Is it just me or have you noticed it too? Storage units. They are popping up like worms on a driveway after a rain storm. Any available vacant plot of commercial land has been plucked up and, within a matter of a few short weeks of construction, offers another 80,000 square feet of space for people to put their stuff ... much of which they don’t have any use for.

Lest you think this is yet another lecture about having too much stuff, hold your judgment. It’s simply an observation. I wouldn’t dream of deterring anyone from storing their rapidly depreciating items in a 10-by-10 metal box, while spending $150 a month for a minimally secured facility to hold on to an anxiety-producing pile of stuff.

Being in the business of real estate, storage units can be a literal godsend. An uncluttered home with minimal furnishings (especially the well-worn furnishings) and few personal items sells much quicker and for significantly more than an untidy, disorganized and crowded home. To have somewhere to store those extra items while selling the home is nothing less than a gift.

There are certainly other storage situations that are unavoidable as well: a family emergency or an unexpected move for a job or divorce are examples. These are all temporary situations when people truly benefit from the advantages of having those storage units available. The unfortunate reality, however, is that many times there is not a storage unit available for these temporary circumstances because they have all been secured by long-term renters. The good news is the waiting list is less than 25 people long and only 6-9 months out. Planning to sell the house in June? Get on the list now.

Being somewhat of a minimalist myself, I admittedly have a more difficult time understanding the mindset of the more stuff-oriented person. Maybe I have too much “stuff” already orbiting around in the space between my ears and so I can’t have it orbiting around my living spaces. Perhaps I have a touch (or a little more than a touch) of the OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Either way, I just want to submit that there is another way.

In a society of needless acquisition, storage units may enable a tendency to prevent a person from moving on. By moving on, I mean forward ... in life. Objects can be representative of places and times in our lives. Perhaps by hanging on to them, we also stay immobile.

Many objects deprecate in value over time. Unless you plan to take it on over to the “Antiques Roadshow” for a valuation, it’s probably not really valuable. In fact, the replacement cost could be far less than you pay to store it. Plus, if you can live without looking at it for years, you can probably continue to do so for the rest of your life.

The valuable family memorabilia — photos, heirlooms, journals — run the risk of being sold to the highest bidder if the payments for the unit go into default. I’m not a huge fan of putting these types of items away in long-term storage. Photos and journals can be scanned into a thumb drive and placed in a tiny secure place inside your home, reducing the need for space as well.

As a disclaimer, I do recognize that my anti-stuff disorder is just the other side of the stockpile disorder, it’s just that the anti-stuff one brings more value to the business of real estate. Either way, when we exit this planet, we don’t get to take anything with us. Why hang on to it while we’re here? Now I have to sign off and go find myself a vacant plot of commercial land to build on.

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or

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