Renting a self-storage unit: Yes, no … or maybe?

By Nicole V.

Have you ever watched the reality television programme “Auction Hunters”? I remember watching a couple of episodes before getting bored of it, but it did leave me amazed at the amount and type of stuff someone could store in a self-storage unit (SSU), and even more amazed that the stuff could sit there for years, to be eventually abandoned. I wondered whether the stuff inside was stuff that the owners could not bear to declutter or the stuff that they still had no space for even after decluttering. Was the SSU perceived as an extension of the home? Does someone rent an SSU to make space at home, and does that space then get filled up with other stuff? Do they really need the extra space or do they just need to reduce the amount of stuff that they have? Isn’t it somewhat universally acknowledged that unless one is vigilant, stuff has an unerring ability to fill up any available space that one has?

According to the Self-Storage Concepts website, self-storage started in Texas, USA in the 1960s, before moving on to Australia in the 1970s, the UK in the 1980s, the rest of Europe in the 1990s and Asia in the early 2000s. The Australian self-storage industry is expected to earn $753 million in revenue this year, according to an April 2015 market research report on the IBISWorld website and the UK Self-Storage Association website states that the UK self-storage industry generated £355 million in revenue in 2013, with over 250,000 customers. And when it comes to the self-storage industry in America, the following information from the Self-Storage Finders website (in Stacy Kress’ article of 2 September 2014, entitled “5 Little-known facts about storage”) reveals some astonishing statistics:

The industry earned more than $24 billion in 2013.

An astounding 10.85 million people rent an SSU, which is almost 9 per cent of all households.

An amazing 2.3 billion square feet of stuff is being stored, which translates into more than 78 square miles, which is three times the size of Manhattan.

Surprisingly (or maybe not?), 65 per cent of those who rent an SSU have a garage, 47 per cent have an attic and 33 per cent have a basement.

You know how people often remark that there is a McDonald’s around every corner? Well, that might have to be amended to there is an SSU near you instead, as according to Dan Rafter of REJournals.com, there are more self-storage facilities in the USA than there are McDonald’s restaurants, with 48,500 such facilities in 2014, compared to 14,350 McDonald’s restaurants. That’s mind-boggling, to say the least, and makes me wonder whether there is a “Self-Storage Nation” book and movie in the offing.

One of the more memorable snippets of information that I came across about the industry was about a British businessman and his SSU containing £60,000 worth of Star Wars memorabilia. He apparently pays more than £150 a week to rent the 600 square foot SSU because his wife objected, after their loft at home was filled up with his Star Wars toys (which he began collecting when he was five) and he got a life-size Yoda for their home lounge. He has stashed his other life-size figures of Jar Jar Binks, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Darth Maul (what, no Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?) in his SSU, which he visits weekly. Strong in this SSU, the Force is … yes, hmmm.

The reasons people give for renting an SSU include having insufficient space at home, because of home renovations or extensive remodelling, moving house, having to work overseas for several years, deciding to travel the world for a few years, needing to store tools and machines, changes in family, employment or financial situations, and having to downsize in a difficult economic climate. I wonder whether many of them begin renting with the intention of it being on a temporary basis, but then as the months stretch into years, they somehow end up paying several thousands of dollars. I have read about people who, after paying hefty storage fees over many years, finally declutter their unit and find lots of junk, several damaged items and only a few things that they ultimately end up keeping. It makes me wonder whether some people even forget what they have put into storage and simply stop caring after some time (especially when it becomes a financial drain), as they don’t bother to return to collect their stuff. What do you think about the usual reasons given for needing to rent an SSU? Have you ever decluttered an SSU or helped anyone to do so?

If you have rented an SSU before, was it helpful? Do you have any tips to share for someone who might really need one? Was your rental a short-term measure or is your stuff still sitting in it, out of sight and out of mind? Do you think it’s worthwhile to rent an SSU, taking into consideration that the stuff inside may be damaged and depreciate in value and possibly become outdated? Do you think that an SSU can be used “wisely”? Would you rent one again?

