The cost of having storage as a backup plan.

You are keen on minimalism and downscaling, but considering keeping what you don’t use in storage. Although might not be the best way to go minimalist (avoiding the unavoidable, ie: getting RID of your stuff once and for all), there are some valid reasons why you would want or need an off-site storage option. In this post, I share our experience of scaling down and keeping things in storage for a while. Maybe our learnings can help you make the right decision.


We got a small storage unit when we moved aboard Pluto. The main reason was that ran out of time getting rid of stuff while we were still in the house – we have travelled a lot and lived in different countries, so settling down in one place REALLY got us excited and we nested well  We also had tons of duplicates as family passed their stuff down, friends also moved on. We also got rid of not one household, but three (the main house, the airbnb garden flat and the Muizenberg surfers Flat) There was a lot to go through. You know when you move house and you go through everything so carefully, but towards the end run out of time and YET AGAIN stuff things in a bag or box, never to be touched again (trinkets, cables, paperwork, books).

So this time, we wanted to SHED it all.

The idea was to only have what we have in the boat and nothing in storage. By the time we moved out of the house and onto the boat, we organised a small storage unit close to where we lived and close to the yacht club and planned on cleaning it out in 3 months. 

We got it for a few reasons:

  1. We had too much stuff to get rid of in the first place and I did not want to rush things. I wanted to take my time, say goodbye and find the best possible homes for our things.
  2. We had stuff to decide about – should it stay or should it go (we were not sure what we would want or need in the smaller space)
  3. We had stuff that needed as much time on dry land, like climbing and camping gear. 
  4. We had stuff that we were planning on using while still in Cape Town and would get rid off just before we set off (my mountain bike, surf board, kayaks, local guidebooks)
  5. We had stuff that took up space on the boat while we were working on it (winter clothes in the warmer months and our summer clothes in the colder weather)
  6. We had things we wanted to use before letting go (a few pots and pans, books, guidebooks)
  7. We had things that needed time – photo-albums, boxes of admin, photography gear boxes and manuals to go through
  8. We had things that needed to be sent or given to the right people at the right time (stuff for my mom when she came to visit)
There is only so much space on the deck and inside the boat to keep toys

So there was enough reason(s) to have storage and I am very thankful we did keep some stuff and allowed ourselves time to work through it all. Life on the boat is different to what you expect and I have swapped things out, taken things back and had the freedom to do so without too much effort. 

The downside?

  • It ads a little bit of extra planning to our lives – want to go camping? Ark, the tent is in storage!
  • Storage fees can ad up, especially seeing that most of the gear towards the end was mostly sentimental. You see, although you can be as goal orientated as you want to be, when it comes to our things, we prefer to be kept comfortable. And life gets in the way. Want to sort out the strorage? It is too windy, it might rain.. and before you know it the 3 months turn into 6, 9, 12….
Going away often meant a trip to the storage first to pack goodies that was not onboard

Here is a breakdown:

R1200 for a small unit in Cape Town

x 12 months

= R14400

That is for one year. For one SMALL UNIT (the size of a motorcycle garage)

Can you imagine what a household including furniture would cost? Do you really, really need your stuff to make you, you? 

We had a few bigger items left (and the climbing equipment) and we moved it to another storage unit in Knysna

R500 for a pod

x 4

= R2000

  • The inevitable: you will still have things you are not sure what to do with, items you will miss after they are gone (but trust me, you will be okay without) and the longer you wait, the more it will end up costing you – in time, effort, emotions and money.
  • TIME: I had to allocate a few days every month to go through and sort through things, take photos, advertise, communicate with potential buyers, drop off unwanted stuff at charity shops, 
  • EFFORT and EMOTIONS: unpack, repack, sort, make lists, think about items, find relevant prices, …..
  • MONEY:

We recently did another and our last carboot sale. We got rid of old sailing gear we got with the boat, lots of clothing, duvet inners, all our storage containers, some books and CD’s. It is very therapeutic and a rather rude wake up call to sit with your shit infront of you and you just think : SO MUCH MONEY SPENT. A real wake up call to end the habit of simply buying.

I took Christo out for delicious lunch afterwards and we drank a good bottle of white wine. And had a walk and nap on the beach afterwards. And that was it. 

Some people put all their belongings in a container before they go sailing. The idea is to have all your stuff to start again when you come back, BUT we have met NUMEROUS cruisers that have returned and are totally disconnected with their once-loved-items when they come back. I suppose it is also true that once you have loved with much less, you realise you do not need so much. It becomes obsolete.  

My advice?

Be strict but kind

Stick to your schedule 

Give your items the time it need but do not ponder too long. You will be FINE without it. Trust me. The amount of stuff I have thrown away versus what I have missed does not compare.  I think I can count items I have given a second thought on one hand (one black dress, my black yoga mat (I had three and kept my pilates one as it is more versatile)… ja, that is it.

(if you want to how to declutter and sell your stuff, read our practical tips on how we did it)

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