Stuff, stuff and more stuff! Where does it all go?
In an era of consumerism with the comfort of consumption, Brits are accumulating more and more belongings. When our homes are bulging at the seams, is self-storage the solution? It might seem like it but I’m not so sure…
According to a 2018 report, by Self Storage Association UK (SSAUK), 48% of all self-storage facilities in Europe are situated within the UK. That’s nearly as many storage units as the rest of Europe put together. For a small island, such as we are, that’s a lot of stuff just taking up space.
Why rent storage space?
So, why do people put things into storage? It may be a short stop-gap while people move house or a temporary solution to store an old sofa that is “just too good to throw away”. Divorced or seperated people are twice as likely to use storage as single people. Sentimental items like record collections, old letters and school books are often boxed up and find their way to a storage unit. The common misconception is that by storing old furniture, clothing and other belongings, you can relieve your savings account by not having to repurchase these items when — or even if — you need them in the future.
In today’s economy, mortgages and affordable property are harder to come by. Increasing numbers of the population are living in shared accommodation. So, with no loft or garage space, storage can seem a tempting option.
Customers often use a storage unit as a place to put stuff while they decide what to do with it. Furthermore, what starts off as a few things, can easily grow into a larger hoard. In the end it can become, in effect, little more than a dumping ground. Even if you do try to access your belongings, the chances of finding an object quickly, are unlikely.
However, out of sight is out of mind. When you don’t actually need or miss any of the objects that are being stored, it’s easy to forget them. It’s also easy to avoid making decisions about each item. So despite the cost of storing stuff the chore, of sorting out what’s in storage, just becomes part of a vague nagging to-do list at the back of your mind. The monthly direct debit might give you a fleeting feeling of unease when you see it on your bank statement but as you’ve already paid for this month, you’ve still got a few weeks to get it sorted…right?
So, how much do people actually spend on storing their belongings? The UK average net rental rate stands at £23.08 per square foot per annum. However, net rental rates in London are double the level of rates in the East Midlands or the North. Initially, this might seem an acceptable figure to pay for the convenience of keeping years’ worth of belongings safely tucked away. But, it’s never going to be just one square foot. Sixty three percent of domestic customers, on average, rent units sized between 11 – 100 square feet. So, depending on size, you’re looking at costs of between £250 and £2300 per year. If you live in London, you need to double those figures. Overall, the UK spends around £540 million, each year, on self-storage.
A third of customers have kept their unit for over three years according to findings from the SSAUK report. So, this begs the question, if someone can do without something for 3 years, do they really need it?
Common Justifications for Using Storage Facilities
Everyone can find reasons for not tackling things on their to-do-list. It does take time to list things on Ebay or hold a car boot sale. Yet, there is a certain irony in storing stuff when the cost of storage starts to outweigh the value of the items in storage. As time goes on, those costs are only going to accumulate.
So, whether it be genuine anxiety at parting with sentimental items or purely procrastination, the solution may be to just jump in. The longer you leave it, the harder it will become. And don’t leave it for your children to sort out, I’m sure it’s not a job that they would relish either.
If you are willing to cut your losses, why not donate all of the saleable items to charity?
The Gone for Good app can make it easy for you to do that. There is no need to ring round charity shops, struggle to find parking, or lug heavy bags yourself. Just download the Gone for Good App, found on Itunes or GooglePlay:
This 90 second video explains how the app works, in a bit more detail.
The app will ask you to upload a couple of photos and contact details and a charity of your choice, will contact you, to arrange a collection date. The app is free to download and use.
If you live in the London area, we are trialling our new #CharityVan. With this service, you use the app in exactly the same way and can choose a charity that you’d like to donate to. However, instead of the charity arranging a collection time, one of our vans will collect instead. You should be able to arrange a collection slot, within 4 days of using the app or online service.