So you’ve just been offered your dream job overseas, and you can’t wait to get started. But there’s something big you need to consider. What will you do with your home?

Renting out your property while working abroad

The obvious answer is to rent your home out. That way it’s continuing to pay for itself and hopefully bringing in a little income while you are gone. There are a few things to decide, though, and that may well depend on how long you will be working abroad for. 

When you’re likely to be gone for a few months, you might decide to put your home on a holiday website such as Airbnb or Travelnest. That gives you flexibility in how long you allow other people to stay in your home, from weekend breaks to month-long rentals. 

Travelling abroad on a long-term basis.

If you plan to be much longer, choosing to let your property to tenants on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement can be a simpler choice, with rental agreements commonly running from 6 months to years. 

You will need to read up on the regulations or ask a professional agency to assist you.  Becoming a landlord has a lot of legislation that you need to understand, including:

  • Amending your mortgage to a Buy To Let mortgage.
  • Ensuring your property is fit to rent out, with the appropriate Gas Safety certificate, Energy Performance Certificate and Electrical certificate. 
  • Adding carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms as required. 
  • PAT testing any electrical equipment.
  • Performing appropriate checks on prospective tenants including referencing and identity checks.
  • Joining a Deposit Protection Scheme

Letting your property furnished or unfurnished

When your home is a holiday let, your guests will expect the home comforts to be in place, such as beds, sofas and tables, a wardrobe to hang their holiday clothes in and a kitchen equipped with the basics; cutlery, fridges and a microwave.

However, your home is likely to be filled with personal items from your life that you won’t be taking abroad. Will you leave these out for your guests’ use, and run the risk of them becoming damaged or lost? 

If you’re letting your property as a landlord, your choice is a lot simpler. You might choose to rent your property as furnished, but even so, that includes furniture and, possibly, white goods such as fridges, washing machines and dishwashers. It does not include your small items, so you will need to pack away everything you own, from pictures on the walls, clothing and ornaments, to saucepans, plates and books.

An unfurnished property is exactly that; empty. In many ways, this is the simpler option, as you don’t have to arrange PAT testing for every electrical item your tenant may use, and you don’t risk any damage to anything you own. 

Storing your belongings for safekeeping

Now you need store your items. While a friend or family member may be able to accommodate a box or two, anything more will be using space that most people don’t have spare. Using a self-storage unit is a simple and cost-effective storage solution – and it offers you peace of mind. Our indoor storage option has state of the art security and, being indoors, your belongings are kept safe from damp and rodents. 

Storing the contents of an entire house may sound daunting. However, you might be surprised how little space it actually takes when boxed and stored properly. Beds, tables and other large furniture can usually be taken apart and stored as ‘flat pack’, clothes folded, books and ornaments packed away into boxes, and there will always be items that can be donated, sold or thrown away.

When you come and speak with us about our storage options, we can also advise you on the best way to stack your items. If there is one thing that many people forget, you always end up with plenty of room at the top. Carefully packed, a storage unit can be filled from floor to ceiling, with the heaviest items at the bottom. 

As a guideline – the contents of an average one-bed apartment would fit into around 50 sq. ft. – or a 5×10 unit, while contents of an average two-bedroom home would need 100 sq. ft. of storage, or 10×10 unit. 

Thinking about unit sizes can be confusing, but it’s something we do every day. Just give us a call on 0121 250 5055 or email us at and we will be happy to advise you on how much space to rent, and our flexible contract terms. With locations in both Stratford upon Avon and Sutton Coldfield, Cookes has the perfect storage solution for you.

You’ve made the decision to move house, or perhaps you’re buying your first home, and you’re considering buying a new build. It’s an exciting and stressful time. As you look around new developments, explore carefully laid out showhomes with designer interiors and are offered a range of floor tile and carpet options, it’s easy to get carried away by the sales team. But before you go ahead, here are a few things you need to consider before buying a new build.

New builds have a lot of benefits. 

There are a lot of benefits to buying a brand-new house. If you buy off plan, you do get a choice of fixtures and fittings. All the paintwork will be brand new, so you’ll save time and money in redecorating from the start.

One thing you should consider before buying a new build is as the first person to live in the house, everything is brand new. You shouldn’t have to worry about repairs or potential unforeseen expenses such as replacing old boilers, repairing broken fence panels, or fixing up dodgy DIY jobs by the previous owner – all things that you might find in an older property.

