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
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
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
- 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.