I always thought I was someone who didn’t own much stuff, after backpacking for a whole year in 2012/13 I’d realised there wasn’t a need for so many material items so thought I’d done a good job of not collecting these things. Turns out I was a little wrong, after three years at university and several other years of working I seem to have a mountain of stuff again. This time it’s not just my own stuff but house things too including furniture that we’ve collected over the years. It has all made its way back to my parents house but it can’t all stay there for the next three plus years. That means I’m having to have a proper good sort out before I leave for Dubai.
I realised this is something you all probably struggle with too, so I thought today I’d share some of the things that helped to make this task easier for me. Before we go on I should probably say that I don’t own property, we’ve always lived in furnished accommodation and my idea of putting things into storage is my parents loft. Some of you may be coming from different situations but hopefully you’ll this find this post useful.
Moving Abroad: Tips for Decluttering Before You Go
Make some rules
This might sound like a silly idea but I set myself some rules for sorting. This really helped when I got to an item I wasn’t sure about. I used the questions as a kind of flow chart. If I answered no to the first questions then I’d check the next question. If I stumbled on the first question then it went straight in the get rid of pile.
Here are some examples of the rules I had:
I couldn’t keep anything that would be no good in 3 years time (the earliest date of return), that could be replaced cheaply, that I had already bought a replacement for and that was stained, dis-coloured or broken in any way.
Know how much you can store
Before I even started sorting my stuff I arranged my parents loft so that I could see how much space I had to store things in. I then bought some plastic boxes to fill the space with so that anything I was storing would be protected and kept in good condition.
This was really important so that I didn’t try and keep more stuff than I had space for, super important if your are storing large items or furniture.
I don’t think I need to really explain this one but one thing I did find helpful was sorting through items 2 or 3 times. On the second and third times I got other people’s opinions as to whether I should keep them or not. I found that they had less attachment to the item so were more ruthless than I was.
Don’t throw away things you can’t replace if you make the wrong decision
As brilliant as it is to be ruthless, don’t throw anything that is sentimental out if it is something you cannot replace and are not feeling sure about. I very nearly threw out my art and photography books from a-level but had a change of heart at the last minute and I’m so glad I kept them! The same goes for things to do with weddings, children etc. You won’t be able to replace them so it’s more acceptable to keep these things.
Tackle it in small chunks
When I first thought about sorting all of my stuff out I was so over whelmed about it all. There just seemed to be things piled up every where that needed sorting. I divided the piles into separate tasks in my head and this really helped. I also rewarded or stopped after I had completed one ‘pile’ so that I could come back fresh to the next pile. Trying to sort tired and fed up means you are either too ruthless or not ruthless enough. Rope in some help if you need it!
Label the things that you’re putting in storage
I didn’t actually do this for all my stuff but really wish I had. My packing started with the best intentions and I labelled the first box with all kitchen related stuff in it but after that I got lazy. I didn’t label anything else and have since had to go back through boxes I had already sorted to check what was inside and if I’d sorted it. So even if you only do one small label, at least label that the box has been sorted already!
Finally, I suggest making piles of the stuff to go so that it can be re-used if possible. I hate throwing things into landfill waste so I didn’t really use black bags for binning things. I made a pile of anything that could go to charity, a pile of anything that could be recycled, piles of things to pass on to friends and family etc. this meant I had as little waste as possible.
Have you moved aboard? How did you sort your belongings?
Read more posts on moving aboard.
Featured image by Resi King on Unsplash.
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