self storage en-US 7 Reasons Why Self-Storage Is a Really Bad Idea <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-reasons-why-self-storage-is-a-really-bad-idea" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="self storage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to The Self Storage Association, there are roughly 49,000 storage facilities in the U.S. alone. Self storage has consistently been the fastest growing area of the commercial real estate industry, representing $22 billion in annual U.S. revenues in 2011. But why? Why are Americans so willing to saddle themselves with material albatrosses that sap their monthly income? Have we become such a nomadic and unsettled people that our consumerism can only keep up with our lifestyles through acres of augmented storage? I&rsquo;ll leave that up to the social and cultural critics to decide.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re considering entering the fray and renting a storage unit, or if you&rsquo;re rethinking the value you get out of your current storage arrangement, let me offer a few arguments against these businesses that dot our landscape. Here are seven reasons why renting a self-storage unit is a bad idea. (See also: <a href="">The Tyranny of Stuff</a>)</p> <h3>1. Most Stored Objects Depreciate in Value</h3> <p>Unless you&rsquo;re storing gold or silver (an ill-advised move at most storage facilities), the objects you&rsquo;re housing are probably depreciating in value. Though I know some storage situations are unavoidable (i.e., a last minute move for a job, family emergency, divorce), the pay-off long-term just doesn&rsquo;t seem worth it when you consider the replacement cost of the stored items.</p> <h3>2. Extra Offsite Storage Promotes Acquisition</h3> <p>Having overflow storage options at the ready encourages needless acquisition. Often, storage units enable <a href="">hoarding tendencies</a> and prevent us from moving on from objects and the places and times in our lives that they represent.</p> <h3>3. Storage Fees Can Be a Financial Drain</h3> <p>This one is obvious, but still insidious. There&rsquo;s something overwhelming about having a storage unit full of stuff. We tend to ignore it, become exhausted at the thought of moving it, and avoid figuring out how to get rid of it. Inertia sets in and we (almost gladly) fork over the $65.00 or $75.00 a month to maintain the status quo. After a few years of paying our monthly dues, we&rsquo;ve spent enough to buy to good used car and have nothing to show for it besides the same old anxiety-producing pile of stuff.</p> <h3>4. Storage Facilities Often Lack Adequate Security</h3> <p>There doesn&rsquo;t appear to be any uniform approach to security measures across the self-storage industry. Some facilities are well-lit, some aren&rsquo;t; some have attendants on-site, some don&rsquo;t; some units have solid walls and metal doors, others are made of wire and plywood. For an industry that&rsquo;s basking in the riches of a society on the move, why is there no self-governance, no rating system, and no standardized security?</p> <h3>5. If You Can Store It for Years, You Can Live Without It</h3> <p>Professional organizers and decluttering experts sing the same refrain &mdash; if you haven&rsquo;t used it in six months or a year, you can live without it. The same logic applies to the objects we&rsquo;re warehousing in our storage units. If you can box it up and lock it up for years, do you really need it? If it&rsquo;s not used regularly, what&rsquo;s its real value?</p> <h3>6. Unpaid Storage Bills Equal Secured Debt</h3> <p>Many folks don&rsquo;t think about the contents of their unit as security against delinquent storage payments. But it only takes few episodes of &quot;Storage Wars&quot; to be set straight on that point. Unpaid storage fees are made up, in part, by auctioning off the contents of each unit. In many cases, the contents can be sold and renters are still liable for the remaining balance. If you&rsquo;re storing <a href="">family photos</a>, heirlooms, or other memorabilia, is it worth the risk to potentially have your items held captive or sold to the highest bidder?</p> <h3>7. Storage Services Are a Questionable Value</h3> <p>Considering the cost, the tendency for objects to depreciate in value while in storage, the inertia that off-site storage can lead to, and the lack of uniform security of facilities, I have a hard time seeing the <a href="">value in long-term storage services</a>. It begs the question &mdash; wouldn&rsquo;t our money be better spent processing and organizing the items we have and purging what&rsquo;s left over?</p> <p>I realize that self-storage can be like a huge convenience when life throws you a curve ball. But as an ongoing strategy for managing the &ldquo;stuff&rdquo; in our lives, it&rsquo;s a losing proposition. Maybe it&rsquo;s time to grab a few friends, throw the doors open, load up the trunk, and have a yard sale.