New builds should save you money in energy bills as well, as they are built to modern standards, with better doors and windows, better insulation and so on. And of course, all new houses should have some form of guarantee, including a 10-year NHBC warranty.

There are some potential downsides to new builds as well. 

Developers are popping up new housing estates everywhere at the moment. So, before you buy, look at some of the older estates and see if the houses are in a good state. Join some local groups on social media; you’re bound to find some for each development which will give you an idea of how the current owners feel the developer has looked after them.

Another thing you should consider before buying a new build is the common issue of a lack of space, both inside and out. The showhome may be beautifully presented with comfy-looking beds, but the smaller bedrooms rarely have wardrobes. Where will you fit storage? And the kitchen may feel luxurious, but is there enough cupboard space for your utensils and worktop space for your air fryer?

If your garden is a beautifully laid out lawn, have you got space for a shed in which to keep the mower? A common problem in every street is parking. Once all the neighbours have moved in with two cars or more per household, will you need to use your garage for your car, or as a place to keep bikes and other outdoor equipment?

In general, an older property will have larger rooms and a bigger garden. Streets often seem wider and have more front parking – or even front gardens, which new estates don’t always offer.

New build or older property, which will you choose?

Choosing your next home will depend on your priorities. But if space is key, don’t give up on a new build just yet. There are ways to maximise your storage.

Consider turning your garage into your walk-in storeroom. Some good racking and organisation and you’ll be able to get everything you need in there. It’s easier than clambering up into your attic space for the Christmas decorations every year, and a lot more practical, as modern roof spaces are not really made to support a lot of storage.

If you are moving into your new build from another property, have a declutter as you pack. Do you really need to lug all your old stuff to your fresh new home? But if the thought of moving, packing and decluttering at the same time is all just a bit too much, consider renting a self-storage unit instead. You can move everything into that for a few months as you settle into your new build, and then unpack one box at a time, giving you the chance to decide if it’s an item to keep or pass on to charity.

And when you don’t have a garage or shed space, then a self-storage unit could be a longer-lasting solution. With flexible contracts and plenty of smaller units to choose from, you can easily turn one into your permanent shed away from home, keeping seasonal items, outdoor sports gear and even your DIY tools safe, dry and easily accessible for the next time you need to put up a shelf. With low-cost storage solutions, you’ll find it’s probably a cheaper option than buying the new build with the double garage!

At Cookes we are always on hand to help you calculate the size of storage unit you need, and understand how to make our flexible contracts work to your advantage. If you’d like to come and look around to see just how easy it works for you, drop in, email us at or give us a call on 0121 250 5055. Alternatively, you can check out our size calculator to find your best fit.

After a long and cold winter, it’s finally April and the weather is getting a little bit warmer. The trees are blossoming, and the sun is shining. When the air is not so cold, you want to open the windows and let the warm air into your house. But to really refresh your house, opening a window isn’t enough. Therefore, we’ve put together a successful checklist for spring cleaning to help you prepare your house for the warm weather.

First, you may be asking yourself: why do I need a checklist?

Having a checklist, whether it’s written down or just in your brain, helps you keeping things tidy and organised – just like you want your house to be. This will help you define what you want to do for each room, and it gives you an idea of a timeline. Deep cleaning should also be an integral part of your house, in order to keep it tidy and organised.

Have a goal

You should be thinking of what’s the aim of this spring clean? Is it to identify what piece of furniture you want to donate? Is it to declutter? Change the layout of your house/flat?

Divide your tasks into categories

After you’ve figured out what you want to do, we recommend dividing your tasks in different categories. This way, you don’t feel overwhelmed. You can divide your activities this by day, or by room. For example, for each room you can select what you want to:

  • Clean
  • Donate
  • Store away
  • Recycle/repair

We recommend coming up with a realistic timeline, avoiding stress. Spring cleaning should be enjoyable, and it should be about bringing your house back to life.

Identify what products you need

You may be thinking, I already have bleach, mould remover and cleaning wipes. While this is true, spring cleaning is a good idea to identify what products you’re missing and which one you want to replace. Maybe you want a new bathroom cleaner spray. Maybe you want to use more plastic free and green alternatives.

In addition, it’s important to make sure your vacuum cleaner is running and that you have good mop at home.

