Saturday, April 27, 2019

A Country of Storage Units

The country is full of storage units. We have so much stuff that we have to rent a place to keep the overflow. To be fair, there are valid reasons to rent a storage unit, but not as many reasons as people think.

One of the common reasons for renting a unit is that a person is downsizing. Maybe the kids have grow up and they’ve decided to move into an apartment or condo. People who decide to live in RVs or boats have the same downsizing dilemma.

First of all, people get way too attached to their stuff. They also overestimate the value of their things. It doesn’t matter how much was paid for that 1970s furniture. It doesn’t matter how much you loved it at the time. You kids will never want it. That’s a fact. Let it go.

People keep a lot of things for sentimental value. That’s fine, as far as it goes. However, you can’t expect other people to love the things that meant so much to you. I’ve seen a lot of clean outs where the kids have to deal with what their parents left behind. The vast majority of it ends up in the dumpster -right down to the family Bible.

My guess is that the vast majority of stuff sitting in storage units has very little intrinsic value. There are exceptions, but the good stuff should either be used, sold or given away. Storage units are a constant monthly drain on your finances. Eventually, the cost of the rental will exceed the value of everything inside it.

Storage units only make sense for short term use. For example, you might have sold your house but are unable to move in the new one yet. Perhaps you are downsizing and need temporary storage while you figure out what to sell, give away or junk. My thinking is the more valuable something is the quicker you should figure out what to do with it. I’ve seen people who had expensive things in storage but ended up forfeiting the unit for non-payment. They would have been much better off selling those items, even at fire sale prices.

People who run those places tend to be pretty mercenary. One of my daughters moved across country on fairly short notice. She took the important stuff with her, but a fair amount ended up in a storage unit for a month. It was dear old dad’s job to clean it out. I found homes for most of the stuff. However, there were two very nice sleeper sofas that nobody wanted. Those things weigh a ton and I wasn’t going to move them by myself. I decided to leave them behind.

Then the storage unit owner expected me to pay a disposal bill. That wasn’t going to happen. I knew he also owned a trailer park and those sofas would end up in a rental unit. He just thought he could get a little more money out of me. He didn’t know me very well.



  1. Having just administrated an estate I can tell you that everything including expensive well-made jewelry is worth about 10 cents on the dollar or less. Which is why even though some of the jewelry was appraised, for insurance purposes, in the thousands of dollars. I had the heirs, and then, family go through it, picking out the pieces they wanted before any of it was sold at the estate sale with the blessings of the court. Always check with extended family members on family bibles. Just cause nobody in the immediate family wants them, Cousin Sally who does genealogy would be thrilled to have them.

    1. I certainly would not throw out something like a family Bible or pictures, but I've seen them in dumpsters after a clean out.

      Thanks for your comment. It's always good to hear from someone with first hand knowledge on how these things are done.

  2. You can live in a real nice storage unit...

    1. I guess that's why they are called "self storage."