Start Fresh: How to Purge Before a Big Move

Evelyn Long

Jan 22, 2021


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Moving to a new place can seem like a daunting task. You never realize how much stuff accumulates in your home before you go to pack it. Do you have to take everything with you? 

Absolutely not. When done correctly, moving can be the ideal opportunity to make a fresh start. Here’s how to purge before a big move — and make room for more joy in your new home. 

The Ruthless Guide to Packing 

We’re going to suggest you start with a macabre approach: death cleaning. It sounds like something out of a horror movie, we know. Death cleaning was inspired by exactly that grim event. It mimics the deep cleaning you do when someone you love passes away, but you do it while you’re still alive — and reap the benefits.

Although initially intended to decrease the burden on your loved ones, this ruthless method also helps you pack like a boss. The period before a big move is the perfect time to adopt this approach and purge your belongings without hesitation.

Sort Your Clothes

It’s time to get brutal with your closet. All those clothes you bought that were one size too small in the hopes of squeezing into them in a month? You’ll feel better psychologically once you part with them. 

Take everything out of your closet and drawers and dump it on the floor. Go through items one by one and ask yourself two questions:

  • Did I wear this in the past two weeks?
  • Did I wear it this year?

If the answer is no to both, it goes into the recycle pile — unless it’s your wedding dress. Then again, if you’re now divorced, get rid of that, too. 

Leave yourself one week’s worth of clothing and wrap the rest in garment bags for transport. You can use plastic garbage bags with a hole cut for the hanger to protect some items. 

When Did You Last Open That Box? 

A big part of learning how to purge before a big move is knowing when you can get rid of items you don’t use often. If you are like many families, you have boxes of keepsakes in your basement or garage. Many of them gather dust. Opening them could send you on a trip down memory lane and make them more challenging to part with. Before you open the box, ask yourself what you seek. 

It’s one thing if you have valuable collectibles, but unless you stand to lose substantial money or family heirlooms, leave the boxes unopened. You don’t want to clutter your new home with dollar store knick-knacks anyway — what’s the point of transporting them? Think of it as a way to reduce your carbon footprint. Less weight in the moving truck equates to fewer carbon emissions. 

Hardcovers, Magazines and Paperbacks, Oh My 

It’s the age of the e-reader, and there’s no need to transport your entire library unless it’s your pride and joy. When deciding what to keep, again, weigh the cost of transport against any sentimental value items have. 

With books, you rarely recuperate anything close to their value at a yard sale. You’re lucky if you get as much as your college bookstore offered at the semester’s end. Your local library can always use donations — consider doing a good deed with the materials you no longer want. 

Shatter a Little Glass 

How many plates and glassware sets does a family need? If your place settings are a jumble of mismatches, you could sell them as replacements for cash. You might also try a local antique shop if you have vintage items. 

The Big Stuff 

Are you downsizing to a smaller unit? If so, you might need to sell some of your items. If possible, look at a floorplan of your new location when deciding what to keep. 

You probably won’t get too much if you go the yard sale route — people know that movers are looking to unload items and try to haggle. You can sometimes demand higher prices online. You may have to pay for shipping, so factor that into your asking price. 

Sell, Donate or Scrap? 

Once you have sorted everything, it’s time to decide what you will do with the things you don’t intend to take. You have three choices — try to get some money, donate the items or recycle them. 

If an item is damaged beyond repair, you’re better off taking it to the recycling center or dump. However, if the object is in decent condition, but you have too many of them, consider a donation. Many people are in need, especially given the recent pandemic.

If you decide to sell, you have several routes to consider:

  • Have a yard sale: Make sure you create ample signs and advertise in local papers. If you plan your moving sale during a community-wide cleanup, all the better. 
  • Online sales: Online sales generally work well for pricier items because you reach a wider audience.
  • Consignment shops: If you don’t have the energy for a yard sale and don’t want to pay to ship, your neighborhood consignment shop might be your best bet.  

Make a Stressful Time Simpler — Learn How to Purge Before a Big Move 

Purging can be a cleansing process, so don’t look at it as punitive. Instead, celebrate the new chapter of your life as a fresh start by getting rid of the old. 

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