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The stuff we left behind

We screwed up our courage and headed over to the two 10×13 storage units that we rented way back in June 2005, the month we sold our house.

Storage unit.jpg

For comfort and convenience, we took the Airstream with us. This allowed us to compare what we had in the trailer with stuff we found in storage, and of course it gave us a convenient place to take breaks and get cold drinks from the refrigerator.

I had thought the process would be straightforward, but it wasn’t. We were immediately overwhelmed by the sheer volume of “STUFF” we had stored. When we left on our trip last October, the idea was to come back in 6 or 7 months and build a house. Along the way, the plan changed, and so when we got back to see what we had left behind, it was more than a little shocking.

Houses allow you to accumulate stuff, and big houses like our previous one can accumulate a LOT of stuff. We have everything in storage that you can imagine: housewares, linens, clothes, toys, books, appliances, furniture, bicycles, office equipment, tools, pictures … and so much more, you just can’t believe it until you see it. Despite the fact that we spent months in spring 2005 giving stuff away, selling things, and throwing stuff out, there is still an amazing amount of just plain worthless STUFF in our two 10×13 storage units.

And it’s costing a pile of money to keep it there. In fact, I would be surprised if the used market value of everything in both units exceeds $10,000. Yet our cost to store it all for the past year has been over $3,000. This is obviously nonsensical from a financial standpoint.

Storage 2.jpg

A lot of the stuff seemed to have sentimental value when we stored it. Some pieces seemed like they were worth keeping because the cost of replacing them later would have been much higher. And many other things were just “too good” to give away or throw away.

But now our perspective is different. It has been a year and we haven’t needed 90% of it. We haven’t missed 98% of it. Our lifestyles are lighter now, my office is leaner now, our plans are different now. If we build a new place it probably won’t be close by, so it may be cheaper to buy new things than to transport all this across the country. The “stuff” needs to find a new home.

We started in on the piles but it was too much to tackle in one day. Tomorrow we’ll be calling auction houses, cleanout services, used furniture stores, Goodwill, and anyone else we can think of. It took years to accumulate all these things and it will clearly take at least weeks or months to get rid of most of it. Anyone need a nice three-piece set of black walnut living room furniture, a collection of old Polaroid cameras, or a unicycle?

6 Responses to “The stuff we left behind”

  1. Rhea Says:

    You’re going to feel soooo great when you unload your stuff. I put my stuff in storage for a year, and I found the same thing you did: I didn’t need or miss most of it. Congratulations!

  2. Stan Hinson Says:

    Rich, I enjoyed your comments about your storage unit. Big job, but what a great feeling to get through all of that. Cheers, Stan

  3. Rob Baker of theVAP Says:

    I know that there is a sweet little, partially restored 68 Caravel in Storage too… I’ll gladly take that off your hands to Rich.. and save the $$$ of having to transport it at a later date! I’m headed north with tow vehicle in 5!

  4. Terry Says:

    A Unicycle? Now there’s a story that begs to be told at a happy hour!
    Are you planning to officiate at the disposition of your STUFF, or are you going to have a designated Disposer (or would that be UnSTUFFer)?

  5. Leigh Says:

    I didn’t know you guys were thinking of building?!

    Another road warrior friend of ours just bought land near ours in Washington…that would be great if we got a band of nomads up there!

  6. Jaime Says:

    Wow, sounds like you are doing what most of us should do. We all seem to have too much stuff. Speaking of stuff, I’ll gladly pay for shipping of the old cameras! : ) I collect cameras!