Should you get a storage unit?

free advice Sep 08, 2022

The topic of storage units comes up often when I'm working with clients. I think there naturally comes a moment when the process of decluttering feels a bit hard, and the solution seems to be to hire a storage unit. Surely if we are trying to make space in our home, moving some stuff OUT of the home makes sense, doesn't it? 

You might be surprised to hear me say Yes. But also No. Hear me out. 

For me, it is an obvious solution in certain circumstances - for example selling or renovating your home. If you have a comfortable level of stuff in your home for daily life and aren't feeling too stressed or overwhelmed, then it's likely that you actually don't need a decluttering strategy. You simply need to move stuff out of your home for a short and defined period of time to achieve your goal of making your home more appealing to buyers, or renovating without ruining your things. Now that we've got the selling or renovating scenario out of the way, let's get to the nitty-gritty of using a storage unit as part of a decluttering strategy. 

Storage units can be a really helpful tool when decluttering your home. If space is what you crave, AND it feels quite urgent, AND you have the budget, then absolutely removing stuff from your home and putting it into a storage unit is an excellent option for you. 

You just need to understand that you are delaying the decision-making. Someone, at some stage, is going to have to face the music and decide what happens with the contents of the storage unit. It could be you, some weeks/months/years down the track, or it could be your family if you are unable to do it. It could even be a stranger - the American TV show Storage Wars is all about people who bid on storage units when the rent hasn't been paid, in the hope of finding saleable items. 

If you're considering renting a storage unit, my advice is to do so strategically. Here are the key questions (and some suggestions from a professional organiser who has seen the inside of A LOT of storage units!) to ask yourself before you sign the rental agreement.

What will I be putting in there?

Resist the temptation to shove everything in the storage unit as that's when it becomes overwhelming to enter. Paperwork (if you need to keep files for legal reasons), sentimental items, and other people's stuff are all good candidates for the storage unit. Avoid putting clothes, electronics and kids toys in there, if possible. You're better off decluttering those at home and passing on to someone who needs them.

How long will I need the unit for?

Considering how long you'll need your storage unit for is an essential step, in my opinion. If you enter the rental agreement with a fixed term in mind, you'll be able to systematically empty the storage unit before that term is up. 

Will I need to access anything I'm storing?

This question comes down to your stacking strategy - consider it before you sign the agreement, and consider it again as you're filling your storage unit. Anything you are absolutely not going to need should go on the bottom layer at the back of the unit. Work backwards from there, reserving upper layers and the space at the front of the unit for any items you might need to access while it is in storage. 

 

Hopefully by now you've realised that putting stuff in a storage unit is not decluttering; it's a useful component in overarching decluttering strategy. If you're going into this with that understanding, then rent away! Two final pieces of advice:

  1. Your storage containers are important. I recommend investing in either moving boxes (choose double-walled cardboard) or stackable plastic storage tubs, especially if you are planning a longer rental term. Double-walled cardboard will stack without deteriorating over time; other cardboard boxes will start to collapse under sustained weight loading, which is why you start to get box stacks that look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
  2. Label, label, label. I cannot stress this enough. Be very specific - for example "cookbooks" is better than "books", and "business invoices 2017-2018" is better than "paperwork".

If you need help developing an overarching decluttering strategy, get in touch. I can help you with this with absolutely zero judgement - my goal is for you to feel happier and more relaxed at home, and I'm realistic that there are a number of tools we may need to deploy to get you there faster. 

Book your free consultation now, and let's get you on your way to an uncluttered, happy and peaceful home. 

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