The United States of America is a super-sized nation that has, for generations, become accustomed to super-sizing their homes: the overwhelming trend has been for children to move into homes much larger than their parents’. Indeed, aside from architectural style, one can often judge the age of a neighborhood by comparing the size of its homes, from the simple saltboxes older generations grew up in to the multi-roofed monstrosities common in the suburbs today.
But while the trend for ever-larger homes isn’t quite over, we have in recent years noticed a slight change—the first in generations. Following the Housing Crash of ’08, more and more Americans began moving into smaller homes in denser communities. Five years later, that trend has continued. While part of the trend towards downsizing can be attributed to the still-squeezed housing industry, its lasting power has made one thing clear: many Americans want to live in smaller homes in more urban areas.
If you’re one of these Americans downsizing into a smaller home, it’s likely the experience is new to you as well. After all, you’ve probably been accumulating possessions over the course of your life, but also moving into larger spaces to accommodate. So now, when you’re moving into a smaller space, what will you do with your stuff?
Find an affordable storage unit. If there are simply some things you can’t do away with, but won’t fit comfortably into your new, smaller home, a storage unit can be the solution to your problem. The trick is figuring out whether or not it’s economically viable.
There are three things to consider in deciding whether or not storage is a good deal: your monthly rent, the monthly cost of a unit, and how much it would cost to purchase the items you’re putting into storage again. If it would cost more to buy your things back than it would to put them into storage for a reasonable amount of time (say, a year) then it’s likely a good financial decision to go ahead and put things in storage. If your new, downsized apartment has a lower monthly rent than your old, larger place, and the difference between the two is sufficient to cover the monthly cost of storage, then keeping your items in a storage unit is financially viable.
Let’s use an example to illustrate. Say you moved from a large apartment that cost $1500 a month to a smaller apartment in a better location for $1200 a month, giving you a savings of $300 a month. Your problem, however, is that you have a table and set of chairs that are worth $1700 that won’t fit into your new apartment. Now, you could go ahead and sell that set in hopes of recouping the full $1700—this would be a good idea if you plan on permanently living in a smaller space or have no emotional attachment to the furniture. If, on the other hand, you did plan on eventually moving somewhere larger and had reason to care for this particular set—say, you didn’t think you could recoup the cost, or the set was one-of-a-kind, or was passed down to you from your grandma—then you’re going to need somewhere to keep it. Is a storage unit a good idea?
Say you’ve shopped around SelfStorageDeals.com and found a 5×10 unit for $80 a month, perfect for your table and chairs plus a few extras. Tack that $800 onto your apartment rent and you’ll be paying $1280 a month, which is still $220 less than you paid for your last apartment. But the real question comes down to whether or not your table set is worth saving. To figure that out we’ll need to extend these costs through the total time you plan on staying in the new apartment. Let’s put that at a year. An $80 storage unit will cost you $960 a year, well under the value of the set of table and chairs. In addition to that, you’ll still save $2640 compared to your old apartment. So over this period of time, a storage unit would probably be a wise financial decision.
Stay too long, however, and your storage unit can become a money drain. After 21 months the amount of money you’re put into your unit will exceed your table set’s worth. Though you’ll still technically be able to afford the unit due to your savings in rent, the storage unit has become an unwise expense that will do nothing to benefit you financially in the future. We strongly recommend against long-term storage when the expense exceeds the value of the things being stored.
Keeping these factors in mind, a storage unit can make your downsize much more comfortable and can even save you money in the long run.