This post is a guest post by none other than my handsome husband Chris DiCroce, where he shares a downsizing secret a lot of people don’t consider.
Why one of the most-used “conveniences” can become one of our biggest sources of stress (and money-suckers!).
Take it away, babe!
Living tiny is the new “living large”
These days, tiny is big. People all over the world are looking for alternatives to skyrocketing rent and unattainable home prices. Tiny homes are all the rage.
But a new class of adventurous folks are investigating all the options out there. And some are looking even further. They want to live a life afloat.
Moving onto a sailboat has become a popular alternative to well… the alternative.
By now, you’re probably familiar with the romantic end of the sailing rope, glossy images of fashionable sailors strolling teak decks, sipping champagne. But rarely do we handle the muddy end of the same rope; the not-so-fun business of downsizing in order to actually move onto the boat.
To put it simply, “What the heck do I do with all my stuff?”
Most people’s immediate thought is, “I’ll just rent a storage unit.”
And the personal warehouse industry couldn’t be happier about that. They’re not going to say or do anything to dissuade you from that belief.
But I am. I’m going to shatter the storage unit myth and keep you from wasting $1,200+ a year!
Some facts about storage units
I bet you didn’t know that In 2016, the self-storage industry made almost 33 billion dollars. That’s nearly three times what Hollywood’s box office grossed! This year, it’s set to top 38 billion dollars.
Not only is it recession-proof, but over the last 50 years, it’s been the surest real estate investment a person could make. And here are some more stats that might help change your mind about storage units:
- In many major metro areas, high-end storage facilities can command two or three times the rent per square foot than commercial or residential areas, and most of these facilities claim a 90% occupancy rate.
- At the time of this writing, Manhattan Mini-storage charges $344.00 per month for a 5’ x 7’ unit. That’s over $4,000.00 a year!)
- The volume of all the self-storage units in the U.S. could fill the Hoover Dam with old records, ski’s, and ill-fitting clothing more than 26 times!
- 65% of self-storage renters have a garage in their home, 47% have an attic, and 33% have a basement. In other words, people own more than what can fill an entire house.
If you’re looking to move onto a boat, don’t become part of these statistics!
Why storing your things can be problematic
I don’t believe in paying to store your things. I believe that once those things get packed away and stacked in a dark, metal building, you’re going to realize you can live just fine without them. You won’t even remember what’s in there, and you’ll be paying money to store things that you’ll ultimately be getting rid of at a later date.
Storage = Deferred Decisions x Stress
You see, when you store your stuff, you’re creating a future task. At some point, you have to deal with that storage unit. That creates stress.
Some people deal with this stress by abandoning the storage unit altogether. If I was wrong about this, we wouldn’t have hit television shows like Storage Wars, where people bid over unclaimed / unpaid storage units.
Not only do you create future stress, you’re paying to keep what I call diminishing technology.
Each year, technology tops itself. Those appliances you’re paying to store will be virtually obsolete in about two years. If they’re not, they’ll be woefully inefficient compared to the newer models. Don’t believe me?
New efficient washing machines use 13 gallons of water compared to conventional ones,which can use up to 23 gallons. What will that difference be in two years? And refrigerators manufactured after the year 2000 use up to 60% less energy.
That means that two years from now, you’ll have paid at least a couple thousand dollars to store antiquated items that you’ll almost certainly replace if you return to a life on land.
This is money you could live on or invest. The storage fees easily amount to the cost of replacement items.When you store your stuff, not only do you create future stress, you’re paying to keep what I call diminishing technology.Click To Tweet
Think about that Manhattan storage fee of four-grand per year now. In just two years, you’d spend over $8,000 to keep what you can buy brand-new for around $1,500 to $2,000.
Why would you do that?
But… you still have stuff that you want to keep.
Maybe you have a hundred out-of-print Marvel comics from the 60s that you’re calling your retirement fund. “They could be worth six-figures!” you say. I get it. All I can say is they may never be worth more than they are right now. But only you can decide what to do with them.
Personally, I’d cash out, invest the money and live my life. One never knows when one market will crash and another will rise. There are a lot of Beanie Baby “investors” thinking twice about their investments right about now.
Our downsizing story
When my wife and I downsized our home, guest house, and storage shed to move onto our 35-foot boat, we kept a storage unit for a year. It was a constant source of stress.
When we finally decided to get rid of it, I couldn’t believe what we kept. Most of the stuff in that storage unit that we thought was irreplaceable went straight to donation centers. We paid over $1,200 to store crap I gave away.
Some of the keepsakes I felt were truly irreplaceable went to my mom’s house. She graciously agreed to keep them in her basement for us. I would bet good money that if I went to her house today, I’d get rid of most of that stuff now, too!
If cruising life is temporary
If you’re at all concerned that you’re life afloat will be a temporary experiment rather than a long-term living solution, then go ahead and get a storage unit. But get the smallest one available and don’t waste valuable space with items that will be antiquated when you’re done. And if at all possible, pay for the year in advance.
Why? Because when you’re on the water sailing, you may not have the ability to pay that bill when it’s due every month. Sitting in an anchorage waiting out weather often equates to no wifi. That creates stress. We want you to eliminate stress.
Storage facilities aren’t known for their kindness and sympathy. If you’re late, fees get applied immediately. After 30 days, they can lock you out, confiscate your stuff, and put it up for auction. This entire process can happen in less than 90 days.
Consider truly getting rid of more than you keep, and ask yourself if there’s someone who has a few square feet of basement space that they could let you use for your non-negotiables. You could even pay them instead of contributing to an industry that’s already making a fortune on people’s unused crap.
What to do if you must rent a storage unit
If you absolutely must rent a storage unit, follow these tips:
- Read the lease agreement closely and pay for the year in advance
- Get a receipt that says you’re paid
- Store that receipt with your important documents
- List a friend or relative as an additional contact person & give them a copy of your key. That way, they can act on your behalf if you’re unreachable
I think a new awakening is upon us. A younger, more conscious generation is coming up. One more concerned with acquiring experiences rather than things. Out-of-reach living costs could ultimately be a good thing for all of us. They’re forcing us to re-examine the spaces we occupy. Our priorities. Our addiction to stuff.
And if I were a betting man, with money to invest, I would not be too quick to bet on those storage facility returns to continue for much longer. But what do I know? I sold my Beanie Babies years ago.
Want to get started on your downsizing journey? Get our Room By Room Downsizing Checklist below.
This checklist takes you through each room and gives you the “no-brainer” things you can get rid of immediately.
No sentimental attachment. Just the easy stuff to give you some quick wins, plus a huge dose of motivation. Once you see the progress you’re making, you won’t want to stop!
Amen! Everything on my boat fit into a rented Kia Soul. That’s after leaving room for the dog. And I still feel like I have too much stuff.
Our stuff holds a lot of emotional baggage. And it’s worth dealing with it before you have the additional stress of cruising.
YES! Even things that we thought were non-negotiables quickly become dispensable once you’ve changed your mindset and lived on the boat for awhile. One thing I’ve done is for sentimental items, I take a photo and lovingly get rid of the item. Granted, there are some things that I won’t part with, but most of my stuff, I realize is just… stuff.