And for those who haven’t, would you ever consider renting one? If you had an exciting opportunity to live, study or work abroad for a few years, how would you go about decluttering your possessions and reducing your stuff so that you are left with only your precious keepsakes and essential items for the home? And if your family and friends were unable or unwilling to help you store your stuff, what (if anything) would you put into storage, what would you get rid of and what would you bring with you? I’d like to hear what you have to say.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter any item from your office and/or craft room.  These rooms are combined for us.  We have books that need to be given away.  I have a desk that I want to declutter as soon as we are sure when we will be moving.  In the meantime, all of this clutter drives me nuts.  It needs to go.

 

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Idgy of the North

    Thought provoking post. We have never rented SSU. In the past, we did consider renting a SSU if we were a week or two between homes during a move.

    Since that time, we have discussed that the next time we move, we want to start fresh and just move with whatever fits in our car. We have a couple of family heirlooms such as a beautiful dresser that has been in the family for >150 years. Our plan is to re- home heirlooms with a willing family member prior to our next move. If no one is willing, we will donate the pieces to a local museum.

    • Idgy of the North

      Completely forgot, but I did rent SSU twice during university. Both times it was to store my possessions in the city where the school was located over summer holiday. During the summer holiday, I would return home (2000 km away) to stay with my parents and work. Given the distance, the SSU was inexpensive compared to shipping everyting home or renting an apartment with a year round lease.

      • Idgy – that is a good idea. My daughter is heading off to University next year and although she will be in the halls of residence the first year, she will flat the following two years and we had wondered what happens to furniture between academic years.

      • Yep. I rented one pretty much every summer. I rented unfurnished apartments (so I owned furniture). All the leases ended 2-3 weeks before any other lease started in the town. I could find myself somewhere to sleep, but I had to stash all my stuff and furniture somewhere for the gap time.

        I was really glad when I bought a house and quit moving all my stuff twice every summer, less than a month apart!

      • We have never rented a storage unit for ourselves, however, like Idgy and Kayote, we did put our daughter’s belongings in storage during the summer break while she was in university 5,000 miles away. We hired a moving company to come to her dorm room, pack it all up, store it in their warehouse and do it all in reverse again once the fall semester started. Granted, that was 15 years ago, but even then the costs of doing it that way were less expensive and much more peaceful than moving things home in the interim.

        I think the rental of storage units should always be on a temporary basis unless one is using them for business purposes.

    • Thanks, Idgy. I can understand the appeal of starting fresh and moving with whatever fits in your car. It looks like you have planned well for your next move.

    • Hello from France,
      I’ven’t used SSU yet but I intend to live a nomadic way next year for several months or more and I ‘m thinking about that idea. I am already sorting what to keep and what to donate or sell. The problem is I’m a grandma and only child keeping all the family memories in my small flat, will I throw them or pay for stuff which is not mine ? I suppose I should read all the comments to behave wisely.

      • Hello, nicole 86. There is a wealth of information in the thoughts, experiences and tips that the 365ers have shared. I wish you well for your decluttering journey, as well as for your planned journey next year.

  2. Wow, really interesting post. I’ve never used one, and hope I never need to consider using one. However, when I went travelling at the end of the 90s, I fitted a lock to one of the cupboard doors in my flat and put all my remaining stuff in there while I then rented out my flat and cleared off abroad. Oh, apart from my 17′ sea kayak which went in a friends basement, lol. So, I guess that is a kind of equivalent.
    I’ve also watched a couple of episodes of a similar show – totally weird the stuff that people keep and then fight over (imho). Nowt as weird as folks as they say 😉

  3. I rented one for 2 months about 10 years ago. I had sold my condo, & my new place wouldn’t be available for two months. It was handy. I put mouse traps out, but the mice still managed to chew holes in my washer water hose. Luckily I took all my clothes to where I was staying. It worked well for me, but I can’t imagine having one long term.

