Relocation Resources        

Take the Stuff You Need – Ditch the Stuff You Don’t!


Stuff comes into our lives in myriad ways: it sneaks in through the front door, crammed into bags, stashed in pockets, and sometimes packed in shipping boxes. Once stuff has made its way in, it never seems to want to leave. So cute.

Most people pack all of their stuff, move it wholesale, and sort through it in the new house (or never unpack it). If this is your plan, I’d like to recommend something a little smarter. Here is expert advice on how to manage your stuff during your relocation

Take Inventory Early

As you start researching homes in your new area, you should start to have a good idea of how much house you can afford: square footage, layout, and so on. Even at this early stage, you can look realistically at your furniture and start to decide what you really want to bring with you—and what you can possibly leave behind.

As you inventory your home, take photos of everything. They will be extremely important in the case of any misplaced items or insurance claims. It’s better to have photos and not need them, than the other way around!

While it’s easy to think, “I’ll just take it all with me and get rid of things later,” we don’t recommend this. First of all, it costs money to move each piece of furniture. Second, by choosing to be choosy, you can save a lot of time and hassle while giving yourself freedom to evolve.

Removing some of your furniture and possessions from your house is the perfect way to build up a little momentum; it’s also a great strategy for staging your home to sell quickly.

Store, Sell, Donate, Dump

As a general rule, the top two options are storage or donation. Selling things can take more time than you realistically have, and throwing them away (aside from being wasteful) can cost you dumping fees. Nonetheless, you’ll probably incorporate all four options into your plan.

Determine which items you will bring to your new home to build your new life. Everything else? Place them in one of these categories:

This option can be very easy: if you’re working with a moving company, the odds are good that they will also offer some storage services. Storage pods, which are delivered to your driveway and then picked up once you’ve filled them, are an incredibly convenient option. If you want to be able to access your things easily, you can rent a storage unit and fill it however you like. Start scheming early for what you can put into storage, even temporarily.

Depending on how much time and financial leeway you have, this process can go several different ways. If you’re in a rush, we recommend pricing items to sell quickly; if you want to recoup more of their value, then expect that they will take longer to sell. Local listing sites are the way to go; instead of listing each item separately, list them together as a moving sale. You can also look into consignment shops and even auction houses to help facilitate the process.

Will your possessions bring even greater value to someone in need? By donating to thrift stores, charities, and even neighbors, you can give back (and secure a tax refund) while greatly cutting down the amount of time required to move or sell things. Consider inviting friends over to “go shopping” in your stuff; they’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll have another excuse to spend time together before you move. 

When time is tight, sometimes your best (or last) option is to rent a dumpster. This is most likely to coincide with Moving Day, but don’t make this your only option! Whenever possible, give your stuff a chance for another life before sending it to the landfill.

Bonus Tip: Pack a Two-Week Box

As you prepare to pack for your move, you should also be planning your “two-week box”—the items you’ll need for your first two weeks in the new place. Each member of the household should have his or her own two-week box (or bag), with things like:

  • Essential clothing and toiletries
  • Medications
  • Important papers necessary for employment, school transfers, and so on
  • A professional outfit for job interviews, important meetings, or other potential events
  • Good walking shoes
  • Toys, books, and entertainment for days without Internet or television
  • Kids’ comfort items such as favorite blankets, prized possessions, etc.

When creating your two-week box, prepare to be living out of it for longer than you might think. Unforeseen events, miscommunications, and even weather can cause delays; while it’s unlikely that you will be without your things for more than a couple of weeks, be prepared for whatever could happen.

Ready to tackle your stuff? You’ll find an Interactive Inventory Checklist in my free eBook, This Side Up! A Simple Guide to Your Successful Relocation, to keep track of your things.

Contribution by Lauren Herring.

Lauren is CEO of IMPACT Group and the author of This Side Up! A Simple Guide to Your Successful Relocation. She passionately leads the organization to empower employees and families during times of transition across the globe. Lauren is committed to living out our company’s mission “to make a positive impact, one relationship at a time.” She serves on the Board of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, COCA (the Center of Creative Arts), Junior Achievement and Connections to Success.


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