If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’ve packed up my life to move to Thailand for a bit. If not, you can catch up on that here. One of the biggest obstacles that stood in my way before I started karate chopping my way through was ‘what would I do with all my stuff?’ Giving up my apartment and putting everything into storage was the best solution but I found it sooo intimidating. How did that all work? What on earth would it cost? I literally had no idea. To me, ‘storage’ conjured up an image of some huge creepy warehouse in an industrial area I wouldn’t feel safe going to on my own. I also imagined the process to be complicated. Being rubbish at math and having zero spatial awareness, I can barely navigate into a parking space without ripping off a side mirror. What did ten square metres really look like? Is that too big? Is that too small?
I started googling storage online and found several companies that offer it and gradually figured things out. I also started getting quotes and happily discovered that renting a storage unit doesn’t cost anywhere near what it would to rent a small studio apartment which, stupidly, is what I was initially bracing myself for.
After a fair amount of comparison, I found my perfect solution (and the best price relating to the area I wanted) lay in StoreSmart in the CBD. They also have a branch in Sable Square, but I wanted something that was closer to town because I’ll end up staying there when I return to South Africa. It’s now costing me just R1 080 for seven square metres in which I can safely lock up everything I own, including a double bed, full lounge suite, coffee table, washing machine and fridge. As rental is month-to-month, I’m not locked into a contract and can move out at any time, provided I give 14 days’ notice.
When StoreSmart listened to what I had to stash and told me 7m2 would be just the ticket I wasn’t convinced. It sounded so… little. So, being super anal, I found an awesome online storage calculator that helped assure me that, yes, seven is indeed that magic number. You can check it out here. You literally just tick off all the things you want to store (its categorised per room) and BOOM, it tells you what you’ll need.
Later, I popped into their offices (which are clean, modern and bright and not at all like the scary semi-abandoned Epping-type warehouse I’d imagined) to view the space and was surprised by how nice and roomy it was. It’s also ventilated at the top and the air is moved around by fans so you don’t have to worry about getting back to a bunch of goodies that smell like stuffy old garage.
StoreSmart also have a nice big loading area so you can arrive with your van, pack it right outside their units and get help from their staff who’ll help you carry it all in.
You’ll also find trolleys and super sturdy board things on wheels which was great because, after the guys helped me moved in all my ‘big stuff’ via van, I could then bring my all boxes in my car and pop them in myself. That’s the other nice thing – being able to come and go as I please. I now have a key to the padlock protecting my unit and can drop in any time between 7am and 7pm on any day of the week to either put things in or take things out. It’s kind of like having your very own garage!
Ease of access is super important to me because, when I come back to South Africa, I want to be able to pick up my winter clothes and random stuff, like my hair drier, straight away while I squat at a friend in town while looking for a new place to live. Also, if worst comes to worst, I can just live in my storage unit!* I mentioned this to StoreSmart and they laughed (nervously) but their office does serve up a damn fine filter coffee. Just sayin’.
Now let’s talk packing!
Boxing everything up was difficult, but not as hard as I expected. My top tips are as follows:
- Detox and flog weeks before you start boxing. The more you get rid of, the less you have to pack. All the clothes I hadn’t worn in ages, all the appliances, furniture and electronics that had had their day in the sun got flogged. Be brutal!
- Avoid Gumtree if you can. It’s a horrible place full of weirdos. Especially Jason, the creepy fetish dude who’ll message you within in minutes of posting a shoe ‘to see what it looks like on your foot’. I sold everything via Facebook groups like Constantia Bric A Brac and turned so much trash into cash that I could pay for five months of storage!
- Don’t tell people on Facebook that you’re selling your bookcase ‘because its haunted by demons and has already killed half your family but maybe you’ll have better luck’. I did this because I’m not especially clever.
- Don’t buy boxes. Pop into local stores in your area and ask if they can give you anything lying in their storeroom. Thanks to the mini market opposite my apartment, I didn’t have to buy a single box! The only other ‘packing tools’ I used were a giant role of bubblewrap I picked up for R350 from Mambo’s Plastic Warehouse, a roll of tape and a pair of kitchen scissors.
- Box your stuff up per room and label everything very specifically. I.e. “KITCHEN > BAKING GOODIES, KETTLE, TOASTER & PUNCH BOWL”. Being a moron, I didn’t do this at first, thinking I’d remember but after I week I’d totally forgotten and found myself opening three kitchen boxes to find the iron so I could double-check I hadn’t left water in it. (I had!) Also, LABEL THE SIDES OF YOU BOXES NOT THE TOP. This way you can read what’s in them when they’re stacked.
- Folded clothes can be tossed in sommer so but keep your hanging clothes on their hangers in a separate box. This makes it super easy to stick them back in your new cupboard.
- Take piccies of your electronics (like the router for example) before you dismantle them so you know which cable goes where when you set it up again. Stick these up on the cloud or email it to yourself if, like me, you destroy your cellphone on the reg.
- This one’s very important. Ensure you box things up to the tune of Fleetwood Mac with lots of pizza and even more beer. Get this wrong and you won’t have any fun!
And there you have it peeps, packing up your life isn’t nearly as hard as you think! Or at least as hard as I expected it to be. Now that I’m all boxed up and realise how easy it was, I’m almost embarrassed at how I let the fear of ‘what will I do with my things?’ serve as one of the major reasons that prevented from hitting the road. So, if you’re in the same boat, please scrap the notion right away and get busy packing!
*Please tell me you got that I was kidding?!