Renting your first storage unit is an exciting experience. A storage unit can be like a pressure release valve, suddenly freeing up space in your house you didn’t have before. If you follow these tips for packing and storage in Chicago, you can make the most of your storage unit.

            Heavy items. For heavy items like books, try to pack them in milk crates or—if you are storing a bookshelf as well—on the actual bookshelf. That way, you won’t have to worry about the bottom of the box collapsing when you lift it, and you can stack the milk crates more securely than a cardboard box. For other heavy items, it’s wise to distribute the weight so each box weighs no more than 30-50 lbs. If you are storing your books in plastic bins, it can be tempting to put them all in one bin, but remember: you’ll probably have to lift or move this bin at some point.

            Storage containers. The most efficient way to store your items is in large plastic bins. These can be labeled for their contents and, due to their uniform size, will pack nicely into your storage unit. If you cannot afford to purchase these bins, cardboard boxes will still work fine. Be sure that if you use cardboard boxes, you tape the bottoms securely and don’t pack them too heavily.

            Organization. Packing and storage in Chicago is made simple when everything is organized. This applies to both the contents of your boxes and the way you stack them in your storage unit. Try to place the heaviest boxes at the bottom and back of your storage unit, and keep things in matching categories together—for instance, if you have food storage, keep it all along the same wall, and group clothes bins together, camping things together, etc. Be sure all your important storage is easily accessible to you, and have it sitting closer to the front of your unit if possible.

Optimal use of your storage unit will help you fit more of your belongings and help you avoid losing things due to poor organization. If you already have a unit and it’s been poorly packed, you can reserve a day to go through and organize bit by bit—it may be a daunting task, but it’s one that has a worthwhile payoff in the end.