EP 78: Should you STORE your stuff or not…?

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As you may have seen on Instagram, this week we unpacked our storage unit after 5 years, and out of 30+ boxes and loads of furniture… we kept one small box.

So, join us as we set the scene and then explain how we felt unpacking all of our sh*t.

NOTE: This is following our new format of podcast episodes that are either about:

  • WHY you want to live & work abroad
  • HOW to live and work abroad
  • WHERE to live & work abroad

Let's get stuck in. 

The roadmap we mention can guide you through the questions you need to ask before starting your own adventure.

Want to get involved? It's completely free – just go to ASidewaysLife.com/roadmap.

As ever, get in touch on Instagram (@asidewayslife) or email asidewayslife@gmail.com. We genuinely would be thrilled to hear from you.

The Transcription

As ever, this transcription is created by a robot, so may not be 100% accurate.

Leanne
What was really quite jolting was that it was basically a time capsule of our life five years ago.

Al
Hello and welcome to episode 78 of the Sidewalk Life podcast. I am Al.

Leanne
Hi, I am Leanne.

Al
And today we're talking about storage. Should you store your shit or not? Is that a good title?

Leanne
I think that is the perfect title. So this fits very much, listeners, you'll know this already our framework, why, how, where this fits into the house. So if you're thinking about living and working abroad, what do you do with all your shit? Do you sell it? Do you store it? Do you bin it? All the answers will be revealed today from our experience and perspective.

Al
Okay, so let's just take you back in time. I wish I could do something like take you back in time. Imagine you watch TV and everything's kind of going a bit sepia and weird. We're going back in time to 2017. If you know, you know, 2017. And we were living in this wonderful, beautiful house in Spain, in the campo in Spain, which is the countryside, in an olive grove. No neighbours. Well, there was a neighbour downstairs which was barely there.

Leanne
Yeah, swimming pool, beautiful views, gorgeous.

Al
And we moved in there. We were like, this is our house for a long time. We were pretty sure it's a long time. This is pre Brexit. Those of you listening don't know what Brexit is, then I'm sure, I'm sure there's no one but Brexit was the, in our opinion, ridiculous decision for the UK to leave the EU.

Leanne
Yes.

Al
And more on a personal level. It meant that we no longer had security in Spain. We didn't know what was going to happen. This is when the vote happened. We had four years. We didn't really know what was going to happen.

Leanne
We did not. The referendum went through in favour of the UK leaving Europe in June 2016. And that was about the time as well, that we found out that it was quite likely trump was going to become President of the US. And we're all like, what the fuck is going on? List. What did we know? That was the start of a massive shit show over the last five years now. Six years taking back 2016 now. Good times.

Al
It was a simpler time. So one of my decisions were, we had this house, we bought loads of things for it. We're really excited. We've been in Spain at that point for about four years, maybe five.

Leanne
Yes. And we should probably say, well, this was only part furnished. We had things like beds and wardrobes and stuff like that, but there wasn't really much else. There's. No, like, cutlery, crockery, kitchen, shit sheets, towels, all the kind of stuff that you need to live. It was only part of it. So we did have to acquire some things.

Al
And acquire we did. We built out loads of stuff. We built out basically our dream house, I think, which is pretty good considering that I wasn't 40 at that point, or just turned 40 and you were still about 19 or something. I don't know how old you are. And so we were really excited this is going to be our dream house. And then we decided, do you know what? Let's just go and try and live in every single country in Europe before Brexit happened, which was the 31 December 2020.

Leanne
Yeah, it was early January, mid January, was it? The official dong of Sodding Big Bear and the most disgraceful use of a national icon. What's it called? Monument. Anyway, but actually that wasn't quite when we decided that.

Al
No, I'm just chuckling at official dong. Which reminds me of Donald Trump.

Leanne
Again, he's the official dong.

Al
I tell you what, almost 50% of our listeners come from North America, so we've probably just offended about 75 25% of all of our listeners. Sorry about that.

