Minimalist Moving – Guide to Leaving More to Live More

Moving can be exciting and stressful, as it means a lot of change but also a lot of prep work.  We’re going to take a look at minimalist moving-a method that can help you reduce the amount of stuff you need to transport and perhaps save you some time and money.

Minimalist moving is a method of decreasing possessions for simpler moving.  Whether across town or overseas, paring down belongings can save packing time, money, and stress both before and after the move.

Are you preparing for a big move and feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff?  Did you know there’s a method of moving that can help you pare down all that stuff for easier moving?

What Is Minimalist Moving?

To begin with, minimalists practice the “less is more” lifestyle which is defined by fewer possessions, simpler living, and being more intentional.  It is a life focused on people and experiences, not belongings.  Minimalist moving, therefore, is about leaving some things behind when preparing for a big move.  You might say it’s the conversion to a minimalist lifestyle through moving to a new residence, but it’s really about decluttering.

Packing boxes - Minimalist Packing - Gone Minimal
Packing boxes

Types of Minimalist Moving

The way of minimalist moving can vary depending on the type of move, and moving in and of itself can lead to a great deal of stress!  So let’s investigate the differences between moving locally, across the country, and overseas using a minimalist method.

Moving Homes

Moving homes either within the same city or even to the neighboring state can be challenging when you’ve got a great deal of stuff.  When getting ready to start packing, it’s a great idea to look at what you have, what you need, and what you can get rid of.  Consider having a garage sale or making a donation as you collect everything together.  You may not need to dispose of a large amount of items, but it depends on what you find! 

Moving Across The Country

Moving homes locally can be challenging, but moving across the country is an even bigger challenge.  Moving trucks and vans are quite expensive, and the same process applies as moving close by-sell, donate, and dispose of the things you don’t need.  Larger items may be easier to sell than to transport, and the less large items you have to transport the more money you can potentially save!

Moving cross country - Minimal Packing - Gone Minimal
Moving cross country

Moving Overseas

Moving overseas is a huge challenge (and potentially super expensive!) as you probably don’t want to bring everything with you.  If this is a permanent move, consider just starting over!  Take a look at what you’d need to replace, and you may be able to recuperate costs by selling your big ticket items before moving. 

Minimalist Moving Checklist

A checklist is always a good thing to help you prepare, get organized, and stay on track with any move.  For minimalist moving, here’s an example of a checklist to get you started:

  1. Decide a timeline and deadline.
  2. Divide each room into categories:
    1. High use
    2. Low use
    3. Duplicates
    4. Donate/sell/dispose
  3. Declutter the things you don’t need (from 2c & d above)
  4. Take inventory of all large items (i.e. beds, tables, appliances, etc.)
  5. Take inventory of all small items (i.e. clothing, toys, books, plants, etc.)
  6. Gather boxes for each room and label accordingly (i.e. room and category)
  7. Reserve a moving truck/van based on inventory
  8. Get to packing!

A couple of suggestions to note – don’t gather more boxes than you think you’ll need, and what doesn’t fit can also be donated or sold.  Also rent a moving truck that’s perhaps a little small for your inventory as this can help you potentially pare down even more!

You might say it’s the conversion to a minimalist lifestyle through moving to a new residence, but it’s really about decluttering.

Take your time, pack only necessities - Minimalist Moving - Gone Minimal
Take your time, pack only necessities

Minimalist Moving: Packing 

Packing is usually not much fun, whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist. Packing like a minimalist involves being intentional about the items you choose to bring with you and minimizing unnecessary belongings. It can help you focus on essentials, reduce clutter, and pack more efficiently, you can simplify the moving process and start fresh in your new space with a minimalist mindset.

It’s tough sometimes to get everything into boxes and vehicles, so let’s take a look at how to pack like a minimalist.

Deciding What To Keep

Some of us are pack rats and like to hang on to everything, but with minimalist moving it’s a time to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.  You’ll want to keep the things you use every day, items that mean the most to you, and essential items like beds, chairs, kitchen tables and chairs, and desks.  The clothing you wear on a regular basis and your hygiene supplies will also be needed in your new home.

Deciding What To Get Rid Of

Sometimes deciding what to get rid of can be challenging because of the “what if” thinking.  But if you haven’t used something in 6 months or more, trust me-you don’t need it.  Get rid of those things as well as old décor (tastes change over time), clothing that doesn’t fit anymore, old toys, that dish set sitting in the pantry collecting dust, the tools you don’t use, and really anything that won’t fit in the moving truck or your new place.  Any time you feel like you really can’t let go of something, like your childrens’ artwork, don’t-just keep it and don’t feel bad.  If you find you need something in the future and you got rid of it before, you can buy a new one!

Organized boxes - Minimalist Moving - Gone Minimal
Organized moving boxes

Minimalist Packing Party

If you can get a few friends and family who can help you declutter and pack, consider throwing a minimalist packing party.  These friends and family can not only help you stay on track, get things packed up quicker, but they may even be interested in taking some of your belongings off of your hands.  As long as you set timelines and expectations and perhaps throw in some pizza and sodas, it can be fun and beneficial to everyone involved!

Minimalist Moving: Unpacking

Unpacking is the time when those categorized and labeled boxes come into play-and can save you a great deal of time.  Start with the high use boxes first and get organized as you go.  You may find as you unpack that some of your old items don’t really fit the new space, and this is another great time to declutter and pare down.  Think of all the new friends you can make with a yard sale in your new place!

What Should You Declutter Before or After Moving?

Moving can get pretty expensive depending on how much stuff you own, so it’s always a good idea to declutter beforehand.  Things you might want to pare down could include furniture, clothing, toys, décor, books, and clothing.  After moving you may need to strategize differently once you’ve got everything unpacked and in its place-then it might be décor, gadgets, kitchen items, whatever you feel doesn’t fit in your new space or you find you just don’t need anymore.

Here is a super helpful video providing several tips for a great minimalist move.

How Do I Start Minimizing?

Once you’ve made the decision to minimize, there’s a few steps to take.  Find the items you haven’t used in 6 months or more (minus seasonal stuff) and donate, sell, or trash them.  Then get rid of trash, items that don’t work, and items that you have in multiples.  Keep in mind what you need versus what you want.  You create the timeline, and remember to ask for help if you need it. 

How Many Items Should a Minimalist Own?

The great thing about minimalism is there are no rules, therefore no maximums on the number of things one should own.  The basic rule of thumb is you won’t have multiples of most items, and everything serves a purpose or two. 

Items Real People Wished They Hadn’t Packed

I asked several families that have recently moved which 4-5 items they wish they would not have packed/brought on a move. Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

Item/sTally of Families
Old furniture3
Some dishes2
Half of my wardrobe3
Photo albums2
Jackets and coats3
Anything fragile2

Other Resources:

Minimalist moving is a great way to not only pare down your belongings, but perhaps start fresh.  Whether moving down the street or across the country, utilizing the minimalist method can save you a great deal of stress and money.  Belongings are just stuff-and stuff can be replaced.  Now reserve that too-small moving truck and get ready for great new things!

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