    • My storage unit experience is similar. It was a place to put things in between addresses. We had to remove all of the “personal” items to stage our home for sale (yes that actually works!), then we had to keep even more valuables in storage while waiting to have our new-to-us home ready for occupancy. We lived in the backyard out of a camping trailer for over a month and moved the bulk of our stuff from room to room as floors were being installed. Not fun. The secure, dry, large storage option was wonderful! Worth every penny. But I loved emptying it out at the end of the three months too. On the flip side, my mother has a unit for random crap (I have seen it) and keeps paying the rent month after month… so strange. And my Father in law had a storage unit full of heirloom antiques that he paid for years, then he let it lapse when he hit a rough patch. The family had to chip in to pay the outstanding bill or all of grandma’s gorgeous sold wood furniture would have gone to auction (just “stuff” I know, but so beautiful and full of memories for us all).

      • That sounds like such a trying period, creativeme. It’s great that the SSU worked out for you … and even better that you emptied it out once you no longer needed it.

    • I hope the damage went no further than your washer water hose, Calla. I agree … an SSU can be useful on a short-term basis.

  4. Twice we’ve rented a SSU for about 3 months each time. Both times we moved to small temporary quarters awaiting moving into our new houses. We stored expensive items like large appliances and tools. worth it both times.

  5. I’ve used it for short term use several times, both in college as mentioned above and for a few weeks between moves when I was living in a hotel. Depending on the value of your items, up to a year in some cases may make sense. However, many times storage units are used by businesses for use as a warehouse. For example, my interior design friend runs her business out of house, and uses a self storage lot to keep her ever rotating supply of staging furniture. Back when there were paper medical records, my doctors office kept the records they needed to retain for legal reasons of non-current patients in a storage facility (rent of a storage facility is far cheaper than additional office space). I’m sure many many people use storage facilities for their person items, but the numbers in this article likely reflect a good chunk of business use as well.

    • Yes, businesses do use these units for storage, Brooke. There are also people who run businesses – such as an e-commerce gift company, selling children’s clothes or a martial arts school – out of their SSU.

  6. We rented a SSU before our move here and it was and excellent choice. We were able to pack up seasonal stuff and the contents of Ian’s workshop, renovate and repaint and sell our house. The rental was about 5 months. This time we have stuff in storage everywhere because our house sold very quickly and we are living in our travel trailer while waiting for our house to be finished. We have been shifting stuff in slowly but it will be a few more weeks before we’re done. And, my friend wants her garage back so we will not linger longer than necessary.

    As for storage as a permanent solution, NOPE!!!

    • I hope things go well with your new home and the shifting of your stuff, Wendy B. I do agree with your last statement.

  7. I had to really think to remember if I had ever used a SSU. I finally remembered doing so when I moved to Colorado to go to school and found a house sitting situation for 6 months. I stored the majority of my stuff for 4 months until I left the housesitting situation early when the owners had to come home due to medical issues. I can’t remember any other time. In cases where it is a temp thing while in transition I will do it if I have to but only if I have no other choice. If you have to store things long term then you don’t usually need them. I’m all for selling it all off and starting over if I were to do it long term while overseas or something like that.

  8. We rented an SSU for two months. At the time my MIL had just moved from our house into a retirement home as she could no longer manage the stairs, while we had been living mostly in a “temporary” rental apartment in another city due to my husband’s job. With MIL’s move and an impending move for us to a different town, we sold the house, which was 4 bed, 2 bath fully furnished.

    MIL took some furniture with her and we gave a lot of things to an aunt who needed to furnish a new apartment. The remainder was culled but we decided to keep things we thought we *might* need in our new, potentially larger place hence getting the SSU for temporary storage.

    It was useful but we underestimated the amount of work it took to first cull everything, then move the remainder … With hindsight we should have culled more. Also, I should have been more careful about choosing the storage facility … It was the cheapest in the area and was in a good location but the ventilation was inadequate and some items got mouldy due to the heat and humidity … In retrospect, we should have the extra dollars for a “climate controlled” unit to avoid the extra work involved in cleaning up the mess.

    But all of that is based on the assumption that we were right to keep the things we did. Having moved yet again, this time with the help of professional movers, I am not convinced that it was the right move.

    The so called professional movers made such a botch job of the move that I am now of the opinion that the next time we move, which is likely to be next summer (here in Canada), we should only take our clothes, photos (those that haven’t been digitized), any keepsakes that we really don’t want to part with (to use Marie Kondo’s words, only those that bring us joy), our pets and their “accessories”.

