Moving to a smaller place? Over time, we tend to accumulate stuff - lots of stuff. We have drawers full of stuff, gifts that we have never used (and never will), furniture we don’t really need but keep “just in case” and items that we’ve had for years may be difficult to part with due to nothing more than familiarity while serving no functional purpose. Now is the time to get rid of excess baggage (literally!) and pare down to the essentials.
Deciding what you really need requires a good long look at how you live your life daily and prioritizing the activities and items that are already a part of your actual lifestyle--not those activities or items that you wantto be part of your lifestyle, but haven't gotten around to yet.
- Take a walk through your house or apartment and evaluate everything you come across (furniture, books, food, etc.). Ask yourself if you've used it in the past year and, if so, how often? Be honest with yourself. If you think you could live well without it, out the door it should go. Make a note of it.
- Consider that most of the stuff people keep without using is a tribute to an unmet goal. The most common example is probably exercise machines that we always say we'll use, but don't. Then there are those books we intend to read, that table we eventually want to have dinners and brunches on, etc. We keep things around "just in case", or hoping that their presence will eventually encourage us to use them. But let's be realistic, if seeing that treadmill get a coating of dust hasn't inspired you yet, what makes you think it ever will? Make room for the things you'll actually use.
- For stuff that you really have a hard time getting rid of, make this agreement with yourself: Put the items in storage. If you don't need or use them within 6 months, give, sell or throw them away.
You will also need to get the room measurements of your new space. Ask if you can take measurements or if there is a floor plan available to you. Don’t forget about the location of doors and windows as this will be a factor in furniture placement. Once you have these measurements, make a floor plan using your furniture’s measurements. Try using Better Homes and Gardens’ Arrange-A-Room online software to simplify the process (requires registration but is free). This will give you a much better idea on what you can keep and what will have to go.
Assessing exactly how much of the new space is dedicated to storage will give you and idea of the volume of items you need to dispose of before moving in. Don’t forget hidden storage areas you currently use in your old place. If you place a lot of items above the kitchen cabinets in your current home, for example, find out if the cupboards in the new place have storage in that area as well.
- Don’t forget to go through your bathroom cabinets, kitchen and “junk” drawers. We have a tendency to accumulate unnecessary items in these places. Get rid of empty bottles, balls of twine, expired medicines and beauty products, and your collection of plastic margarine containers. Be brutal.
- How you dispose of these unnecessary items will depend on how much energy and/or time you have. The easiest thing to do is to load them up on a truck and drop them off at the nearest thrift shop.
- Join a Freecycle group to give stuff away (www.freecycle.org)
- If you live in an apartment building or townhouse complex, notice boards and drop off areas for giving unwanted items to neighbours is sometimes provided.
- Call up your friends and relatives and see what they need. You may be able to enlist their help in the move for a promised dresser/bed/armchair!
- For a large number of items, have a yard sale (or a series of yard sales), or if you have a lot to sell quickly, consider a service to take care of it for you (e.g., Google liquidation estate content sales).
- If you have time before the move, utilize sites such as Craigslist and eBay to sell off the best stuff. You’ll likely get more money for your items this way but it is more time consuming.
- Craigslist is a good avenue for selling larger items such as furniture, appliances and home decor items to people living in your area. If you have the means, offering delivery will often produce quicker sales.
- eBay is a good venue for selling collectible items such as old albums, comic books, and figurines. Make sure to take good quality photos of the items and offer good descriptions. Remember that you are a salesperson. Sell those products!
- Used designer clothing can be resold in consignment shops. These stores can be found in your local business directory. Be sure to shop around. Some stores offer better rates than others.