Moving + Minimalism

Part 2: Take stock of your stuff as you prepare to move

This post is part of a series on 8 ways moving to a new place helps the pursuit of a simple life. Click here to learn more.


When I moved from Maryland to Kansas City, I estimated the cost of paying to get my things moved vs. re-buying them on the other side. Since I reckoned it came out about even, I decided to hire a moving company—because, you know, it was my stuff! I’d rather have our current awesome mattress and my beloved dresser (which I then repainted) than buy them again, even though I could get the exact same ones from Kansas City’s Ikea.

Yeah, it was a disaster. I hired a company that ended up being extremely shady, uncommunicative, unhelpful, and defensive. For a month I waited, struggling on the line of wanting to give them a piece of my mind and being afraid that if I did, they would hold my stuff hostage. Imagine if I hadn’t been moving into my fiance’s apartment—imagine if I had had to wait a month in an empty house! When the movers did eventually arrive (after overshooting my location by 400 miles), two pieces of furniture were damaged, they would have left another person’s artwork with me if I hadn’t noticed (and they called me the next week asking frantically if I had an extra box), they overcharged me, and it was a mistake I will not make again. And all this for some Ikea furniture!

As such, for this move I intend to take as little as possible. Having my furniture is no longer a priority. I would really like to take only what fits in our cars, and maybe ship a couple of boxes of things we won’t need right away, like dishes and linens. My husband wants to get a trailer and hitch put on one of our cars, but has agreed to procure a few boxes, tape out the trailer dimensions on our floor, and see if it’s worth the $450. I’m sure there’s still a spirited debate or two to be had.

Moving provides a unique opportunity to truly evaluate what you truly need and love. You have a chance to walk through your house, pick up every item, and ask yourself these questions:

Is this really valuable enough to pack carefully, load into a vehicle, transport X miles, unload, unpack, and find space for in my new house?

Would I miss this if it fell off the truck and never made it into my new home? Would I even notice?

If this was held ransom by the movers, would I pay to get it back? (Haha.)

Can I replace this easily and cheaply if I have to?

Does someone I know near my new house own this, and would they lend it to me if I needed it?

Does the lifestyle I expect to live in my new home make this item unnecessary or obsolete?

Am I holding on to this simply because it cost money and I don’t want to lose the investment?

If you answered no to any of the first three questions or yes to any of the last four, I recommend selling or donating the item. I know this choice can be difficult, especially for things that have very little return on investment, like mattresses and electronics. For example, my husband doesn’t use his PlayStation 3 anymore because we got an Xbox, but he’s extremely reluctant to sell it because he spent a lot of money on the system and games. But even $50 from selling them would be worth more than the effort and/or cost of moving and storing what’s essentially a big black paperweight.

Basically, this is your chance to be ruthless. Fight against the things that would dare to clutter up your new home. Refuse to let them weigh you down. Instead, find your possessions a new home, either by selling or donating, and let them add real value to someone else’s life. By choosing to let your stuff go, you’ll make your move lighter and easier–physically and mentally.

And on the other end, when it’s been a few days or weeks since you’ve seen your stuff, unpack things only as you need them. Notice what you reach for right away and what you find you don’t really need, or even care enough to dig through a box for. If you find that after a month or so you’re all settled in and have some untouched boxes…maybe you could let those things go, too. They apparently don’t fit into your new life. Leave some space for growth. Leave some space to breathe.

Of course, if you aren’t moving, you can still get in on the fun. Did you ever read The Minimalists’ account of Ryan’s 21-day foray into minimalism? Even if you aren’t planning on going anywhere, try out a Packing Party and see what it turns out you really need!

Tune in tomorrow for the first installment of my weekly roundup of minspirational articles, “Links I’m Loving.” Part 3 of this series will be up on Saturday.

Also, did you know that you can read Minspiration on your RSS feed? Click here to subscribe via feedly, or type my URL into your RSS feed and follow me there!


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