    Maybe this reasoning is due to us having a somewhat nomadic lifestyle following jobs around the country, with 7 moves of MIL and/or us in just 8 years. It’s simply not worth the effort of shifting the possessions over and over.

    We are in the process of reducing what we have, though some items will not be sold or donated right now just because the house will need to be staged for sale. But in the meantime, out go the things we don’t use or love … De cluttering of the fantasy selves, out with the spare “just in cases”, new homes found for memorabilia we no longer have any passion for.

    Thankfully I have a partner who agrees with this approach though I am sure he has been swayed by the fact that for the last two moves, I’ve been muttering that if it hadn’t been for the burn bans in the municipalities, I would have pulled everything into the backyard and had the mother of all bonfires.

    It’s remembering that intense frustration I had with our things when in the midst of those moves that spurs me on with the decluttering.

    So next the move will be with a much lighter load and perhaps needless to save, we won’t be renting a storage unit. Save the money, save the hassle.

    • You’ve provided much food for thought, Kate. LOL at the mother of all bonfires … I get you on the frustration.

  9. I have a friend who rented one to put her stuff into for the short period she hoped she would be living with her daughter. She had been living in a townhouse with her other daughter but the daughter wanted to move out and find her own independence. It must be at least six years now and she is still living with her daughter. I dare say that she has paid many times more for the unit than her stuff is worth. And, failing winning the lottery, I can’t see her ever moving out.

    • That’s the impression I get, Colleen … that many people start out by thinking of it as “for just a little while” or “till things settle down”.

      • This is great to realize. I think if we needed short term storage, it would help to snap pictures of the items. Then set a deadline of how long you are willing to pay to store them. With pictures ready, set a date to list the items for sale or at least know what’s in there that you can take to the donation places or give to family and friends.

  10. Fundamentally, I am horrified at how many SSUs there are, and how much crap is likely stored in them.

    So it’s hard for me to consider using on. But now I have a house of furniture, I can’t imagine selling it all if I was to move overseas for work (something I would be willing to consider). If I was to move interstate, I would likely not move all my second hand tables and chairs, but might want to save the cost of buying another new couch by taking those… It’s such a tough call, whether to save on transport costs, or add to demand and buy another new thing (couches are not something I immediately want to buy second hand).

    My parents moved us to Vanuatu for three years, and they stored much of their furniture as the home there came furnished. With antiques, I think they are happy they did. WE did find a CD in the CD player – been there for three years. THat was an oversight.

    Overall, I think storing items should be limited to sentimental (and very reasonable (ie low) limits), and bulky pieces that are classic. Electronics should be sold/given away, perishables (obviously!) shouldn’t be stored. Linens and clothing – I’d say much of it should not be stored, should either be pared down to take with you, or donated. There’s no lack of easy supply to those items on the market. Books? Well, I’m fundamentally anti owning books, but my parents stored theirs – textbooks from my mother’s university years, and she’s since had a career change… to me, they seem like they should have gone prior to storage, but we still have them, 20 years on o_O

    • It can be a tough call under certain circumstances, for certain pieces of furniture, snosie. And yes, there are many people who hang on to at least a couple of university textbooks for a very long time.

  11. I rented a SSU for a few months one winter. At the time we had no garage and needed a place to put the motorcycles for the winter. Worked well, but we buit a shed before the next winter season. sSU have a time and place.

    • That is the big one around here. I live in an area with four seasons and places with units big enough for a car are always fully rented. Convertables and collectable cars go into the rental units during the winter months. There is a similar seasonal changeover for people who have snowmobiles and ATVs. Must be cheaper than finding a home with enough room for the really big toys.

      • LOL at “the really big toys”, Mel M.

        As Melanie mentioned in her comment, ” … renting or buying square footage that will be used for storage is WAY more expensive than renting a separate storage unit”.

    • Yes, they do, Kezia. It’s good that you now have your own storage space for your motorcycles.

