Whenever I tell people that I no longer have an apartment in Germany but travel permanently, it is THE ONE question that most people ask me. I always reckon with questions like “Why?”, “How do you finance this?” or something like that, but no, the same question almost always comes up: “Where did you leave your furniture? And many a one is already thinking about where to put his furniture when he goes on a long journey.
Here comes the ultimate decision support for all who ask themselves this question or are just curious.
These steps are necessary:
- Become clear about what things are important to you.
- Decide on the type of storage space (own space, space with friends/family or selfstorage).
- Store only the really important things.
- Get rid of unimportant things (sell, give away, donate or dispose of).
- Creative tip: Lend items for the time of your absence.
How does that work exactly?
At first you can’t help but think about what things are so important that you want to keep them forever. Storing something is complex and sometimes expensive. You don’t do all that stuff that has accumulated over the years. Once you have made this basic decision, the concrete question of WHERE to keep things for the next months or years comes up.
It’s easy for those who have storage space in addition to an abandoned apartment: a cellar or a garage are usually the first choice when it comes to storage space. But also an unused space at parents or siblings or a cellar room at friends is helpful.
Otherwise only the paid variant helps: rent a storage room
I have found a nice middle way for me: I give things in care. That means: friends use the hammock until I come back, then I get it back. Parents use the food processor and are happy about it. Even the rarely used Mongolian fire pot has found a lover, because I just couldn’t bring myself to give away or sell this beautiful thing. It’s a great win-win situation: I don’t need a storage space and somebody is looking forward – for a while. This solution is also the most beautiful because it helps to maintain friendships. The thoughtful people remember the giver when they use it. And your stuff won’t rot in some box. Or costs money (in case of self storage).
What exactly does it mean to use selfstorage?
Clean. Safe. Dry. The term selfstorage originates from the English-speaking world and means the storage of objects in a specially rented space. Selfstorage buildings can now be found in most major cities in Germany, and the growth rate of the industry has been in double figures for years. Selfstorage is booming. They are often large windowless concrete buildings in which small and larger areas are divided off and can be accessed separately.
What does selfstorage cost?
Selfstorage is not cheap. The prices are shown per square meter, there are already compartments from one square meter. On many provider sites there are examples of how much can be accommodated in the compartments. Many customers are surprised how much fits on two square meters when the ceiling height is three meters. Myspace.de writes on its homepage “For removal customers the rule of thumb applies: One tenth of the floor space is needed as storage space for the apartment contents. In Munich a 1 square meter compartment costs nowhere less than 10 Euros. Per week. With these prices a mucking out in the apron is worthwhile itself.
How do I decide what is really important?
First of all, I roughly consider whether I have a lot or little storage space. Anyone who owns or can use a large garage can, of course, declare many more things as important than someone who pays a two-digit euro amount per month for three square meters of self-storage.
Dann komme ich um die fast philosophische Frage nicht herum: What do I need to live or to be happy? Do I really need all the stuff that has accumulated over time or do I just drag it along from move to move without my heart really being attached to it? Often I use the cellar or part of the apartment just to store stuff. Current and past hobbies make up a large part of the amount. The complete closet only with motorcycle stuff. The diving equipment, which was rarely used in the last years. Handicrafts and sewing equipment just waiting for me to get some time and desire, which practically never happens.
All these things now weigh more on me than they would give me a feeling of wealth. Everyone whispers: Pay attention to me! You wanted to possess me once. And you spent a lot of money. What has become of it? Finally get your ass up and start with what you once wanted. What a great idea to finally get rid of this form of subliminal stress, to relieve your conscience and your living space. I can understand the current trend towards minimalism, less junk means more quality of life.
Everything serves a purpose or brings joy
It basically makes sense to keep things that we would buy new after the trip. However, we would not buy 10 jeans, but maybe only two or three. So seven of the ten jeans in my current closet could fly out. In my boxes there are also dishes, cutlery, some kitchen equipment. On the other hand, I could easily part with most of my business outfits.
I have also kept some furniture because I have beautiful solid wood furniture that can be folded to save space. But common sense has to work here, too: the bed frame and slatted frames stay, the voluminous mattresses fly out and are bought new when we rebuild the bed.
I also keep things that mean something to me. I even have a memory box: it contains a lot of small stuff that doesn’t fit into any other category: diaries. Photo albums. A selection of old letters. Plush animals. A few decorative items. The kitschy wooden figure, where we remember aunt Erna, where she stood on the dresser for many years. It’s actually stuff, but it’s important to me. A tip for a positive life energy: throwing things away can be liberating. If the wedding album of the failed marriage causes you to have a stomach rumbling, it can be disposed of. Or the photos where you don’t like yourself. Whatever does you good, is right!
As a minimalist everything you own serves a purpose or brings joy. Everything else is out of the way, so you can concentrate on what is really important: Health, relationships, passions, growth and contribution.
All das Durcheinander, das früher Geld war
The more you get rid of before your trip, the less you have to store. One way to get rid of it is to sell it. Nowadays it is easy to get rid of things you no longer need via amazon.de, ebay.de or the local advertising page in your home newspaper. Someone else will be happy about it and it is good for your travel budget. Flea markets are also a good place to get rid of things, as long as you don’t spend the money on new belongings. I once read on the Internet “All that clutter that used to be money”. In other words: “All this stuff that used to be money. How true.
The ultimate practical tip
When you pack your boxes, make sure that you label them in great detail. Unlike a normal move, you won’t unpack them for a long time. And even if you assume that you don’t need to access the contents, there are still many situations where this is necessary: when someone has to send you something from your boxes that you need against all odds. Or if you don’t have a place to stay immediately after the trip and have to improvise. At the latest when you come to visit your family over Christmas and look for a special outfit in one of the boxes, you will be grateful for a careful labeling.