If you’re tired of trying to cram your belongings into space that you don’t really have to spare, self-storage can keep your possessions safe until you’re ready to use them again. But before you spend your money renting a self-storage unit to stash old clothes, furniture and other items, consider these six tips to keep your possessions as safe in storage as they are in your home.

1. Select a Facility Wisely.

Before you rent a self-storage unit, get price estimates from three nearby locations, the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio suggests. Also, check to see whether the facility is a member of the Self Storage Association, said Tim Dietz, a spokesman for the association. Members abide by a code of ethics and comply with bylaws of the association, making facilities accountable to high business standards, Dietz said.

2. Think Beyond Price.

While you naturally don’t want to get ripped off, don’t base your self-storage facility selection on price alone. One of the greatest benefits of self-storage is the flexibility it affords in having access to your property whenever you need it. Make sure you find a location that’s nearby so “you don’t have to run all the way across town,” said Diane Dozier, manager of AAA Alliance Self Storage in Tempe, AZ. Also, make sure the facility offers extended hours that fit into your schedule. Finally, look at the facility’s security measures; you want to make sure your belongings aren’t vulnerable to thieves.


3. Consider the Environment.

Depending on where you live and what you store, extreme temperatures could damage your belongings. For example, extreme heat could cause wood furniture to warp. Some self-storage facilities offer environmentally controlled units, which ensure units stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Another factor you may want to consider is pest control. The last thing you want to see when you open your self-storage unit is a rat scurrying behind a box. Find out whether the self-storage facility offers pest control services or consider paying for such services yourself.

4. Make Sure Belongings Are Insured.

If something’s valuable enough for you to pay to store it, don’t risk losing it in a disaster such as a fire or roof collapse. If you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, ask your agent whether the items in your self-storage unit are covered under your policy. If they are not, buy at least the minimum amount of insurance offered by the self-storage facility, said Keith McConnell, vice president of business development at MiniCo Insurance Agency in Phoenix. You likely can buy a couple of thousand dollars worth coverage for less than $10 a month.

5. Store Your Items Effectively.

Don’t just throw all of your items in a self-storage unit haphazardly, said Anita Paxwell, who blogs for Park Circle Storage in Brooklyn, NY. Make sure all clothing, linens and draperies are clean, and store small items in bins and boxes to maximize space. While you can buy storage supplies from professional movers or a storage facility, save money by using containers you have around the house, such as chests and hat boxes, Paxwell said.

6. Know Where Your Items Are.

When it comes to placing items in a self-storage unit, consider how often you’ll need to remove certain possessions. The Arizona Self-Storage Association suggests that you place items you’ll use frequently closer to the door for easier access. Also, cushion any fragile items and put them toward the top of the self-storage unit. Finally, label your cartons and create a checklist that you keep at home so you can more easily find your property when you need it, the association says.