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Old 06-04-2015, 21:47   #31
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

A cautionary tale – OR – don’t be as DUMB as we have been! We failed totally, completely, and utterly to rid ourselves of “stuff” we would never need again after we finished our extended cruise, anticipated to be at least 5-years.

We sold our home in mid-April 2001. Both we and the new owners wanted an extended closing period so we agreed to a July 15, 2001 close. We had taken our Caliber 40 cutter from Puget Sound to San Diego the prior summer and were planning to move aboard in July and head off on an extended cruise in November 2001.

We had lived in an enormous custom built house for 20-years. It had 2 dedicated storage rooms that we filled to full in those 20-years. In spring 2001 we held two 2-day yard / garage / house sales with the intent of getting rid of everything except a couple of “grandma’s antiques.” We netted quite a sum that paid our cruising bills for many months.

BUT, It turns out it is much harder to empty out a 5-bedroom 6,000 square foot home than we anticipated. We held the sales two months prior to our planned departure. We then tried to donate the items we did not sell, (we have pretty good taste and everything was still very nice), to three different very well know national charities that were local to us. All three said they would come out to take everything away and all three failed to show up. Each time we confirmed the “take away” appointment the day before the charity was scheduled to arrive and each time they failed to arrive.

Finally, three weeks before the date we had to turn the house over to the new owners we rented a 26’ box truck and started hauling crap to those charities and to the city dump. We also had to take 22 boxes of books to the library at the local community college and 10 more to the Lions club book donation site. Did I mention the house had a 20’ x 20’ dedicated library from which I ran my business for 18-years, and I collected books for 40-years?

Do you realize how much 15-years of Cruising World magazines weigh, or 25-years of Cycling World, or 20-years of Bicycling? How about every Practical Sailor that was written up to June 2001?

I spent 8-hours a day for over a week hauling stuff out of the house.

We figured we would end up with a “small storage unit” of stuff left to store and rented a 10’x10’ unit which I started to fill. Before it was all over we had over filled a 15’x30’ storage unit that was 15’ tall.

What did we find indispensable or so valuable that we could not be rid of? This list is pretty much what I had planned on initially, but it took up way more room than I anticipated.

- tens of thousands of photographs (slides, prints, negatives) that I had taken all over the world since I became a serious photographer in 1969.

- more than 1,000 LPs (vinyl records) that had been played one time and then recorded on tape and very carefully stored for up to 30-years

- three boxes of bicycle clothing that I was sure we would need again

- dozens of boxes of custom made suits, shirts, overcoats that I could not even give away

- dozens of boxes of clothing that my wife had acquired over the years

- Grandma’s antiques – chest of drawers, dining room table, china cabinet, hutch, dressing table… you get the idea. We had no idea how many antiques we owned and I had let my wife get committed to the idea of saving them

- Dozens of boxes of beautiful sweaters, coats, jackets that were so necessary in the Pacific NW and in the northern cities where I did most of my work

- Several boxes of very nice hiking and climbing jackets, pants, boots

- Many boxes of very expensive kitchenware, cooking ware, silverware, dishes, and china

- My favorite custom leather overstuffed chair and ottoman

- A really ugly 6’ x 4’ oil on wood painting that had belonged to my wife’s Grandfather from Austria

- Several “rare” custom made pieces of furniture we purchased from our homes original owner in 1982. He had them built by a locally famous artist.

- Two steamer trunks full of very old, very fragile Christmas ornaments, some of which are from 19th century Europe

- Beautiful antique clothing an furs that my wife’s mother and grandmother had given her over the years

Once that stuff was in storage we decided “Oh – what the heck let’s just fill the rest of the space with the stuff we were going to give away.”

We had no idea that in 26-years of marriage and family life that we had accumulated so much stuff we could not live without.

Now, fast forward to 2007, it has been 6-years and we are living in a small apartment with the intent of going cruising again and we are still renting that big storage unit at a cost of $2,400 per year.

We finally accepted the fact that we had not touched anything in the storage unit except to remove a few kitchen items and my leather chair. We looked closely at all the “grandma” furniture and decided there was no way we would want any of it in a modern home in either San Diego or Florida.

So, I hired a local antiques dealer who emptied out the storage unit and conducted two auctions. We netted $4,000 against the $14,400 we spent on storage in the prior 6-years.

After the auction we still owned:

- the “rare” antiques
- the ugly picture
- a lot of clothes we can’t bring ourselves to part with
- the LPs
- the photographs
- the Christmas Ornaments
- A lot, boxes and boxes, of clothing

We had to rent a 2nd garage in our apartment complex to hold the stuff that did not sell at the antiques auctions. $1,200 a year!

I then started selling stuff on Craig’s List and got rid of much of the clothing and many of the antiques. After a year I had cleared about $1,000 from those sales.

But, in the 8-years we had the apartment after our first cruise and before we moved aboard again in summer 2013, we accumulated more stuff that we just could not part with.

So, now in San Diego, 1,200 miles from our original huge storage unit in Tacoma, we again own a 10’x10’ storage unit that is costing us $140/month, or about $2,400 since we moved aboard Mirador. We know about half the stuff is disposable and when we go cruising again in the fall we will need to find a way to part with a lot of that stuff.

However, when we go cruising again we’ll still need a 6’x8’ unit for the really “invaluable” stuff we must keep.

But, now we have discovered another un-anticipated problem. We want to leave San Diego and terminate our California resident status. But, if we keep the San Diego storage unit it will almost certainly mean we are still California residents and will have to pay California income tax and property tax on the boat.

DO NOT underestimate the difficulty of getting rid of decades of accumulations that define your life and you think you might want in the future.

We know we have spent over $15,000 to store junk that we now understand we will never use and should have never kept.
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Old 06-04-2015, 22:16   #32
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

Oldragbaggers said:
"We both love to bike tour and we're hoping that we continue with that so we will hold onto the bikes and touring gear. Even though we have folding bikes for the camper and boat, when we're in our home port we will probably opt to ride our full size road bikes if they are available.

The tools we will keep because any major projects on the boat (not emergency in nature) will be done when we are in our home port and we will want to have our tools. We figure if we are using them more or less every year they are worth hanging onto. "


The bike statement is important. We sold (for about 25% of their initial cost) our beautiful custom made road bikes and high end mountain bikes before we left for the cruise. We took our cheaper mountain bikes which were our basic transportation during the 4-years we cruised.

When we returned to land we found that bike prices had skyrocketed and we ended up spending a fortune to replace the road bikes and really good mountain bikes. In retrospect I would have kept our four good bikes.

Our boat has a dedicated workshop and I was able to move all my hand and small power tools onto the boat where I was very glad to have them. I did have to sell my specialty gasoline engine and ignition tools (no use on a diesel) and my large power tools. At this time, 14-years later, I guess I am Ok with selling those tools because we have lived aboard or in a small apartment since 2001 and I would have had no use for the bigger tools.

But, having all my wonderful hand tools on the boat is perfect.
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Old 07-04-2015, 00:08   #33
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

We stored some furniture, cold weather clothes, small appliances and a few family heirlooms. Moved into a VW bus while we were building the Westsail 32 which forced to pair down to the absolutely necessary. Sold all the major woodworking tools when we launched, kept the hand tools. Our stuff stayed in storage for 6 years till we lost our free storage and were forced to decide we were going to be stuck in Kona. Flew back to Seattle and went through all the things that we'd stored. Couldn't figure why we'd kept the stuff, wanted none of it. Held a garage salel for what was left after the family took what they wanted and flew home empty handed.
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Old 07-04-2015, 04:56   #34
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

Wow, TacomaSailor I'm almost in tears reading your tale. Our challenges pale in comparison, so thanks for making me feel better . As I say, we've always lived in smallish places, and have never been into collecting "stuff." We've moved a number of times over our 27-year-old marriage (well, "living in sin" time) -- nothing like a move to force a cleansing of useless stuff.

That said, I'm still amazed at how much we have, and how much space we think we need to live on land. Last season we lived very happily and comfortably on our 37' cutter. It probably has no more than 120 sq. ft. of living space (probably less), yet we never felt cramped. When we moved back into our 850 sq. ft. house it felt absolutely palatial.

One thing that we did early on was for each of us, independently, to go through the house and mark things as to where we thought they should go. We used this little chart, and literally put stickers on just about everything. This allowed us to think through each item, but also revealed where me and my spouse disagreed. This helped us focus on the questionable items.
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Old 07-04-2015, 07:21   #35
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

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..........We sold nearly everything, took off sailing for "as long as it's fun", and a little over a year later a medical issue forced us to be back in America for a year.
That's a dose of reality. Unless you and your partner die at sea, one or both of you will return to land for some reason to finish out your days on earth. Too many people fail to think about this.

