What did you do with your stuff?

*This post is to answer a question we get asked often about what we still had in the USA while we lived in the Middle East.

When we left the USA, six years ago, we sold everything. The cars, the furniture…all of it. Some of you reading have probably been the lucky recipients of at least one of our liquidations.

See, when we left Kentucky in 2011, we were very broke, had a lot of debt, and had no idea how long we’d be gone. It helped that we were done with home ownership (that’s a whole other blog post). We saved only a large closet of sentimental or irreplaceable items and stored them at a family member’s house:

  • 10 rubber totes  (ended with only 5 after a summer of sorting)
  • 3 family heirloom tables (disassembled and packed up)
  • 2 sets of golf clubs

Why didn’t we keep our stuff? Well, we certainly didn’t get rich from our USA liquidation in 2011. Especially because 95% of our stuff was what we called the “Best of the College Collection.” What we mean is that once we got married, we kept the best used items from our combined used items. Most of it went to friends, Craigslist, or Goodwill. But why didn’t we save the cars or rent a storage unit?

  • Keeping our vehicles would have meant paying insurance on them while they sat and depreciated & deteriorated year after year for who knows how long. We were gone six years. Based on what I just paid for car insurance, it would have cost us $6000 just to end up with even older cars. Never mind where we would have put them during that time.
  • Storage units are a brilliant business strategy. People pay you money to keep their stuff. You hardly see them. And the money rolls in. Six years ago, we left the USA with $50,000 in student loan debt that we were determined to pay off. Paying $50/mo. for a storage unit sounded like a trap. Especially since we ended up being gone 6 years. That would have cost us at least $3600 to keep JUNK (assuming nothing was damaged). NOTE: We have many friends who keep their items in storage units while they live overseas. The only ones who don’t regret it have really nice stuff, tons of family heirlooms, or their company pays for it. Everyone else ends up mad they paid $2000 to store stuff they don’t remember.
  • It’s way better to give your treasures new homes. Places where they can get used up and worn out instead of gathering dust while they become obsolete.

So now, here we are, in the United States, with a grand total of 10 suitcases of belongings from 4 people and 6 years overseas. And it feels so good. We are such different people than the ones who left. Now, we get to slowly start over.  Sure, I’m still a bit of a book hoarder, but that’s what libraries and Kindles are for.

In case you you are reading this and getting ready to return home; here are some tips that are making our transition & re-entry so much smoother:

  • We are very humbled and thankful to share that some very generous friends gave us an old beater with good bones. For now, she’s the perfect car and easy to find in a parking lot. She’ll look great after a trip or two to the junkyard for a new hood and grill.
  • It helps immensely that we are able to live with family while we get our barrings for who knows how long.

2 thoughts on “What did you do with your stuff?

  1. You all have made some sound decisions! I’m curious if you ever did Strengthsfinder and, if so, what your themes are.
    The coffee maker I traded you for meals before you left was a winner, and lasted until two years ago.


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