One family’s story of life with a storage unit.


Storage unit ready for summer furniture and other treasures.

I rented a storage unit three days ago. No, I rented two! The first was a 10×10 ft., which I was told is the most popular. The next day I saw, with alarm, the amount of stuff accumulating from my daughter’s new condominium. It included things too good to pitch now and stuff that was out of season. They were relegated to storage because even the best designed vacation home can be overwhelmed with out of season clothes and equipment. When reality struck, we moved to a 15×20 going from the size of a child’s bedroom to a one car garage. Both were on the first floor of a climate-control building.

This was not a novel experience. Our family changed houses on average once every seven years. My wife liked change and decorating. I have rented several storage units, and I am not alone. There are nearly 50,000 of these facilities. For a comparison, there are 15,000 of the familiar McDonalds restaurants. This means there are 750 million square ft. of storage available for extra mostly personal stuff. Here are some reasons for having a storage unit: 1. You have accumulated too much to keep where you live but may need it again. 2. Even though you don’t use the stuff now, you or your children may want it someday 3. It means too much, and you can’t pitch it. 4. You are willing to spend about $100 a month based on some or all these reasons.

In addition to size, the cost of a storage unit depends on location (rural or urban), and if it is climate controlled. Climate controlled units are cleaner and safer for certain items including furniture, electronics, some clothing, and artwork. I have rented non-climate-controlled first floor units for storing bikes, kayaks, machinery, and other durable items that can be simply wiped off.

My wife and I have experienced the joy of living with furniture, china and silver passed down from three generations. Many of these items spent time in storage during our early years of marriage as we moved to apartments and cities while in training and Army service. When we were finally settled, we “rescued” items that had been passed on and used them in our home.

Our children and grandchildren learned to appreciate what had become family treasures. This meant that as we downsized it was necessary to return to storage those “treasures”, waiting until our daughters were ready. Now in a retirement home we see the pattern repeated as our children are passing down to our grandchildren.

When we visit our daughters’ and grandchildren’s homes, decorated to their own tastes, we are happy to see a sprinkle of family “treasures” saved by their mother and placed in storage by their dad.

And the story goes on. The 15×20 unit just rented is ready for seasonal furniture and an assortment of “toys”, including a 13-ft kayak, an inflatable dinghy, and a new electric outboard motor. This will make better use of the space in the new summer cottage. And confirming what goes around comes around, our daughter “rescued” a century-old pair of iron beds from their previous home that was sold furnished. The new storage unit will be the home of the antique beds that have been slept in for five generations.

By Savvy Senior

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