Organizing for a Move

Organizing for a Move

“Since I’m moving to a bigger house, I don’t need to declutter yet…”

As a professional organizer, I get asked to help people organize their new spaces after a move. Which I’m happy to do, because, let’s be honest, getting organized is never a bad idea!

When my husband and I moved our family to Rochester from Florida, we were ecstatic to get a home with larger square footage, including a finished basement with a full wet bar. Basements in Florida are not a thing; they literally don’t exist.

“More room!” we thought. “A place to put all our barware!” But when we finally got around to unpacking our items, I realized something: All those things that we had room for? I just didn’t really care that much about most of them.

As we unpacked the unused margarita glasses we got as a wedding gift 13 years ago, I peeled the manufacturer’s stickers off of them and could not bring myself to put them on my new glass-front shelves. I knew that even though we had space for them, we wouldn’t suddenly begin making margaritas on the regular, just because we could finally reach for the glasses. These glasses just do not spark joy. I had been storing them for really no reason other than inertia and the possibility that some day they might come in handy.

I realized firsthand that moving first and then organizing may not be the right approach, and it isn’t aligned with the KonMari Method either. There’s a better way.

Since organization is a two-part process — declutter and store — the best course is to do the decluttering part before you move to a larger home. A few reasons for this are:

  1. You may pay less money for the move.

Often, movers charge based on volume. If you can declutter a significant part of your belongings, you may save money on your bill.

  1. You may spend less money on new stuff after you move in.

By decluttering before you move, you’ll familiarize yourself with what you have and where it is, making yourself much less likely to buy duplicate items or more things than you need.

Since we didn’t declutter before we moved to Rochester, neither my husband nor I had much of an idea of what we had. Our packing team had just shoved everything in boxes and, in an effort to get rid of boxes quickly on the backend, we asked the unpacking team to put stuff on the shelves so we could sort it all out later.

So a few days after the move, when I needed a certain kind of extension cord, and obviously I needed it right now, I went to Lowe’s to buy it — an investment of about $10, and, more importantly, 40 minutes of my time. The very next day, I found exactly the same thing I had just purchased, stuffed in a cabinet behind some kitchen appliances. Just, ugh! Please avoid this scenario by decluttering and sorting before you move.

You may also save money on unnecessary storage and organization solutions. You can organize and store your items in your new place much more easily when there are fewer of them, often by repurposing or using what you already have, thereby avoiding expensive trips to Target, Wal-Mart, or Bed Bath & Beyond to buy drawer organizers and bins and hooks and, well, you get it…

  1. It’s less work for you.

So, you pack the stuff that you don’t really love and put it in a box. Doesn’t it sound super annoying to pack things you don’t want? Now, imagine how annoyed you’ll feel when you get to your beautiful new house and have to unpack that stuff — the stuff you didn’t even want when you packed it in the first place.

For all those items, you must then make one or more decisions — which is exactly what you will not want to do following a move. For instance, you have to answer: Should you keep it? If so, where should you put it? If you don’t keep it, how will you get rid of it?

Do your future self a favor and make the decision to let go of your clutter before the moving truck arrives, so that when you unpack in your new space, all you have to worry about is how to store the things you love.

If you’re not sure how to declutter, I recommend the KonMari Method. It offers a simple, efficient way to decide if you should keep or discard something — a much-needed advantage during a move.