packed boxes in a room

There are any number of ways to declutter before moving, from tossing everything into the trash—a little extreme—to making copious lists and spending months on the task. A middle ground in which you can retain the items that make you happy, and the clothes that fit, can start with the following six tips. Make yourself a cup of tea and read on.

Cull with a Critical Eye

If you’ve only seen your new place via a virtual real estate tour, now is the time to take a critical look at what you own. Stay calm and start early, particularly if you have a fondness for dawdling. Enlist the help of a friend or relative who can help keep you on track and laugh with you about the silly shoes you wore two decades ago. Generally, if you have not worn an item in two years it should be put in the for-sale pile. Items that are in really good shape, or designer brands, can be sold either at a re-sale shop, an online auction, or a neighborhood swap and sell site.

One Room at a Time

According to Max Real Estate Exposure, “Deliberately forcing yourself to tackle one room at a time will allow you to concentrate more fully than flitting between rooms. Start the de-cluttering process with something small like a dresser drawer. Take everything out, lay it on the bed or floor and sort each item into four piles.”

Keep, trash, sell and donate. This is the process to declutter before moving. If you use plastic bags to sort, make sure to label each bag with a waterproof marker so your keep bag does not accidentally get put in the trash. Continue in a methodical fashion, from bottom to top drawers and then move on to the contents of your closet. Save the bathroom for last since there are many items in the vanity that you will need to use every day.

No Time to Sell Online

If you have a lot of clothing in good condition and household items that are too good to throw away, consider having a yard sale. This is a great way to declutter before moving. Even during these challenging times an outdoor yard sale is doable.

Simply post signs with the date, time, location and whether you require guests to wear masks. If people know ahead of time, they can come prepared. You should have a mask and gloves for yourself and any helpers.

Include any sporting equipment you no longer use and crafting supplies you do not need. Pots, pans, and small appliances are always in demand at yard sales, as are furniture and household textiles. At the end of the day consider donating things that are left to a shelter.

Packing

As you declutter before moving, stay organized. If you take the time to pack in an organized manner, unpacking will be less of a chore. This is most true when moving cross-country as all your belongings will arrive at one time. Buy new boxes to avoid contamination from stranger’s boxes. Purchase plastic bins for some items; the bins can be used for storage at the new place.

Try not to pack stuff from multiple rooms in one box. Mark boxes with the name of the room they will be going into and number the boxes also. Create a list with the box number, the room name, and condensed description of the contents. This list will become invaluable not only to help you get situated but also as a list of what you own and how many boxes should arrive at the destination. If the list remains in good shape after you have unpacked, save it for insurance purposes in case of an emergency. The last trick is to color code boxes with masking tape. For instance, orange tape on kitchen boxes, blue for bedrooms and white for bathrooms. This is a visual cue like a luggage tag.

Too Small for a Big Box

Each room will have some small items that could be lost or fall through a big box. Invest in inexpensive shoe box sized plastic bins with lids. Pack small items in these before putting the small bin inside a larger box. Wrap a piece of tape around the small bin to ensure the lid stays on throughout a cross-country trek. This is a great technique if you are moving small bottles that contain liquids, creams, powders, or spices. You will want to keep small items safe but remember your own safety as you unpack. Sharp kitchen items like knives and food processor blades should never be packed into a box without covering them. Kitchen towels make excellent knife covers.

In the Meantime

We may wish for magical powers to accomplish a move, but the reality is a cross-country move may take a week or more.

Plan for that interim period by packing as if you were going on vacation. You will need clothing, toiletries, medications, and shoes. If the timeline for your move is tight and you must begin a new job immediately, prepare a couple of survival boxes for the new home. These would include the very basics for each room. The kitchen survival box may contain your coffee machine, some coffee, a couple of mugs and spoons, a small pot and pan, a knife and bottle opener.  Do the same thing for items in each room that you may need immediately upon arrival. It will prevent panic on the first day of work even if the house is full of unpacked boxes. Clearly mark your survival boxes.

A Very Important Box

Record keeping has become easier in the digital age. There is software to track your budget, pay your bills and keep track of family and friends addresses. And remember, by leasing you won’t have to worry about realtor fees, so you might have a bit more money in your budget for the move.

If all your records, significant documents and important papers are digitized you will not need to utilize this last tip. However, there tend to be some records, receipts and forms that are best held in paper format.  Marriage and birth certificates, insurance documents, social security cards, passports, mortgages, and loan papers should always be kept in a fire and waterproof box and kept track of during your move. Personal papers can divulge a lot of information about you and your family and identity theft is not easily overcome. Consider keeping sentimental photos and your newly made inventory list—the packing list you made—in the same place as your important documents.

Moving may not be your favorite thing to do but by preparing and organizing you can start life in your new home almost stress free.

Finding Help with Moving Professionals

We hope you found this blog post on 6 Ways to Declutter & Sell Your Stuff Before a Cross-Country Move useful. Be sure to check out our post on Decluttering Your Home Prior to Moving for more great tips!

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