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Downsize and Declutter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">12 Ways a Deep Declutter Can Improve Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">My 16 Favorite Ways to Get Rid of Clutter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Organization decluttering hoarding renting self storage Wed, 22 Aug 2012 10:24:40 +0000 Kentin Waits 952263 at 5 Ways Self Storage Units Are More Sad Museums Than Savvy Solutions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-self-storage-units-are-more-sad-museums-than-savvy-solutions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="self storage" title="self storage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="204" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>This week I did an intervention on Sarah, one of my dearest friends. It wasn't the first time. Over the last few years I have unsuccessfully attempted to get her to seek help for a problem that has cost her conservatively $48,000 and put financial and emotional stress on her family.</p> <p>This week, after over five years of trying to manage her problem, she finally hit rock bottom. She once again had to borrow money from her family &mdash; this time to pay for her daughter's healthcare. Sarah had $800 of the $900 doctor bill in the bank, but she'd already earmarked that money for the horrible monkey on her back. Sarah has a substance abuse problem &mdash; but not with drugs. Sarah has a problem with self storage.</p> <p>Sarah used to have financial stability. But five years ago she made a major life change when she decided, at age 40, to adopt a child and become a single parent. Sarah sold her beautiful 3000 square foot home so she could afford to quit her high-powered job and be a stay at home mom until her daughter could start pre-school. She moved into a 1200 square foot apartment in a good school district. This was all part of a good, long term plan.</p> <p>Unfortunately, she then made what became possibly the worst financial decision of her entire life: She put the 1800 square feet worth of possessions that didn't fit into the apartment into self storage.</p> <p>Using a technique that drug dealers use to reel in future customers, the storage company offered Sarah, the first time user, free product to ensure her loyalty. Convinced that she would be able to sell, donate or otherwise dispose of her extra stuff during the &quot;First 30 Days Free Rent&quot; period that her storage company offers to all new customers, Sarah moved her designer guest room furniture, her Christmas decorations, her art collection, etc into four of the cheapest storage units available.</p> <p>&quot;I'm just going to use this as a staging area to get organized,&quot; she told me at that point in time. &quot;That way, I'll have four weeks to figure stuff out and won't have to make any financial decisions about what to get rid of under duress.&quot;</p> <p>She never moved out.</p> <p>Although she has plenty of very valuable things in storage, as we surveyed the contents of one of Sarah's units earlier this week, she finally did the math. Even if she pulled everything out of the unit and set it on fire in the parking lot, it would still be a better financial decision than keeping it in storage for another month. 5 years x $200 a month per unit x 4 units = $48000. And that total doesn't even account for the money spent on gasoline to get her to and from her storage or all the late fees she's paid on other bills because she chose to pay her storage bill on time so her stuff wouldn't be seized for non-payment. The phone company can turn off your service, but the storage company can auction off your <a href=",2933,246738,00.html">dream diary, fake IDs, and herpes medication</a> to the highest bidder.</p> <p>Although Sarah's situation may be the worst that I know of personally, she's hardly alone. <a href=";ContentID=4228">According to the Self Storage Association</a>, 50% of storage unit renters are storing what won't fit into their homes. 1 out of every 11 Americans rents storage.</p> <p>Watching Sarah's horrible journey has made me realize that, although self storage (like easy credit), can be beneficial to a percentage of the population, it's a pact with Satan for many folks who don't have an iron fist over their finances or excellent time management skills. Quite simply, it's bad on several fronts.</p> <h3>Self storage is a bad investment</h3> <p>I called four different storage companies with units in my area of Los Angeles. The cheapest price for the smallest storage space, a 5 x 5 unit, in my neighborhood is $67 per month. The first month costs just a mere $1, but that's not counting the one time only $22 &quot;Administration Fee&quot; that they'll also tack onto the first 30 days.</p> <p>Although all those numbers sound doable financially, if I rented this space, I'd be out a whopping $760 in the first 12 months, all to rent a space that's the size of my laundry room. In other words, stuff that isn't functional enough to put in my house and use every day would become more and more expensive with each passing year.</p> <p>(On a side note, I had to hang up on three out of the four storage sales reps because I was getting such a hard sell, that they continued to demand my personal information even after I'd told them that their rental prices were beyond my budget.)</p> <h3>Self storage can lead to overconsumption</h3> <p>Self storage is like diet food for material goods. It fools the mind by fooling the eye. If your clutter isn't visible in your house, do you really have a spending problem?</p> <p>The first self storage facilities were built in Texas in the late 1960's. It took 25 years to build the first one BILLION square feet of storage. But it took just eight years (1998-2005) to add the second billion. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average 1960's home was 1200 square feet. In 2004 the average home had ballooned to almost twice that size to 2330 square feet.