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How warehouses for personal junk became a $38B industry (curbed.com)
202 points by kawera on March 29, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 116 comments



One thing I've noticed over the years reading old wills and probate records (16th -18th century) is just how few physical possessions even fairly well-off people owned. Estate inventories often list individual coats, shirts, bedding, bowls, tools, etc. I think the material wealth we have today is so incredible we don't even realize how much we've accumulated and could probably do without.


Modern manufacturing is sufficiently weird that it messes with my sense of thriftiness. That it really is possible to manufacture new items less expensively than it is to repair them (especially counting my own time to do so).

Like I can remember my grandmother knitting and darning socks.

But she wished she had one of these sock knitting machines:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N7hsho4Sjg&feature=youtu.be...

And now you can buy a 10 pack of decent socks for $1/pair (and they may objectively be of higher quality).

I'm trying to think how I'd even explain this to someone from another time:

"10% of your net worth is this pair of socks? And they took you a day each to make? I just threw away a pair because my toe poked through the top."


I was shocked and pleasantly surprised recently at $3 high quality plain tshirts (in multiple colors) that you can order online: http://www.michaels.com/apparel-crafts/t-shirts/876004921

I'm wearing a magenta one now.. Then I found out there are tons of online outfits doing this. https://www.jiffyshirts.com/

I've always shopped at Salvation Army and other thrift stores, with occasional trips to malls to pick up Levi's Slim Straight jeans, but the last pair of those I bought from Amazon since I know my size. It's kind of been a revelation, and the big box stores are going to have to get creative to stay around I think. I used to be picky about favoring American Apparel shirts as well, in their heydey, but the ones I got from Michaels are surprisingly good.


I only realized how big this market really is when I found out that Berkshire Hathaway owns Fruit of the Loom, a Gildan competitor.


Funny enough, I think I've seen them on sale for less than $3.


This reminds me of this quote from historian Carlo Cipolla in Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now:

"In preindustrial Europe, the purchase of a garment or of the cloth for a garment remained a luxury the common people could only afford a few times in their lives. One of the main preoccupations of hospital administration was to ensure that the clothes of the deceased should not be usurped but should be given to lawful inheritors. During epidemics of plague, the town authorities had to struggle to confiscate the clothes of the dead and to burn them: people waited for others to die so as to take over their clothes—which generally had the effect of spreading the epidemic." (Excerpt from Carlo Cipolla, 1994)


Based on a phase I went through involving getting rid of almost all my possessions, you can get rid of ~50% of your stuff and barely notice. But that last 10-20% is so amazingly critical, you come to appreciate it and the work that must have gone into it more. That said, having things that are useful and last never gets old, just make donating something you do as often as shopping. Also that is a pretty strange but interesting hobby.


I've had a thing ever since grad school (I lived in a 400 sq. ft. apartment, so it was necessity then) that if I buy a thing, I have to donate something else -- particularly for clothes. It's amazing how much less crap I've accumulated than friends and family of a similar age.


I'm think the hobby you're referring to is genealogy. It's actually a very common and useful hobby. :-)

https://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/genealogy-second-most-popular-...


A lot of divorced people know this from experience. I certainly do. Don't miss any of it.


Reminds me of the proverbial "Great Depression Mindset" that I noticed in my grandparents. Also this comment I came across on Reddit's Bestof recently that made me see the world and myself a little differently:

> Minimalism often focuses on a few high quality pieces that serve many purposes. When you're poor, you often can't afford higher quality or multipurpose...

https://np.reddit.com/r/minimalism/comments/86pkeu/meta_can_...


When you're poor, you often can't afford higher quality or multipurpose

Interesting, I have heard "Cheap is expensive, because you have to keep buying it" as well "We are not so rich we can afford cheap stuff."


Any examples? I'd like to see one.


Original documents are harder to reference directly but lots of old probate records have been transcribed; e.g.:

"The Probate records of Essex County, Massachusetts"

https://archive.org/details/probaterecordsof01dowg


This is fascinating.