There are lots of good suggestions here, but please, plan for what you will do when it's time to come back to land life.
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:04   #36
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

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please, plan for what you will do when it's time to come back to land life.
Exactly why we got rid of everything that wouldn't fit on the boat. Couldn't fit any of that stuff in an RV or a rented cottage either. We want to travel light.
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:23   #37
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

Well, I'm glad to read that everyone says keep the tools. Whew. Thanks. I'm somewhat of a toolaholic anyhow. I was just looking at my slide hammer asking myself, "will I ever be pulling dents or yanking an ignition again?" and a friend said no, but you might be pulling bearings with it..
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:40   #38
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

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Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post

[snip]

We know we have spent over $15,000 to store junk that we now understand we will never use and should have never kept.
IMO, this is the key. There is too much emotion attached to our stuff and we can't generally look at things in the same way that a pragmatic economist would.
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:43   #39
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

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There are lots of good suggestions here, but please, plan for what you will do when it's time to come back to land life.
It's reasonable advice Ron. This is why we're keeping some stuff. The question is, what is the most likely stuff to be of value if we come back to land, I use "if" quite purposely. I have no idea right now. We may die at sea. More likely not. But even if we come back, it won't be to a big house with a white picket fence. It will more likely be a very small house, an RV, or perhaps a boler/teardrop trailer. Our boat already has everything we need, so I image we'd just transfer stuff out (unless we lost the boat...).

Mycroft ... I like the way you think
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Old 07-04-2015, 15:18   #40
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

Travel light ... travel light ...! Yes!

Today, EVERYTHING can be gotten nearly everywhere.

And the needs of those onboard are very few: some sun, some wind, a friendly soul, a chart, a star to steer her by ...

I am 100% with you on this attitude. I know it does not work for everyone, but it did work for us.

One of the few moments in life when we can try to leave behind all the accumulated "junk": material, emotional, and otherwise.

A rite of passage.

b.
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Old 07-04-2015, 15:36   #41
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

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It's reasonable advice Ron. This is why we're keeping some stuff. The question is, what is the most likely stuff to be of value if we come back to land, I use "if" quite purposely. I have no idea right now. We may die at sea. More likely not. But even if we come back, it won't be to a big house with a white picket fence. It will more likely be a very small house, an RV, or perhaps a boler/teardrop trailer. Our boat already has everything we need, so I image we'd just transfer stuff out (unless we lost the boat...).
A lot of stuff won't be worth the cost of keeping it if you plan (and manage) to be away for several years. What is very important is to have a home or a means to purchase or rent a home and money or insurance to handle health care (which can be very expensive).
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Old 07-04-2015, 16:03   #42
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

I am really enjoying this thread. Many lessons to be learned from those that have been there/done that. I'm rethinking about how I want to downsize. Thank you very much for the insightful and honest narratives.
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Old 07-04-2015, 16:11   #43
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

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Travel light ... travel light ...! Yes!

Today, EVERYTHING can be gotten nearly everywhere.

And the needs of those onboard are very few: some sun, some wind, a friendly soul, a chart, a star to steer her by ...

I am 100% with you on this attitude. I know it does not work for everyone, but it did work for us.

One of the few moments in life when we can try to leave behind all the accumulated "junk": material, emotional, and otherwise.
Thanks Barn., this is good to know. It's how we are approaching this next stage in life. How's that adage go ...? There is no one so free as the person who has nothing... something like that. I aim to be that free -- or close to it.

Quote:
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A lot of stuff won't be worth the cost of keeping it if you plan (and manage) to be away for several years. What is very important is to have a home or a means to purchase or rent a home and money or insurance to handle health care (which can be very expensive).
I'm really not worried about this Ron. I currently live in a region where houses can be bought for $25K. Unless our boat sinks, we'll be able to recoup more than that if we have to sell her. And I know how to make a small amount of money just about anywhere I live (freelance writer/journalist). Healthcare costs? I'm Canadian. What do I care about healthcare costs . Semi-socialized medicine is a wonderful thing .
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Old 07-04-2015, 18:24   #44
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

This thread is helpful, as someone who might be going through this in a much shorter time frame than originally planned. We can't wait for our first garage sale this spring, but sounds like we may have to accelerate the process even faster to put the house up for sale next spring (2016). My wife being a Realtor helps a bit - to sell a house, need to de-clutter, de-personalize and define the spaces. So no storage for us.

Now, if I can only get these 3 kids out of the house.... only 1 should technically still be here...

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Old 07-04-2015, 18:38   #45
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Re: What to take, toss, sell or store

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. How's that adage go ...? There is no one so free as the person who has nothing... something like that. I aim to be that free -- or close to it.
as in "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"? Don't know why I have that song in my head now. I need to go grab the mandolin.

And we're following this, too. We find were giving a lot of stuff away so far. Haven't really tried to sell anything yet. I suspect when we move on to the boat, what's left in the house is going to be dealt with as store, sell, or give away. And the storage thing is a big deal to us. We have to sea freight to Florida, truck to Colorado. So basically the smallest unit of measure is probably a 20 ft. container. That's not worrisome, but these tales of storing stuff for years, paying the bills, and then opening it up and wishing you'd never kept any of it are sure getting my attention.
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