</p> <p>Bigger houses are harder to fill up, which may explain why Americans buy twice the number of consumer goods than the citizens of any other first world nation. (Okay, so we're a geographically huge country, but if we've got such big homes, why do we need an additional billion square feet of storage space?) The environmental cost of creating, transporting and finally housing two billion square feet of unused possessions is mindboggling.</p> <h3>Self storage can waste time as well as money</h3> <p>Self storage companies count on the basic physics of human laziness, that is: Objects at rest, remain at storage. After all, who wants to spend their precious free time, digging through boxes looking for stuff? Sarah, in her efforts to deal with her storage problems, has spent hundreds of hours &quot;organizing&quot; her stuff in storage, attempting to repack it more efficiently so she can scale down to smaller, cheaper units.</p> <h3>Self storage is urban blight</h3> <p>In all fairness, one of the storage companies in my area is housed in the hollowed-out facade of an Art Deco office building, so that's quite pretty. But for the most part, self storage facilities are architectural monsters. In addition to being ugly as sin, they bring in few jobs or sales tax benefits to the community, compared to other structures of similarly huge proportions.</p> <h3>Self storage can keep you from living in the moment</h3> <p>There are certain groups of people, like those who live on sail boats and soldiers fighting overseas, or the newly moved, who can follow their dreams because they can temporarily stash their possessions in storage. Storage gives them the wiggle room to experience life without being connected to personal belongings. For more than half the storage renters, however, this is simply not the case.</p> <p>Once a month, one of the storage companies in my neighborhood holds an &quot;estate sale&quot; where the owner of the company sells off the contents of units that were seized for non-payment of rent. What odd, desperate or lazy story is behind this lapse of judgment? Why the renters failed to move their possessions out of storage before the rent was due is always a mystery. What tales of woe are behind the abandoned photograph albums, bronzed baby shoe ashtrays or the hand-embroidered vintage napkins? Why weren't these items, so obviously full of sentimental value, kept in the home where they could be used and admired?</p> <p>A clearer narrative about why items were acquired is visible from a lot of the sale merchandise, however. You can almost hear the nagging spouses behind the half dozen exercise bikes and Thighmasters for sale each month or the siren's call of Martha Stewart behind the hundreds of half-finished craft items.</p> <p>Whether they are nostalgic artifacts from the past or wishful self-help tools for the future, none of these objects relate to the present day lives of their former owners, which is probably why they were put into storage to begin with. These monthly sales are sad museums, a collection of failed ventures and unfulfilled dreams of what could be.</p> <p>As with every successful product, self storage provides a powerful storyline for the consumer to buy into: that preserving memories of the past or the potential of the future through material goods is valuable. For the past five years, Sarah has denied the chaos that keeping so much stuff in storage brings to her daily life. Her dream of returning to her former standard of living in the future has cost her the very security she wants for her daughter and their quality of life today. $48,000 could have gone toward her daughter's college fund. $48,000 could have paid for a lifetime of vacations. It could have been a down payment on a house.</p> <p><i>Up until this week, I think Sara actually believed that she would one day find her way back into a big house in the hills, even though she's a self-employed, single parent facing a global financial downturn. As I photographed her possessions to list on Craigslist, she fretted about selling her formal dining room set, because she wanted to pass it on to her daughter as a family heirloom. That her daughter, who is currently in kindergarten, might not like the style of the set as an adult and would have no emotional connection to an object that she'd only ever seen in storage, never crossed her mind. </i></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Max Wong, who blogs at <a href="">My Roman Apartment</a>. Read more by Max:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Why 100k?</a></li> <li><a href="">Striking Out in the New Year</a></li> <li><a href="">Gadzukes! 10 Ways to Use Up Your Zucchini Bounty</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Max Wong</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">These 5 Apps Will Help You Finally Organize Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Reasons Why Self-Storage Is a Really Bad Idea</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">6 Simple Financial Upgrades You Can Make During Breakfast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Online Tools to Manage Your Money in Under 10 Minutes a Week</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Here&#039;s Why Multitasking and Money Don&#039;t Mix</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization consumerism money management self storage Mon, 05 Oct 2009 13:00:03 +0000 Max Wong 3661 at