Facts on Friday – Our Valued Belongings – Where do we keep it?

Americans are obsessed with collecting stuff – collectibles, family heirlooms, photographs, pictures, clothes, Jimmy’s first toy or Sally’s Betsy Wetsy doll — you name it, Americans collect it.

So where do we store all of that stuff? Most houses now are big enough to house 2 or 3 families, so you would think the answer is simple — garages, basements and attics. Partially true I‘m sure, but according to an article in an AARP Magazine, the answer is “self-storage lockers.”

Here are a some startling facts from that article:

rows and rows of colorful cargo shipping containers - orange, blue, green, grey
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • 90 per cent of all self-storage lockers are in the U.S.
  • 1 in 10 of all American households rent a unit
  • America’s storage lockers take up 1.9 billion square feet of space, almost 33,000 football fields
  • Rental length averages 15 months
  • Older Americans don’t rent as often but they rent for longer periods of time
  • young adults 18-38 years old rent most frequently for short periods
  • older adults 55 and older rent for 2 years or more

Storing all that stuff can get expensive. Rates are very flexible based on how long you stay, whether it is winter or summer, and, of course, location. Typical rates, as reported by Public Storage, ranged for $13.63 to $16.01 per square foot in 2019. A 5 foot by 5 foot unit in New York City would average just over $2,000 while in Minnesota the average cost is just under $300.

What happens to it all when we no longer need or want it? Every year approximately 155,000 units are abandoned and auctioned off for non-payment. Storage locker auctions are big business. As the saying goes, “your trash is someone else’s treasure.”

What is American’s obsession with collecting all that stuff? Why? Just imagine what those acres and acres of land could be used for. Imagine the energy that could be saved not heating and cooling those climate-controlled units; and the money that could be better used if not spent renting those units.

This not meant as a bashing of self-storage lockers; the lockers can provide a much needed service. Apparently that purpose is much different than I envisioned, so it was an eye-opener to read the facts presented in the article.

I welcome your comments on self-storage lockers. Are you a collector or memories and stuff? What do you collect?

2 thoughts on “Facts on Friday – Our Valued Belongings – Where do we keep it?

  1. As I’ve been researching for decluttering series, I’ve been shocked to learn how prevalent storage lockers are. The average house size today is twice the size of the typical house 50 years ago. At the same time, our families are smaller. I just don’t get it.

    We live in a modest house, and we actually park our car in the garage. Imagine that! The only time I have ever rented a storage locker was for my daughter, who is a college student. We rented for the summer last year so she’d have a place to store furniture and other stuff from her student residence.

    North Americans need to seriously rethink our relationship with stuff. It doesn’t make us happy and, if it’s costing money to store something we obviously don’t need or use, it’s time for a reset of priorities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your daughter is a good example and reason why the young adults rent more and for shorter periods of time.
      I agree it is time for a reset and evaluation of what makes us happy – it’s not material.
      Congrats on your decluttering efforts!

      Liked by 1 person

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