How to declutter your home before moving

It is inevitable that stuff piles up in the home as time goes by – shelves, drawers, and cabinets, start overflowing with clothes, toys, dishes, books, decorations, hobby materials and various other odds and ends; storage spaces get filled with old household items and dusty boxes that hold all sorts of memorabilia and rarely used objects; you can even find some things hiding in the corners and under the beds.

The longer you have lived in a home, the more items you will have accumulated. You may not even notice all the clutter – it feels as a part of the home. When the time comes to move house, however, and you look around at your stuff, you may be overwhelmed by dread – packing and relocating all these things will require enormous amount of time, effort and money.

That’s the moment to consider decluttering for your move. By lightening your load, you’ll save yourself plenty of time and energy (for packing and unpacking) and will reduce the cost of your move (your shipment will weigh less and the time required for moving your items will be shorter). What’s more, you’ll have a clutter-free home to begin your new life in.

All you need to do to achieve this is declutter your home before moving.

How to determine the fate of your items when decluttering for a move

When you start organizing and packing your belongings for moving, don’t just put them all in the boxes – look at each and every item and weigh its value. There are several important factors to consider when deciding its fate:

  1. Your new lifestyle – Will you need this item in your new surroundings? Will you be able to use it? (Your gardening tools may not be very useful if you’re moving to an apartment, right?);
  2. The size and style of your new home – Will you have enough space for this item in your new home? Will it fit in? Will it match your interior décor? (Your old ornate armoire may not fit the sleek, modern look you want for your new living room or bedroom.);
  3. Your practical needs – Do you use this item often? Do you need it on a daily basis or on rare occasions? Do you need it at all? (Your bakery set may be a good one, but if you never bake at home, why bring it along?);
  4. The condition of the item – Is it well preserved? Is it durable and functional? (There is little point in moving an old item only to replace it in a couple of years, not to mention damaged items or expired products);
  5. The sentimental value of the item – Is it a family heirloom? Does it remind you of something or someone special? Is it a favorite of yours or of another member of the family? (There are sentimental items you will hold onto, no matter what, but not all of your memorabilia is worth keeping – discarding an item won’t make you forget the associated memories, after all. Besides, certain things are better let go of.);
  6. The cost of moving the item – Can you afford to move it? Does it make financial sense to pay for its relocation?

The answers to the above questions will help you determine what’s worth taking to your new home and what you should get rid of prior to your move.

What to declutter before a move

Here are some of the things you may want to declutter before you move:

  • Duplicate items – You don’t need two coffee makers or six sets of bed linen – sell or give your extras away, so that someone else can benefit from them;
  • Clothes and shoes that don’t fit (as well as out-of-fashion ones unless they’re so comfortable or you like them so much that you will wear them anyway). Any garments in good conditions that you haven’t worn in over a year (whatever the reason) should also go to charity;
  • Broken furniture and appliances – You don’t actually believe that you will ever repair an item that remained broken for a year or so in your old home, do you? Just throw it away before your move;
  • Outdated electronic devices – In our technologically advanced era electronics get outdated even before you have bought them, so there’s no point in moving a heavy old device to your new home – you will purchase a modern one once you have settled;
  • Expired medicines, cosmetic products, and pantry items – Those could be dangerous for your health, so you need to dispose of them without delay;
  • Everything that is too worn out to be used ever again – You’re going to need to replace these things – just leave them behind and get new ones after the move;
  • Anything stored away and forgotten – If an item is put in a box and kept out of sight, you either don’t need it or don’t like it (especially if the box hasn’t been opened for so long that it is covered in dust and completely forgotten). It is much better to donate such items to people who will put them to good use, instead of hiding them some place safe. And while it is convenient to have anything potentially necessary at hand, an item that is used only once a year may not be worth keeping;
  • Old documents – Payment slips, bank statements, and tax return documents that are more than seven years old, warranties which are no longer valid, and other redundant paperwork should be discarded prior to your move (burn or shred the documents that contain personal information for your own identity protection);
  • Old newspapers and magazines, comic books and posters, CDs and DVDs, etc. – The once helpful information, interesting news or funny stories will hardly ever be read again and the music you liked years ago stands little chance of still being your favorite – just discard it all;
  • Specialty equipment and hobby materials you’re not interested in anymore – If you no longer enjoy something, don’t keep it. The same goes for old toys, games, and books your kids have already outgrown;
  • Souvenirs, gifts and other items you don’t like or need but keep out of respect for the person who gave them to you or as a memory-tag for a specific place or event should not be taken to your new place either.

How to declutter your home for moving

Once you’ve taken the decision to declutter before moving and set the rules on how to decide what to keep and what to part with, you need to get down to work:

  • Prepare properly – Make sure you have everything you’re going to need when decluttering your home (large boxes, plastic bags, a shredder, etc.). Designate one box (or several – depending on the amount of your belongings) for items to sell, one for items to donate to charity, one for items to give away to friends or neighbors, one for items to recycle, and another one for trash;
  • Start early – Sorting through all your earthly possessions will take time. Making up your mind will take even longer. Besides, you’re going to need time to organize the sale of the items you want to sell and the pickup of the items you want to donate. So, the more time you have, the better;
  • Start easy – Deal with items that are easy to part with first (bathroom items, kitchenware, etc.) and leave the sentimental items for last. Once you know how many useful things you’re going to move to your new home, you’ll know how many sentimental things you can afford to take as well and it will be easier to make a decision;
  • Go one step at a time – Do not try to declutter your entire bedroom in one day – it’s a physically and emotionally draining job and you may get quickly discouraged if you try to do too much at once. Spend no more than 2-4 hours a day on the task and set small, clear goals (deal with the bathroom vanity today, address the desk drawers tomorrow, etc.);
  • Be consistent and stay focused – Even if it’s just for a couple of hours, make sure you work on the task every day – don’t look for excuses to put it off for later, don’t procrastinate, and don’t get distracted when decluttering before moving. The sooner you’re finished, the better;
  • Get assistance – Invite your friends over to help you sort your belongings and spend some more time together before your move (use the opportunity to give them some of your no longer needed items that they like or need). Involve the entire family in the decluttering process, including your children if they’re old enough, and have some fun rummaging through your forgotten treasures of old;
  • Use up stocked supplies, so that you don’t have to pay for their relocation or throw them away before the move;
  • Get rid of your unneeded items right away – Do not keep the things you’re not going to take with you at your home until moving day – set up a pickup for the items you want to donate to charity (or just drive them to the nearest donation center, shelter, or thrift store), post items for sale on sites like Craigslist or eBay, take damaged items to the nearest recycling centers, etc.

The best way to declutter before moving is to assess the true value of your possessions – both practical and sentimental – and get rid of anything you don’t really need or love. Your move will be easier and your new life will be happier without all the clutter.

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