Overcoming the Organizational Hassles of Apartment Living Part 3: Sorting Through your Stored Possessions

In part three of the apartment living series, it’s time to talk about all that stuff you’re storing away.  I’m talking about those boxes of things you haven’t opened in years but continue to move from apartment to apartment.  That décor you once loved but no longer use.  Those dishes, glassware and furniture you are saving for your future home but don’t use currently or have never used.  It’s time to get started and figure out what to do with all those possessions that are cluttering up your space.

I know storing items we don’t use on a daily or weekly basis is sometimes necessary.  However, it can be particularly problematic in apartments where storage space is at a premium.  Most apartments don’t come with a garage or attic and often closet space is limited.  Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and be allotted a storage area in the basement, but even then, it’s usually quite small.  Therefore, it’s time to sort through that stuff that’s crammed into bins in the basement, taking up a corner of your living room, falling out of your hallway closet or off-site at a storage facility, and ask yourself a few hard questions.  What are you storing and why?  Will you realistically use this stuff in the future?  How much is keeping these belongings costing you?

Keep the items you use and get rid of the rest. 

Unfortunately, homes come with a finite amount of space.  If you have tons of space available, wonderful, utilize it.  If you don’t, it’s time to make some decisions about what you are keeping and why.  Do you love to decorate for the holidays?  Great, keep those decorations and use them every year.  Do you love to be outdoors?  If you have room, go ahead and keep that camping gear and ski equipment.  Did you used to love to paint but haven’t painted in years?  Those canvases and paints are taking up precious storage space and can probably go.  Do you have three sets of luggage but only travel a few times a year?  Ditch those additional sets.  It’s all about making space for the things that are important to you and getting rid of everything else.

Carefully consider what you are keeping for the future.

One of the most common answers I hear when I ask apartment dwellers why they are storing certain items is, “I’m saving that for my future home”.  I understand you may be in a transition phase, saving up to purchase a home or preparing to move in with a significant other, but the truth is, when you finally do move to that next space, you’ll probably want new stuff.  Decorating a new place can be very exciting and most likely you won’t want that old coffee table from college.  In addition, styles and tastes change as time goes by.  That couch you once loved, you may not love a few years from now.  That dining room table passed down from your parents is probably more their taste than your own.  The stuff you are saving for your next home may not even fit into the new space.  Now is the time to really think about what you will actually use in the future and discard the rest.

If you love it, use it now.

Let me tell you a quick story about some silverware I got for Christmas many years ago.  I know it sounds strange, but it was shaped like fish and I absolutely loved it.  I had visions of dinner parties and decided to save it for a special occasion.  Several years go by and there’s no dinner parties and the silverware is still in the box it came in.  Then one day it hit me, why am I saving this for a future event that may or may not happen when it could bring me so much joy right now.  I broke out the silverware and used it that night and many nights since.  The point is, if you’re keeping something you love in storage, why not use it now?  It’s probably not fish silverware for you but it may be a fantastic piece of art.  Find a place in your current apartment to display that artwork and enjoy it now.  It may be a great set of wine glasses.  Why not use them with dinner tonight?  If you love it and want to keep it, then use it and enjoy it.


Storing items you don’t use is costing you money.

Not only is keeping things you don’t have space for a source of stress, it’s often a burden on your wallet as well.  You may be renting a larger apartment so there is more space for your things.  Larger apartments usually come with higher rents.  Renters tend to move more often than homeowners and moving unused items from apartment to apartment is costing you money as well.  Moving companies often charge by the hour, therefore, you end up paying for them to move items you don’t even use.  If you decide to move on your own, you may have to rent a larger truck, which tends to be pricier as well.  If it’s a box full of things you haven’t opened since your last move, why are you paying to move it again?

Sometimes the stuff you have no longer fits in your space and you must rent an off-site storage facility.  According to SpareFoot, an online marketplace for self-storage, the average monthly price for a storage unit is $1.01 per square foot.  That means, for a 10 x 10 unit you will be paying $101 per month, that’s $1,212 per year.  In Boston, the price is more than double at $2.15 per square foot.  That means you’re paying a whopping $2,580 per year to store things you aren’t using.  A storage facility might be right for you as a short-term solution while you are transitioning between homes but often this turns into a long-term solution instead.  Paying to store items you don’t use, doesn’t make financial sense.

Don’t wait, tackle those storage spaces now.  Open and go through all those boxes you haven’t opened in years.  Pull out all that stuff from the back of your closet.  Figure out what you are paying to store every month at the storage facility.  Sort through your stored possessions and decide what you want to keep and have space for and let go of the rest.  Whether you’re in a studio apartment or a four bedroom house, It’s time to reclaim the space in your home for the things you really use and love.

That concludes part three of the apartment living series.  As an apartment dweller myself for the past thirteen years, I have struggled with many of the same issues as you.  I hope you’ve learned a little about overcoming the organizational hassles of apartment living and feel motivated to make a change.  An organized space can make all the difference.  Don’t forget to check out the other two parts of this series, Simplifying Your Laundry Routine and Conquering your Closet Challenges for more apartment organizing tips!