  12. Never used one, but we have stored a lot of belongings in a shed with family. Some of it ruined, and some of it we never used again. May not have been worth it…not sure. Hope we don’t ever have to do it again. Another nightmare though would be getting ours largely decluttered and then someone wanting to store their stuff in our newly decluttered space :((( I would probably say no…hubby would say yes. I did realize something today for the first time. I knew that, no matter how much space people have, they tend to fill it up…I knew FOR SURE that hubby does. Well, guess what…I do too. I’ve seen that see last few weeks of fairly intense decluttering. I never realized it until today though!

    • I realized several things about myself during my decluttering journey, too, deanna. I can understand you wanting to say no, but if your hubby insists on saying yes, would he at least be agreeable to setting a reasonable time limit? Enforcing it might be a whole new ball game, though.

  13. My husband & I had an SSU for less than 2 years when we were first married. I’m not sure it was a financially sound decision because a lot of what was in there were wedding gifts that did not fit into our tiny apartment. We probably should have just decluttered them but that was over 30 years ago and I didn’t even think along those lines then (everything was “sentimental”). We bought a bureau and a dresser at a nearby flea market and those items have stayed with us and we still like them… They were the impetus for getting the SSU, so in that respect it was a good decision.

    Our elder daughter took an SSU when she first moved back home from her apartment because she knows about my decluttering journey. Then the SSU payments became too much for her and she brought everything to our back porch. Her stuff turned into “Box Mountain” (or I think Nicole V termed it “Mount Cluttermore” hee hee). I organized it into categories over the summer and have had my daughter go through each box or bag over time. It has been reduced significantly but there remains a lot more than what I want on my back porch!

    • The fact that you organized your daughter’s stuff into categories was probably the reason why “Box Mountain” never got a chance to grow into “Mount Cluttermore”, Peggy. The way I see it, you helped by making it easier for her to go through her stuff. It’s great that she has made inroads … I do hope she makes even more progress.

  14. Hi Nicole V, Thanks for this interesting and thought-provoking post. I have read several articles about the proliferation of SSUs and they really do seem to be on every corner (yes, I’m in Texas). We have rented one for the last three summers as our sons are both at college in a distant state and it was easier to put their stuff into storage during their summer breaks rather than to bring it all home. They don’t have a great deal as the dorm rooms are so small, but it all adds up with small refrigerators, small bookcase units, clothes for the bitter winters, bedding, books etc. Luckily we found a unit that was well-managed, immaculately clean and climate-controlled so the stored items survived intact. Even so, when going there to drop off or pick up the items, I get an eerie feeling walking along those long, maze-like corridors lined with storage lockers, most of them padlocked and thus in use, and wondering what on earth is stored behind all those doors.

    The SSU has been a very useful and economically viable option for our situation with our sons and we’ll probably use the same place again next summer if necessary depending on where our sons end up after graduating. I think that having to make the payments every month would act as a deterrent to long term storage, although clearly that doesn’t always happen. When we first moved to the US from the UK we didn’t know how long we would stay so we rented out our apartment in London and left it fully furnished and equipped. We stored a small amount of our remaining belongings at my parents’ home and shipped twenty fairly small boxes of “essentials” here. When we eventually sold the apartment we sold all the contents with it but I’m ashamed to say that a lot of our stuff stayed at my parents’ for far too long. They never complained but had we had to pay storage fees I’m sure we would have dealt with it all much sooner. Alas those twenty boxes multiplied in a frightening way over the years but I’m glad to say that our decluttering is gradually having an effect.

    • Hi, Christine … you’re welcome. The SSU has been really useful for you and your family. I had to laugh at your description of the place … the music from that famous shower scene from “Psycho” started playing in my head when I was checking out some of the SSU websites.

      I agree that the cost of such units would be a deterrent when it comes to the amount of stuff someone would want to store, as well as the period of storage, but as you rightly pointed out, that doesn’t always happen.

      It’s great that your decluttering is progressing … keep at it!

  15. No – the idea of paying for storage space would offend my husband’s thrifty soul. BUT we have an upstairs storage room at our workplace which doesn’t cost us anything extra BUT did get treated as an SSU – Clutter Graveyard. It had our stuff, work stuff and usually at least one or two other people’s stuff too at any given time. It has been an ongoing mission as it is extremely hot in summer and extremely cold in winter so I mount an attack every Spring and Autumn.