Leanne
It's our view. You have yours. There's no judgement here. It's just my perspective. There's no judgement. It's just my perspective. It's our view. If you don't agree, you don't agree or whatever, but you're wrong. But whatever I mean is that it wasn't actually then that we decided to do every country in your before Brexit. We packed up our home in Spain for various reasons. Our dream house is starting to get a bit shady, so we decided it was time to leave that house. So why not have six months of travelling earlier that year? We've been to Talent for the first time, second, loved it for a friend's wedding, so we kind of let it take six months. Let's do a little travel around Europe. But at that point we met friends from Slovakia and various other cool places. Let's do three months of Europe, run up to Christmas, three months in Southeast Asia and then we'll come back to Spain, get our shit, buy a new house, live happily ever after.

Al
Narrator that is not what happened. So basically this is what happened, is that we left. We loved travelling so much, we thought, oh, we'll stick our stuff in storage for six months and then we'll just keep going. I got the end of six months. Yes, keep going, keep going, keep going. And that then fast forward that to essentially last week. And that was five years. Almost exactly five years it is.

Leanne
But let's go back to the beginning. If you are thinking of this as a how is storage a good option? Let's imagine a world where we stored our stuff, came back after 612 months and remained to live in Spain. Is store your option? Yes, and I think as well finding a really good storage company. And by good I mean just people that help you out. So bearing we were in the campo about 30 miles north of Malaga. They centred up all of the boxes, various sizes, lots of different packing tissues and bubble wraps, a little salad apes, they came to collect it, they took it away and then they put it in the storage. So from a service perspective, if you are looking at storing a lot of stuff, I think working with a company is actually really helpful. It took a lot of stress out of it. All we had to do is knowing that if everything can fit in these boxes, it will fit in the storage unit and we're cool.

Al
And in fact, the lesson we've taken with the way that we travel now, we've measured out when we had our old car, we managed to get more boxes in it. We've measured out the inside of our car. You know, those I don't know if it's what they're called in the US or Australia, really useful boxes, but basically plastic boxes that you can just got a lid and you clip the lid shut. So we went and bought about 15 of those, maybe ten of those. They all fitted in the car. They had a particular place, a sticker on the side where it goes. And we now know that if it fits in the boxes, then it will fit in the car. And that's a great way of packing up. If you are moving quite regularly with the car. I'd imagine they're on a much more micro scale. You could do that with a backpack, I'd imagine.

Leanne
I can imagine you good anyway. And in terms of affordability, the storage unit we found was fairly affordable. It was €300 for six months. So about £270, I'm guessing. Maybe. I have no idea. In dollars, maybe, around having one to.

Al
One at the moment of Europe?

Leanne
Sure.

Al
I think it is.

Leanne
Well, I would imagine we're going to get a lot more people from the States in Europe then flipping out.

Al
Yeah, I'm sure it was. But anyway, by the time you're listening to this, this could be two years in the future.

Leanne
So it might not be, but what a great opportunity, if you are from the States, to travel around Europe with.

Al
That conversion rate exactly two years in the future. Will you just drop us an email and tell us if Ryan Reynolds is the actual President of the United States? Because I think that would be a cool move.

Leanne
I think he's Canadian.

Al
Oh, is he?

Leanne
Cana you I don't think you're allowed.

Al
Oh, you're not racist. Aren't they?

Leanne
That might be the same in Mars place.

Al
Yeah, probably. Anyway, so where are we up to? We've rambled a lot. I'm sorry. Let me just tell you what our last four or five days have been like. So you heard about the beginning of the storage, the middle of the storage, during the storage, the storage era.

Leanne
Just think about it all. That was the best bit.

Al
Yeah. Because you just basically shell out €300 every six months, that you don't ever have to think about it. Ever again. However, we realise we spent what was it? So it's €600 times five years. That's €3000 storing our stuff. We're back in Malaga, in Spain, for the first time long term, in about five years, and we thought, we have to empty our storage unit. And you know what's going to be exciting? There's going to be so many cool things in it. Narrator again, there were not cool things in it. If you follow us on Instagram, we're going to have a look. Because, you'll see, that the End did a kind of live thing of us unloading all these boxes. And the worst thing was, it was hot day and the sun was beating down and we just unloaded the box, almost every box. We went, Why the hell did we keep this? Shall we do the spoiler and say what we've ended up with from 30 boxes at the end?

Leanne
Yes, let's do it.

Al
So, 30 boxes, 50 centimer by 50 centimer by 50 centimer, about 30 of those, plus a load of furniture, including stools, chairs, desks, tables. We are now left with one box for 50 x 50 x 50. That's it. That's a whole lot.