I try to be pretty slow to criticize people for taking advantage of a service that they find valuable. Calling things in these storage units "junk" is a moral judgement that's repeated a bit early on and then cast off to make room for the more mundane rundown of the market analysis.

In the end, there's no way to know the ratio of people getting good value out of this storage to the number of people throwing good money after bad.


It's junk if you don't know what it is. My sister's mother-in-law spends about $1000/mo on storage units in 6 cities. They were a military family and moved frequently.

The problem is that they don't remember what is in the storage units, and the cost of traveling across the country to go through a closet is steep and of questionable value. So she is stuck in a cycle of paying for things that she may or may not need. My understanding is that many people are in similar circumstances.


That is an astonishing amount of money. Is it not possible to have everything packed up and shipped to their current location? Even if paying someone to do this cost $2000 for each unit that would still pay itself back after a year.


My guess is that there are other personal issues at play. I think that there is "heirloom" furniture involved, etc.

From articles I've read and conversations that I've had with different folks, I don't think that scenario is uncommon.


A common theme with hoarders is that they'll acknowledge they have too much stuff in general, but when it becomes time to get rid of an individual item, they always have a reason to hold on to it. For my mother, the reason she hoards is 100% due to things being "heirlooms" and every individual item having a story. After her dad died she couldn't throw away any of his old stuff because she grew up with most of it and it reminded her of her parents (who were at that point both deceased). It's a difficult situation because it's quite reasonable to hang on to a large number of old items, just not all of them. But each individual item still seems incredibly important to her


In the case of my grandmother, she'll definitely make up a story behind an item she doesn't recognize (and you happen to.) It's just a simple fear of throwing or giving things away - but so disguised that I couldn't tell until I noticed her clinging onto some of my old things that I had thrown away, and her not knowing that they were originally mine.


What's astonishing is that the military would pay for each of those moves and they still didn't do it.


My (non-tech) small business uses "warehouses" (mini storage) for temporary and long-term storage. In one unit you can find crates of inventory, in another you can find equipment we produced for a one-off event job. We don't have enough to warrant an actual warehouse, and the units are significantly cheaper than renting extra office space to store this stuff. I keep it there to keep it out of my garage.


My mother has an online business that has grown far beyond the capacity of her house / garage (which now includes 5 sheds in the yard for storage). She does the same, as storage facilities are still cheaper than a warehouse. She keeps an eye on commercial real estate as her business continues to grow, but in the interim, the storage facilities are as essential as they are affordable.


While your point stands as a whole, why are you storing the equipment for the one-off event. Storage is for things you will need again.


Sure, what if the rent/mortgage you pay per square foot in your home is greater than the rent for a storage locker down the road? And there are reasonable use cases for medium-long term storage, such as seasonal items. I don't know how many people use them this way, but I can see reasonable uses too.


To add another use case: I know a lot of military people who throw all their stuff in storage when they deploy. Faced with no costs except a storage unit and low-mileage car insurance, a lot of them come back after the better part of a year with a down payment on a house.


This is exactly the situation I'm in. My storage unit is about 200 yards away, and the size of a small walk-in closet. I visit it about once a week. It's, essentially, a detached closet for my wife and me. Mostly seasonal items, camping/backpacking gear, and a small number of keepsakes.


One is that I sort of accidentally ended up becoming the keeper of a whole pile of family history -- documents, photographs, memorabilia, handmade things -- and I trust the fire suppression and security systems in my storage unit much more than whatever small apartment I'm renting at the time.


For the documents and photos, could I suggest https://www.familysearch.org/ ? Pictures of the rest could go a long way to making the memory of them more accessible as well.


For documents have you considered donating to the local historical society? Depending on what they are they might be of general interest and the historical society is probably better equipped to save them.


I agree with you and there are short term reasons to put everything in storage. There is another group that just has stuff squirreled away "in case". I personally believe that most people would be happier following a less is more philosophy which can be approached simply by throwing out or selling or donating anything you haven't worn/used in the last year (or two).