    I think this, as with SSU’s is that its out of sight, out of mind. We toyed with the idea of moving everything back to our garage (I am fiercely protective of my emptied garage) as that would get things happening. But it would be a lot of effort to drag everything back, especially when its just going to get dragged out again.

    So this is the trap of SSU’s. Easy to fill, not so easy to empty.

    PS. work has been progressing nicely on my upstairs storage room.

    • HaHaHa, Moni! Love the clutter graveyard description 🙂

    • It’s understandable that you’re fiercely protective over your emptied garage, Moni. And congrats on the progress in your upstairs storage room.

  16. I have investigated using a storage unit on a temporary basis to store items that are under our house and in a garden shed. The items belong to our sons.
    We have not used one because of the cost. I would consider paying $50 week or $200 a month or $2500 a year a total waste of money. The replacement value may be more than this on some items but why do you have something that you don’t use stored in a unit ?
    I did visit a storage unit with a guy who had Rolls Royce cars stored there for his car hire business. All these lovely old cars used for weddings and school formals. A brilliant idea as there is great security at these places and usually have an onsite Manager.
    I drive past there occasionally and the boats, caravans and motorhomes parked on site is quite amazing.
    I remember seeing an episode of Dr PHIL , a young woman had two storage units full of family stuff and the cost was $24,000 a year. Dr PHIL scolded her for paying all this money on storage but not having health insurance.
    I was focusing on those nice, shiny, purpose built storage units and forgot about the old days. 28 years ago we used a furniture removal company to move and store our furniture. I can’t remember the cost but I would never do this again.
    I would never use a storage unit. The feeling of absolute freedom from ‘stuff’ would be so exhilarating. If I was in a parallel universe that didn’t have thrift shops, eBay, gumtree, or Kmart, I might find it hard to restock my house. The reality is I would find it pretty easy to replace most of what I need cheaper than paying to store it.
    Thanks Nicole V, I am not going to be a SSU statistic.
    Instead of Safe Storage Units we should name them Silly suckers units, Stale stuff units, Smelly Sh** Units , Seritonin Sapping Units, Super Silly Units , Something Stored units, Someday Sorted Units………….
    Sad to think stuff gets priority over homeless people.
    Cheers

    • Stuffed Sundries Units?

      Also I really love your whole paragraph about the feeling of absolute freedom from stuff, and how easy it is to replace most items these days. May have to print it out and give it prime position on the fridge, as I am considering moving this year and weighing up using removalists vs culling down to 2 suitcases’ worth of possessions.

      • Hi Amelia, I like the concept of two suitcases instead of a removal company.
        My sister culled almost everything three years ago when they went to Germany to visit their daughter. The only items she kept was a camphor wood chest and some original artwork. Now they are back living in Australia they have furnished their home with some very nice furniture through Gumtree.
        I saw an a program that showed IKEA was the third largest user of timber in the world after Home Depot. It also showed Australians dispose of an average of 24 kilos ( 52 pounds) of furniture a year.
        Good luck with the two suitcases.

        • It is a bit daunting, getting my head around ‘only’ having that many possessions (temporarily, anyway). Probably doesn’t help that in my wider family, having fewer possessions is associated with poverty (no matter how I try to explain otherwise, they are still convinced owning something for every eventuality + multiples of everything = wealth), so there is probably a remnant of that floating around in the back of my head somewhere. Luckily I have all you guys reinforcing the good word on decluttering and not putting too much meaning into possessions!!!

          I need to keep in mind the lovely freeing feeling I get at the idea of being able to take myself and whatever I have wherever I want, without the feeling of dragging crockery and bedside tables and book sets etc behind me.

          The snail comes to mind as a good totem here. Not in the slow sense, but because it can carry everything it needs wherever it wants to go 🙂

          • I like your analogy about the snail, Amelia. 🙂

          • Great comment Amelia
            it is a dream, however my loyalty versus my parents is a BIG impediment. In fact half of the stuff in my cupboards is theirs and the other half is mine, heritage can be so burdensome !

