Here we are in our new apartment! Just us, our pets, and every material object we own. There is nothing like the post-move to bring to your attention just how much stuff you have.
These closets, they are crammed!
Our new place is fifty square feet bigger, which is like a parking space, and in that sense it feels bright and roomy. On the other hand, we have half the closet space, half the bathroom drawer space, and less than one-third the kitchen drawer space.
If you’ve ever been embarrassed about your kitchen junk drawer, now you can be grateful that at least you have a drawer!
Whatever you have in your junk drawer - rubber bands, scissors, batteries, a screwdriver and a flashlight, all that stuff - we have it too. It just has to go somewhere else.
One of the first things you notice when moving into a new place is that not all the “organizers” that you relied on will fit. My drawer organizers are too wide - and too many. The shower caddy doesn’t fit on the new shower head. We have a towel rack we don’t need. There are a few bins and boxes and power strips standing by to see if they can be repurposed somewhere, but inevitably most of those will go, too.
Those who have a garage, a storage unit, or an extra bedroom will probably tend to keep these things, because they’re WORTH SOMETHING and I MIGHT NEED THEM LATER. We know better. We’re not spending thousands of dollars extra every year just to have a big enough place to store extra stuff.
Where we live, having a single extra room or a garage could easily add up to a million dollars over a lifetime.
Going from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom unit would cost us at least an extra $1100 a month, we know because we ritually price it out every time we have this conversation. Multiply it out. $13,200 a year, not including higher utility bills or the extra housework. Even a small storage unit here is $200 a month. Which, seriously? I’m going to spend my vacation money on a storage unit just so I don’t have to feel the pain of the sunk cost fallacy over donating an extra towel rack?
The typical response is to hide all this extra stuff in closets or rooms where people keep the door closed during parties. Don’t go in there! Less common, but certainly common enough that I see it all the time, is to stack it up wherever it will fit. Just stack up some bins and pile some bags around and on top. In the hallway! Next to the front door! On the porch! All over and around the dining table!
Living that way isn’t for me. There are lots of reasons but chief among them is, if there is a spider, how will I know??
These are how we see our alternatives. Either live in a bigger place, which either costs more or requires a longer commute; pay extra for storage, which is inconvenient and pointless; be surrounded by clutter and mess; or just get rid of everything that won’t fit.
Any other options you can think of?
Oh, and a lot of people use the “hoard it at someone else’s house” method, pressuring family members, friends, or past roommates to store their stuff “for a while.” I’m sure my ex-mother-in-law did not enjoy trying to figure out what to do with the old bike I left in her basement. Where we live now, my husband and I are over 500 miles away from relatives, and our nearby friends all have the same storage issues that we do. We’d never ask.
The kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom are done. There’s a growing give-away pile in our dining room. The last vestige of the move is the living room, and that is definitely still in a post-move state!
What we’re doing is scheduling a housewarming party. That gives us a hard deadline to make the place all pretty for guests. It’s also the way we plan to take care of most of our give-away pile. There are a bunch of engineering-related things that may interest our young people. The other great thing about interns and recent grads is that they tend not to have much in the way of housewares or kitchen gear.
Just last night, my husband and I were in the pool, and we saw a young couple hauling a huge desk in through the side door. I whispered, Isn’t that the table that was out on the curb earlier? It’s missing a chunk of veneer off the side. The couple somehow got it through the gate, then came back with cleanser and rags and carefully polished it up. The last we saw, they were trying to figure out how to get it up the stairs, because it wouldn’t fit in the elevator. And that’s how much young people rely on those who are more established to hand stuff down.
We try to look at our stuff as just that - stuff. It is not our personality. It is not our bank account. It is not our future hopes or dreams. It is not our talents. It is not our memories. It is just stuff. We don’t owe it anything. We use it while we need it, and then we release it back to the Stuff Place, where it can be used by someone else.
In the meantime, we focus on how we want our home to look and feel, the space itself and not all the weird junk we’ve hauled into it.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies