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How much space do we actually need?



A big Tightwad welcome to Tony, who tells us about using the space you need, rather than the space you think you need.

How much space do you need to be happy? The answer is rarely “much less space than I currently have.” But sometimes moving from a spacious 4-bedroom house to a cozy cottage or condo is exactly what you need. The typical lifestyle in the western world is to live in a house that you can grow into, but sometimes growth isn’t in the master plan.
For me, downsizing was an important step to acquiring financial stability and getting out of debt. I graduated with about $30,000 in student loan debt, and was dutifully paying it off at a rate of about $1,000 per month. But when I moved into a house and started paying a higher rent amount, I was barely able to make minimum payments.
My possessions grew to take up the space in the house, and I didn’t think I would be able to move into a place with less square footage. But, since I was struggling with monthly finances, when my lease was up I decided I needed to find a place that cost at least half as much. I could have either moved into the Austin suburbs, or settled with a centrally-located apartment. I chose the latter.
I had to downsize… substantially. I donated, sold and gave away items that I didn’t use in the last 6 months. It’s amazing how much stuff I never even touched during my time in that house. It was moved in a box and stored in a box for the entirety of my stay. Instead of moving it again, I found a way to get rid of it.
I also had to get a storage unit for some excess stuff. This was an extra added expense, but I made sure that I still came out ahead: the difference in rent from my house to an apartment was $500/month, and I only pay $75/month for the storage unit. It’s not optimal, but storage is my industry, and I don’t feel bad supporting it.
If you must use storage to accommodate your move to a smaller house, make sure that your reduced monthly costs from downsizing are greater than the cost of the storage unit. My company, sparefoot.com, runs a few sites that can help you with comparing and contrasting storage units.
Tony Emerson is a Marketing Analyst at SpareFoot.com, the world’s largest marketplace for self-storage.

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