Six Tips for Your Pre-Move Decluttering

So your lease is up, you’ve hit the market—and found the perfect place to call home.  The only problem?  All this stuff.

Moving is a great time to do some thorough decluttering, take stock of what you own, and decide what’s not coming with you into your new home, new neighbourhood, and new phase of life.  The more you shed, the less you’ll pack—and unpack on the other end—and there’s no greater feeling than settling into your new home with the feeling of a fresh start.

Here are six tips for decluttering before a move that’ll make it easy, painless, and great.

Get a little help from your friends

There are a lot of reasons we hold on to things we don’t use anymore, but one of the most powerful is just plain habit.  Getting those assumptions—but I need this!—out of our heads can be an easy way to see that we’ve grown past those habits, and grown out of the items they’re attached to.  Whether it’s a book we’re never going to read again, a sweater that doesn’t fit, or paints for the landscape class we took ten years ago, having a friend who’s a kind-but-firm sounding board can make decluttering quicker, easier, and much more fun.

So if you’re still holding onto that high school tee-shirt that’s really just a breeding ground for holes, have a friend sing you “Let It Go” and hold out the garbage bag.  It’ll lighten your heart—and your moving to-do list.

If you’ve got collections of clothes you’ve outgrown—or which are too big now—consider throwing a Clothing Swap or Closet-Shopping party.  Odds are you know someone who’s just that size, and who’d love that barely-used jacket, thank you very much.

Use it or lose it

Often, the extra weight we haul around from move to move isn’t obvious: it’s hiding in cupboards, closets, and storage containers.  Take a good look at all the things you haven’t really used in your current home.  If you have fifteen coffee mugs, but you only ever entertain five people, consider donating or passing on the ones that are gathering dust.  If you haven’t used it in two years, and it’s not a specific or seasonal item, it’s probably a good candidate for recycling or passing on to a new home.

Ditch that last box

We’ve all got it: A box, still packed from our last move.  The one that just somehow never got opened or unpacked, and now it’s time to pack everything up for the next.

Whatever’s in it, it clearly wasn’t that important, and you haven’t missed it for at least a year of your life.  Unless it’s heirloom china, it’s time to find that box a new home: in someone else’s home, a donation bin, or on Craigslist.

File it, scan it—or shred it

Papers take up space.  Digital files don’t.  If you’re worried about your to-be-filed pile—but don’t want to throw any of those old bills or documents out—take an afternoon and scan all that paper.  A 16GB USB key goes for under $20 at your local electronics shop, and unlike all that paperwork, it’s got a File Search function and fits in your pocket.

One afternoon with a scanner, a shredder, and the radio up loud will almost certainly save you a box or four come Moving Day.

Turn the clutter you don’t use into cash you can

Moving’s an investment—but it’s an investment that can cost you less if you turn some of those unused possessions into cash.

Now that you’ve identified what you don’t quite need to pack—and if your schedule allows it—there are plenty of places to resell gently used possessions and make back what you need to pay your movers on Moving Day.  Take books you won’t reread to your local BMV; drop those unworn threads at your local consignment shop; snap pictures of that end table for Craigslist or Kijiji.  Stores like A&C Games will gladly make an offer for your old consoles and console games.

Get in touch with your charitable side

If you don’t have the time to beat the streets—or are feeling comfortable when it comes to your cash flow—lots of charitable organizations have a constant need for everyday household items, and would love to make your move easier and lighter.

If you’ve got flatware, furniture, or clothes that still have a lot of use in them—just not use for you—sites like Toronto Donates or the City of Toronto’s ReUseIt portal help you quickly and effortlessly find out which organizations are looking for the stuff you no longer need, and make it easy to get in touch.  Another upside: If you’ve got enough to donate, several charities will pick up at your door—making decluttering and moving even easier!

If you’d rather have the satisfaction of passing useful things to an individual, groups like Toronto Freecycle are happy to make that happen: Just list what you’ve got, and arrange a meetup or pickup with someone who will give that item a good home.

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1 Comment
  • robert
    Posted at 10:21h, 14 September Reply

    Great article!!

    We all need to hear this regularly.

    The one about the box that was not unpacked hurts!!

    Good idea to find a fried with large bag to advise one.

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