Storage units can be useful if they are used for short periods of time.
When major events occur in your life like moving between homes, getting married or divorced, or downsizing, renting a storage unit can seem like a convenient option.
Unfortunately, for many people a storage unit becomes a place to store their excess belongings for longer than they should.
Before long, a storage unit can become a 5′ x 10′ room of neglect and a bottomless pit of expense.
Quite often, months and years go by before people realize that they’ve spent thousands of dollars on storing their clutter.
1 out of every 10 households rents a storage unit
According to the Self Storage Association in the US, one out of every 10 households rents a storage unit from more than 51,000 storage facilities across the country.
By comparison, Starbucks now has 11,100 stores in the US. Self storage is a huge industry that pulls in over $154 billion dollars a year.
In Canada it is estimated that there are over 3,000 storage facilities and business is booming. North Americans are living well beyond their means and Canadian household debt is at an all time high.
We’re purchasing so many things now, that we don’t know where to put it all!
Consider these incredible research findings:
- According to Juliet B. Schor, Boston College sociologist, the average US consumer purchased one new piece of clothing every five and a half days.
- A 2006 study by UCLA discovered that middle-class families in Los Angeles were “battling a nearly universal overaccumulation of goods” and “the home-goods storage crisis has reached almost epic proportions.”
By the mid-2000s the average size of the Canadian home peaked at 2,300 square feet. In the 1960s, homes were around 1,200 square feet. We have more storage space than ever before but it’s still not enough.
Storage units aren’t the answer. There are countless stories of people coming to this realization after spending thousands of dollars. Hopefully the rest of this article will convince you why storage units are a bad idea.
1. Storage units are expensive
The price of self storage units in downtown Toronto are not cheap. You’ll pay less in Ajax or Brampton by up to $50.
Listed below is some sample pricing for small and medium storage units in Toronto:
Small storage unit (5′ x 5′)
- 25 square feet of space
- enough to store some small items, boxes and luggage
- $139/4 weeks
Medium storage unit (5′ x 10′)
- 50 square feet of storage space
- most popular size
- enough to store the contents of a bachelor apartment
- $233/4 weeks
A medium storage unit can cost $3,029 each year. In five years that cost balloons to $15,145. Does it make sense to spend that much money on storing your excess clutter?
2. Your storage unit is full of junk
It’s hard to part with your things. They might be family items with sentimental value. Perhaps you collect rare books, baseball cards, musical instruments, or antique furniture.
Be honest with yourself. How much of the stuff that you collect is really Happy Meal junk? A lot of the items in storage lockers have little to no value.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Storage Wars, then you’ll know that most of the storage units out there are full of junk.
It costs a lot of money to store junk. If you haven’t used something in your home for several years, you probably don’t need it. Just throw it out.
3. Hidden costs and services
There are hidden costs and services associated with renting a storage locker that can add up quickly.
Many self storage companies in Toronto charge a setup fee and require a mandatory monthly insurance premium.
A 5′ x ’10 storage unit might start out at $199/4 weeks. Factor in some of these additional costs and services:
- $7.50 for mandatory insurance
- $20 for secure locks (extra security and protection)
- $20 premium storage (units are closer to access points in storage facility)
All of a sudden you could be paying $246.50/4 weeks or an additional $2,470 each year!
4. It’s smarter to invest in home storage and organization
If you own a home or condo, it makes more sense to invest in home storage and organization instead of self storage.
People rent storage lockers because they think there isn’t enough space in their homes. There is a lot of under-utilized storage space in your home.
Sometimes it just takes a design expert to help you find it.
Instead of wasting money on a storage locker invest in a custom closet or custom cabinetry. It might cost the same as renting a storage unit for a year or two but it will increase the value of your home.
One Mississauga realtor suggests that a walk-in closet can help a condo stand out from the rest when it comes time to sell.
5. Theft and damage
A lot of self storage facilities don’t have onsite security guards. Depending on the construction of the storage locker it is possible to break into a storage unit.
If a storage unit doesn’t have climate control the contents of you unit could be at risk. Furniture and electronics that are exposed to extreme heat or cold can become damaged over time. Mould and water damage can also occur.
Just do a Google search for “water damage storage unit”. Sometimes insurance claims are denied if you don’t have proper coverage.
6. Storage units are a bad investment
People often store furniture or electronics in storage lockers because they cost a lot of money when they were first purchased. Throwing them out feels wasteful. Maybe they will increase in value when they are older.
Why would you sell a piece of furniture on Craigslist for $50 when you originally paid over $1,000 for it? You could put it in storage for 10 years and give it to your kids when they move out.
The only problem with that logic is that your storage costs after 10 years could be more than $20,000! That’s way more than the original value of the furniture. And that doesn’t make any sense.
Sell these items on Craigslist, Kijiji or give it away.
7. You can donate your furniture to someone who needs it
We often store things for years and never use them. As time goes by we get fed up storing things like furniture and eventually throw them out or give them away. Why wait?
Help a family transitioning out of homelessness or displacement and donate your furniture to an organization like Furniture Bank. You’ll be doing some good and even get a tax receipt.
8. Environmental footprint
According to the the Self Storage Association, the US has over 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space. Consider the climate control and lighting costs for all of that storage space.
If you care about the environment you have to wonder why we are spending so much energy to house so much junk.
9. It is cheaper to declutter
Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life-Chaning Magic of Tidying Up can be purchased for for $15 at Indigo.
If you read it and follow her advice it could save you thousands of dollars in storage fees.
10. Self storage companies want you to forget about your stuff
When it comes to clutter, people are lazy. Very few people really enjoy sorting through old clothes, toys, magazines and half-broken household items.
Derek Naylor, president of Storage Marketing Solutions says “human laziness has always been a big friend of self-storage operators.” It’s easier for people to throw everything into boxes, put it into storage and deal with it later.
Nobody wants to spend all weekend going through a storage locker and moving everything out. They would rather make their monthly storage payments and not deal with their clutter.
Storage units are a bad idea
The next time you declutter and purge, make a trip to the dump instead of a storage unit. Invest the money in home storage and organization.
It will pay for itself in the short-term. Renting a storage unit is a bad idea that will drain your finances.
Contact us if you’d like to learn more about improving the organization and storage in your home.