Moving house sucks. There. I said it.
Moving house sucks. But you WILL survive it … and maybe even come out the other end with a more streamlined, more intentional and more enjoyable new home.
It’s ten and a half years since we last moved. I’d forgotten (repressed???) just how drawn out and stressful a process it is.
And now we’ve moved three times in three months. Yep. Sucky.
The first time, I helped my son and his girlfriend declutter, pack and move from their student share house into their own little cottage. Next, a double move for our family. Out of our 240sqm, three storey townhouse into a temporary apartment while our new permanent home is under construction. It’s been quite the downsize. Our short term bolthole is just one third of the size of the old place. So all our furniture and many of our personal effects have also – you guessed it, move #3 — had to be moved, into short term storage.
It’s been a long and drawn out journey, with lots of lessons learned or reinforced along the way. So here, from my own recent and intensely personal experience, are Uncluttered Living’s Top Five Tips for moving house.
1 Use the sale preparation process to do a deep declutter
When you list your home for sale, presenting it at its streamlined best will maximise your sale prospects.
Strip away EVERYTHING that you don’t need, don’t love, don’t use or which won’t fit in your new home. Be searingly honest with yourself. Do you REALLY need all four similar sized casserole dishes? Those stained baking trays? The chopstick collection that takes up a whole section in the utensil drawer? I had all these conversations — and many more — with myself. Ultimately the answers were ummm, no; er, no; and OMG absolutely not!
Conservatively, we’ve downsized more than 40% of our possessions. All our outdoor furniture and half of the indoor stuff too. Maybe 10 large tartan bags of clothes and household linens. And about half of the contents of our kitchen.
Size matters. If your furniture is not the right scale or style for your new house, let it go BEFORE you move. An overstuffed new home will feel uncomfortable, claustrophobic and unwelcoming.
This process takes time. Sometimes, a LOT of time. So …
2 Start RIGHT now
I started decluttering the day we signed the contract for the new home, 10 months ago. I thought that our household of three already lived pretty simply … but the dual incentives of listing the house for a fast and advantageous sale and having to pay to move and store what wouldn’t fit in the temporary bolthole gave me a laser focus on what stayed and what had to go.
Don’t be afraid to do more than one pass. I think I went through my wardrobe four times over ten months. Each time I brought a more critical eye and greater discipline to what earned the right to stay. I asked myself over and over: “Will I be thrilled to see this thing when I unpack it in six months?” and “Am I prepared to pay to move and store it in the meantime?” If the answer wasn’t “hell, yes”, then it was “no”, and out it went.
Which brings me to …
3 Recoup value where you can
Moving is expensive. For us, we had the costs of preparing the house for sale (like resanding floors, repainting and many small tradesman fix-ups); removal expenses AND THEN the costs of renting and storage for six months. So, realise the $$$ locked up in your unwanted possessions and offset your costs where you can.
I listed a LOT of our possessions on various online platforms. Toys, shoes, tools and garden items. I sold gold jewellery unworn for years and made enough money to pay for our floors to be resanded. My son and I sold nearly 10kg of bulk Lego to a specialist buyer. We also listed and sold many items of furniture we knew wouldn’t fit or work in our new home.
Keep in mind your dual objectives: * recoup some money from the item if you can and/but also * get the item out of your house. It’s a fine balance between these two sometimes conflicting objectives … and only you will know what the right mix is for your circumstances and financial position.
4 Be generous where you can
We also gave away SO MUCH, especially as our uplift to storage and settlement dates approached.
We donated bags and bags of clothes to our local homeless support organisation, and bed linens to local charities. I listed furniture, toys, tools, sporting goods and garden items for free on our local community Facebook Page. They were always snapped up quickly (our main objective) and gratefully. Truthfully, it was so joyful and surprisingly addictive to give with no expectations of recompense, I didn’t want to stop.
5 Protect your future self
I’ve been asking myself why this move has felt harder than the last. I’m 11 years older, for sure … but I think the real difference has been my determination to protect our future selves at the other end of this dual move process. We want to move into our brand new, beautiful forever home with ease and grace and the minimum of stress, surrounded only by things we truly love. And that has meant many, many difficult decisions and disposal strategies for the possessions that didn’t make the cut. I’m not going to lie: it’s been long and it’s been tiring at this end … but we will reap the benefit many times over when we unpack in the new place. Tough choices now = easy moving later.
And here’s a bonus thought that really sums up my philosophy of moving:
6 Home is where your people are
We took our young adult sons back to the old house the night before settlement. The big one lives independently now and hasn’t lived in that house for nearly three years, and the little one was already ensconced with us in the temporary apartment. But their turbulent, joyous, life-developing adolescence was spent under that roof, and they were emotional to bid our old home farewell.
The house was totally empty when we went back for the final goodbye. None of our possessions remained there. It smelled of fresh paint and Pine-O-Clean.
Though we cherish many happy memories of our time there, the house no longer bore the spirit of our family. It had become just a building, an empty shell, awaiting the spirit of a new family to reanimate it.
Home is not a house … and home DEFINITELY isn’t your stuff. Home is people, gathered together in bonds of love. Home can be anywhere. A snug 80sqm apartment with three people and a dog. A tiny workman’s cottage sheltering two young lovers under its ageing roof. Home. Home is where your people are 💚.