Leanne
And it's not even stuff that we've kept, it's things like photographs and mementos and memories. It's all sentimental stuff, really. It's not stuff.

Al
Well, can I lea you into bit of a secret on how cheesy we are as a couple? Lea, do you want to tell them about the birthday presents?

Leanne
Yeah. I can't even remember when we started. It was fairly early on. It was certainly before we were married. So we're looking at least 1112 years that we've been doing this. But my birthday is in November, our birthday is in May. They're a nice six months apart and I can't remember who started it. I think it might have been new, I can't remember. But basically every birthday would get a mug they would have photographed on, or.

Al
A cup, or if anyone doesn't know your northern accent, it'd be a mug.

Leanne
A mug. Coffee cup.

Al
Tea cup. Coffee cup. You're right, yeah.

Leanne
A coffee cup with pictures on or savings on, or funny things that we'd experience in that six months. And we'd buy each of that for our birthdays. So for the last twelve years, we have collected 24 mugs that document what that six months in between our birthdays is like we unpacked our storage unit and there they were. And they were really cute.

Al
They were things like we had a dog, we had a puppy. So as big of a puppy. Then we had things like something Leanne says. It's quite weird. She says cheeses. The word cheeses as a multiple of cheese in a weird way. Say it again. Leanne cheeses. Now say fishes.

Fishes.

Al
I think it's plural of anything like that. Mike so there's things like cheeses. What did you say? Cheeses. Cheeses. And she has a picture of a cheese. It sounds stupid, I know you're going, what the hell am I listening to this drivel for? The fact is, it's very sentimental. It was something which we were it was a tradition. It was and we even did it when we were stuck in Slovenia. Sorry, Chechia. And all those but anyway, so we went through them today and unfortunately threw them all out.

Leanne
Yes, we did.

Al
And so that comes to the second part, I suppose, is the question is, do you store or do you not? And should we see if we can answer that? I mean, you said yes. If you're going to be out of way for six months, of course you're going to store. Of course.

Leanne
I think the first thing is to really, if you are thinking about storing stuff, really taking a hard look in the mirror and asking yourself, am I a hoarder? Because if you're a hoarder, you shouldn't store her.

Al
I feel like there's some sort of snappy phrase like hoarders don't become storers, or something like that.

Leanne
Nice. But I think, bearing in mind we'd already packed up our life in the UK and moved abroad, we'd already got rid of loads of stuff, we've travelled full time for five years, we have clear outs usually every six months of stuff that we've got. We don't really hoard.

No.

Leanne
We just keep things that are either sentimental or meaningful or it seems wasteful to throw away. If we can't charity shop it at some point or sell it, I would not classes as hoarders at all. I think we're pretty brutal, actually. But I'm looking through that storage unit stuff and thinking, like you said, why did I keep this? It's bordering on a bit haughty. So I think if you are thinking about storage, one, do you have the discipline to go through all your stuff and really, truly think, is future Beth or Jamie going to need this? If you can do that, or if you are really nervous about changing your life and moving abroad and you think there's a fair chance you will come back, then, yes, I think storage would be an option. And as well, assuming that it's affordable.

Al
Yes. I think lesson number one is, do you really need it? And there is stuff like an album that a mum put together, what, 20 years ago?

Leanne
My 21st birthday? More than that.

Al
Yeah, slightly less. But this is bordering on 20 years old, this album. And it must have taken your mom hours and hours. Basically, we're talking, you're 21 in 2011?

Leanne
No, 2001, whatever it was 2005.

Al
Right. So this is before, like, the iPhone just come out, so she literally go to the chemist or the pharmacy, get your photos developed, stick them in a book, et cetera. That's irreplaceable. So even though it's big and bulky, I think that needs to stay.

Leanne
Yes.

Al
However, the majority of stuff we took picture frames out and we were like, why have we kept this, and I start taking the photos out, thinking, Why am I doing this? I've got these photos electronically somewhere. So it just doesn't make any sense. So I suppose question number one is, should you store it? Do you really need it? Is it irreplaceable? Question number two, I think, is that how much does it cost to replace it? We look at the £3000. If we just put €50 aside every single month to replace things as and when we needed it or as a fund for when we found our dream house, we still wouldn't we wouldn't have spent all that to replace what we've just thrown away.

