The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Storage Options

Storage. You’d think it was the most boring topic in the world but then they went and made a reality show about it that attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers. Yep.

But once you strip away all of the money, good looks, and sex appeal that a reality show brings, I don’t want to sound like Seinfeld but what’s the deal with storage?

As it relates to moving, there are three options:

  1. Storage-in-Transit
  2. Permanent Storage
  3. Customer-Controlled Storage

The kind of storage you have depends on your needs. The North Carolina Utilities Commission defines these options as follows:

STORAGE-IN-TRANSIT (180 days or less): Short-term storage for a period not to exceed 180 days is called “storage-in-transit” (SIT) and, if requested, it may be performed for an additional charge. However, not all movers offer this service. For SIT, the rates, rules, and regulations of the Commission apply. SIT rates are based upon the weight of the shipment and not by the number of containers. Usually, the mover will require payment of the charges already incurred plus the first month’s storage at the time of delivery into storage. Charges are calculated on 30-day increments and may be prorated. Sometimes customers cannot take delivery of their possessions within a 180-day period. If that happens, the shipment changes from “storage-in-transit” to “permanent storage.” BE SURE YOU KNOW THE LOCATION OF THE WAREHOUSE OR THE WAREHOUSE OF THE MOVER’S AGENT WHERE YOUR GOODS ARE STORED.

PERMANENT STORAGE (More than 180 days): Permanent storage is storage for more than 180 days, and the storage charges are not under the Commission’s jurisdiction. Sometimes the customer knows in advance that storage is needed for longer than 180 days and will contract for permanent storage. Under such circumstances, the shipment is considered “delivered” when it arrives at the storage facility which is its destination. The transport of such shipment in and out of permanent storage is conducted under separate moving contracts subject to the rates, rules, and regulations of the Commission if the move is intrastate. BE SURE YOU KNOW THE LOCATION OF THE WAREHOUSE OR THE WAREHOUSE OF THE MOVER’S AGENT WHERE YOUR GOODS ARE STORED.

CUSTOMER-CONTROLLED STORAGE: Sometimes customers want their possessions to be delivered to a public storage facility (also called, “mini-storage”) which will be under the customer’s control. If you need such storage, please understand that the mover’s liability ends once the items are in the storage unit. Therefore, you should be present at the time of delivery to check for damage to your items BEFORE they are deposited into the unit. Damages discovered after the moving crew leaves can be denied. You should also be present at the delivery to provide substitute padding or other protection for your furniture, unboxed items, etc. while they are in storage. The mover transported your items using the mover’s pads; the crew will remove and take those pads with them when they leave. Of course, the rates you pay for this type of storage are not under the Commission’s jurisdiction.

For Those That Skipped That Last Bit

When you break down the official definitions down above, you’re either keeping your stuff in storage for less than 180 days, having it delivered to a storage unit that’s arranged by the moving company or you’re having it delivered to your own storage unit. You might use temporary storage if you have to move out of one place but can’t move into the next place for up to six months later.

Permanent storage is a good option if you need something moved but don’t have a place for it to go or have a current storage unit.

Customer-controlled storage is for folks who want the most control over their goods.

Customer Controlled Storage Options

There are many different storage options available to you if you decide you need to store something yourself. Let’s take a look at some of the more common options:


When we talk about storage, mini-storage is what we typically think about first. Mini-storage can be climate controlled or not. In mini-storage you’re essentially paying for a room with a lock.



PODS are a popular way to move and store items. A POD is basically a shipping container. It’s a completely sealed steel box with a roll-up door. They’ll drop it at your location and once it’s filled, take it to their storage facility.

Zippy Shell


Zippy Shell is similar to PODS in concept but rather than putting a shipping container in your driveway, they leave a Zippy Shell trailer. This trailer has a license plate on it and can legally be parked on the curb. PODS containers must sit in your driveway. Inside the trailer shell is a steel cage. You fill the cage with your good and belongings and lock it with your lock. Zippy Shell then picks up the trailer and takes your cage to their climate controlled warehouse. If you need something from your cage, you can have them bring it back out to you (for a fee) or you can go to the storage facility where you can access your cage.

The cage is another big difference from PODS. The cages are stored inside in a climate controlled environment. Having an open cage rather than a sealed container allows for much better air movement.

Mobile Mini


Mobile Mini is a lot like PODS but with better locks. It’s perfect for non-secure environments. If you live on the less reputable side of town, these are probably your guys. They pride themselves on the security of their containers. The container itself is a shipping container with a special locking system.

Pack Rat


Pack Rat is a lot like PODS. The biggest difference is, you can find Pack Rat at Lowe’s. Their containers are made out of steel and are fully enclosed. The container can live on your property or they can store it at one of their facilities. And drivers will drop off and pick up your container when you are ready.