Why the Clutter Hidden in Your Storage Unit Needs to Be Exposed

There's yet another "personal storage facility" being built in a nearby town. This one has a tower in the center and palm trees around the perimeter fence. It looks like a small Mediterranean walled town with a citadel.

Not only is it a rather exotic design for a storage place, it's only about 1/2 mile down the road from another, older one.

cool tower

What is this craziness?

Did you know that in the U.S. there are more than twice as many storage centers as high schools? There are more storage centers than McDonalds and Starbucks combined? Did you know personal storage is one of the fastest-growing sectors of real estate investment?

What's more, storage centers are where people turn when their garages, basements, attics, and yard sheds are already full. Now, if you can't park your car in the garage, you're kind of missing the point. But if you're paying for additional storage space for stuff you don't have room for (or even need, obviously, because it's in a box three miles away, locked behind a gate, guarded by a tower), then something is very, very wrong.

If the storage is temporary, because your military unit is being deployed overseas, or you've inherited the contents of your parents' house and haven't had a chance to deal with it yet, or you're living in your motor home while your 5,000 square-foot dream home is being constructed, then okay. That makes sense. It's a tool, and a useful one.

The operative word here is temporary. If you're an empty nester who's downsized to an apartment, but you haven't also downsized your stuff (hence the storage unit), your work isn't done. I doubt you're going to upsize again, so you need to pare down your belongings and stop paying to store what you don't need – and didn't choose to have in your apartment. Maybe someone else would be happy to have it (but don't guilt your kids into taking it if they don't want to).

This is how much we don't want to deal with all of the things we keep buying and accumulating. We'd rather pay an average of more than $100 every month to store it. I'd invest in one of those storage places (maybe this cool new one with the tower) if it wouldn't be so hypocritical. "Minimalist Blogger Makes a Killing on Storage Industry Investments" would not make a good headline.

Storage units are the very definition of "out of sight, out of mind," and that clutter will sit around until you die and your kids have to deal with it. Believe me, they won't be happy with you.

Here's my prescription.

Get a truck, empty out your storage unit, cancel your rental contract, and move all those boxes into your living room, kitchen, and bedroom. Right in the middle of where you live. Now you have to deal with them. You're either going to make the time to go through everything, or you're going to want that stuff hauled away pronto. (I recommend that you call 1-800-GOT-JUNK. It's what I would do.)

Et, voilĂ ! You have just learned an important decluttering secret – choose what you want to keep and declutter the rest. Obviously, what's in your house now is what you want to keep. The stuff in storage is the stuff you didn't choose.

I wonder what we could use this nifty new storage center for if it wasn't filled with unneeded crap? It'd be a shame to waste that cool tower.

Here's what else you need to do.

Whether you actually move from your current home into a smaller living space, or simply undertake a radical declutter, it's a challenge. But it's also a chance to reinvent yourself and carry just the essentials into your new life. By releasing decades'-worth of accumulated items, you can emerge with more energy and freedom, ready to look ahead, not back.

So head on over and pre-order my newest book, Downsize Now: The Joy of Decluttering for a Fresh Start.* It can give you the tools and inspiration to get the job done so you can start enjoying all the benefits – and the Kindle edition is 25% off during the pre-order period.  

* This blog is reader-supported. If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

For those of you who love the paperback editions of my books, this one will be available soon for purchase. I'm sorry I can't offer it for pre-order. 


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