Leanne
Yeah. And it depends what's in your house. All of our kitchenware plates, bowls, all that kind of shit. It was just Ikea. Our bedding was kind of just cost effective stuff. It wasn't like expensive silk sheets or anything. So, yeah, unless it's a family heirloom or you've invest a lot of money in your household belongings, then if you're talking Ike, you're going to be able to put that shit there for 18 months, two years, you're going to be able to buy it back. But also the reality is that even if you have invested more money in your household things, then you have to ask yourself, is it just that you're reluctant to part with it because you've invested money in it or because it's sentimental? If it's sentimental, absolutely. You find somewhere to keep that stuff. But try and be selective, because if it's just you want to keep it because you've invested some money in it, sell it. Put that into your fund for either future house or your travels or whatever else that is actually going to make a difference to your life now. Because that stuff in storage is just in storage, isn't it?

Leanne
If it's not sentimental and it's not just Ikea shit, let somebody else enjoy it and get pleasure from it.

Al
Absolutely. When I say throw away, we're actually probably about 95% of it. We've either sold or we've given away. So it's not like it's just gone straight in the bin. We are relatively cognizant of environmental issues. So there's that. You've got the question of, is it sentimental? You got the question of, Can I replace it? And also on this can I replace it thing. What's interesting is we found on almost every house we go to, whether it's a long term or it's different for the long term, but if it's long term or short term, there's usually about 30 to €70 worth of stuff we need to buy. So if you assume that every month you're going to spend €30 on something you need for a house, then why not put €30 a month aside? And then when you do move into your house, you've got yourself, whatever. Twelve times €30 is 1224 £360 to spend on your new house. You're looking at me that kind of strangely. Yeah. You agree? So can you replace it? Is it sentimental? Can you set aside money to replace these things? The fourth lesson I think we learned was around the wine.

Al
Wasn't it heartbreaking? I'm not sure Leanne cana talk about this yet.

Leanne
If you do, follow us on Instagram. You would have seen how excited we were when we found the Poshwinds box. That was how we labelled it Poshwinds. So we left in September 2017, alton, 40 in the May, as one of his birthday presents. We did a beautiful tour of the Barra del Duera region in northern Spain. We went to lots of different bodegas, lots of different wineries, bought some wines. And we're only going to be waiting for six months. So we're like, well, we won't rush ourselves to drink them because we're probably talking about two €300 of wine easily.

Al
And there was one box of three wines in it, and I think we spent €120 on those three wines alone.

Leanne
So not loads of money. We're not talking like, we spent, like, three grand on a butter line, but in our little world, that's quite expensive. So we're like, yeah, we'll leave. Ms George, we'll come back to me. Fine. Narrator it was not fine. And we opened a couple of months Saturday because we had friends coming around. We'll see if they're drinkable, we'll whack them out. Just vinegar. They were ruined. Absolutely ruined. So, anything like that? Anything perishable, don't bother storing it. Clothes. Don't bother storing it unless you're going to store it for 30 years and they come back round in fashion hell, 2001. But since you're back at the minute I know, but unless you're going to keep it for that long, there's no point there's. Fargo point.

Al
There really is. So if you got perishable in terms of food, you wouldn't keep food and storage, but in terms of wine, don't do it. We kept some whiskies there. I mean, I got for my forty th, a very expensive Japanese whisky, easily. I think it's about 150 quid for that whiskey. And that seems to have survived okay, but we're lucky with that. But I'm not saying drink that down it with coke or whatever, but there are other things you can do. Why not give it away to someone who really likes whiskey? Go on. You look really confused.

Leanne
I think I'm about to really upset you, but I don't know whether to do it on the podcast or wait until later.

Al
Let's do it in public. She's pointing to Yup.

Leanne
Is that the one you said before? I got that's my birth and I really want to yeah. There's no whisky in it.

Al
Oh, no. What's in it?

Leanne
Just coins. Like change. When you said that, I was like, Where did that come from? I was like, okay.

