students

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An international student packing boxes for self-storage.

For many students, holidays and time off can be a welcome break after the challenge of living away from home and balancing a social life with placements or assignments. But, for international students, it can also be a stressful time. If you’ve moved abroad to study, paying to send boxes back home, only to bring everything back when term begins – it can be a nightmare.

It’s not uncommon to find yourself with additional clothing, furniture and cooking equipment after a year abroad, and you might be worried about what you’re going to do with your extra belongings when your accommodation contract ends. 

So, if you’re an international student looking for a safe space to store your belongings over the holidays, during term time or when you’re on your gap year, self storage could be the perfect option. Don’t worry we’ve got you covered and put together our ultimate guide for an international student using self storage. 

Do you need self storage?

With student halls often renting rooms out during the summer break, and many student houses offering shorter rental agreements, when the end of term arrives, international students often find themselves having to move out of a property with nowhere else to go. Not ideal for those who are returning to an entirely different country for the holidays. 

If you’ve found yourself in-between student housing and are looking for somewhere to leave your belongings, self storage is a hassle-free and affordable option.

How does self storage work? Step by Step.

A secure storage unit offers peace of mind for international students and is simple to set up and utilise.

  1. Choose your nearest store: There are self storage facilities in all major cities, as well as smaller towns and villages, so choose the store which is nearest to where you’ll be living when you return, or that is somewhere convenient to get to.
  2. Select your unit size: Depending on how much you’re looking to store, unit sizes range from lockers for smaller or minimal storage, to larger lock-ups for furniture and bulkier belongings. 
  3. Reserve your storage unit: Now, most companies will allow you to reserve your storage unit online and sign-up online, handy if English isn’t your first language or if you can’t make the trip to the unit. Most providers will ask for a small deposit to secure your self storage unit, which is normally credited to your first bill.  If you decide not to use your storage, this will normally be refunded. 
  4. Pack your items: It’s important to use the right packing materials and cardboard boxes to pack your items securely in order to avoid damage.
  5. Organise transport: Whether you’re travelling via car, or organising a van and man service, you’ll need to get your belongings to the store yourself. Be mindful that you’ll need a standard UK driving licence to hire and drive a rental van under 3.5 tonnes, while some providers will have minimum age restrictions while those under 25 years of age are likely to pay a young drivers charge.
  6. Move-in: Moving into a storage facility is simple. On the day, you’ll just have to pop in-store to finalise your agreement, and you’ll also be able to gain instant access to your storage unit. At Ready Steady Store many of our stores offer 24-hour access and unique pin codes access
Interior of Ready Steady Store storage lockers.

How much does student self storage cost?

The price of a self storage unit depends on a few factors including: 

  • The size of the unit you need
  • The length of time you need storage for – it usually costs less the longer you stay.
  • Any additional costs such as insurance or padlocks
  • The location of your storage unit and the level of demand – the closer you are to a larger city, or the more popular services are, the higher the cost

How much storage space do I need?

A 9ft locker is a perfect size if you’re looking to keep smaller boxes or suitcases, while if you’re moving out of student halls, you’ll need around 25sqft of space. If you’re an international student who is moving from a flat, 50 sq ft of storage is enough for large furniture and other household items.

Prices depend on location, and at Ready Steady Store, we offer competitive prices to ensure you’re getting the cheapest self-storage solution for you. Find your nearest store and get a quote now. 

Can you use a foreign bank account to pay for self storage?

As an international student, managing your finances can be stressful and expensive. Often, you will be charged currency conversion fees when you use a foreign card within the UK, and, with the currency exchange rates fluctuating regularly, this can make budgeting a nightmare. While there are many banks that so work internationally, it is best to set up a UK bank account to make things easier. 

While it does depend entirely on the business itself, setting up direct debits and standing orders can be long-winded and many won’t accept these types of payments from international banks. Save the Student has some helpful guidance on how to set up a bank account, and the best bank accounts for international students in the UK. 

At Ready Steady Store, we can accept international credit and debit cards and bank transfers from international bank accounts. We cannot, however, set up a direct debit payment with international bank accounts.

Our top tips for self storage 

International student taking an inventory of belongings to go into storage

1. Plan ahead

Whether you’re moving out of halls of residence or a shared house, it’s important to first make sure you have the right information to hand. When does your contract end? What date do you have to move out? Is there any additional paperwork that you need to fill out? 

Effective packing is also essential if you’re leaving items in storage, to avoid any damage or injuries and to make it easier when moving in and out. First, you’ll need to consider how much space you require to avoid paying too much for your unit.

