Reclaiming Space in Chicago

Chicagoans wouldn’t trade their city for anything. The gorgeous architecture, incredible museums and culture, stunning waterfront parks, die-hard sports fans, vibrant music scene, and all of the rest of Chicago’s attractions are just a part of daily life here — as is the hustle and bustle of our busy, crowded city. The packed streets and crowded views of Chicago are part of its charm, and we wouldn’t change a thing — but there’s no denying that, after a long day in the Chicago crowds, it’s nice to come back to a clean and open space.

Home, Cramped Home

Living in the city means spending a lot of time in crowds. It means gazing at a skyline crowded with skyscrapers and eating at restaurants crowded with patrons. The trains are crowded, the parks are crowded, and “stuff” is everywhere: advertisements competing for space on busy streets, small stores with overflowing shelves, and so on.

And, for many of us, the big-city claustrophobia doesn’t end when we get home. Space is at a premium in big cities, and the price we pay for culture and excitement can sometimes be limited square footage. We’re willing to live with less space because we love our city, but that doesn’t mean that we’re immune from the “stuff” epidemic that affects the entire country: Americans own so many things that it’s hurting their mental health and finances, and we Chicagoans are as guilty as anyone. In our urban apartments and houses, that stuff can feel even more oppressive — even with the best small space organizational strategies, we may find ourselves competing for space with our own possessions!

That’s no good, of course. Studies show that our home spaces have a huge impact on our daily lives: our moods, productivity, and even our sleep patterns are affected by the space we live in. Creating a cleaner and more roomy space at home can be a big help. Don’t you want to feel comfortable when you stroll through your door after a day in the crowded Loop?

Creating Space in Chicago

You probably think of two things when you think of creating space: getting rid of stuff and organizing stuff. Both ideas have merit, but they’re not the whole story.

Yes, you should absolutely downsize a bit — if you’re not using your things, there’s no reason to keep them. And there are plenty of ways to use organizational techniques to maximize storage space within your Chicago apartment, too. But the world of Instagram organizers is not always a realistic one, and minimalism isn’t always practical in real life. What about your winter jackets and snow boots, which you won’t wear all summer but certainly should not throw out (this is Chicago, after all)? And what about your hiking gear for summer forays — what should you do with it all winter? What about family heirlooms that you can’t part with, or valuable things that you want to hold onto, but don’t use daily?

Here’s a bold idea: store it outside of your apartment. Look for professional and secure self storage facilities in Chicago and grab a unit or two in a local storage center. Chicago may be crowded, but the efficiency of self-storage centers allows them to offer storage at surprisingly affordable rates, making them an efficient and effective way for you to carve out a bit more space in your own apartment without having to break the bank to move to a bigger space. You can find them as far north as Edgewater or as west as Oak Park (and, of course, beyond).

In the sprawling suburbs outside of Chicago and in the rural towns further afield, they have basements and garages and outdoor sheds. Here in the city proper, we don’t always have room for all of that — but we do have self-storage centers, which serve the same purpose for us as those garages, basements, and sheds do for folks way out there. With smart use of storage, we can each claim a bit more space and create a more comfortable and roomy home for ourselves in this big, crowded city we call Chicago — and call “home,” too.

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