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7 Steps to Find the Best Storage Units in China

Updated Jan, 2021 5 min read

Storage unit

To be frank, I was a newbie in the storage business just a year ago and the growing demand for this service (because of COVID-19) pushed me to study the industry from scratch. After a certain period of operations, it was satisfying to see how relieved people are knowing their stuffs sorted and stored safely. Since we are unable to help people looking for similar service outside Beijing, I decided to share the experience and knowledge we gathered to help you find the suitable storage experience in China.


Step 0: Where to find storage companies

Action: ask friends who used the FULL STORAGE SERVICE before; ask in the social media groups

There're two ways to go:

  • This is one of the businesses where word-of-mouth would be the best source to rely on but the kind of word-of-mouth information matters. If your friend used any storage company and his or her belongings are still in the storage, I would not rely that much on this feedback. Packing and transporting your stuff to the storage units are important steps but it’s just the beginning. You will not know what surprises are waiting for you until you get your stuff back. So make sure your friend, who is giving recommendations, have used the full service;
  • Googling for storage units will not lead you anywhere, as most of the Chinese companies either do not have a functional website or they just don’t update it and search engines forget about them. So, for a more reliable alternative, check out social media groups (WeChat and Facebook mainly) where a yuge number of foreigners/expats in China gather. Feel free to email me if you want to know about those groups.

Step 1: Communication is the key

Action: find the company with English-speaking customer service; let them know about your FRAGILE ITEMS or any item requiring a special care

Two things to consider:

  • Miscommunication is dangerous in any deal, but it can be “fatal” (for your stuff) in the storage business. We’ve heard many stories when miscommunication leads to forgotten boxes in the apartment, confusing pricing, wrong reservations and many more. Finding a company with English customer service (which may be slightly more expensive) would be your safest bet if you don’t speak Chinese or do not have a Chinese friend who has the time and patience to bridge the communication between you and the company;
  • Even if you have an English-speaking customer service, you should still explain everything in detail so that there wouldn’t be any unexpected surprises on the storage day. If you are using a packing service, be super duper sure that you let the company know about YOUR FRAGILES IN ADVANCE! Packing crew usually prioritize “time” over “care”, you know what I mean?

Step 2: Full service (pack + transport + store)

Action: ask the availability of the extra services (even if you don’t need it)

Sometimes SH*T HAPPENS...and when it happens you want to know whom to point your finger to. Not all storage companies provide all extra services such as packing or transport. Which is why when things go wrong (broken, lost or missed items), each provider may start finger-pointing at each other, even if they are the ones who referred the 'partner' company. So, always ask whether the company is a ''full-service'' storage provider, even if you do not need those services. These storage companies are relatively more professional and reliable.

Step 3: Check reviews

Action: check feedback section on company website; ignore scam reviews
  • Definitely check reviews! Also check the quality of reviews. For instance, from our own example, we have a philosophy of “Real people. Real words. Real customers.”. If our customer is not happy with sharing any of our required information (photo, nationality, storage date, etc.), we never share their feedback.
  • Be aware of scam reviews: ignore reviews with no photos, buzz words, no storage date etc.


Step 4: Guarantee the access from your landlord

Action: either you or the storage company should contact your landlord to make sure entrance, access and parking for the moving vehicle
  • If you’ve ever lived in China, you are probably aware how strict (and painful) entry are for non-residents. A kind reminder, storage company staffs are non-residents for the compound you live in. Instead of testing your mover's patience (which may incur extra charges), let your landlord know 2-3 days in advance that a storage company will be parking its truck/van inside your compound and they will need access into the building and the unit to pack and/or pick your stuff up.
  • These procedures have become more strict after COVID-19, so for a smooth moving, let's work together to make sure that everyone can fulfill their job on the day (btw Live Easy offers special discounts for people affected harshly by the pandemic, contact for more details).

Step 5: Video call while packing

Action: ask the customer service to arrange a video call while packing (if you are absent)
  • If you are not present while storing, no worries. We are in the 21st century, after all: “technolo-jesus!”. Yeah, technologies: Video call! No, not for the entire process (which would increase labor hours, which equates more money to be paid), but at least a quick one in the beginning to ensure the areas and items being packed and if possible, another quick one at the end to ensure that everything that needs to be packed is packed, and everything that doesn't (or belongs to the landlord) hasn't.
  • So be skeptical about companies who hesitate to show the packing processes, or the final photos of your stored items.


Step 6: Be aware of mergers & acquisitions

Action: negotiate the conditions for possible M&A with your storage company and include them into your contract

Mergers and acquisitions, or M&A (in simple words, when two companies get combined or owned by one of them) are common in the storage business in general. So you might face this in China as well. Usually, it doesn’t affect much on the fate of your belongings, however, there are cases when the company can just stop your contract, move your stuff somewhere else, or just increase the rent fee after M&A. So to guarantee yourself from such unexpected surprises, make sure you negotiate M&A conditions with the company in advance and include them into your agreement.

Step 7: Payment deadlines

Action: learn your payment date, and never miss them

Never ever miss the payment deadlines, otherwise, you can find your belongings in the middle of the street. To understand the harsh policy of the storage companies towards the payment deadlines, you need to look at their business model. The major source of the business income is the SPACE! And when you hold that space without paying, you are holding a space that can be given to others. So don't do that and make your payments prior to the deadline (usually 5 days prior to the expiration date).


Smart companies will give you all incentives you need

Action: explore all the incentives storage companies offer to save money

All storage companies know that you are not a permanent customer: the day (the doomsday for companies) will come when you pick your stuff, say goodbye, and (sadly) perhaps never see the company again. Realizing this, some SMART companies offer incentives for existing customers to stick around, or bring new customers. So, if you hear about discounts, referral programs from such companies, worry not, it's not usually a scam. It's purely to keep you engaged.

The author

Arbus, who speaks 4 languages but not Chinese (well, he tries). When he's not getting down and dirty at his digital maker space, he can be found sipping espresso.

Relocates frequently, somewhere in Europe currently.

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