May 19, 2022

The Rise of the Lifestyle Storer

With smaller homes costing more, and storage prices costing less, easyStorage is noting a trend towards ‘lifestyle storers’ – people who are using storage facilities as an essential commodity.

With smaller homes costing more, and storage prices costing less, easyStorage is noting a trend towards ‘lifestyle storers’ – people who are using storage facilities as an essential commodity.

Increasing prices for ever smaller homes, combined with the decreasing prices of new types of storage, as well as more modern, easier options for storing, are starting to make this kind of ‘lifestyle storage’ a popular option.

What is ‘Lifestyle Storage’?

Lifestyle Storage is the use of a storage facility as a lifestyle choice to free up living space.

As the UK’s housing stock becomes smaller and more expensive, especially for larger families and in expensive cities, it’s becoming increasingly popular

We’re all trying to do more with less. In London, for example, 60% of one-bedroom flats have no storage space. Even Ideal Home magazine (2019) noted the latest data showing today’s new homes are the smallest that they have been in 100 years.

Two people holding easyStorage boxes

Where once adult children might use their parents’ spare rooms or garages for storing things, this is no longer a given.  Trends are for the over 55’s to downsize; parents are already living in smaller living spaces; many houses, especially rentals, come with parking spaces rather than garages; and many garages have already been converted into living spaces.

New homes must provide between just 2.5 percent and 3.2 percent of total floor space for storage. In a one-bedroom place, that’s no more than space for cleaning things and a suitcase or two!

To create more space, many people are turning to storage units to keep hold of things rather than sell them on and have to re-buy when needed. Today, around 41% of storers have used storage before or on an ongoing basis.

The Housing Problem

Zoopla reported that rents increased by 8.3% in the final three months of 2021, the fastest rise in a decade. COVID had made the situation worse. With spiralling energy and travel costs, people are having to live in smaller spaces than they would otherwise have liked.The cost of UK housing is on the rise.

Compared with the rest of Europe, UK housing is small and expensive: around 16% of mortgage holders spend more than 40% of their income on a mortgage. The UK has the smallest dwelling sizes in a comparison of fifteen European countries and even the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) has noted the shrinking size of homes. By 2010, new homes were already looking 11% smaller than those already built.

Yet occupant numbers have remained stable.

UK Governments of all ‘colours’ have made little progress on this front. There are all kinds of reasons for this, from the individual’s right to choose, the need to encourage development by making it profitable for private sector developers, and, of course, other, higher priority, housing issues.

Man and estate agent shaking hands by a rental sign in front of a house

Statistics mask a lot: some bigger homes are ‘under-occupied’ whilst many crowded smaller ones are not, legally, ‘over occupied’. Loopholes in definitions mean that there is no legal limit on the number of people of the same sex who can share a room. Large enough kitchens can be considered suitable for sleeping. Children aged under ten can share. ‘Natural growth’ overcrowding is considered acceptable, as is people coming to stay for a ‘short time’.

Space standards have been overlooked and inconsistently applied by local councils. In fact, it’s mainly in social housing that any space standards have been applied, with most focus being on number of rooms.

Even so, overcrowding based simply on bedroom number statistics is growing in the rental sector (which itself is growing), and this is a particular issue in specific communities and areas.

The knock-on effects of overcrowding can include the easier spread of infectious disease, poor mental health and stress, and doing poorly at school. A lack of space also leads to increased likelihood of accidents in the home.

Governments and councils will inevitably take a long time to catch up with people’s needs, so it’s clear to see that, in the short term at very least, all of us need to do more with less, to live smarter. The number of books supporting decluttering, from Mari Kondo to Swedish Death Cleaning, seems to supports this notion.

The dropping price of Storage

Although (according to the Self Storage Association UK Annual Industry Report 2022) prices for storage have risen in some of the traditional self storage units, a new slew of storage alternatives have arrived on the market representing far better value.

They have managed to reduce storage prices to around half the price of traditional self-storage, and smart self storers can now arrange swaps for what’s in storage every month or two, helping keep that cost low.  

A view of an easyStorage van through a window

(If you are interested in how this works, see: The easyStorage Difference.)

It is, after all, largely predictable that summer and winter clothes will be swapped over, that events that have a lot of extra ‘stuff’, like Christmas or Hallowe’en are going to happen and that boating gear and ski gear are needed at different times.

A little advance planning offers cheap extra space without needing to pile high Ikea boxes or lose space to extra chests, both of which, incidentally, we love but which can help make a place look smaller and more cluttered.

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Otherwise, do call 0800 061 4091 where one of our team can talk through your needs.

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