Throwing stuff out is hard to do if you are poor or were raised poor. Everything you save now does not have to be bought later. There is a potential use for anything and everything, so you might as well keep it. Granted, at a certain point the cost of the storage facility exceeds the amount saved, but the mindset is still there.


Man this rings so true for me, even as I pull an engineer salary now. Keep moving a car around free parking spaces even though I haven't "used' it in a year, still squirrel away a bunch of useless shit because what if!

I still have trouble turning down free food even if it isn't in line with my diet x.x poverty habits just stay with you


I just finally rid myself of boxes worth of old computer parts and cables. But what if I need 7 VGA adapters???


Murphy's Law dictates you will need them next week.


> But what if I need 7 VGA adapters???

All depending on what they were - you might wish someday you had kept one of them!

As somebody who "collects" old computer crap (ok, ok - hoards might be a better term), I had a situation not too long back where I needed one of those old adapters.

I had purchased an AMD motherboard that had onboard VGA; having gone so long since I last upgraded, I didn't read the fine print saying that onboard VGA was dependent on having an AMD processor with VGA built in (APU I think they called it). I had purchased a different processor for the socket, without that feature - thinking "naw, don't need it, because I'm gonna drop my GPU in there - and switch the BIOS over to use it".

I get everything together and I boot it. I get nothing on the monitor, and beeping - POST code saying no video, and I'm like "wtf?". Some quick research and such reveals my mistake: Without the APU version of the CPU, I can't change the BIOS to use the GPU in the PCI-E slot. But I don't want to spend a boatload more money on a CPU just to get this setup. So I have a plan: Somewhere out in my junk I know I have a PCI slot VGA card (like an old S3 Virge or such) - I just have to find it.

An hour of digging around finally nets me the card - has 4 meg on it - I figure that's enough to see the BIOS, right?

I boot it - and it sorta comes up, but everything's all glitched out, nothing's really working right, then it dumps to a screen with a "not enough video memory" error, and now I'm wondering "huh?". So I go dig some more...

30 minutes of digging, I find a different PCI video card with 8 meg; surely this will work. I slot it in and boot it; finally it boots - and I am greeted with this entire super-graphical fancy GUI for a BIOS setup, complete with mouse and everything! That's how long since I last did anything PC building-wise (I was replacing a Core2Duo machine); my last BIOS was textual. It was pretty apparent why it ran out of memory; honestly, I thought it was stupid - but what'r gunna do, right?

So after some orientation and such - I find where on the BIOS it was looking for the video card (of course, defaulting to "on board" - but you would think that if it didn't find it, it would then try the PCI-E slot, but nooooo), change it out, save and shutdown, then re-install my GPU on the PCI-E slot, reboot...

...and it worked.

Had I not had that old VGA card (granted, it's not the oldest I have - I have an EISA VGA card somewhere) - I would've been hosed.


It is and I know what you mean (grew up in a house with 8 kids, hand-me-downs and cheap meals). I personally always feel better, the more stuff I get rid of or donate. I hate looking in my shed or closet and just seeing junk. Its value is so marginal and purging every year helps to prevent accumulation in the first place. It is tough and I have a lot more to do too.


A lot of these ideas assume childless adults. Bringing kids into things makes everything a lot different.


Yet most of the world manages to live in much smaller homes than Americans, and without self-storage. Getting rid of thing is a necessity especially when you have kids, since their current needs take so much space.


Yeah, I've seen the reality TV shows where they auction these things off, even the cherry-picked units for TV are like 1/2 absolute junk that literally goes strait into a dumpster.


Sure, but that's a somewhat self-selecting group of units -- ones that the renters let fall behind and get auctioned off.


In fact that is one solution to the junk problem sometimes recommended: if you are not sure put something in a storage unit, pay rent for a year. Anything you haven't gone back for in a years must not be important so let them clean it out for you. In theory you could clean it our yourself for more value (craigslist/ebay), but you run the risk of trying to justify keeping something.