Wash pillows and duvets

Washing pillows and duvets can be quite impractical, and you may not have a lot of time to do so. If you want to go ahead with it, we recommend doing it during spring cleaning. If you have a lighter duvet for the warm months, this is the best time to take it out.

Don’t be scared of emptying your drawers, donation is an option!

Are your drawers very messy and cluttered? Spring cleaning is the best opportunity to sort them out and identify what you want to do with your belongings. Throwing away is not always the best options, as we would encourage you to donate/resell as much as you can. This can be old Christmas decorations, plates, cutlery, dvds, old toys and of course clothes.

Don’t forget about the deep part of the cleaning

Dusting your furniture, donating, removing mould, and cleaning your mirrors is key to a good clean. But the point of spring cleaning is to do a deep clean. A successful checklist for spring cleaning included unclogging the sink and drains, cleaning behind the toilet… It also included throwing away expired make up, taking care of your garden if you have one, and most of all…make the most of it.

And finally…

If you’re not ready to let go of some of your belongings, or have no space to store your winter stuff, storage might be a good option for you. With plenty of storage rooms with different sizes, convenient prices and industry leading security, Cookes Self Storage will look after your belongings. And you don’t have to worry about a single thing. To enquire about self-storage, call us on 0121 250 5055 or email us at .

You’re moving out of your parent’s house and into your first home or maybe you are moving into Uni halls… but you don’t know what to take and what do you leave? Don’t worry, you are not alone! We can guarantee that everyone has had to think about the ‘what do I take with me’ problem!

You might be thinking about all the new things you can get for your home, but you’ll soon find your parents on the doorstep with a car full of your childhood toys and teenage clutter. You might not see the need for them now, but one day you may well treasure those memories. So, what sort of thing should you hold onto and what should you let go?

Things to keep

Family photographs

You may not be that interested in pictures of yourself playing on a beach you don’t remember age 3 – but one day you’ll find yourself wanting to know more about your parents holidays before you were born, or your grandparents wedding. Go through them with your parents, and have them write down who each person is on the back, so you have the information when you want it.

Old toys

Just like clothes, toys often come back into fashion as trends renew. Marvel figurines, Matchbox cars, Furbies, Tamagotchi and Pokemon cards have all come back around as must have toys over time. If you are still holding on to original versions of these, they may well increase in value. The last thing you want to do it is throw out all of your childhood toys now, only to discover you had a rare and valuable Barbie. And even if they aren’t worth anything, your own children may enjoy playing with them in time.

School reports and pictures

You may have skipped out of school on the last day, glad you never have to think about it again. Perhaps you won’t for years. But then you’ll have a school reunion, or bump into someone you knew, and you’ll want to peek back at the memories.

Awards, certificates and trophies are all nice to keep, but perhaps one of the best things, though you might not think it now, as your school reports. In 20 years time these can be a great source of entertainment, although you might want to hide the teacher’s comments from your own children.

Things to recycle


There may well be some favourite clothes you just can’t bear to leave behind: a snuggly hoodie or band T-shirt. But the majority of clothes you wore as a teen probably don’t need to go with you to your new home. Sort out the ones that no longer fit, or are a bit too worn, and see what you can give to charity.

Books and magazines

We certainly do accumulate a lot of paper in our lifetimes. But do you really need to keep it? Take a look at your bookshelves, and see which treasured paperbacks you are really likely to read again, and which ones you have outgrown. Comics and magazines are the same. It’s all extra weight.

Finding space

Now you’ve decided what you need to keep, you still might not have space in your new place for all the boxes. Don’t throw things out just because you can’t find a cupboard for them, if you know you’ll regret it one day. With your own small self-storage locker, you’ve got just enough space for your childhood treasures, secure and dry, until you’re feeling nostalgic.

Still not sure how much space you need? Call us on 0121 250 5055 and we’ll talk through your requirements and design the perfect package for you.

Moving house is a momentous occasion that we all face at some point in life, whether that is to head off to university or to leaving home to live with friends or partners. As exciting as it seems starting out, merging the possessions of two or more people can prove to be more than a little problematic. When faced with a choice of three sofas to sit on or duplicate dining sets, new cohabitants may feel pressed to part with their treasured possessions, so to avoid any awkward moments and make moving house hassle-free, simply use self-storage

Get Organised

It sounds so simple, but making a plan and getting organised early will help you immensely on your moving day. Keep a few essentials such a your kettle, mugs, tea bags and a spoon in a box on the front passenger seat of your moving vehicle (trust us you will thank us later!)

