Moving and decluttering go hand in hand. You really can’t do one without the other. If you skip the decluttering step, things are worse, more complicated and overwhelming on the other end after you move. Throwing it all in storage isn’t the solution easier. Once you fill a storage unit, it makes it more difficult and time-consuming to get the stuff out later on. Deal with the stuff now and make the best possible decisions in the present.
Several steps should be completed before you even put your house on the market. Many families hire professional organizers to conquer the final few rooms to clear the clutter and others want help going through every last closet, cabinet, and drawer. As you work your way through the following list, consider bringing in professionals to help with the tasks you find most challenging.
- Decide when to place your house on the market. Picking a month is fine if you’re not ready to commit to a specific date, but always give yourself a deadline. It’s too easy to let time slip by and waste a good selling opportunity. Determining when the house will be listed will help the rest of your tasks and do lists fall into place.
- Declutter. Don’t jump ahead or jump around from room to room. That prevents you from being thorough and makes the process overwhelming. Tackle one room at a time, sorting items into these categories:
- keep out to stage
- pack to take with
- donate to charity or friends/family
- toss or recycle
Important questions to ask yourself during this process are: Do I want to pay to take this to the next house? Is it really that special or important for me to expend energy packing and unpacking it? Will it fit in the new home? Will it go with the look, feel and décor of the new home?
- While decluttering, make a list for special projects that need to be done, special recycling that needs extra time, or furniture and large items that need to be sold. Creating a master list will organize your thoughts in getting some of the bigger hurdles out of the way and taken care of. It is common to come across tasks that take extra time to process. It is those tasks you want to keep track of to work on before listing your house to sell.
- Consider calling in a POD or booking a storage unit if you need to remove packed boxes or excess furniture to stage the home. Remember, this is for staging purposes only, not for items you can’t fit in your new home or items you just can’t part with. This is a short-term solution while your house is on the market, rather than a long-term storage option.
- Now that you’re home has been decluttered, now you’re ready to interview a few realtors to find the one with the best credentials instead of using a friend that’s a realtor. Not only is this a sound business decision, but you also avoid damaging your relationship if any problems arise during the selling process
- Ask your realtor for their favorite home stager. Staging is super important – it makes a big difference! Stagers and professional organizers help you think about how potential buyers or others view your home. We view your home through the “eyes of a stranger”. We are not connected to you in any way so we can point out things that your sister, neighbor, or friend would not see or notice.
- Cleaning is the final step right before the house is listed. A good deep clean is a must, so roll up your sleeves or hire a professional. Once the house is prepped, you’re ready for photos to be taken to enhance your listing.
Check out what to expect when moving based on your life stage.
Young Singles and Families
You all have it the easiest. You hopefully haven’t accumulated too much at this point so it should be fairly simple and straight forward. Remember to take note of the size of your furniture. Apartments, condos, and townhomes can have tight stairways, elevators and rooms don’t accommodate large pieces and king size beds. So do your due diligence and measure furniture against the new spaces and rooms. Also, be mindful of square footage. If you’re losing a third or half of your space, then really let go of a third or half of your things. If you’re doubling your space or gaining space, I wouldn’t be as hard on you to purge. Still don’t bring needless items with but you’ll have some wiggle room.
Middle Aged Folks
Not only would I give you some of the tips above for younger folk but I’d add for you to get the whole family involved. School-age children to help by going through their rooms and clothes as well as basement play spaces or outdoor toys. This is a great time to teach them to think through what they do and do not want to bring with. It’s also a great way to show them how to make things fit and what is realistic and not. Set the example as parents and show them how it’s done. Focus on purging closets, books, common areas, and family spaces. Do you play all those board games? Read all those books? Wear all those coats? Etc. Take time to go through each area of the home and depending on the size of your next home and what climate you’ll be living in you will know how ruthless you’ll need to be.
Empty Nesters/Retired Folks
I hate to say it but you all have a lot of things to get through and most likely have a lot of leftovers your grown kids have left behind. You may even have started to accumulate things the grandkids use or play with. It’s time to get tough and tell your grown children they need to come to get their things. Excess sets of bedroom furniture need to be scheduled to be donated or sold on Craig’s list. You no longer need four-bedroom sets, a pool table, or two living room sets. Instead of being sentimental, look at it as a chance to restart a new chapter in life and redesign your space and life. Making things simpler and consolidated in your life will be freeing and less stuff means less maintenance. You will need to think through what specific services you might need to help you declutter and downsize. It may be a book pickup, an electronic recycling trip, posting several things online to sell, and lots of trips to the local donation place. As you tackle each room gather up what needs to go where. Tag piles and make a trip or errand just once.
Some of you will be listing a relative’s home that has passed away. This is a tough time and I know very emotional. Give yourself grace during this time and ask for a lot of help. It will be easier on yourself if you have a professional organizer walking you through the process. Here’s what you can start thinking through.
- How will I get everything out of the house? Moving company? Junk hauler? Do you need a dumpster?
- Did your relatives have any collections? Research specific things such as china, stamp, coin, or vintage jewelry places if need be.
- Schedule all donation pick-ups. You’ll have a lot so start scheduling them now. Many donation pick up schedules are booked out a month.
- Start researching the local city or suburb recycling options. Recycle the appropriate things- hazardous waste, electronics, paint, etc.
- Don’t tackle a whole home alone. There’s way too much work involved. Hire a professional organizing company, college kids, or do this as a family with help from friends.
- Pick one day or weekend to let family or distant relatives take what they want from the home. It’s not your job to organize, tag, and deliver items that they want to all your family members.
- Don’t just pack everything up and take it home with you. This happens so often, and it is the worst idea yet. It makes for even a harder job on the other end and clutters up your family, home and life. Deal with it in the relative’s home once. Don’t bring it all home to your house.
- Remember this is a process and doesn’t need to be done in one week. Set a goal, time frame, and be realistic. Breaking your back, increasing your stress level and not allowing time to grieve isn’t a healthy way to process a family member’s home.