Thursday, 9 August 2007

Moving stuff into storage

This is what I have been doing for the last few days. The family home has been sold and I must remove the last of my possessions as there is no room to put anything more into my cramped little suite.

What is staggering is the amount of self storage space that is available in Richmond, and how much of it is occupied. The vacancy rate seems to be slightly higher than places to rent, as all the operators are keen to show you what they have. Many have web sites but very few put their prices on line. I wonder why? The quality of space on offer is very variable: ease of access being the most critical condition. I helped a woman today to load a bike into an upper locker which required the use of a rolling step ladder. Not something I would have even attempted on my own.

But the man who runs the place I use is also a philosopher. He actually advises people to throw stuff away rather than pay for a larger storage area. He has two huge dumpsters on site, and does not charge for their use, though he must pay to have them emptied frequently. He says that most of the stuff people store is useless and is merely emotional baggage. This is not because of his belief system - simply long experience. And the reality of dealing with spaces where the rent is not paid. You can tell how many of those there are by the addition of a red padlock to the one the owner of the stuff put on. Pay the rent and he takes off the red lock and you get your stuff. Fail to pay within the defined deadline and he cuts off your lock and tries to sell the stuff in the locker. Most of it turns out to be worthless.

As property prices continue to rise, and rent space become ever more scarce, people are downsizing. There is, of course, a cable tv show dedicated to the idea of clearing out the clutter and the emotional turmoil it represents. Mostly, getting rid of stuff makes you feel better. I took three huge bags of clothes to Value Village - finally admitting to myself that I will never again have a 34" waist. I have no doubt that they are a commercial con trick and rip off everybody on both sides of the deal. But it was a lot easier to drop stuff off there than most of the thrift shops I have seen.

But mostly people seem to rent space. And every so often they visit it - perhaps to switch the scuba gear for the skis. But mostly, I suspect, to hang on to stuff that they cannot bear to part with. Because it represents what we have lived, what we were, who we were.

My son was supposed to be helping but spent his time sorting through my CD collection. He said he could not bear the thought of great music going into storage and not being listened to. My daughter broke up my set of Jane Austen for a very similar reason. I just hope I get the books and cds back one day, when I can retrieve all my stuff and start a new home. I have already decided it must have an enclosed back yard - for growing vegetables and letting the dog out. It will be a big dog, and rescued: not bought from a pet shop.

One good thing. All this physical activity - hefting boxes and running up and down stairs - showed up with a really low blood glucose reading this morning. The new place will have room for my bike too!


Chris said...

My parents are about to go through the same thing. Now that my sisters and I have left home, my parents are looking to sell and downsize. I've already told them they can get rid of anything I've left in my room. If I haven't missed it in the past 4 years, I probably forget it exists.

Stephen Rees said...

Yeah, but one day you will be watching the antiques road show and you will learn how much your old toys would now be worth if you had kept them - and their original boxes too, of course

Dan said...

I have seen some people put stuff into a self storage unit, not have an exit plan and not remember what they stored and ended up paying way too much for the stuff they were storing.

For some money saving self storage tips, check out my lens.