Jul 03, 2008

New Home, New Resolutions to Cut Down on Stuff

I complain sometimes about the lack of storage space in my little house, but I confess, it puts a handy brake on my desires to accumulate. Otherwise, I might end up fitting the profile revealed on MSN.com recently: The average U.S. home has grown from 1,400 square feet in 1970 to 2,300 square feet today.

Meanwhile, average household size has shrunk from 3.1 to 2.5. In 1995, one in 17 U.S. households rented storage space. By 2007, that was up to one in ten, according to the Self Storage Association. The bottom line: Most Americans are buying so much stuff it doesn't even fit into our bloated houses!

I have to say, except for unusual instances (kids want the bed for their first apartment after college, etc.), I often wonder what the point is of paying to tuck possessions away in storage facilities where you never see them. If the possessions aren't worth much, the storage costs will eventually dwarf the costs of replacing them.

If they are worth a lot, they'll be more susceptible to loss in some out-of-the-way storage locker. My neighbor stopped by recently, distraught, because her storage space was broken into and they'd stolen some heirloom china from her mother. The owner basically shrugged his shoulders and said they'd been having problems with break-ins lately.

So if you're about to buy a house, take this as encouragement to have a big garage sale before you go. It's a great way to meet the neighbors, reduce the stuff you have to move, and make sure you fit comfortably into your new digs.