We tend to accumulate things as we go through life. There’s an old joke that says, “a house is just a place to keep all of your stuff while you’re at work.” In some sense, that’s true—our houses are where we keep everything we own, from our clothing and furniture to our knickknacks and electronics. When it comes time to pick up roots and move, we face the arduous task of taking all that stuff with us, which means packing and moving it all.
What many people don’t realize is how much stuff they have—at least, not until they’re forced to pack it all up! All of the sudden, they have a hundred boxes filled with everything from clothing, to pots and pans, to books and anything else they’ve accumulated over the years. It can all be a little overwhelming.
Despite the daunting prospect of packing up everything you own and moving to a new location, this is actually an opportunity to take inventory of the things you have and ask yourself one very important question: do I still want this?
Purging is good for the soul
Whether you follow the teachings of Marie Kondo or are a naturally minimalist person, there comes a time in every person’s life where it makes sense to purge themselves of belongings they no longer want or need. This process is, in many ways, therapeutic.
Cleaning out all the junk you don’t want before a move fits nicely with the theme of the move itself: new beginnings. Moving offers a definitive end and a new beginning: from the moment you hand over the keys to your old place, to the moment you unpack the last box in your new space. Taking this opportunity to rid yourself of items that feel like dead weight will help you embrace the move and feel better about it.
Whether you no longer want something or the time has finally come to part with a sentimental object you no longer need, the pre-move packing process is the ideal opportunity to downsize. You’ll feel better once you do.
Less is more
The less you have to pack, the more confident you’ll feel when moving day rolls around. If you parse your belongings down from 50 boxes to 40 just by getting rid of stuff you no longer want or need, that’s 20% less packing you have to do (and 20% less unpacking later on). You can delegate more space in your boxes and in the moving truck to things that matter, instead of losing vital real estate to stuff you couldn’t care less about.
Less is also more in the sense of less to pack is more time saved. Many people struggle with their pre-moving timeline and often, end up packing the bulk of their items a day or two before the actual move date. This creates undue stress and all sorts of headaches—especially if you run into problems packing. Purging before packing means less stuff to keep track of and a quicker packing process. If you start with items you can pack weeks in advance of a move, you might be surprised at how little there is to worry about on the eve of your relocation.
Sort the trash from the donation pile
When you do decide to purge your personal inventory, you’ll have a decision to make: what do I do with the stuff I don’t want. There are two options: throw it away or give it to someone who can use it.
- Garbage: If it’s broken, worn-out or hazardous and can’t be easily repaired, chuck it in the trash. If you’re certain no one else will want or need the item in question, there’s a good chance it’s at the end of its useful life. Pack up a few garbage bags and dispose of them appropriately or talk with a moving company about a small moving dumpster if you’re planning on downsizing in a big way,
- Donate: You might not have a use for something, but someone else might. Those with lesser means or who rely on donations might appreciate the item you no longer have love for. Donate to a local shelter or an organization like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Call ahead to see if the items you want to donate are items of need, first. Remember to keep your receipts—charitable donations are tax write-offs.
- Sell it: If you’ve got the time and gumption, you can sell things you don’t want. Facebook Marketplace, eBay and countless other selling apps exist to make selling simple. Snap a few pictures, give a brief description and attach a price—odds are, someone will buy it (or haggle with you). It’s a nice way to make a few bucks as you downsize your closet, basement and attic.
- Leave it curbside: Curbside treasures don’t last long in New York City. An armchair can disappear before you even get back inside your apartment complex and anything with a “free” sign on it will disappear as if by magic. If you really want to be done with something, offer it up to passersby and wash your hands of it. Just be careful you’re not violating any curb rules.
No matter what you decide to do with your unwanted items, one thing’s for certain: they’re not your problem anymore! Once you’ve made the decision to downsize, feel good about it and focus your energies on the task at hand: packing the rest of the items you do want.
Be okay with letting go
The reason we accumulate so many things throughout our lives is that we’re sentimental. We associate feelings and memories to objects, which gives them meaning. But those meanings and feelings can change over time. You might not like the band on your t-shirt anymore or you might be past the art-deco phase of your life by this point. In these situations, you should feel good about letting things go.
Remember, moving represents a fresh start—a natural stop and start in your life. Before you start your new life at your new place, take some time to purge your current living space of items that don’t need to make the journey. Take a trip down memory lane before you pack up and head to a new place to start new memories.