Moving is a universally stressful experience—even more so if you’ve spent plenty of time in your home accumulating stuff. Whether you decide to hire movers or go about the packing experience yourself, it can feel like a serious emotional (and physical!) trial to sort your whole life into boxes. By tossing the right things, though, you can lessen your load.
Sure, the KonMari method can be embraced at any time to make your home feel more joyful and rid of the emotional duress of clutter. A few simple guidelines from professional organizers can make the task easier, even if you consider yourself to be something of a hoarder. Moving, after all, is an opportunity to turn a new space into your dream home, starting with a blank canvas—who would want to bring along extra baggage? Follow these tips to make the packing process less painful and get your move off to a great start.
Consider Your Goals for Your New Home
“Think about how you want to live in your new space and what activities you want the space to support,” says New York City–based professional organizer Laura Cattano. “For instance, do you want your home to support cooking, to have a proper dining space for six to eight people, places to exercise, or room for overnight guests?”
Your answer affects what you actually need to worry about bringing into your new space. If you’re not planning on hosting company any time soon, chances are that you can downsize your massive collection of dinnerware.
Take Stock of What You Have
No matter how much you love your long sectional, if it doesn’t align with the square footage of your new home, it’s best to part ways with it. “Some people struggle to part with furniture that they know won’t fit in their new home,” says Beth Penn, a professional organizer with Bneato Bar. “They want to wait and see how it will feel in their new home, but it ends up creating more of a headache and adds to clutter. Create a floor plan of your new space and make sure things will work and fit.”
A bit of math and diagramming can go a long way to ensure you don’t end up filling your new space with stuff that simply won’t fit. “Make a list of your existing furniture and all its measurements, making note of anything that is larger in size and may be hard to store,” advises Cattano. Test out some floor plans on paper before you lug large pieces of furniture to a new residence.
Assess Your New Space
If you have the time, don’t just rely on diagrams. “Go to the new space with a tape measure and map out your furniture plan,” suggests Cattano. “This will help you figure out if you have any pieces that may not fit so that you can sell, donate, or give them away before you move. Then, you’ll have a good idea of how the new space will be set up—it’s typical to figure out about 80 percent and get to the fine details after you move in.”
Toss These Items
Most of the things you should toss are pretty obvious. Cattano advises people getting ready for a move to throw away expired food from the pantry and fridge, as well as medicines. Extra cords that seemingly have no purpose should also be tossed, along with any junk that’s accumulated in the bottom of your drawers.
Karin Socci of The Serene Home also advocates for taking a closer look at the things you have tucked away in storage. “Anything kept in the attic or basement should be seriously considered as a discard to be donated or recycled,” she says. “Unless it’s sentimental or something that clearly has a purpose in your new home, most of the stuff in those spaces just accumulates and delays decisions.”
If you’ve been holding onto something for a long time and still manage to convince yourself you’ll use it someday, really consider its value. “I have worked with people who have unopened boxes from two or three moves ago,” adds Socci. “Usually, these are things that might be useful under some circumstances: waffle makers, old TVs, old sporting goods equipment, etc. If you haven’t used it in your old home, you are unlikely to use it in your new home.”
Hold On to These Items
Cattano suggests keeping smaller pieces that might actually have a function in your new home: “extra lighting, side tables and stools, and extension cords. “Once you’re in the new space, you may see spots you overlooked the first time around,” she says. That lamp you thought you didn’t have a place for may very well become the star of your living room in the end.
Reconsider Things After Moving
It’s great to declutter before you move (especially if you’re paying movers to pack up your stuff), but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue the job after. When you are unpacking, you can still sort! As you begin to open up boxes, you’ll have new insight as to whether you need certain items, so you can discard anything that just doesn’t fit in your new home.