Learn how to pack and move without all the clutter!
In 2003, I became a single mom. Not only did I have to sell my first house, I had to take the contents of that three-bedroom, two bath home and move it into my parents’, where we would have two bedrooms (one for me and my daughter, one for my son) and a small living room area.
I researched all the ways I could organize, so I could move as cheaply and easily as possible, and shocker — the most common suggestion was to get rid of absolutely everything you could before the move.
When it comes to relocating, it’s not about reorganizing – it’s about reducing.
What to Consider Before You Pack and Move
Why declutter before you pack and move? Let’s consider your four most precious resources when moving: Space, Time, Energy and Money.
Whether you are upsizing or downsizing, the idea of bringing all your old stuff into your new space should fill you with abject terror. And if you are downsizing, you won’t have room for all that stuff anyway, no matter how much you “organize” it.
No matter what size home you are moving into, space is limited. Spend it wisely from the start. You don’t want to start in your new home feeling cramped and pre-cluttered.
Your biggest time suck when it comes to moving? Packing things to transport. That is why decluttering before a move is so vital: the less stuff you have the less you have to transport – so the less packing you will have to do.
And it’s not just packing it up on the moving end . It’s unpacking at the new house, and then making a decision about where each item goes. Once you get to the new house, much of your time will be spent finding everything you need amongst all the stuff that you brought (most of which you probably don’t need).
Just think of how much time you will save for every object you decide not to bring with you.
Trust me, on moving day, you will be so grateful to have gotten rid of so much stuff before your move. The less you have to take, the easier it will be on you when you’re hot, sweaty and just done with it. (Why is it that it’s always a thousand degrees when you’re moving? Is it somehow a law that we can only move on the hottest day of the year?)
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is trying to get “some money” out of an item they bought. They paid $20 for that salad spinner and want to recoup at least $10. So instead of donating it, they take it to the new house.
Don’t do that.
If it’s something you don’t use and can’t sell immediately, it is time to give it away.
What not to bring with you? Much of this depends on how far you are moving and who is paying for the move. When you see how big a moving truck is, you might be tempted to just throw everything in there and sort it out later.
Resist that temptation. It’s now more important than ever to ask yourself the three questions of decluttering:
- Do I love it?
- Do I use it?
- Would I buy it again?
I often ask my Clutter Free Academy people when they are really struggling with a decision about whether to keeps something or not, “Would you pay to move it?
But remember, there are several ways to “pay” for something: Space, Time, Energy, Money.
Items You Can Leave Behind When You Pack and Move
Here are some items you can leave behind:
Curtains and Window Treatments
I’ve heard from many military families that curtains never work from house to house – it’s better to just leave them.
Furniture That Doesn’t Have a Spot
If you can’t picture that extra wingback chair anywhere in your new house, don’t bring it with hopes that you will magically find a place.
Break up with the paint colors from your old house (and be a good guy and leave touch-up paint behind for the new renter/owner.) It’s time to dive in new into your new space and give it some fresh paint love.
Why would you bring parts from your old house to your new digs? Again, be a champ and leave them there for the new tenant.
It may be time to get rid of décor that you loved but haven’t pulled out in a couple of years. Each house has its own vibe, and you are going to want to make your space your own over the next few years.
Not all appliances automatically work in every space. Do your research before dragging that dishwasher across town (or especially across the country).
Knowing I had to move everything three hours away, and that our space had been cut in less than half, I had to get very specific about what I would bring and what I would leave behind.
Here are four questions to ask when you’re making those types of decisions:
- How much time do I have before my move?
- How much energy do I want to put into getting money out of my stuff?
- How much do I need to get rid of to fit into my new space?
- How much will it cost me to move?
4 Ways to Declutter Before You Pack and Move
So how do you get rid of all that extra stuff before you make your move?
Early after we decided to move, I gathered up everything I knew I wanted to get rid of: books, decorations, food, school supplies, kids’ clothes, jewelry, my clothes, accessories, videos, kitchen supplies, tools, camping equipment and small appliances. Then I put it all in my living room and invited friends to come by and take what they wanted.
It was the fastest way of decluttering, and it’s good for the soul.
I had a yard sale and made some money from that, but then I put a “free” sign in my front yard. I would haul things out there, and twenty minutes later, they would magically disappear. Turns out the same family kept driving by my house, waiting for me to put stuff out. Finally, I just had them come into the house, point to the things I was getting rid of, and they hauled them away for me. It was a wonderful arrangement. They were taking the stuff to the flea market to sell, and I was thrilled to get it out of my house. (I was past the garage sale point – I was at the “Just get it out of my house!” point.)
I’ve written a whole guide on How to Have a Clutter Free Garage Sale, and make a little money in the process. One of my readers, Mellanie, gave me this great idea for prepping for a garage sale: “My sister encouraged me to keep a package of sales sticker dots and a package of blank dots along with a permanent marker in a handy drawer. During the year when I came across something I didn’t use anymore, I put a sticker on it and put it in a box or storage container marked for garage sales. I have them down in my basement all stacked up. I tried it this past year and my stuff is already to sell. I just need to carry the boxes outside.”
Now, when I’m decluttering, I put things up on Nextdoor under the free column. I put in the description that someone has to come pick it up. I love not having to drag things to a donation center. It’s like a valet for my stuff that I don’t want anymore.
Moving is an opportunity. Look at your move as a fresh start in in new place when it comes to clutter.
If you’ve moved before, tell me in the comments below your best moving trick. You could be featured in an upcoming article here on Clutter Free Academy.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.
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