Al
Right, so just to give you the picture, this is happening live. Well, it's recorded, but it's happening whilst we do the podcast. I got this lovely you know how Scottish whiskies come in a case and it's got the bottle inside. Well, I've got this lovely case of Tommy to whiskey. Hurt. To sounds funny. Whiskey that I've been carrying around, thinking, I'm going to vote. You know what? That feels full to me. I'm going to open that and I'm going to drink that maybe. And Leanne has just pointed out there's no Whisk in it. There's just spare coins from I'm a bit disappointed now.

Leanne
I'm so sorry, Jenny. When you said before, I was like, Where did you find that? That's why I brought it back, so we can take it to one of those change things or just find somebody that give it to you. Yeah, it's probably only about €6 in there and like $0.01 coins.

Al
Okay.

Leanne
Another lesson to be learned.

Al
Another lesson to be learned. We throw in storage lessons that you are all the time here. Let's just say we're 20 minutes in. So I feel like we've had a little bit of a therapy session.

Leanne
This is very cathartic, actually, because it's excuse me. And I think just before you recap, one of the hardest things we found about emptying our storage unit wasn't the money that we'd spent storing stuff we don't want anymore. It wasn't the time, it's been there, it wasn't the ballach of having to go down in empty. That's just logistics, isn't it? But what was really quite I don't know what the right word is, like Jolting was that it was basically a time capsule of our life five years ago. And I think if you're going to store stuff, whether you're moving abroad for a set period of time, or whether you're like us, it just rolls and rolls and then you go back, it's almost like somebody is saying to you with all your belongings from five years ago, ten years ago, this is a life you could have had. And we've talked about this so much before. We talk about our wine, our framework. Like, you have to really consider what you're giving up, what you're walking away from. And the thing with the storage is that it's like it's like a physical representation of what you walked away from.

Leanne
And even though we've had ace five years and we wouldn't make any decisions differently, even knowing what we know now, but it was really quite upsetting, actually.

Al
It was. And we kind of bickered this week a little bit. I don't know whether you do the same with your partner.

Leanne
No, you haven't. LOLs you look at me being serious.

Al
I don't know, because I've got in trouble this week more often than I think I've got trouble more in the last seven days. And having the last, like, seven months don't seem to have done anything right.

Leanne
That you have a girlfriend page so you can leave me.

Al
You could start off with the coins in that tomato thing. You can give me that. But I think we've both realised particularly today, on Back in the last of it in the Malagasan, 32 degrees it is today, sitting in the sun, pouring down on our heads, emptying all this stuff, the last of our stuff. We just realised that actually, we're just really sad. And it's okay to be sad, because, as Leanne said, it's the cost. The cost of living this life is that you can't carry around all the cops that you ever got for your birthday. You have to take your wedding photos out of the frame and put them into a book or something to keep them. Talking of books, I've collected books since I was about 20. I'm now 45, so I got 25 years worth of books. And we got rid of maybe 50% when we left the UK, but there was still about another two or 300 books in that storage unit and I've pared that down to about eight. And it was heartbreaking. And the answer is the same, because you like cookbooks, you've got loads of.

Leanne
Great cookbooks, so many great cookbooks and psychology books as well. It's like, I can't take more with me. So then you're forced to choose between your favourites. We don't have kids, but imagine if you really are hard. And it's just that I think the most difficult thing about kind of living and working abroad is that you are, particularly if you're nomadic, actually, maybe more so if you're nomadic than if you're an expert, is that there is always a sense of lacking belonging or lacking kind of a base or roots or some stability. And again, I think it's when you see this stuff, it's almost like, well, if I wasn't doing this, I could have all my stuff around me, I could have my massive bookshelves with all the books. I'll never pick them up and read them, but I'd have him. And then that's when you kind of jolt back the other way and go, well, I wouldn't read them. It's just stuff. It's just ego having a bookshelf full of books. I've got my Kindle full of books, but no one cana see him, so how will they know? I'm clever? But it's such a mix of emotions and such a whip blast of a scenario.

Leanne
It's so hard, and I think we've worked really hard to stay in the moment, stay in the present and make decisions that are right for us at the right time. But going back, I know it's kind of turn into something a bit more emotional than what you probably expected. Should I store my shift or not? But this is the reality of it. If it happens long term, these are the feelings it's going to throw up and that's what's hard to deal with, not the six grand storage bill.

