It’s no secret. Americans have a lot of stuff.

Whether you’re moving or need more room for your ever growing pile of possessions, there are times when finding some extra storage space is essential. You may drive past a storage facility every day on your way to work, but you’ve likely also seen storage sheds for sale. When looking for a place to hold your items, it pays to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option.

Use the following criteria to determine if a storage shed or a storage unit is a better fit for your needs.

Costs

If you opt for a storage shed, you’ll have to pay for the construction of it, or the cost to purchase one and have it installed. To build a shed, you might spend between $800 and $4,000.

The average cost to rent a storage unit is $91.14 a month. You could store your items in a storage unit for 9 months at an average cost of $820.26. Of course this price varies by the square foot size of your storage unit. Also, storage unit prices vary by location and availability, so it might pay off to comparison shop.

If you need to store your belongings for a short time, such as less than a year, it may be cost effective to look into renting a storage unit. For long-term needs, such as bikes or a ladder you will regularly use during the coming years, a shed might be the smarter choice.

Security

“Storage units usually offer security via surveillance cameras, someone watching the surveillance, someone to check you into storage and a guard doing patrols,” says Lior Rachmany, CEO and founder of Dumbo Moving + Storage in New York City. “Self-storage units have locks also.”

If you put a shed on your property, you’ll want to add a lock to it as well. You could also include the shed in your home security system for an extra layer of protection.

Before renting a storage unit, ask to see the surveillance setup to make sure you are comfortable with the level of security available. If you prefer to keep items near you, install safety features in your backyard shed to reduce the risk of theft.

Convenience

With a storage shed in your own backyard, you’ll only need to walk a few steps to get items when you need them. This makes it “perfect for sports equipment, garden tools or holiday decor,” says Morgan Ovens, a professional organizer and owner of Haven, a home organizing company.  Since it is easy to access a shed, you’re less likely to forget about what you have stored.

“Items within reach will be used, even if it’s infrequently,” Ovens adds.

On the other hand, maintaining an outdoor shed on your property requires work. You might need to give it a fresh coat of paint, make small repairs, or give it an in-depth cleaning.

Traveling to a storage facility will involve more time. You may have to borrow or rent a truck when transporting large items to and from the place.

Renting a storage unit “creates the possibility to collect more things over time and not edit regularly,” Ovens notes. You might add boxes to the space each year, only to quickly forget they are there. You could end up having an unnecessary monthly expense if you pay for the unit but never use the items kept there.

Pests Control

“Storage units are routinely sprayed for bugs, eliminating the reason to fear that bugs many contaminate your belongings,” Rachmany explains.

For sheds in a pest-prone area, you might have to bring in a professional service to keep bugs away. If larger critters come into the shed, they could damage the building, boxes, or the materials stored inside.

Climate-control

For books or artwork in a shed, it’s vital to ensure water doesn’t leak in from the roof or floor. You might also need to install an air conditioning unit during warm months to maintain a manageable temperature.

Many storage facilities offer climate-controlled spaces, but you’ll usually need to pay more for the setup. However if you live in an area with extreme heat or cold and are storing items that are sensitive to temperature and humidity, self-storage might be your best bet.

“Some storage units keep your items in the dark if you are worried about damage from light,” adds Rachmany. “This is helpful when storing clothes, as clothes can lose their color over time when exposed to brightness.”

Life Phase

When creating a minimal look in your home, or sorting through memorabilia, it can be helpful to designate a specific spot for items.

“Having a shed on your property may be just the step needed for you to declutter,” says Gari Weilbacher, author of DeClutter2DeLight: Handbook & Workbook.

You’ll be able to move the items out of your home, but still hang on to them. You might decide to look them over every year to see if you want to get rid of some pieces. For big changes, it may reduce stress to get furniture off of your property altogether. A storage unit might be “perfect for a temporary solution to a life transition such as moving or renovating.” adds Ovens.

Storage Units vs. Storage Sheds

After careful consideration of each of the criteria above, you should have a good idea which option is best suited for your needs. Everyone has a different opinion on what is “convenient”, so be sure to take the time to think it through. Do you recoil at the idea of looking at a shed in your backyard everyday? Or do you cringe at the thought of having to drive off-site to get to your items?

Whatever you ultimately decide, your storage solution is close at hand.

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Rachel Hartman