I’ve been meaning to write this post for what feels like forever — after all, I moved out of my storage unit back in October — however having taken so long, I thought I’d wait just a little bit longer until after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Figured it might be more relevant (as in, now that you bought all this crap, where you gonna put it?).
A couple years ago, it dawned on me the sheer amount of stuff hubs and amassed over the years was becoming nothing short of ridic. I’m talking unused sport equipment, multiple sets of china and glassware, countless books and DVD’s, not to mention, Christmas decorations, out-of-season clothing, old suitcases and quite a few rugs. And London apartments, however generously proportioned, are no replacement for a spacious ‘dump-all’ attic or garage.
So when we moved house again about eighteen months ago, I decided it was time get rid of some of this stuff, or at the very least, time to find a temporary solution for those items we didn’t require on a daily basis. I hit taking out a storage unit, the idea being I could slowly sift through the everything in the months to come, without creating unnecessary clutter in the house.
Choosing a Storage Unit: The Low Down.
Now, the first thing about taking a storage unit is you want to choose one that’s relatively near to where you live. A storage unit is a good way to ‘test’ what it’s like not to have a specific item to hand — if you don’t miss it, you probably don’t need it anyway. However, if you do miss it, you want to be sure you can pop over easily to retrieve it. I had happened to notice a Big Yellow Storage not too far from our house, so I promptly reached out to them for a quote, as well as a lay of the land.
(They have about fifteen locations in and around London, including North Kensington, Fulham, Battersea, Wandsworth and Chiswick, so chances are there’s one near you, too).
Talking to Gemma, their on-site manager, I immediately liked the sound of their security set-up — 24 hour digital surveillance, twin alarm systems (one for the building and one for my own unit) and individual coded electric PIN access to the building. In other words, nobody goes in or out without authorisation, something that was particularly important when it came to insurance.
Like most reputable storage companies, Big Yellow requires all customers to have taken out insurance, by showing proof their home owners’ insurance extends to the storage facility, or by taking out a policy with Big Yellow directly. Since we could, we chose to simply extended our home contents’ insurance to cover our storage unit, so the security was an important factor in keeping our premiums the same with our insurer (look out for a separate post on home insurance in the not-too-distant future).
When it came to choosing a unit, they had a number of options available, but the good thing was I always had the option to upgrade or downgrade unit size — subject to availability— in case things changed, which was reassuring. Based on my on-the-spot guesstimate, I went ahead and chose a 20 square ft unit, which turned out was just right for my needs (that’s about the size of two red telephone boxes, give or take). For all of this, I paid the grand total of £16.06 for the first 8 weeks, and £32.10 thereafter.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind.
If the plan was to slowly sift through everything— so much for well-laid plans! Fast forward eighteen months and I’d barely set foot at the storage, save a late-night rummage for the ice cream maker, let alone begun to evaluate the future of our excess belongings. Talk about out of sight, out of mind.
Fresh from a delicious September break in Greece, I set myself a month to finish the job. Armed with bin liners, scissors, packing tape, magic marker and several of those IKEA plastic zippy bags, I set to work. First off, I went though our clothes and sports equipment. Anything we hadn’t needed or worn in eighteen months— including sports equipment — went into the IKEA bags and down to the local Oxfam.
Next came DVD’s, old suitcases, naff Christmas deco’s — all stuff that was still perfectly useful, but we really didn’t need anymore. That all got photographed nicely (Big Yellow is very brightly lit inside, which came in handy) and uploaded on eBay. I listed everything as ‘pick up only’ and sold most of it with no problem.
Finally, ‘valuables’ — in other words, the china, crystal, rugs, and to a lesser extend, an edited down selection of of sports clothes, memorabilia and knick-nacks. Here, I repacked everything in boxes, making a point to carefully number each, and label its contents on all four sides. I then used coloured stickers to identify what room each box belonged to — a yellow dot for living room, green for kitchen and so on — and made a spreadsheet to catalogue everything (incredibly boring-sounding I know, but incredibly useful).
The plan was going to move this lot to a smaller unit, but luck would have it, our amazing movers offered us a good deal to transport it to our place in Italy, so that’s what I did.
Storage Pro’s and Con’s.
Is storage worth it? I think so. While storage doesn’t come cheap, in the end the cost benefit of taking a unit, versus renting or buying a bigger place, simply to have an extra room or two to use as storage — particularly here in London, where real estate is what it is — it’s a no-brainer.
That being said, is storage a long-term solution? Well, it depends. While there’s no harm dumping excess stuff out of sight, as you take a moment to work out what to do with it, it’s also about tackling it at some point. Chronic hoarding isn’t good for the soul.
Anyway, before I sign off. If this post inspired you to do something with your excess stuff, you might be interested in knowing Big Yellow Storage are currently running a promotion, 50% off for 8 weeks of storage, across any location. Just throwing it out there… 😜
IMAGES — Antoni Tapies via Just Another Masterpiece.