Four Steps for Moving Stuff Out Before Moving In

I few weeks ago, I moved to a new apartment.  I’ve moved around a lot the last 5 years, living in 6 apartments with 12 different roommates.  In another 4 months, I’ll be moving again! It’s always been a fairly big ordeal to move, and I definitely don’t look forward to the hassles.

I haven’t exactly been moving around with just the shirt of my back; almost all the moves have involved lots of boxes, some pieces of large furniture, and a U-Haul truck.  Having shuttled around crazy amounts of stuff for years, I finally got sick of it. Which leads me to what I do enjoy about my apartment transitions: It’s an easy time to move stuff out before I move in to my new place. Here’s what I’ve learned and what I do for all my moves:

1. I’ve enacted a simple rule: If it hasn’t been unpacked since the last move, it goes. Somewhere in the middle of all the moves I realized that many things were never getting used no matter where I relocated.  Excess kitchen supplies, spare bike parts, and less-than-appealing decorations moved in a box and stayed stored in a basement until the next time around. I parted ways with a lot of this stuff since I no longer had the room nor desire to store it any longer.

Everything I’ve gotten rid of was either sold on Craigslist, given away to friends, or posted as “free” on Craigslist.  I hardly throw out anything, and that makes me feel good since I know that someone’s (hopefully) getting good use out of my stuff and it’s not in a landfill instead.

2. I don’t move larger items unless they’re really worth keeping. Anyone who’s moved knows that the big and bulky items are the worst to deal with.  I’m talking couches, mattresses, dressers, and tables.  They’re heavy and require (at least) 2 people to carry them.  They have be squeezed up small stairways, if they even fit at all.  They don’t fit into anything but a truck. I finally had enough of this, too.  I ditched my only dresser for simple closet storage.  I bought a much smaller work desk, which suits me fine since I’m no longer a student.  Result: my most recent move simply required a friend’s Jeep and half a day’s time.

I only take the big items that are either expensive to replace and that I know are crucial no matter where I live.  I’ve moved my queen-sized bed around with me, but I’ve given up on the elaborate wooden frame for a simple and collapsible metal frame instead.

3. I get rid of stuff while I pack.  I inevitably have to go through just about everything I own to pack it in a box.  Handling each thing allows for easy decisions to be made about what to ditch.  Cleaning out the closet yields lots of clothes and shoes that I haven’t worn in months.  Knick-knacks that have found their way into the corners of my room are tossed out, too.  I designate a box of stuff to get rid of while I’m packing and donate as much of it as is useful to someone else.

4.  I repeat step #3 while I’m unpacking. Okay, so this isn’t actually “before I move,” but it’s still part of the process. Any unneeded clutter-causers I might have missed during packing will be intercepted in the unpacking stage.

It’s also good to reassess the usefulness of items once I’m in my new space, especially when consolidating with new roommates.  A blender that was once crucial when it was the only one around isn’t as important when there are 3 of them between all of my roommates.  For personal items, there’s always things that won’t fit into my new bedroom or aren’t needed any longer.  If it’s something that can easily replaced in the future, I give it away or toss it out.

The object of this entire effort is to reduce clutter, so even if you don’t plan to move soon, there are still plenty of things that you can do to get rid of clutter.  While I hate throwing away useful stuff, I realize that it’s necessary, and I don’t think it’s do you or anyone any good by holding on to things you don’t need.

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photo by: bezoing