Following these simple steps will help you to feel more organised and prepared:

  • Have a clear out: During your time at university, you’ll accumulate keepsakes and other items, so it’s a good idea to sort through your stuff before you pack up. While large storage containers are available, to avoid paying for space you don’t need, it’s worth throwing away or donating anything you don’t need. If you have cheap items that can easily be replaced, consider leaving them behind to save on space and effort. 
  • Make an inventory or draw a map: Writing a list of all of the items you’re putting into storage can help you to keep track of your belongings, and can save time when it comes to finding them at a later date. Similarly, drawing a simple map can help you to remember where everything is. 

2. Check what you can, and can’t store before you move in.

Self storage is the perfect way to keep your belongings safe during university breaks and can be used to store most things – from furniture to clothing and books, computer equipment to general clutter. While your self storage is private, and only you will have access, there are some things you’re not allowed to store in a unit for safety reasons. These include:

  • Animals or pets
  • Explosives or flammables
  • Any illegal items such as stolen property or firearms
  • Food or perishable items

3. Read the contract terms

Before you book your student self storage, it’s important to check the details of your offer.  Some storage providers may include a minimum stay so make sure to read over your self storage agreement first to understand the terms and conditions and to check how long you are committed to pay for.

4. Don’t forget about packaging

Labelling moving boxes for international student storage.

When it comes to packing up your belongings, you’ll want to purchase some sturdy materials to keep them protected and to allow for easy move-in. While you can easily get your hands on packaging materials from local supermarkets or shops, it’s important to ensure you use high-quality packaging to avoid breakages. 

Many self storage providers will also supply their customers with boxes, packaging materials and storage accessories to make the process smoother.

Our top packing tips for international students:

  • Pack items in similar-sized boxes: This will allow you to stack your boxes more securely in your unit, and will help to prevent any accidents or toppling over.
  • Always label your boxes: Using clear labels can save time when trying to find items at a later date. It’s even better if you can write a list of exactly what’s in the box to save you rummaging through them unnecessarily.
  • Measure up: Once you’ve identified and packed your belongings, it’s a good idea to measure your items to determine how much space you need, and what size unit you can fit your items into to check you’re not wasting money on unused space.
  • Consider investing in racking and shelving: If you have a large number of items to store, or you’re planning on keeping your unit for a longer time period, organising some shelving for your unit can help keep things accessible and can save you time in the long run.
  • Make your belongings easy to access: A good way to organise your storage facility is to make sure those items you will need regularly, or as soon as you return, are stored near the front of the space for easy access, while those that can be moved at the last minute, or bulkier items, should be stored at the back. 

Organise transport on your move-in day

Man with a van moving boxes into a self-storage unit.

Did you know that many taxi drivers are more than happy to help you move your belongings into self storage? Just because you don’t have a car doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of a storage unit. 

There are plenty of alternative solutions, and most self storage providers have partnerships with van hire firms or van and men removal services who can offer a helping hand. Alternatively, if a friend has a car or access to transport, asking them to help you out can save you some money, while you can hire a van to move your items yourself. However, it’s important to remember that there may be age restrictions and fees in place, and you’ll also need a UK driving licence. Remember to check any terms and conditions with your provider before you sign any rental agreements.

Why should you use Ready Steady Store for your student storage?

Chances are you need somewhere to store your personal belongings while you head home or off travelling, and while it can be daunting to leave your stuff behind, we take the stress out of the situation for international students.

  • Fully flexible: If you have under or overestimated your required space, we have a range of different unit sizes available – from lockers to a double garage, meaning you can upsize or downsize your space as and when you want, meaning you only pay for the space you need.
  • Secure access: Once you’ve moved in, you will lock your unit with your own padlock and key, while certain stores also have PIN code access for improved security. All stores are monitored by round-the-clock CCTV to ensure the safety of your items.
  • Manage your account from anywhere: Our my account feature helps to make self storage even easier. Not only can you manage your storage unit and contracts online, from any location, but you can also use it to set up and make any payments as well as contact our customer service team.
  • Contact-free move-ins: Our remote move-ins are designed to minimise contact. Once your unit has been reserved, you can check-in online and validate your identity using our partner app YOTI. Our team will then arrange a convenient time for you to move in.
  • Award-winning services: We are the proud winners of the Feefo Trusted Platinum Service award 2020, while we’ve also received a 4.9/5 Feefo rating from our customers themselves.

We make it easy for you to store your belongings safely and securely. Many of our units feature PIN code access, while you will have the only copy of the key to your unit, offering complete peace of mind while you’re out of the country. Similarly, when you get back, it’s simple to access your belongings when you need them. No waiting around – simply pop in as and when you want.

If you have a question about our student storage, please get in touch with our team today. For more information on how we’ve adapted stores in-line with Covid-19 guidelines, visit our dedicated coronavirus updates page now.