How would throwing stuff away that is in storage make you happier? I mean, I understand saying it is a waste of money, but if it is in storage and you never look at it or even think about it really, how would it make you happier for it to not be there?


Everyone is different, but it feels like a weight is lifted off my shoulders when I get rid of stuff I don't need or can't justify keeping. Marie Kondo wrote a book on this: The Japanese Art of Decluttering.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Declutter...


Exactly, I once had one for a couple of months midway between my condo and the house I was moving into, because the house wasn't going to be empty until the day I was moving into it.

Before that I had another one to keep things like decorations (like you said), but also all the kids stuff that my older son had grown out of, but the younger hadn't grown into yet (plus seasonal swap outs). Condo living didn't leave a ton of storage.


As we have all learned from reality-TV, a good quarter of the units are choke-full with anything but junk: you will find sculpted furniture in pristine condition, civil war artifacts, expensive professional equipment and tens of thousands of dollars in rare baseball cards. The industry must be really struggling to provide adequate security.


But they show only the cream of the crop. never gonna air that episode where they found water-logged bundles of newspapers, old Byte magazines in mouse-chewed boxes and a raccoon mummy.


They're also not going to show the storage units that students use to hold furniture while they go off for a summer internship elsewhere.


Dunno, that too would make for some compelling TV drama.


your sarcasm filter is broken


yeah its harder in print to detect. If it had been a tad more over the top I would have got it!


America Junk Season 4 debuts tonight at 9PM EST.

Alternative titles: Junk in America, or Billion Dollar Junk


I once watched an episode with a unit full of money ( on a pallet ).


I think that was Breaking Bad.


No it was The Shield... I guess this a common trope?


No, it was Breaking Bad.


I agree that "junk" might be heavy handed.

That said, if it's in storage 6 to 12+ months, you haven't need it, life has gone on with it, __and__ you're paying some multiple of it's value (i.e., it would be cheaper to replace) then what would call it? It, based on said math, has no value.

Obviously, we're not talking about personal items (e.g., family photos) but stuff that could be replaced via a few bucks and perhaps freecycle.

I don't think you can call it senseless, can you? :)


Wouldn't call it all junk, but there is a high statistic of storage units filled by people who "set it and forget it"


> Calling things in these storage units "junk" is a moral judgement (...)

Junk is just what you call other people's stuff.


"Have you noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?"

George Carlin on Stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac


A lot of storage is a real estate play. Buy land in the direction of where cities are growing. Pay your mortgage with storage facilities sitting on top until the land appreciates.


It's actually the opposite, it's more akin to a SaaS company. I've worked with Owner-Operators of facilities and the ones who do it right are printing money.

The smart ones optimize towards revenue per square foot and can pull in upwards of $30,000+ of profit per month. And that can be on a single facility. Typically the smart ones own 2-3 facilities. They buy an underperforming facility and optimize its functions and reap the rewards.

How do they do it? One method (of a few) is by constantly pushing the rates up and churning customers that have lower rates. Once their occupancy hits a certain threshold (typically above 85%) they start really trying to push customers out with higher rates. If the occupancy starts to dip below their target, they start to offer deals. That way they can keep the monthly recurring revenue flowing while still optimizing towards revenue per square foot.

Edit: This is why there are specific REITs that focus on self-storage.


I love reading about interesting business models such as this. A similar one I've read about before is vending machines. Apparently a well-run vending machine business (ignoring labor costs) can easily achieve 50-100% ROI per year per machine. The vending machine owners don't usually have to pay for the electricity of the machine and each machine only costs $2-3k. Maintenance/restocking has relatively low labor requirements and the stock itself is so cheap it's almost a negligible cost.


I though REITs focused for the opposite. I wonder if it’s driven by the city? Are the storage units you’re looking at in low cost or high cost areas?


It depends on how the Trust wants to focus its funds. Similar to how a VC fund might focus on enterprise software or B2C. For a reference of Self-Storage REITs, this is a good start(1).

