Deciding What to Keep and What to Toss During a Move

Author: Alecia Pirulis


Before you move, there’s something you have to do first. Something you’ve probably been dreading for weeks. Don’t let another day go by – and don’t begin packing until you’ve taken this important step: the purge.

When my sister moved from Florida to Georgia, she skipped this step. I arrived to help her with what was supposed to be “last-minute packing” on moving day, only to find her house bursting with clutter. She has a very difficult time letting go of things, and was trying to move items we both knew she’d never use in her new home. Even though I yelled and lectured for most of the day, she still packed most of that clutter into boxes and put it on the moving truck. Today, her basement is jam-packed with boxes of unnecessary stuff she packed that day – well over a year ago.

As you move through your home, evaluate each item by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I use this item on a regular basis?
  • Is the item irreplaceable?
  • Is it valuable? (Truly valuable – not that your collection of Pokemon cards aren’t — but if you don’t use them anymore, perhaps it’s time to ditch them.)
  • Will it fit in your new space? (If, for example, you have an oversized sectional and you are moving to an apartment, you might want to consider something smaller.)

If you answered “no” the above questions for an object, put the item in a box. Once you have filled the box, donate it to charity (or set the items aside for a yard sale).

Tackle your home one room at a time — and one day at a time. After you’ve gone through your entire home, wait a week and repeat the process. Don’t try to purge all at once – you may get into a “purging frenzy” and get rid of items that you actually want. Taking breaks will give you a chance to regroup. This process should take weeks – not hours.

When cleaning out drawers, cupboards, and closets, take everything out and sort it into three piles: Keep, Toss, and Donate. The “Keep” items will be packed (or put back if you haven’t reached that stage yet). Take the “Toss” items straight to the trash so they don’t find a way back into your room, and haul the “Donate” items to the charity of your choice.

If there’s something you are unsure about – you’re fairly sure you don’t need it and probably won’t use it, but you love it and are finding it difficult to let go – give it to a friend or relative to “hold” for you. After you get moved and settled in, you may realize you do have the perfect spot for that giraffe statue and you can call your friend or relative and get it back. Or, you may realize you didn’t need it after all – and they can either keep it or get rid of it for you. (Only do this for a few special items – don’t overwhelm your friends and family. If you have a lot of items you can’t part with, you may want to consider a storage facility.)