Have a system of what you need to move first and what can come later; bed first, bag of clothes you haven’t warm in a year… that can come last!

Give yourself space

Using self-storage simplifies a house move as it means that you don’t have to make any rash decisions about what to keep straight away. Perhaps more importantly, however, it gives you time to get a feel for the style that you want in your new pad, not to mention an idea on the best layout to maximise the space in your home.

Yes, you may be utterly convinced that your three-piece leather suite and chaise longue are perfect for parties, however if your goods are going to monopolise the room, then it is better to consider the home without them in it. Furthermore, you will avoid an unnecessary 22-point turn to get the furniture in through the front door.

Give yourself time

By storing your items in a secure self-storage unit, you remove the time constraints of trying to exchange and complete in a day whilst carting your worldly goods across the town. Few house sales complete at a weekend, meaning that you will need to take time off work to pack, ship and unpack your belongings within a very short time frame. By using flexible self-storage, you will be able to move in to your new home at a time and pace that is convenient to you.

Give yourself a good talking to

If there is one thing we all know, it is that as we travel along the journey called life we accumulate more than a few souvenirs along the way. Gathering together your belongings to move house can be a wake-up call as to just how much stuff you have, and now is the time to give yourself a good talking to about what needs to stay and what needs to go.

Rather than transfer all these items into your new abode or make any on the spot decisions that you later regret, use self-storage to filter these items gradually, and get rid of anything non-sentimental that hasn’t been used in 6 months.

This really simple lesson, saves many moving day tears! Your new home is going to be filled with new memories and sometimes, you just need that little bit of help to let go of items that you really don’t need anymore.

Enjoy the day

It is going to be hard work and there are most probably going to be some bumps along the way, but when you can sit back at the end of the day and look at your new home you will find that all those worries you have 6 months ago are totally irrelevant now!

For more help, head over to our page to see how we can help you with your move.

Happy moving Everyone!

It’s that time of the year to start spring cleaning, and it’s a task many of us dread.

There are plenty of great ways to reduce the effort though, so we thought we’d save you some time and scour the internet for the best in cleaning tips using some natural home ingredients.

Sparkling windows

You can buy all sorts of cleaners that work specifically on the glass in your house. Or you can save some pennies, and use a simple solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water. Wipe with a newspaper or cloth for sparkling windows.

Picking up pet hair

We love the furry members of the family, but we’re less keen on the hair they leave on the furniture. There are a number of ways to pick hairs up, including a trusty lint roller, but our favourite is to simply use a pair of rubber gloves. Just run your hands over your sofa, and the friction will cause the hairs to stick to the gloves.

Cleaning limescale from taps

Limescale build up leaves a white deposit on your taps, in kettles and washing machines. Scrubbing it away can take a lot of time and elbow grease – but we’ve found a simple trick that takes all the effort away.

Limescale dissolves in a mild acid, such as the citric acid of a lemon. So, cut a lemon in half, wedge it gently onto the end of your tap and leave it for an hour or more to loosen and dissolve any deposits, while you move onto another chore.

Freshen up your mattress

You may think that one of the hardest things in the house to clean is your mattress, but it’s really one of the simplest. All you need is some bicarbonate of soda, and a sieve. Sieve the bicarb over the whole mattress, and leave for several hours. The soda will draw out any dirt, moisture and odours, without damaging the mattress. Finally, hoover up the powder thoroughly and you’ll be left with a fresh, clean smelling bed.

Microwave your lemons

Another top tip using the lovely lemon – squeeze some juice into water and put it in the microwave for a minute. The steam will loosen any food stuck to the inside for an easy wipe, while the lemon leaves it smelling lovely and clean.

Clean out your drains

Our drains can become blocked with hair and soap, but there is an easy way to clean it out and keep on top of any build up. Pour half a cup of bicarbonate of soda down the drain, followers by 1 cup of white vinegar, and leave it for 30 minutes. Then flush down some fresh clean water and you’ll have lovely clean drains.

Fresh and fragrant

Finally, leave your home smelling beautifully fresh with these simple tips. Add a few drops of fabric conditioner to a dry wipe and leave it behind your radiator. As it warms the fragrance will spread across your room. And there – a lovely, clean and fresh home, ready for the year ahead.

We hope that you enjoy these easy at home tips, and enjoy a fresher cleaner life. Happy cleaning!