Different markets are definitely hotter than others. Houston, Miami, Austin, Los Angeles are some of the more lucrative markets, but even small markets have strong players. Self-storage is fairly democratic in the markets served. I've visited facilities in rural town that are wildly successful for the owners, as well as small facilities outside of Manhattan Beach.

(1) https://www.reit.com/what-reit/reit-sectors/self-storage-rei...


Interesting theory, but I've never seen a storage facility close down and be turned in to other real-estate...


Land is usually a very long play (trust funds, REITs, endowments, etc), I'd say this is a relatively new strategy in the past 10-20 years in most places. They likely won't be looking to do that until the storage building reaches its useful life and needs major repair. Then, the question is, do we have a thriving storage business or is there a better use for this land?


Yep.

Buy industrial land relatively close to residential/commercial areas. Build self storage, wait 20-40 years. Eventually people are going to feel the need to upzone that under utilized industrial land that is so close to a thriving, gentrified neighbourhood.

The City of Vancouver recently upzoned its Flats industrial area, and went to the extra step of banning self storage to ensure people actually build buildings that are capable of employing people.


I have. Some of my extended family almost certainly by luck built their storage unit complex right where the state decided to move the highway. The made millions.


I've been wondering why so many of them are popping up in the city core where I am, instead of more far-flung light industrial areas where they typically existed.

The construction costs $/sqft must be a fraction of commercial building for Class A office or housing.


Usually city core real estate is controlled by a small cartel of owners. They usually cover their carrying costs with parking, as the class-B office space is worthless from a revenue perspective in most places.

If it's a small/mid-sized city, sometimes these property guys get squeezed enough by periodic nuking of people at the local Bank of America/etc office that they actually need to do something with the property. Storage is great because it fits with commercial zoning has overhead similar to parking.


> sometimes these property guys get squeezed enough by periodic nuking of people at the local Bank of America/etc office that they actually need to do something with the property.

Can you please explain this further? I am not sure what "nuking" here refers to.


A neighbour of mine has a spare piece of waste land in an industrial area on the edge of a nearby town. He has opened a storage facility using shipping containers. They come over to the UK from China and are not worth shipping back empty, so you can buy them cheaply and then just supply a padlock to clients.


They put up some shipping container apartments a few blocks from me: http://www.theoscarphx.com/

A/C bill has to be insane...


I think they put insulation behind the drywall.


The article presumed that the rise in the self storage industry is caused by overflow from the American dream and rampant consumerism, when I think it might be more characterized by the death of the American dream. How many people who rent self storage are homeless and storing their stuff away hoping they can retrieve it when they get back on their feet? How many people who rent storage units just can’t afford a house or a larger rental, but don’t want to abandon sentimental possessions like their books, clothes, childhood furniture, etc. A graph in the article shows investment in self storage increasing sharply after the Great Recession. Is this a coincidence, or is it because a new economic reality that requires thriftiness had arrived


I started a long reply earlier and decided to turn in into a blog post instead. Part of what I touched on is that a lot of homeless people pay for storage and, in recent years, I have talked to a lot of people online whose finances are in the toilet and they are paying for storage, often in another state, while they live with parents or whatever and don't make enough money to support themselves.

Years ago, I took a college class on homelessness. It suggested that homeless people pay for storage in order to hold onto hope that they will shortly be back in housing and will need that furniture. But the reality is that it often just eats into their limited funds for covering current living expenses and trying to problem solve.

I did not pay for storage while homeless. I put my limited resources into taking care of myself in the present, improving things and building a future.

Holding on to stuff like you "might need it someday" is rooted in a poverty mentality. Those mental models help keep people poor. In many cases, you could have handily replaced it for less than you spent to store it for years, especially if you had also sold those items you stuck in storage.

Tldr: I generally agree that storage is often about the death of the American dream. The hell of it is that it often serves as an obstacle to personal rebirth.


I've known of people who not only had all their stuff in self-storage, they also lived in the storage unit themselves.


