What makes me a pro? I’ve moved house almost twenty times – that’s right, 19 times to be exact!
Not only have I moved house, but I’ve also moved across country and half way across the world too! And along the way, I’ve definitely picked up some pro tips on how to declutter before a move.
Moving house is an exciting time! You get to start off fresh in a new place, arrange everything exactly how you want in your new home and start life with a clean slate.
But it can also be a stressful time – having to organise movers, pack up everything, redirecting mail, leaving a house you once loved. And when you throw clutter into the mix, this this just adds more stress on top of that.
That’s why I believe it’s important to get rid of as much as possible before moving house from one place to another. Especially if clutter brings you stress. You don’t want to carry that stress to the new house.
Whether you’re moving across town or across the world, I’ve got you covered on how to declutter your house before the big move.
Table of Contents
- Why should you declutter before a move
- 10 pro tips on how to declutter before a move:
- 1. Start early
- 2. Create spreadsheets
- 3. Figure out what you have room for
- 4. Be prepared
- 5. Be ruthless
- 6. Take it one room at a time
- 7. Have a garage sale (or a giveaway!)
- 8. Pack what you need in a case
- 9. Use up food
- 10. Have a packing party
- Final thoughts on how to declutter before a move
Why should you declutter before a move
We accumulate so much stuff in our life. From school age to our teenage years to buying a house. We add more and more clutter along the way.
And if you’ve moved house before, like I have (remember, almost 20 times), you know how much effort it takes to pack everything up and then unpack them all in another place. It’s not easy.
By decluttering before you move house, not only can you save a lot of time and effort of packing and unpacking things you no longer need, you can also save money on the hire of a moving truck.
And you’ll start the new chapter of life in your new home with a clearer space.
10 pro tips on how to declutter before a move:
1. Start early
The earlier you start the decluttering process, the more time you give yourself to gradually declutter rather than rushing at the last minute.
I recommend coming to a decision on the date you want to move, then count back six months. I know this might seem a little excessive but to declutter and pack an entire house, outdoor areas and garage can take a lot of time.
I also recommend not buying anything non-essential for those six months – it’s great practice and it will save you having to declutter and pack it all up again when you’re moving.
You’ll also need enough time to think about certain things you’re not keen on moving to your new home but which you might find difficult to declutter, such as sentimental items.
By not giving yourself enough time before your move, you’ll feel rushed and will likely end up not decluttering as much as you wanted.
2. Create spreadsheets
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a spreadsheet! Colour coordinated and categorised, just makes me happy even thinking about it!
On the spreadsheet, firstly create separate tabs for each room in your new house. Next, fill out the items you know you’ll need to bring with you and slot them into the tab for each room.
Then create tabs for items you want to discard or donate, items you know you don’t need anymore but are struggling to part with and items that might come in handy for your new house (think spare light bulb, first aid kit etc).
Once you declutter things, you can remove them from the spreadsheet and you’ll only be left with what you’re taking with you.
One of my top tips is to list the items on your spreadsheet by room and also by box. Label each packing box with a number and note the number on the spreadsheet. This way, when you arrive at your new house and you need something quickly, it will be easier to find exactly which box it’s in.
3. Figure out what you have room for
This is especially important if you’re downsizing and moving into a smaller home. You really need to make sure you think about what you want to take with you and how much room it will take up in your new place.
For example, if you’re moving from a 4 bedroom to a 2 bedroom house, you won’t be able to take all your bedroom furniture you’re with.
Consider your new space as well as the layout and what will fit in it. Anything you won’t have space for can be purged.
4. Be prepared
Before you start decluttering, be sure to have the following:
- a box for donations
- a box for items to sell
- a box for things you are giving to friends or family
- boxes for packing
Clear a space, preferably a spare room, that you can use as a ‘holding’ space. Divide it up between an area for things to donate, another area for things to go in the bin and an area for things to sell.
It’s important to have a space like this so that your items don’t get mixed up – you don’t want to donate a box of kitchen utensils you’re going to need in your new place!
5. Be ruthless
If there was ever a time to be ruthless while decluttering, it’s now. You should only be taking with you items that are essential for your new house.
