As I journey towards a minimalist lifestyle and a life of travel. I’ve come to realize just how expensive owning things are and why owning too many stuff sucks. Even the smallest things, the most obscure stuff falls under the radar cost money to keep. This couldn’t be clearer as I prepare for my upcoming trip to South America. I’ve moved out of my apartment while I’m away on travel, I couldn’t justify paying rent here when I will be away for a long while.
Mostly, I don’t own too many “stuff.”
I’ve since gotten rid of all the unnecessary things I owned that made a life of travel difficult two years ago. I own no couch, a table, a computer desk, or chairs. The biggest items I have in my apartment is a retractable bed with a convertible mattress I can break down easily for moving. I have a coffee table where I eat my meals and two zabutons to sit on. These are things and habits I’ve picked up when I was in Japan.
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I dig how minimalistic their approach is to furniture designs and how practical they are without cluttering their households. But as minimalistic as I am, I still own some “stuff.”
These things must be stored somewhere when I’m gone, or I could throw them all away. I’ve already thrown a lot of stuff away two years ago when I abandoned the “American Dream” of owning a lot of things. I still would like to someday, have things back here when I come back and take a break from long-term traveling. So the only plausible choice is to put them all in storage.
Compared to an apartment rental, storage units are relatively cheap. I found a storage company in town that offered a 5’x10’ unit for $85 per month. There was a 10% off promotion, so that brought it down to $76.50 per month. That’s decent if I could store and keep my motorcycle there and the rest of my things. When I went to sign the lease, all the hidden fees materialize (hey it’s the American way, you’re never paying the face value of things you see because there are always hidden fees!).
First, there’s the $20 admin fee. What that fee is for, I have absolutely no fucking idea. Maybe it’s for bathroom supplies for the woman at the front desk when she runs out of toilet paper. There’s no option of opting out of it either; it’s just tacked onto your bill.
Second, there’s the mandatory insurance, $11 a month that will cover your “stuff” for up to $2,000 (there’s a $22 a month option that covers up to $5,000). But my motorcycle is worth almost 10K, how does that even compute?!? But all right, I saw two shady characters living in one of the storage units (even though the contract states you can’t live in it) so it might be just worth it, besides it’s mandatory.
That brings our whole total to $86.50 per month. Compared to a monthly apartment rental or a mortgage, that’s very cheap, until you realize that $86.50 can last you almost a week in a South East Asian country like Vietnam or maybe in the Balkans where people’s salary is $10 a day. Think $1.50 meals and $10 hotels, yes it’s that cheap! I’ve learned from a documentary, that some people live on less than a dollar a day. It’s very shocking to learn that some people subsist on just $1 a day. Having grown up in a third world country myself (The Philippines circa 1975-1989), I’m no stranger to poverty, but less than $1 day? Ridiculous!
If you ever get a chance, I highly suggest that you to watch this documentary, Living On One, it’s out on Netflix, or you can get a book covering the same subject on Amazon. It’s truly eye-opening, it puts things in perspective – The things you and I take for granted, the level of wastefulness, and rampant consumerism. $86 would probably allow two families to thrive for a month! Well, according to the documentary at least.
So there you have it. It sucks having to pay continually to keep stuff that’s already paid for and it sucks to know that to keep all that material stuff cost more than to support two families in impoverished nations. It’s OK to have some stuff but do we need a lot of it? I’d rather have more moments in life than things.
DO YOU OWN A LOT OF “STUFF?” HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT?