Long Distance Moving and Decluttering – A Few Tips.

We’re in the midst of a long distance move to Massachusetts this month (in the nomadic portion of our move – we moved out of our apartment a week ago, but don’t move in to our new apartment for 10 more days – shacking up with family here in Ohio).

We challenged ourselves to see if we could move in just one moving container (which held 305 cubic feet of items) and we did it! We ended up getting rid of half of our stuff when the last item was boxed up.  It veered from decluttering to some serious downsizing by the end. It was really hard and painful – but letting go of useful stuff always seems to be, in my experience.

(They brought us two containers, but we only used the one on the right.)

Here’s what worked for us:

1. Pump Yourself Up I looked at this move as an opportunity to really purge ourselves of things that were not adding to our life. Going into it all with that mentality helped me be more ruthless and make more decisions. Our mindset was super important being able to seriously declutter.

2. Start Early – I started tossing items, stemming the tide of the influx of items, and packing seasonal items as soon as I  knew we were moving. I figured the sooner I started, the I’d experience the rushed-and-tossing-random-items-into-boxes-frenzy at the end. Moving and packing always seems to take four times as long as I expect it will. By pacing myself, I was able to really examine all of our items instead of giving everything a pass because I was tired of packing.

 3. Essentialize – Since I knew we were moving many many months ago, I went room by room and took everything off the shelves and closets that were not essential and stuck them in boxes. I put them in a closet and told myself that if I didn’t go to the boxes to look for the items in the 2-3 months before we moved, I’d donate the box without even opening it. This turned out to be a rather painless way to declutter because it staggered the decluttering and by the time I tossed the boxes, I forgot what was in them.


4. Stay Away from Target. Just for a while. We had enough stuff to move, I didn’t need to bring more stuff to pack into my house until after the move. (Except, you know, diapers or food or whatever. I did let us eat.)

4. Crunch the Numbers – We did some math and found that we’d save more money by not having a second pod and rebuying a few of the bigger, bulkier items instead of paying for the second pod. Math!

5. Have a guiding rubric that you apply to all your items. Not a literal one, but maybe it’s the same set of questions, or whether you’ve used the item since you moved to your home, or whether you’ve used your item in the past X months or years. Whatever it is – be consistent and keep it top of your mind. Do it with someone else to keep yourself accountable. Otherwise, we’d have ended up keeping a lot of stuff just because they are legitimately useful, even if we don’t use them.  Our guidelines were: 1) Do we use this? 2) Do we love this? and if we hadn’t used it in the 5 years since we moved into our apartment, gone!

6. Know that the removal stage of decluttering is the most painful. Then once it’s gone, we tend to think about it less and miss it less. Decluttering is the hardest part, then once we have less stuff to unpack and fill our new home – woohoo! That’s the fun part.

7. Treat yo’self. We did whatever we could to make the moving and packing and decluttering less painful. You could hire a babysitter to get a few hours of peaceful, child-free decluttering time. Get takeout for a week. Watch TV. Go to bed early. Just knowing that the emotional and physical difficulty of packing and moving can be so hard, I planned accordingly and have tried to be easy on myself and my expectations for myself. I’ve made sure to get some physical activity because long walks let me escape the chaos and overwhelm of our apartment and also gave me more energy.

Whew. Half way done with moving. (And Mike is all the way done with his PhD – woo!)

Now if you have any tips for unpacking or getting to know a new state and city – let me know! 

Life Lately – More About Summer & Moving.


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