Apparently, there are three kinds of garage owners: those who actually park their cars in the garage, those who can’t and those who wish they could. More and more, garages have become storage units for stuff people don’t use, but can’t get rid of. Yet, one of their most expensive possessions (their car) sits in the street or driveway exposed to weather and hooligans.
Jeanne Arnold, an anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles explains, “The garage is a great place to put stuff that you haven’t made a decision about.” And Arnold knows what she’s talking about, she is a leading authority on junky-garage syndrome and in 2012, published a book, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, about the living spaces of two-income, middle-class families in Los Angeles. One of Arnold’s biggest discoveries is that only a quarter of the people in her study actually could put their cars in their garages because they’ve become receptacles for people’s junk.
Arnold says this issue is due to the fact that people accumulate too much stuff, they can’t bear to part with things they no longer need and they make bad decisions about what is really valuable. She said, “I see a lot of useless stuff in the garage and a nice BMW or Audi parked outside.” This phenomenon is probably also due to the fact your neighbors are more accepting of seeing your car in your driveway instead of boxes filled with your collection of Cabbage Patch Dolls you had to swapped out in order to put your car in the garage.
And it’s not just Americans. The Brits are adverse to the correct use of their garage, as well. A survey by British insurance firm Aviva found that two-thirds of the people surveyed who owned two or more cars cannot park them in their garage because they didn’t have room. Furthermore, 68% of the men surveyed admitted this was because their garages were too full of tools, gardening equipment and home improvement materials.
Amazingly, 25% of the survey said it was too much effort to put their vehicle in the garage and 10% confessed they have no plans to clean out the garage. Nine out of ten admitted it would take a theft before they would make the effort to find space for their car in their garage.
It seems ludicrous that we prize assorted stuff that is admittedly not useful over the second largest purchase of our lives – our cars. And the driving force behind such psychology is simply because we have a hard time letting go of our possessions and de-cluttering our lives. However, the longer we perpetuate this practice, the less healthy it may be for us in the long run.
In fact, too much clutter can be anxiety provoking and when it’s coupled with the worry about the safety of your car on the street, it leads to raised stress levels. The mind-boggling fact is that this stress can be easily eliminated if only as Heather Smith, an executive from Aviva said, “People would park their cars in their garage. They’d have the peace of mind that one of their most valuable possessions is being fully protected.” Car and garage owners take note: a little garage organization is key to maintaining our mental health.
Visit the Motor Trend Garage website for ideas on how to organize your garage to welcome your car back inside.