The Ultimate Decluttering and Downsizing Checklist Before a Move

By Simply Haven Nashville

April 8, 2020

Get organized before you move so that the process is flawless!

Let me guess, you’re moving soon? Of course you are, that’s why you’re here. We understand that moving is stressful. You’re dealing with moving companies, boxes, tape, bubble wrap, trying to decide what to take, what to sell, what to donate and more. You’ve probably googled things like ‘how to declutter your house’ and ‘packing hacks’ while simultaneously ordering a new sectional and dining room table. (p.s. Armchairs are always a solid YES.)

We get it. We’ve been there… and since we’re pros, we thought we’d share what we know. Yep, all of our amazing, super-secret decluttering and downsizing tips before a move, at your fingertips. Pour yourself a healthy glass of your favorite wine and let’s get started.

What Exactly is Decluttering and How is it Different from Downsizing?

Technically, decluttering is the removal of unnecessary items from an untidy or overcrowded place. It’s not about tossing treasures and starting from scratch, though you will need to make some decisions about “stuff” along the way.

Downsizing is exactly how it sounds: getting smaller. People downsize for many reasons, including in preparation for a move or to save money. Financial guru Dave Ramsey has guided countless couples and families through downsizing for financial gain.

Do I Need to Declutter, Downsize, or Both?

This is entirely up to you based on your particular needs and situation, but we think downsizing and decluttering go hand-in-hand, especially in preparation for a move. Decluttering for successful downsizing (wow that’s a mouthful!) is a surefire way to ensure a smooth, simple, and stress-free move. After all, that’s what you want right?

Think of it like this: doing all of the hard work before a move will allow you to actually enjoy the process of unpacking, organizing, and setting up your new space. Pinky promise.

A Lifestyle Trend Gaining Momentum

Before we get into the nitty gritty of downsizing and decluttering, let’s talk about minimalism. In recent years, the minimalism movement has exploded around the world.

There’s a wide range of people who consider themselves minimalists, but basically it all comes down to wants versus needs and the kind of lifestyle you want to live. We’ve seen clients cry, melt down, and have full-blown panic attacks at the mere thought of downsizing a lifetime of stuff. The entire process brings out a slew of emotions… excitement, happiness, sadness, stress, and every synonym for the four aforementioned words.

If you’re like most people, you have boxes in your basement or attic filled with old newspaper clippings, perhaps a few trophies, family heirlooms, yearbooks, etc. Your linen closet has an embarrassing number of mismatched sheet sets, cloth napkins for every holiday, extra throw pillows, and more. You have three-too-many flower vases under your kitchen sink and let’s not forget about the fact that you probably don’t need to buy shampoo for the rest of your life with the number of travel-size products you’ve collected from hotels over the years. (We’re guilty too!)

We’re not saying you should become a full-on minimalist. But we’ll use the concept as we help guide you through the decluttering and downsizing process.

Decluttering for Successful Downsizing

The Ultimate Guide To Decluttering and Downsizing Before A Move

This is where things can get messy. Literally. Try to stay focused and remember the mess won’t last! There is a beautiful, clean, fresh space waiting for you at the end.

  1. Check it off your checklist! Start by making a checklist of the rooms and areas in your house you need to tackle. We’ve found that keeping a task list is essential to staying on track, staying organized, and seeing a clear picture of what you’ve done and what you have left to do. There’s nothing we love more than taking out the Sharpie and crossing items off the list!
  2. Only take items that will fit into your new home. Think about the new space in your new home. Will your old couch or dining room table fit in the new space? If the answer is no, don’t take it. This also goes for anyone downsizing. If you’re moving from a 4-bedroom home to a 3-bedroom home, only take 3 beds. Of course there will be some things you aren’t sure about, and that’s OK. The idea is to move only what you have to, but there’s no harm in making another donation pile once you’re settled into your new house.
  3. Keep what you love. This is easier said than done, we know. Marie Kondo coined the phrase “does it spark joy?” and has helped countless people around the world downsize and declutter their homes and lives. The idea is this: does the item in your hand make you happy and, in some way, excite you? If not, ditch it. You’re not keeping things you like. You’re keeping things you LOVE.
  4. Trash broken, stained, and no longer useful items. Easy peasy! You’ll be surprised how many items are in your house that no longer work! Things that are broken, cracked, have missing parts, can’t be fixed, or stained should get tossed, pronto!
  5. Donate items in good condition. This is the time to go through your collections (books, pint glasses, wardrobes, trinkets, etc.) and decide how much of it you really want and need to keep. There are dozens of organizations, drop-off bins, and church collections where you can bring gently used items for resale. If you have nicer items in your wardrobe, consider consignment and get cash back! Just remember, places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are not dumping grounds. Donate what you would realistically see another person wanting, using, or wearing.
  6. Pass family heirlooms on to…family! We’re not saying get rid of your grandmother’s tea set or a favorite aunt’s serveware. But definitely have a good look at any family heirlooms you’ve collected over the years and ask yourself: Do I use this? Why don’t I use this? Can I use this? Would someone else in my family use this? If you don’t want to part with anything, that’s OK. If you can part with a few things, great! This is entirely up to you, but if you are adamant about keeping items typically stored in a curio cabinet or hutch and never used… try to find a use!
  7. From the closet to the cloud. As for the stuff that pulls on your heartstrings, only you can decide whether to keep hand-written Christmas cards from a beloved grandmother or your child’s handprint on faded paper. If you choose to keep items like this, find a way to use them or store them more efficiently. We live in a digital world and anyone downsizing can capitalize on that! Old recipes? Old photos? Newspaper clippings of your wedding announcement? Digitize, digitize, digitize! You still “have” the items, you’re just storing them in the cloud versus in your closet.One idea we love is taking old “stuff” and creating something new, useful, and meaningful. A family recipe printed on a tea towel, for example. Or your children’s or grandchildren’s artwork made into a book. Tip: these also make great gifts!
  8. Take your time. Tackle one room or space each day. Give yourself two days for bigger, more complex rooms like the kitchen and the garage. And most importantly, take a break here and there. This. Is. A. Process. We are here cheering you on!

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