I think there are a lot of factors at play. For one, there is an increasing demographic trend of people moving into cities, for people who grew up in suburbs and are used to storing many things for the long term could be large consumers of this sort of service.


Very simple explanation, living space for people has shrunk. Hard to store your holiday items or old equipment in the basement of your house, if you can't afford a house in the first place.


In 1950 the average home was 1,000 square feet and housed 3-4 people. Today the average home is 2,500 square feet and houses 2-3 people. Meanwhile, average apartment size is on the decline.

http://www.wisegeek.com/how-has-the-average-size-of-american...

https://www.rentcafe.com/blog/rental-market/us-average-apart...


>Meanwhile, average apartment size is on the decline.

The number of new builds in NYC with 10x15 living/dining/kitchen (kitchens are always just walls in new builds here) is really disheartening when they're still all charging $2500+/mo.


That's exactly where I'm at. I downsized to a much smaller house, and I keep a lot of my uncommonly used and seasonal equipment in there. I'll be swapping out my snowblower for my lawnmower and grill pretty soon. I pay an extra monthly fee for the storage unit, of course, and it's not very convenient to have to drive a few miles to reach it... but my overall living expenses have been so dramatically reduced by living in a much smaller house, that it's an obvious win.

This article's headline is weirdly condescending; the "personal junk" I own are things I value, and the self storage industry has provided an efficient way for me to store it without having to own a gigantic house or a shed.


I don't really understand this though. You say you're in a house so I would assume you have a yard? Why wouldn't you just build (or buy) a small shed in the back. Storage units aren't usually much bigger than a normal sized shed and would fit things like grills, bikes, and snow blowers perfectly fine.


There's definitely an element of this. My grandmother's basement was full of junk (in a very real sense - growing up in the War she could never throw away a jam jar or bottle). Now I don't know anyone with a basement, even a spare bedroom is luxury in London.


Storage units are also quite nice if you are renting and want to be able to move every 1-3 years for the variety of reasons people do so. Keeping the bulk of your low frequency of use items in storage both reduces what you need from an apartment, and keeps you from needing to move all that crap with the rest of your stuff. You pack your clothes, throw your sofa, bed and TV in the back of a friend's truck, and you're done before lunch.


Is it just Americans who got large houses while land is/was cheap-ish? I remember having to go on a work trip and staying overnight with a coworker in Reading, UK to make a morning train and was amazed at how small their house was for a family of four (and they said it was typical for Europeans) compared to how large the house I had back in Austin where I just bought something in a nice neighborhood and would have had to been an early adopter in the not so nice part of town to get a house as small as the UK one.


It is all about density. Europe in general is more dense; if you go to a crowded city in the US, you will find similar sizes.


People get a weird sentimental attachment to stuff. I used to have a lot of books, and looking through them would give me a good feeling, though I rarely read them. Got rid of most of them and haven't noticed their absence. But it feel bad getting rid of them. I can see why people accumulate a lot of things they never use, and why it looks weird from the outside. But, I don't want to end up on that 'Hoarders' show.


Very similar story in the Boston Globe on the same day. http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/03/27/years-into-war-c...


After dealing with the aftermath of my grandparents dying at close to the same time, I realized that I had waaaay too much junk. I felt terrible basically throwing their entire lives away, but came to the conclusion that if I die, no one will give a crap about 95% of the things I own.

I've tossed all non-essential things to the point where I have two plastic bins of things that are important to my life and that I like to sort through and think about past moments in my life. Everything else is surplussage and disposable. I tell family not to buy me trinkets or souvenirs when they travel. No Christmas gifts either.


Are there any apps to buy and sell spare space, e.g. in your garage, or basement?


I've heard of a couple of startups in London giving that a go. The same person who I was discussing that also told me that they had problems with illegal goods and potential insurance voiding - in case of fire/pests home insurance wouldn't pay for the damages because that would be considered running a business from your property which is likely not covered by your average house insurance .

Edit: some UK based startups in the area http://ww.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/business-38211628


Check out Neighbor (I have no connection)

https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/28/neighbor-a-p2p-self-storag...


