Kristin Elliott had rented her large one-bedroom in Albuquerque for two and a half years when she received a job offer in New York City, land of the tiny apartments. Starting a new job is (comparatively) easy. Downsizing, that is, moving from a larger apartment to a smaller one? Not so much.
Downsizing is easy. All you have to do is…
Pardon me while I stop for hysterical laughter. For some people who love clothing and tiny rabbit figurines (don’t judge me), downsizing is about as easy as pi calculated to the final digit. Moving, however, gives you the perfect opportunity to start a new life with a clean slate—and a clean space.
Here’s why you should consider thinning out 15 percent or more of your belongings, by giving them to friends, to charity, or to the garbage chute, when you’re about to make the move to a new home.
Decluttering is simpler when moving, especially emotionally
When you’re moving, particularly to a smaller place, you need to bring your essentials and treasures; everything else, sadly, is potential clutter.
Laurie Palau, professional organizer, author of the book Hot Mess: A Practical Guide to Getting Organized, and host of the weekly podcast, This Organized Life, says, “We all own more stuff than we need to begin with. Moving gives us permission to [pare down] things we no longer need.”
For some, it’s easy to purge that extra winter coat or the twentieth lipstick…but it’s much harder to part with items gifted by friends or family.
Palau says, “A lot of people struggle because people assume that clutter is the physical stuff we see. But I believe that if you look at clutter on a deeper level, there’s a whole emotional component. People don’t know what to do with things they have emotional attachments to, and it’s the fear, the guilt, and the anxiety that keeps you back from wanting to purge your item.”
Toss or regift the item, and remember that your loved ones want you to be happy. Even if you’re much happier without their soap dish.
Decluttering saves you time when you move
Ali Wenzke, a moving expert, says that when you move, “you’re going to spend time packing your items, moving your items, and unpacking all your items.” This may be time you don’t have, particularly if you’re like Elliott, who has to focus on her new job, not her old stuff.
But careful curation of your belongings doesn’t just save you time when packing and unpacking. It also saves you time at your destination.
Palau agrees. “The purpose of a filing system, whether it’s filing food in a pantry or papers in a drawer, is putting items away. But really, the purpose of a filing system is the ease of retrieval, and you want the ease of retrieval, to enjoy the things that you do have.”
Decluttering saves you money when you move
Elliott left her sofa behind with a friend in Albuquerque. She’s unsure if she’ll be retrieving it, because of the cost.
Elliott says, “Sofas are going to be more expensive in New York. But how much is it going to cost for me to rent a uHaul or a POD? It may be cheaper than the time and effort of flying back out, renting a truck big enough for a sofa, and driving [to New York] with gas, costs, and lodging.”
Wenzke says that if you have more items, “you end up spending a lot more money for every aspect of the move. If you could downsize, it would make your move a lot less expensive.” Particularly when it comes to moving “larger, heavier items.” Like sofas.
Decluttering can open up money-making opportunities
One overlooked reason to pare down your belongings: You could sell them off, as some of your keepsakes could actually be valuable. If they’re not giving you pleasure, they could make someone else very happy AND earn you a few bucks. “If you’re able to make some money off of things when you’re downsizing or decluttering, you can use that money for your new space,” says Wenzke.
While decluttering for her move, Elliott uncovered a limited edition cast-member-only Haunted Mansion 25th Anniversary watch that she plans on selling. The same item recently sold on eBay for $225.
Decluttering can reveal lost treasures
Before her cross-country move, Elliott finally went through old boxes she had kept from her childhood home, boxes she stored in her apartment, then ignored. But by finally going through them, for the purpose of minimizing her belongings, she found some buried treasures.
Elliott uncovered an old birthday card from a beloved grandmother, along with an uncashed check. She now displays them in a place of honor.
And that is the purpose of decluttering: to remove the unessential items and make space for what you truly love.
As long as you don’t love clutter.
Once you’ve paired down your belongings to fit into your new place, take a look at ways to utilize small spaces for some great minimal living tips!