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Renting Your Home? Secure Your Valuables

Have you thought about renting out your home while you travel, or doing a home exchange? Or perhaps you want to spend part of every year living in another country and want to rent out your home while you’re away. If you plan on welcoming others into your home while you travel, you’ll need to make some key changes to your residence. One of the biggest projects will be storing away personal items and valuables.

As a part-time expat, I spend a few months each year in Europe, and Airbnb my home while I’m away. My one-bedroom, Richmond Rose Cottage, is only 700-square-feet with no garage or storage shed. Yet I’ve found creative storage solutions. And if I can, you can too.

Unless you are an extreme minimalist, you’ll need to do a little (or a lot of) decluttering in order to create a comfortable space for guests. You may want to replace your bedding and towels with new ones for guests. If you don’t want to leave your fine China, you can purchase a set of dishes just for guests. There may be other items you’d prefer not to leave out. For more tips on how to Make Your Home an Inviting Vacation Rental, click on the link.

So where will you store all that bric-à-brac, extra décor, dishes, bedding and other personal items, as well as your valuables?

Find clever ways to lock it away

A garage, attic or a water-tight shed can be your best options for storage. Just be sure to secure them with a heavy lock. If you have several bedrooms, you might want to use one for storage. You’ll need to install a secure, deadbolt lock.

I have a storage attic over my bedroom. It’s not particularly easy or safe to access, but it’s what I have, and it’s packed to the brim. I had a latch installed, so I only have to attach a Master combination lock to secure the attic.

Closets or armoires are another good option. You can install a deadbolt in a closet door. But be sure to provide at least one closet or armoire in each bedroom for your guests. If you have room, an IKEA PAX wardrobe is a great place to store your things and they hold a tremendous amount. In my bedroom, I have two 39” wide, floor to ceiling IKEA PAX wardrobes.

When I leave, I empty out one for guests and pack as much as I can in the second one. A long shank Master Lock fits over the handles of the wardrobe. A locked hall or entry closet is a good option too. I use mine to keep household supplies for the Airbnb.

You can also lock up a kitchen cabinet. Even in my small place, no one is going to miss the cabinet above the refrigerator. It’s too tall for most people to reach. I had disc tumbler locks installed on the two cabinet doors. It’s where I keep my fine China, mugs and any other kitchen items I don’t want to leave for guests.

There are off-site storage units you can rent, but I don't recommend it. They will cost you money that could be better used for travel, and you’ll have to lug all that stuff to and from the storage unit.

Secure your personal information and valuables

The most important things to lock away are your valuables and anything that contains your social security number or an account number. This includes cash and credit cards you won’t be taking on your trip, as well as bank statements, tax returns, jewelry, firearms, liquor, flash drives, hard drives, laptops and computers. Most people renting your home will be great. But you never know, and why put temptation in their path.

One thing that can help is to go as paperless as possible. For the most part, I’ve eliminated paper bank statements and medical bills. The result is less physical space needed for storing documents. However, there’s always paperwork you need to hold on to. And I’m not going to scan tax documents for the last seven years. Just be sure to lock it away.

Pack away the things you treasure

You may be proud of the beautiful things in your home and want to show them off, but heed my word of advice. Don’t leave anything out that you would be heartbroken if it were broken or stolen. Sure, you want to make your place look nice. But that might mean swapping out the crystal vase for a $5 ceramic one from Ross. Trust me, your guests will never know.

Leave some personal items for guests to use

If there is something I am open to sharing and I won’t be sad if it’s broken, I leave it out for my guests. It’s one less thing to store and unpack when I return. I keep my sewing notions in a labeled, decorative box on a shelf, as well as a box of local brochures and maps. I leave some, but not all, of my books as well as games and some décor items.

On my desk, I leave office supplies, a charging station, a monitor, stapler, tape dispenser, scissors and pens, and even my printer and paper with instructions on how to download the printer drivers. I also leave LPs to play on my pink record player.

Create space to store last minute items

When you rent out your house, you’re not just packing for your trip, you’re packing up your house. One of my biggest challenges is storing all those last-minute items, especially when I have an early flight. I strip my bed completely, including my down comforter and pillow, and pack away my bathrobe, pajamas, bathroom drinking cup, and any other eleventh-hour things I’m not taking with me. Often my closet is too full and there is no way I’m dragging all that stuff to my storage attic. Under the bed storage boxes have been a lifesaver. I wouldn’t leave anything too valuable in them, but for extra storage they are the best. So, wherever you are storing your stuff, be sure to leave a extra space for those last-minute items.

I hope this helps you find creative storage solutions within your own home. Most importantly, I hope it instills you with the confidence to rent out your home while you travel, no matter what the size.



Hi, I’m Lori Cronwell. As a writer and frequent traveler, I admire the values most Europeans embrace: choosing quality over quantity; residing in smaller, more sustainable homes; working less and spending more time with friends and family.

Those values were key in my decision to drastically downsize to a 700 sq. ft. accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with the goal of creating a simpler, more sumptuous life with time for travel.

Slow travel, that is. Spending more time in one place — even if it’s just a week. You'll not only spend less, you'll discover a deeper and more meaningful travel experience.

Please subscribe below and join me on a journey to find affordable ways to explore Europe in the slow lane and to live a more European lifestyle every day of our lives.

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