Craigslist Parking & Storage section.


Seeing the title of this entry reminded me that I need to get a lot of my junk out of a storage unit that I've had for a few years.


...and a majority of that personal junk probably could be given away or thrown out without the owners noticing.

The 'dirty little secret' of the personal storage industry is that a majority of customers never, ever access their stored junk -- yes, never. Their stuff just sits there, unused, in an enclosure in some warehouse, while the service provider collects fees month after month.

I say this based on my own and certain friends' past experiences with personal storage services over the years.


its a huge amount of mental and emotional work to decide what to get rid off. the storage industry capitalizes on people's procrastination.


I like the model of the start-up called Clutter which was mentioned in the article.

Because you never visit the physical location of your property - it is picked up and delivered to you - there is scope for virtualization and end-to-end automation of this service. Also they photograph your items, so you can inventory more easily.


Living space cost per sq-ft has grown while storage space cost per sq-ft has stayed the same.

Why? Handicap accessibility regulations, parking regulations, etc etc have greatly increased the construction cost of new houses. i.e. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/19/upshot/forty-...

Storage facilities do not have people living in them and are therefore immune from lots of these expensive regulations. Hence, they are now an increasingly good deal compare to residential real estate.


Are you speaking more generally, or about urban centers specifically (which tend to be more regulated anyway)?

The citation you provided doesn't assert anything about cost per sqft of living space; it's mostly focused on the feel and vibe of NYC post-regulation.

And I'm willing to put money on the fact that these particular regulations are no match to the outsized demand for housing in more regulated municipalities.


That has almost nothing to do with the price changes.

The vast majority of price changes is cities becoming more desirable via lower crime and reduced pollution + failing to keep up with housing demand + lower effective interest rates.

Consider the infrastructure changes around DC in the last 30 years vs the changes in population. In 2010 DC had 600k people in 2017 it hit 694k that's a dramatic shift. On the other hand it's population had been falling from 1945 to 2000. The people who left still commuted to DC, but infrastructure was not keeping up.


Ah, so that's how we end up at Snow Crash-esque storage-units-turned-housing...


People not living in storage units is definitely not a cost thing, it's a regulatory thing.

If it were allowed, I would have absolutely lived in a storage unit through most of my 20s, and I think a lot of my friends would have too.


Agreed!

I was specifically alluding to the fact that if we continue to pile up building regulations, but don't increase regulations on storage units, then a lot of people will only be able to afford living in "storage" units.

To be fair, storage units with a communal bathroom and power are more than most folks had circa 1930.


I don't think we are far off from people living in "storage units" that are approximately the size of their VR play space, with the only addition of a bed, and commmnal bathrooms and refrigerators.

I actually don't think we are more than 5 years away from people spending more time in VR than they do in meatspace.


A well-regulated community which accommodates the needs of its members, rather than a compassionless free-for-all, is attractive to people and may increase demand. After all, those people passed those laws and regulations. I know that's the kind of place I want to live.


Storage Wars tv show is my guilty pleasure.


have to post this: George Carlin Talks About "Stuff"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac


How common is it for people to live in them? Any data on that?


That's likely against all sorts of health and safety regulations . Having said that, there lots of small business in the UK being run from storage units - eBay shops, mail order, and even a karate training IIRC.

Edit: links

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25336446 https://www.safestore.co.uk/blog/2016/07/martial-arts-self-s...


Anecdotally, there are definitely several homeless customers of the storage facility I use, but I don't think they live there, per se; if only because there are cameras and a check-in/out security system that would catch them if they were sleeping there regularly. I think they just store whatever possessions they still have and use it as a secure place to change clothes, even sit and have some peace for an hour (it's a conditioned indoor building).


Likely illegal in 1st world countries. Safety reasons, zoning, etc.


Also the storage company might not be too happy with you.


Well, it's much cheaper per area than an apartment, so for seldomly-used stuff, it may make sense.




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