Moving: What to Take and What to Ditch

By Jess Hutton


Moving can be a clarifying time. You take all of the possessions you’ve acquired and pack all of them into boxes. It’s an exercise that seems tailormade to spark soul searching and tough choices. You might love and cherish your old Lego collection, for example, but maybe not enough to give up space that could be going to your comfy recliner.

To help ease your struggle, we’ve provided some suggestions for what to keep and what to toss out as you make your move. Warning: This might be harder than you think.

Ditch: Collectibles

Image by Joel Telling/Flickr

Admit it: You’ve been storing a box of Beanie Babies in your attic in the hopes that their price on eBay will go up any day now. Despite your wildest “Antiques Roadshow” inspired imaginings, collectible items rarely earn you more than wasted space and clutter for your grandchildren to sort through someday. You’re better off giving them away and filling the extra space with things you find personal value in.

Move: Family Heirlooms

Image by Alex Brown/Flickr

The average American can expect to move nearly 12 times in a lifetime and that’s part of why items that remind us of our roots are so important. If you’re unsure whether to pack that bone china tea set from your grandma that you’ve never used, or that bulky desk that your great uncle made with his bare hands in the ‘40s, it’s best to err on the side of inclusion. Your children will thank you for holding on to a tangible piece of your family’s history and you’ll be proud to have these items and the memories they evoke.

Ditch: Books

Image by Wonderlane/Flickr

We know this one will be controversial, but seriously, your Kindle can hold thousands of books. There is no reason why valuable moving truck space should be taken up by that copy of “The Brothers Karamazov” you’ve never read and dusty old tomes from your freshman-year psychology class. Despite looking great on shelves and inspiring conversation at dinner parties, books can be giant space hogs preventing you from holding on to more valuable items. We aren’t saying you have to get rid of every volume you own, but moving is a great time to pare down your collection to the essentials.

Move: Curtains and Shades

Image by curtainsbyjoanne/Flickr

Too often, people neglect to carry window curtains and shades with them on a move, only to find that their new home’s previous inhabitants took theirs with them. To avoid a late night trip to Home Depot just so your family can have a little privacy, bring your curtains from your previous home, assuming they’re in good condition. They take up very little space – and can be used as packing material for other object – and can do wonders to give your new home a personal touch.

Ditch: Food

Image by Philip Brewer/Flickr

Whether it’s that hot sauce your aunt gave you that you feel you should use one day, leftovers from last night’s dinner, or those freezer-burned steaks, most of it doesn’t need to come with you on your move. Canned goods take up more space than they’re worth (you can simply restock at your destination), and refrigerated foods take a lot of effort to keep from spoiling on the road. For the sake of space and your time, it’s best to donate any non-perishables to your local food pantry and eat or toss the rest.

Moving provides a rare opportunity to cast off years of clutter and start fresh. By following these tips on what to keep and what to get rid of, you’ll only move your most enriching items, while shedding those that have been weighing you down. Do you have any keep/ditch items you’d add to our list?

Featured image by Joe Schueller/Flickr