I’m a DIY’er. I like to save money and I like to create things and do things with my hands. Last year, I was planning my DIY wedding, working full time, selling my home, and packing my worldly possessions to move across the state line. It was crazy and I learned a few things; I realized that I had way more stuff than I thought I did. It all took more work than I thought it would. It’s helpful to have goals in mind, long term and short term. Be ruthless in your sorting and decluttering.
Here are some tips that I’ve compiled from personal experience and research.
Before I even put my house on the market for sale, I started simplifying and packing up stuff I didn’t need. My Realtor walked through the house with me and gave recommendations on what I should simplify and put away. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your Agent for guidance.
Start a donation pile/bag/box.
- Pack up family photos; you want buyers to be focused on your house, not Grandpa Bob’s amazing mustache.
- Take down or simplify your décor. You want the space to feel large and the buyers should be able to visualize how their possessions would fit.
- Pack kitchen gadgets, pots and pans, extra dishes, etc. that you don’t need. If the cabinets are full, it looks like the space is too small and there isn’t enough storage.
- Clean off your countertops and keep them clean. You can leave out the things you use every day, but again, a cluttered counter implies not enough storage, and it also makes the kitchen and countertops feel small. I had a small kitchen, but with clean counters it felt much larger.
- Pack up clothes that are out of season or that you don’t need right now, donate stuff you don’t want; downsizing what is in the closets make them feel more spacious. Bonus: It makes doing laundry easier too!
- Sell or donate furniture that you know you don’t want to take with you. Again, this will make your space feel larger.
It feels a little overwhelming to be sorting, donating and packing at the same time; but, why would you want to take the time and effort to pack, move, and upack stuff you don’t want or need? I think I took 2 or 3 full car loads of stuff to a local thrift store that supported one of my favorite charity organizations.
If you have larger items to donate, many places will pick them up if you call them and schedule it. Do this in advance though; sometimes they only pick things up in a certain area once or twice a month.
Don’t forget to ask for receipts for your donations, you can use the donations as tax deductions. Check with the IRS or your accountant for more information.
Boxes and moving supplies
Start collecting boxes early. I saved them from work and asked friends and co-workers to save any good ones for me. If you know someone who moved recently, hit them up for boxes and packing material. Often times you can get them for free or cheap from online marketplaces such as facebook, craigslist, offerup, letgo, etc. Don’t forget your packing paper, bubble wrap, shrink wrap/plastic wrap (saran wrap works too), tape, markers.
When you’re nearing the end of your need of boxes, pass them on to someone else who can use them. I was able to share the last few with another friend who was moving.
Along the same lines….collect moving blankets. You can buy them, rent them with your truck, use your own old blanket and quilts or go to a thrift store and pick some up.
You’ll also want to make sure you have ratchet straps, rope, bungee cords, etc. to help tie your load and prevent shifting during transportation.
You can never have too many supplies, it’s easier to get rid of, donate or return extras than have to go buy more.
Start Purging and Packing
Choose a room at a time and pack what you know you don’t need until you move into your new home. After work, I’d take a break for a little bit to clear my head then I would start my process with a goal in mind such as clean up the master closet, a bathroom, office area, upper kitchen cabinets, lower kitchen cabinets, etc. Once I had my goal, I’d get busy sorting it out into 4 categories: Donate, Trash, Pack, and Keep Available. After you’re done sorting get the trash and donate stuff out of the space to give yourself room to work and think, pack up the stuff you don’t need and put those boxes with the rest of your packed items, and then organize the remaining things in your space keeping in mind that you want things to look spacious for Buyers.
Get creative with meals
Start using up the food in your freezer and pantry. Since I was moving 8 hours away, I didn’t want to take much food with me. I had to get creative to use up the meat, frozen veggies and fruit, and dry goods in my pantry. I was just buying perishables at the grocery store that last month or two. Bonus: Grocery trips are shorter and cheaper!
Schedule your truck
We reserved a 15 foot truck, but when we went to pick it up we couldn’t get the keys and got upgraded to a 20 foot truck at no additional charge. The upgrade was nice, but the whole rental process took a couple of hours rather than the 20 or 30 minutes we were expecting, mainly because the office wasn’t open and we were supposed to be able to get the keys out of a lockbox. If you’re renting a truck and picking it up on a weekend, make sure the place you’re getting it from is actually open on that day so that if you have problems, there is someone on site to help you. We chose the company based on proximity to my house, reviews and price but didn’t consider whether there would be someone on site at the time of pick up.
Don’t forget, you have more stuff than you realize and you might need a bigger truck.
Enjoy your tidy space
After the initial packing up and organizing there was a lull where my house was uncluttered, clean and I could enjoy it; I had it ready for Buyers to see, and even when it went under contract it was still so easy to keep it tidy because I had sorted through all of the accumulated clutter and stuff. By the time I was done decluttering, I could have the house cleaned up in 15 minutes every night before bed and a quick 5 minute tidy before I left for work.
As Moving Day approaches
As everyone's is, my situation was unique. I did as much packing and cleaning as I could before our wedding because once we got back from our honeymoon we had less than 2 days to finish packing, cleaning and loading the truck. My mom was able to box up some of the wedding gifts and decor, but there was still a lot left to do.
Recruit, bribe or voluntell people to help with the final packing, loading and cleaning. It’s helpful to have a good list of what still needs to be done so that you can delegate easily.
Have some water and snacks around to STAY HYDRATED and to keep the hangry at bay. Make some time for rest, meals, water breaks, etc. Your crew will work better if they’re not exhausted.
One thing that helped my new husband, my father and my brother with loading the truck was me staying out of the way. I told them which items could stay behind if they didn’t fit in the truck.
As you finish rooms, check cabinets and closets and then close the door so you know you’re done in there. Do a final walk through, make sure you didn’t miss anything. Check all closets, attics, crawl spaces, basements, cabinets, yard, garage, sheds, etc. one more time to make sure you didn’t miss one the first time. If you’re leaving appliances behind, make sure they’re all empty.
You’ll also need to cancel or transfer utilities and other services. The following list should help you remember what all you need to take care of.
Cable or Satellite
Water and Sewer
Set up forwarding address with USPS. You can do this online or at the post office.
Start updating your address with vendors (credit cards, cell phone, banks, etc.)