    • LOL at your alternate SSU names, Wendyf! What you related about the car hire business reminded me about other stories – the couple who ran a gym inside an SSU, as well as the group of twentysomethings who not only stored all their musical instruments in their SSU, but held all their jamming sessions there.

  17. I have never had an SSU but my brother used one when he went overseas for a year. He had removalists pack up everything and put it straight into storage. Came back a year later and found for some unknown reason they’d stored his orthopedic mattress folded in half! If that wasn’t enough, the SSU had flooded at some point, so the majority of his things were ruined anyway.

  18. I would love to have never used SSU, but unfortunately moving every 2 years means that things will have to go somewhere during the time we are “homeless.” Since this “homelessness” can last several months, we have a SSU that moves! We pack things in, it moves and we unpack. We try to declutter on both ends. I find that we have sentimental stuff, that reminds us of “home.” I had a cousin that thought she would save money by living at home and using a SSU, boy was she wrong! Her super deal of $150 couch cost her $600 by the end of 2 years! Donate and save up would have been cheaper!

    • I think it’s great that you try to declutter on both ends, ann. Going through and evaluating your stuff as you unpack could yield different perspectives.

  19. Never rented… and I hope I never do!!!!
    I have enough with tying to declutter my own home.

  20. We rented an SSU when we moved house. We started with a cheap deal, but of course our house didn’t sell immediately so the costs ended up being enormous. I didn’t know about decluttering then, and just needed to get some stuff out of the house so that it could remain reasonably tidy for the agents to bring people round (we have 4 children who were all small at the time). When we decided to do renovations to our new house, my husband worked out that it would be far cheaper to build a large summerhouse in the garden than to rent an SSU again. Since then I have started on my decluttering journey, and although the summerhouse is still full of boxes, I am gradually working my way through with purpose, box by box, and filling the charity shops as I do. For example I’ve just been sorting through craft magazines, some of which are over 20 years old and have moved house with me twice, but haven’t been looked at since I first bought them. Slowly, slowly wins the race, as they say! I agree with the others – short term is ok but if you need an SSU for longer, you need to really look at why.

    • It must have been challenging with 4 children in the house, Cathy. Keep going, box by box … you will get it done.

  21. When my husband and I went house sitting internationally for two years between leaving South Africa and settling in New Zealand we stored our furniture and belongings. ( Not climate controlled so our leather lounge suite was totally mouldy and cost a lot to fix. )

    I did a huge cull before we left including all appliances, electronics, beds, etc but could have done more. We travelled with two cases and two carry ons and it was marvellous!

    Before we were finally reunited with our stuff I could probably remember about 10% of what we had… I got rid of a lot more as I unpacked, and I have kept going ever since!

    • Your leather lounge suite … ouch, Janetta! It sounds like you’ve done a great deal of work. Congrats and keep at it!

  22. Great post, Nicole!

    Storage units are awesome if you use them correctly. I almost always have one. For example, if the choice is between a two-bedroom apartment vs. a one-bedroom apartment + storage unit, the latter will be much cheaper. What I mean is that renting or buying square footage that will be used for storage is WAY more expensive than renting a separate storage unit.

    Another example is when we lived on our sailboat, which was much cheaper than renting a house or apartment. A storage unit was a small added expense (about $100/month) to store our extra things that don’t fit on the boat.

    My current example is that we are moving overseas and will be somewhat nomadic for a couple of years. I am getting rid of the vast majority of things, because storing an entire household in a very large storage unit would cost more than the replacement value of those things over time. You really do have to take this into consideration! But we do have things that must be stored, so we limited that space to our 5×10′ storage unit. I only use quality, climate controlled storage units, and I have never had a problem. FYI, all reputable storage units offer renters insurance and/or your home-owners or renters insurance policy will cover a storage unit. My renters insurance policy for my house also covers my storage unit.

    Another observation I’ve had over the years is that people are operating businesses out of storage units. These are people who could never afford retail space, so the idea of working out of a storage unit is a good one.