Be sure to ask yourself if it’s absolutely necessary – do you really need the item or are you keeping it out of guilt, sentimentality or indecision?
Here are somethings to ask yourself if you’re finding it difficult to make a decision on a specific item:
- Do I love this item?
- Do I have room for it in my new house?
- Do I have a need for it in my new house?
- Is it too expensive or difficult to move?
6. Take it one room at a time
It can definitely be overwhelming when you think about having to declutter before a move. It’s helpful to break the process into smaller steps and just focus on one room at a time.
If you try and do it all in one go, chances are that the effort won’t be sustainable and you’ll just end up putting it off. By taking things one step at a time, it makes it easier for you to remain focused and carry on until the job is done.
Room by Room Decluttering Checklist
- Broken cups or glasses
- Expired food
- Mismatched mugs
- Old cutting boards
- Unused appliances
- Cleaning supplies
- Expired medication
- Used razor blades
- Empty makeup bottles
- Expired makeup
- Broken or old hair ties
- Dried up nail polish
- Mismatched bed linen
- Tattered towels
- Baby/child blankets not used
- Outgrown bedding
- Unused holiday linen
- Moth eaten items
- Empty picture frames
- Furniture no longer needed
- VHS / DVD player
- Spare lamps
- Books & Magazines
- Unused gaming accessories
- Clothes that don’t fit or aren’t used
- Uncomfortable shoes
- Torn or damaged clothing
- Excess hangers
- Unused jewelry
- Throw pillows
- Old paint
- Broken tools
- Hazardous waste
- Empty boxes
- Broken items stored there
- Old home decorations
7. Have a garage sale (or a giveaway!)
If you really want to get rid of a lot of your stuff, one way is to have a garage sale. Although this can be costly and time-consuming, it can be great for getting rid of things you don’t need anymore.
I say a ‘giveaway’ because I’m not a fan of selling things after a declutter. For me, more time goes into arranging sales, whereby giving things away is quite easy, and pretty nice too!
Of course you can definitely sell the items you no longer want to keep or send them to a thrift store or donation centre.
The most important thing is that everything you’re getting rid of is gone before the movers come. The last thing you want is to be stuck with items that you end up having to bring to the new house.
Hello again clutter!
8. Pack what you need in a case
Be sure to pack a case of what you’ll need for the first week or so before you move, and make sure it’s clearly marked so it doesn’t get lost in moving trucks or worse, end up being sent for donation.
This will be things like clothes, chargers, medication, important documents and anything else you might need in the early days of your move.
9. Use up food
In the last few weeks before you move, you get to have some real decluttering fun – decluttering the ice-cream out of the freezer!
Food that’s in the freezer or fridge and food such as bread or those near to expiry should be eaten in the week prior to moving day so that you don’t have to worry about moving them or having to throw them out if they won’t survive a move.
10. Have a packing party
If you’re mega serious about decluttering and only keeping the absolute essentials – things you use and love – why not try a packing party?
I first learned of the packing party through The Minimalists. Ryan Nicodemus was tired of all the clutter and wanted to try to live as a minimalist, so he asked his friend Joshua Fields Millburn, who had already transformed his life through minimalist, for help.
They decided they would throw a ‘packing party’, which is exactly what it sounds like! Packing and pizza!
They packed up everything, absolutely everything that Ryan owned – his toothbrush, furniture, kitchen utensils – and for the following 21 days, he only took what he needed out of the boxes. By the end of the 21 days, he had let go of 80% of his belongings.
Now while Ryan wasn’t actually moving house, you could absolutely use the same method to declutter before a move.
Don’t forget to get everyone involved and make it more of a party!
Final thoughts on how to declutter before a move
Moving house is the perfect excuse to declutter your house!
It’s important to be ruthless about decluttering before a move, especially if you need to downsize or have an excessive amount of things.
In my experience it’s not just about the amount of stuff you have, but also where it is stored – so get rid of whatever isn’t being used and don’t put it in boxes in the garage or attic.
These are my pro tips on how to declutter before a move. I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any further tips or questions, please leave a comment below!