Downsizing means that your former home was far larger, and therefore naturally contained more “stuff” than your new abode can possibly hold. Selling, giving away, and donating the excess is the logical first step towards downsizing, as storing many items is just not practical. In terms of furniture, a year of storage fees would pay a lot towards replacing it with new furniture, in most cases. Even so, many of us are not quite ready to abandon our former life entirely, and our downsizing might not be quite “permanent” in our minds. If it won’t fit in the new home, it has to go somewhere.
Sheds are one answer, but sheds are notoriously not particularly weatherproof. Since the items that haven’t been disposed of are important to us, putting them in a space where they will quickly be ruined is foolish. It would be easier and faster to dispose of them somehow before putting them into the shed. The options are to have an entirely weatherproof shed or use a storage unit.
Having a shed means having space where you can legally place it. It means worrying about vandals and thieves too, along with rodents and insects and weather related issues. For many on the road to downsizing, there is a period of time in which there is no real estate attached to us. That makes a shed impossible unless its on a friend or relative’s property. Even then, it can cause numerous problems that you may not have thought about or really want to deal with.
The rental storage unit is usually simplest, but it means making sure that the rental fees are paid and the items are not lost to non-payment impounding. At the same time, the fees are usually far less expensive than those on a “rent to own” shed. We have one, and get a $5 discount each month for having it set up to automatically be paid each month. It’s not far, less than 10 miles away, and while not ultra convenient, it’s not terribly inconvenient. I have restricted our space to a 10×10 (typical small size) unit. It isn’t climate controlled, but we do have 24 hour access, very important since we store our camping gear in it!
That’s where the stuff goes that we just can’t cram into the trailer, as well as stuff we’re not going to need for weeks or months at a time. It’s where the stuff that is still important to us goes for that half life before we figure out how to make it fit, relocate, dispose of it, or otherwise give it a permanent disposition. It’s far enough inland to avoid storm surge flooding from potential hurricanes, and far enough away from the river that we aren’t worried about flood waters originating there either.
With our upcoming holidays, the approaching winter season, and our hopeful search for a new location, it’s deemed the right time to banish a bunch of stuff, as well as retrieve some other items. We need our winter clothing and our blankets out of it. We need to store the summer stuff. We need to bring the compact computer desk that is still there back to the trailer, where we’re going to try it out to see if it will work in the here and now. We’re preparing for the addition of a desktop computer to our lives, as we desperately need a second computer. We hope the electric is capable of handling that addition too.
I’m just tired of feeling like I live in a warehouse on wheels. Too much stuff in here has us incapable of finding things, and without any way to get things actually put away. I did find my crimping pliers to repair the ethernet cables though–they had been put in a box with some other computer gear, the rest of which is being shifted back to the storage unit as unnecessary for now.
Freeing up space will allow us to find homes for the essentials, and then we’ll gradually go through the remaining stuff to determine its fate. I see a garage sale in my future, however!
Is the expense of the storage unit really necessary? In our case, yes. We have allowed ourselves to become overly burdened with “stuff.” In addition, its disorganized, and we likely have duplication galore–both GM & I were single a very long time before becoming a couple. We share a lot of interests, but we each have our own separate ones as well. With our interests and hobbies, there is a pile of stuff also known as tools, equipment, and supplies. We thought it through very carefully, and determined that at least for now, it was a necessary expense.
For other people, it may not be. Only the people involved can determine if its necessary. For many of us, finding a place to store things is necessary, whether it is a boat, motorcycle, ATV, fishing gear, camping gear, or the family heirlooms. The storage unit can be a great asset to keeping your sanity and satisfying RV park requirements about not having anything outside of your RV or travel trailer. (Many do not even allow a barbecue grill to be left outside.) Think it over carefully–even at $50 per month, over a year, you will have spent $600. In our case, we are spending $660 annually for that 10×10 space with a garage style door and a lock. Prices vary according to your location, the size of your unit, regional prices, and any extra features your storage company may offer. Shop around to find what you need at the most reasonable price. Remember too, if you are storing items such as photographs and valuable heirlooms, you may need to consider using climate controlled storage to preserve those items. Don’t store things in a manner that will result in their ruin!
How long do I anticipate needing storage? That’s an important consideration as well. I will definitely need storage for several more months at a minimum. I’m not anticipating my need for the storage to go away, but I am concerned about the long term expense of keeping it. Over the next month or so, I need to become more diligent about going through and disposing of the stuff that I don’t need or want to keep, even if I choose to use a garage sale to reduce its bulk. If you are becoming a full time RVer as part of your downsizing, consider the term of your storage as part of the overall decision. Traveling will make it harder to access your storage unit to retrieve seldom-used items, and may change your decision about keeping them instead of donating or selling them. At the same time, if choosing between a shed on a site that will be unoccupied much of the year versus a storage unit where your presence is not noted…the storage unit would definitely be more secure. Think it over carefully before you decide.