Al
I think that's it. And if we knew what we were going to be doing, that we're settling down in two years or something, then it might be different, we might have said, yes, we'll pay the extra 600, 800, whatever euros it is, to keep for another two years. But the fact is that neither of us can really see this lifestyle changing much. I mean, we're talking before, in a period of 72 hours, we went from, shall we stay in Spain forever? To why don't we go and do three months out of Schengen, three months in Shengen, to now potentially getting a Spanish visa and staying in Spain for six months and somewhere else for six months. This is just a discussion in the last 72 hours, so nothing in the future is guaranteed, certainly for us. And I'd imagine if you're a long term traveller, you don't know where you're going to be probably in six months, let alone in six years. So I think all of that I'm trying to say is that if you are at the point where you're thinking of storing stuff and you're thinking, yes, what do I do with all my lovely stuff I've collected over the last 50 years?

Al
Just ask yourself, one, is it replaceable? If it's totally replaceable, yes. Story two, is it sentimental? And three, could I just put a little bit of money aside each month so that when I do settle, I can go and rebuild all the things that I think I need to store?

Leanne
Agreed.

Al
So there you go. I think that kind of covers I know it's been almost like a therapy session with you guys.

Leanne
It has. Thank you for listening. But I think the main thing to ask oneself if you're going to store is, one, realistically, can I put timeframe to this? If you can't, store is probably a good idea. Two, how much of this stuff is actually, as I said, irreplaceable or sentimental? In which case, yes, you need to figure out a way to keep that in your life. And three, I guess it's just that emotional side of it. Are you really wanting to make a time capture of your life right now, go through whatever adventures you're going to go through the next 510 years and come back to what you could have won?

Al
Confucius? Kind of like, is there a confucius? Yeah, I think that's really good. So if you are thinking of doing something like this, then I'd be intrigued. We'd be intrigued. Just send us an email podcast at no, no, it's not it's a Sidewayslife@gmail.com Got Confused or the podcast there, so Sidewayslife@gmail.com or go on to Instagram search for Sideways Life. In fact, you know what I've discovered? I think that we dominate Google. So you can just go into Google and type a Sideways life in and a Sideways life and we like, everything. So you couldn't find us there.

Leanne
We are everything.

Al
We are everything. I feel sorry. Was there a company that did I think they sold sports gear for people who did snowboarding. They were called Sidewayslife.com. And now they're on page eleven because. We've just ruined their business.

Leanne
They should have started a podcast. Speaking of podcast, as I'll mention there, if you are interested in the business side of world, if you want to hear about our other podcast, which is all about people and culture, it's called Truth, Lies and Workplace Culture. If you want to hear a different side of us, and it is very different, we're a bit more personal, but if you're interested, that's your bag. Go and cheque it out. It's now live as of today on Apple podcast spotify and probably your other platforms of choice. So, yeah, the true Pliers and Workplace culture podcasts there's five episodes. Maybe you like it, just don't Google.

Al
It because we're not even on page one yet. But I'll sort that out. Okay, guys, so next week, we have an amazing guest. You will love her for so many reasons. She's so down to earth. Her name is Jessica. She runs something called Decipher Spain, which is a website and a company all about how to live in Spain and then to get around the bureaucracy. Talking of which, I found our licence for a dangerous dog, which we mentioned in the podcast recently, which took us about four years to get, and the dog had died before we managed to get the licence anyway, so look out for that. It's coming up next time, I think you're really going to enjoy. If you are thinking of living and working in Spain on a longer than a 90 day tourist visa, which technically you can't work on, then tune in, you will hear Jessica talk all about your options and I apologise in advance, my sound is awful on it. So you cana have a weird chopped up version where I'll be asking the questions, then we'll be cutting to her as she replying to them on Zoom.

Al
But that's next week. So is there anything else to say?

Leanne
I don't think so. Thanks again for listening and helping therapies and stuff.

Al
And also, do you know what we mentioned last week? Beth. Beth and Shelley, they sent us an email and now we communicate via video.

Leanne
Now we're going to meet the drinks. I'm depending where we end up.

Al
Not quite as posh and fancy and famous as you might think.

Leanne
No one thinks I'm posh or fancy, for one.

Al
That's true. That's true. So we'll see you next week, guys. Bye.

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