My general rule about storage units is this: avoid them at all costs! People rent them and forget ‘em and they often turn out to be filled with junk.
Let’s look at why you really might need a storage unit.
There’s a short list of reasons that are acceptable.
- You are temporarily living in a place that’s too small for your possessions
- Your temporary living situation will be so short that it doesn’t make sense to move all your stuff in
- You’ve inherited a large quantity of stuff that will take time to sort through
- Your home needs repairs due to flood or fire
Notice that all these reasons are valid only because the storage is temporary. There’s no good reason to keep things permanently in storage.
Just as you shouldn’t live beyond your means financially, you shouldn’t live beyond your space means either.
I read this quotation from a storage industry executive: “People turn basements into home theaters or turn garages into family rooms and they need space for storage.” I call that living beyond your space means.
Of course, it’s much more common to fill up the garage with stuff so there’s no room for the car and to fill up the basement too so there’s no room for a workshop or pool table. People also fill up their spare rooms so they aren’t so spare anymore.
Okay, on to bad reasons to have a storage unit:
- You moved in a hurry and just boxed stuff up and ditched it there
- You’ve moved a number of times and keep adding to the mystery box collection
- You inherited stuff 20 years ago and never got around to deciding whether you even like it
- The stuff that’s in there is not worth a fraction of what it costs to rent the unit
- You’re storing things for your children to have when they grow up and your kids are babies now
- Keeping stuff you’re going to sell on eBay someday
- Saving clothes you’ll fit into someday
- Hanging on to an exercise machine you’ll use someday
All these reasons involve unmade decisions or hanging onto stuff for future situations that may never come to pass.
They also involve spending money; a lot of it if you keep paying rent year after year.
The year is still young! Make 2012 the year you make those decisions and start living in the present.