couple deciding what to pack

Deciding What to Pack, Store, or Toss When Moving

Moving from an old abode to a new home can bring a whole host of emotions and challenges your way. Stress, excitement, sadness, joy - all are normal parts of the rollercoaster ride that is buying, selling, packing, and relocating!  If you find yourself getting ready to move homes, narrowing down the many choices that you need to make can greatly help the transition along.
Let’s make moving a slightly simpler endeavor by discussing some practical methods you can use during the decision-making process. When it comes to deciding what to pack, what to put in storage, and what to toss when moving, a mix of logic and emotion is key. We’ll show you how.

How Your Situation Influences Packing & Storing

There are a few general areas that can help you logically determine how to best prioritize your belongings for moving. Let’s explore how the type of move you are embarking on will impact your decision-making process.

Local Moves

If you are moving locally, then your transportation costs will be considerably less than they would be if you were moving cross-country or out of the country. Is your new home ready to move in and easily reached within a reasonable distance? Then you may decide to forgo storing your items and instead, pack up and move them into the new place. 
If you are in the process of moving locally but are still living in your current home while attempting to sell it, then you may have staging concerns. When staging a home for sale, it's important to make sure that any new potential buyers can envision themselves living in the house. For that reason, storage may be the best option for you. Your real estate agent can help you decide which furnishings and home decor items work well for the staging, and which ones should be placed in storage. Of course, you’ll also need to live your everyday life, so don’t pack up the clothing, kitchenware, and other personal items that you use from day to day! 

Temporary Moves

Another scenario in which storage makes the most sense is if you are temporarily moving due to home repairs or a temporary education or work opportunity. In these types of cases, storage is an extremely convenient and cost effective way to ensure that your belongings are all safe and sound, out of the way, and ready for you when you return. 

Cross Country Moves

If you are moving cross country, then your priorities will likely change to take into account the increased costs involved. Will you be moving to the new location all in one trip? Then packing strategically while also getting rid of any excess clutter will likely suit you best. Will family or career situations cause you to take your cross country move slower, in stages? Then storing larger items, seasonal items, or items you do not regularly use while moving the most frequently used, important items may be your best bet. 
Keep in mind that storage is a helpful option on both sides of a move. In lieu of using storage in the city you are moving away from, you may opt to move items into a storage facility based in your new locale, keeping them on standby until you are fully ready to move into your new home. 

What to Pack or Toss

Once you’ve taken stock of the basic logic behind your move, such as the local versus long distance, temporary versus permanent, and the costs associated with the process, you’ll be better prepared for the emotional process that accompanies packing. Our emotions can be really useful indicators of what to pack, store, or toss, so don’t take them for granted—use them.

Sentimental Value

Do you have sentimental items? Most people do. It can be as simple as a child’s teddy bear or a piece of jewelry that you can’t live without or as elaborate as an entire bookshelf full of yearbooks, scrapbooks, and family photo albums. No matter what it is that makes you sentimental, those precious items have personal value and should be packed with care. Whether you choose to temporarily store your sentimental items or keep them near you during the course of your move, make sure that you have adequate packing materials to keep them safe until they find their places in your new home.

Sparking Joy

Have you heard the phrase ‘keep what brings you joy’? This simple saying has sparked a revolution of decluttering in recent years, and there is an emotional base layer to it that is quite useful for the moving process. If a personal belonging makes your life more comfortable, convenient, beautiful, or enjoyable, then that’s a good cue that it's probably worth hanging onto.
Then, ask yourself how often you use the item in question. If it is a regular, functional item in your life and is in good condition, that’s another cue to keep it. From there, the immediate necessity of the item will help you determine whether to pack it for the new home or for temporary storage. While your family Christmas tree or winter coats may likely be both joy bringers and necessities, consider storing them if you’re moving in July. On the other hand, if your espresso machine brings you daily joy and is a necessity for getting out of bed each morning, then you’ll probably want to pack it for immediate use in your new home.

Tossing It Out

What about those items that you just don’t have use for? We all accumulate things we don’t need, want, or even remember acquiring—that’s the reason junk drawers exist! Maybe it's clothing you’ve long outgrown in terms of size or style. Maybe it's old magazines that never made it to the recycling bin. It can even be something large like a sofa that doesn’t fit your new home’s decor, or a low quality shelving unit that won’t likely survive the move. Regardless of the reason, moving homes is the perfect reason to finally declutter and downsize. Don’t just throw everything away, though. Take some extra time and be responsible about your unwanted items.

Here’s a few ideas for tossing items before a big move:

  • Hold a garage sale or yard sale
  • Sell on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay
  • Donate gently used items to your local Goodwill or other charity organization
  • Look up where to safely recycle large or electronic items in your city or county
  • Throw out expired or mostly used pantry, cleaning, cosmetic, and toiletries items
  • Recycle unimportant documents and old mail
  • Give away things that you think others would enjoy
  • Destash books you’ve already read or DVDs you never watch
  • Ask others to adopt plants and fish that may not enjoy a cross country move
  • Give away cheap materials for unfinished projects or broken items you never fixed
The process of deciding what to pack, store, or toss for moving is a mixture of subjective and objective reasoning. Make lists, ask yourself pointed questions, and prioritize what matters most to you and you will find the decisions come a lot easier. We all make poor decisions when under the gun, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to plan your move and you’ll do just fine. 
If you are ready to discuss storing your belongings while you move, we would love to help you explore your options