    There is no doubt that we have too much “stuff” and that storage units can add to that problem. I do not advocate getting a storage unit for that reason. But I would suggest that getting a storage unit is definitely less expensive than getting a bigger house. And I would also reiterate that storage units enable you to live a more minimalist lifestyle in a smaller house, apartment, boat, trailer, with roommates, traveling, etc.

    One more thing: There is a very funny American sit-com called “Yes Dear” that has an episode where the husband has to move all of his memorabilia to a storage unit, and he sort of moves into it. And there’s a Star Wars guy who “lives” in the unit next to him. It’s hilarious.

    • Thanks, Melanie. You’ve mentioned many interesting points and provided useful information. It sure looks like you have your SSU usage well thought out, planned and managed.

  23. We rented storage space when we moved overseas for two years. As I was packing things I kept thinking ‘but what if I don’t even want this two years from now?’. My husband thought that kind of ridiculous, so we packed everything up and two years later when I unpacked it all I kept thinking ‘what is this? Why did we store this?’.

    If we were moving now, I would likely get rid of three quarters of what we have and replace only what was necessary after we arrived, and I would check out a few op shops first before buying new stuff. It would still take some convincing for my husband, though. His answer to ‘what should we do with this [object that we no longer need]’ is almost always ‘store it in the shed.’

    • Has your husband thought about what will happen when you run out of space in the shed, Susan? As a first step, would he be willing to let go of the unnecessary or not-so-important stuff so that the useful stuff can be properly housed in the shed?

      • When he runs out of space in the shed? Then you need a bigger shed!

        I have no idea why he keeps stuff. He’s not attached to any of it, and doesn’t care about me getting rid of things. It is more the thought that you can get rid of things that is foreign to him!

  24. This has been a very interesting read. I had a storage unit for 7 months when I remarried and we combined households.
    We didn’t know what we would need when w bought our own home. When we did buy our home, I sold or donated 90% of what was in there.
    Having read all the comments, I don’t think I would do that again – just get rid of everything, it’s so easy to replace.

  25. No never, but could see the need for one for a very short time. There are so many storage units around here. I also see so many 2 & 3 car garages filled or partially filled with stuff. We have a 2 car garage and can get both cars in there. We still have a lot of stuff to go through though. I have been off the decluttering for a couple of months and it is time to get back to it! I may have to cover Deb’s mini missions all in one day – today.

    • Yes, Sheryl … garages filled with stuff while the cars are parked outside are common. I wish you success in your decluttering, just take it one step at a time.

  26. My parents needed to rent a storage. They had sold their home and thought that their new home was going to close soon, but something feel through. The ended up needing a place to keep all their things while they secured a different home. They did do quite a bit of decluttering when they did rent because they had to determine what their “essentials” were. Thanks for your post.

    • Hi Aaron and welcome to 365 Less Things. Your parents have a very legitimate reason for hiring a storage unit and for such reasons it is good that they are available. My daughter is renting one at the moment while she is looking for a new home after moving interstate.

    • Your parents’ experience shows how useful an SSU can be, Aaron. They were wise to declutter before renting it.

  27. I have rented an SSU before when I needed to clear out my mothers house quickly. I gave a lot to charity but wanted to keep some things. We lived a fair distance away and did not have time to take it all back to our house. I held onto the SSU for a year. I think in part because I didn’t want to deal with it rather then the distance of travelling to and from the unit. I still have stuff even now in the spare room waiting for me to sort out. As I am sorting through it again I realise that some of the things have deteriorated and may not be worth hanging onto any more. I am determined to get it finally sorted and either sold, donated, recycled or trashed or digitised.

    • Hi Ruth and welcome to 365 Less Things. I so hope that you find the determination to reach your goal of sorting through your mother’s things. Just remember the love for and memory of your mother is not in the things, it is in your head and heart. So don’t be afraid to let things go that really aren’t that meaningful to you. Doing that, in no way dismissed your mother’s memory from your life. And put the meaningful items on display where they will bring you the joy of remembering her whenever you see them.

  28. Hi, Ruth. Thank you for sharing your experience. I agree with everything Colleen said and wish you well in this journey.