Comment of the Day: So We Can Live More Comfortably in Smaller Homes

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SO WE CAN LIVE MORE COMFORTABLY IN SMALLER HOMES “The self-storage industry in this country is worth over $20 Billion a year in revenues . . . there are over 46,500 facilities in existence with a total combined area of 2.21 Billion sq.ft. Self-storage is almost entirely a US phenomenon. There are only 12,000 facilities elsewhere in the world and 3,000 of those are in Canada. This all begs the question, ‘Why on earth do we store so much more crap than anyone else?'” [Jimbo, commenting on Comment of the Day: Follow the Mini Storage]

21 Comment

  • We here in the US are acquisitive (including Canadians and some Mexicans.)
    Drive down any country highway and you’ll see property-owners save everything: cars, tires, bricks, wire, dirt, lumber… because they have the space to do so.
    City dwellers do not have space, so, they rent it.
    Our consumer-products-era began in the 1950’s, and, our collective generation’s home-size has increased ever since then.
    Until recently!
    Yet, we are mammals still – we den and we gather. And, this is good because we save in order to bestow useful stuff on family and friends.

  • Useful stuff? Really?

  • yeah, John Yet Another:
    Isn’t your stuff useful to someone?

  • I am not a big shopper, and yet somehow my house fills up with stuff that really stretches the definition of “useful.” Nevertheless, I try to get rid of it via yard sales or Freecycle so it doesn’t go to waste.

    But I think it’s fair to note that we are a nation of recreational shoppers, which is not really something to be proud of.

  • Aha! you’re “not a big shopper, and yet somehow [your] house fills up with stuff.”
    You are a Net Consumer like nearly all of us.
    Your cast-offs may be of value to others. If you’re not saving them for family or friends, they can be donated, sold, or… stored in metal buildings along thoroughfares in greater Houston.

  • I store nothing in self-storage units (though I have in the past). For me it quickly became what it becomes for most people: an expensive way to avoid throwing out stupid crap that I would never use again.

    Obviously, there are times that they are needed – between houses, etc. But I doubt very much that this is how most people are using them.

  • A home that some investors are remodeling on the block was originally a 3/2 ranch, with a 1/2 story addition about 30 years ago to add a bedroom, bath & 2nd living area. According to a neighbor, 2 entire bedrooms on the first floor are now a “closet” and the addition is apparently being carved into 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. I’m guessing that anyone who needs 500+ square feet for clothing will probably need to rent out storage for the rest of their stuff.

  • If we are saving it in some sort of open ended way then it is not really proving useful to anyone. As someone who is currently purging themselves of the garage and attic space full of stuff that would come in handy some day I have to say it is a very liberating experience.

  • I have a rule… If I haven’t used it in 2 years, it’s going straight in the trash, no matter how “useful” it may seem.

  • Commonsense, maybe you could donate the 2 yr unused item instead of throwing away. Sounds a little more commonsense to me.

  • It’s been my experience that “just getting rid of” stuff is far more complex and time-consuming than it seems. Donate it? That means finding the appropriate recipient and negotiating with them. Sell it? That means pricing it and dealing with the sale, assuming someone will buy it. Throw it away? Really? If it’s substantial and has at least some possible value? I think there are two big things at play here: people who are in housing transition of some kind and people who have inherited the contents of an elderly relative’s house who feel compelled to preserve the stuff for sentimental, family, or possible collector-value reasons. But, sure, when you’re fifty-five years old, with a house full of your own stuff, and you have to put Mama’s house up for sale, (G-d rest her soul) that stuff has to go somewhere .

  • marmer – google “Freecycle Houston”. Freecycle is basically people giving each other stuff they don’t want (not selling). I’ve used it a couple of times & it’s been pretty easy. Without the whole transaction/haggling part, it seems to be fast & easy. There are a couple of groups locally, including a Heights/Neartown one.

  • If you just want to get rid of stuff, there are thrift stores all over town that will take all sorts of items including furniture. No big appliances though, or mattresses.

    Places like Salvation Army, Goodwill, Purple Heart and in Pasadena there’s Alamo.

    Don’t forget the CoH heavy trash pickup either. Just get that old ‘unuseful’ stuff out to the curb and problem solved.

  • The reason is simple: Americans have been living on extended credit for generations, using that credit line to expand their girth as well as their collections of crap they can’t seem to part with. It also goes to pass that 4000+ sqft homes are not uncommon here, and you gotta fill that cavern with all kinds of trinkets, many of which will end up in storage when you realize either a) you can’t afford that 4000+ sqft home anymore or b) you figure out you have no personal life left because every waking hour is spent on upkeep of said 4000+ sqft home and you decide to downsize to a much more realistic 1700sqft home. This, of course, is dependent upon coming to grips with the valuable opinions of the Joneses next door, who are the envy of the entire neighborhood y’know.

  • In Montrose, when you have something you don’t want anymore, you just put it on the sidewalk. 2 hours later someone has taken it off of your hands. No fuss. No muss.

  • Good times, anon – when I lived there, all the neighbors called that the Curbside Shopping Network.

  • There is a similar system at my house except that all the stuff I leave out there ends up in my neighbor’s backyard where I can watch it from my upstairs windows. Not quite as satisfactory to be honest.

  • Americans equate consummerism with quality of life. We work crazy hours with minimal vacation time. We do not have time to engage in any leisure activities. We fill that void by buying stuff. At least Texans have a half decent excuse to run off to the U-Store it. We have no basements.

  • Folks make a living buying U-Store-It contents at auction.
    There was a man on Antiques Roadshow with the original Hollywood laugh-track machine! …worth a fortune.

  • Jimbo– my neighbors used to sell my junk waste at their twice-monthly garage sales. I was always amazed that someone would actually buy it.

  • Mel – The buyers must have needed some more stuff for their storage unit.