Why Moving Is the Best Opportunity to Declutter Your Home

Barbara Reich
Find Self-Storage

As a professional organizer, clutter is the enemy I wrestle with on behalf of my clients each day.

Fighting clutter is a priority for three main reasons: time, money, and stress.

People in cluttered homes waste time looking for mundane items like keys, money, their cell phone, and batteries. When a home is cluttered, people waste money buying what they already have or what they can’t find. Or clutter may result in bills being lost and late fees being accrued. Yet, the most insidious toll that clutter takes is that it adds stress to your life.

I believe that decluttering your home is always a good idea. There’s the nesting that occurs before a baby arrives. Making room for a new addition to your family often prompts the mother to be to purge and get organized. Then there’s Spring cleaning, when you switch the heavy winter coats and boots for your lightweight and light-colored clothing. A child leaving for college is another excuse to declutter.

A recent study conducted by SpareFoot found that a majority of Americans, a total of 61 percent, agree that the best opportunity to declutter your home is when you’re moving to a new one.

Toddler sitting in cluttered room at home

Lighten Your Load

People feel like moving is the optimal time to declutter for several reasons.

First, the cost to move is determined by the amount being moved. Clearly, it makes no sense to move items that aren’t wanted or needed. In addition to the cost for the movers, there’s the time it takes to sort boxes when you’re trying to get settled. Why waste time sorting items that should have been discarded or donated before being moved?

Moving is an opportunity for a fresh start. It’s the perfect time to take stock of what you have and how it reflects the life you actually live. If the move is to a smaller space, then de-cluttering is mandatory.

Finally, if you’re selling your home when you move, de-cluttering is critically important for when you stage your apartment. When potential buyers look at your home, they don’t want to see how you live in your home, surrounded by clutter; they want to imagine how their things will look in your home.

Storage Pile

Store What You Must

Perhaps there are some items that you want to keep, and you won’t have room to keep in your new home.

This is the time to consider a storage unit outside the home if you need to. The SpareFoot survey found that 44 percent of people store items outside the home, either in storage or at friend or family member’s house. Items that could be stored offsite include items used only once a year such as ski clothes, boots, and holiday decorations.

Moving Day Decluttering

While the majority of people surveyed agreed that moving is the best time to de-clutter, many have a difficult time getting started. If that’s the case, here are some tips to help you:

  1. Schedule time as if you have an appointment with a professional organizer. Block out 2-3 hour windows on your calendar, and don’t let anything interfere with that time.
  2. Have needed supplies available: garbage bags, boxes for items to be donated, a black marker to label, and packing tape.
  3. Determine what you’ll keep and what you’ll get rid of based on space constraints, condition of items, and what you use. Do not keep items because you feel guilty about who gave them to you.
  4. Start with an area that’s manageable, like a closet or a few drawers. You don’t want to undermine your efforts by tackling something insurmountable.
  5. Group like items together. The only way to know how much or how many of something you have is by grouping them together.
  6. Once you group all of your batteries or your office supplies together, put them in a box or bin. Any area will look neater when items are corralled in bins or boxes.
  7. Have uniform containers to eliminate visual noise.
  8. Label the items you’ve already sorted.
  9. Consider the amount of space you’ll have when you move. If your kitchen only has space for one set of pots and one set of dishes, than you need to donate anything in excess of that.
  10. Determine where you’ll donate what you don’t need. Is there an organization that could use them? Is there a family member or friend in need? Consider what’s ideal and balance it with what’s practical. Although you may want to send a large box of arts and crafts items to a niece across the country, it may be more expensive to ship than buying it where she lives.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 9, 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Barbara Reich

Barbara is a professional organizer and owner of Resourceful Consultants in New York City.
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About the SpareFoot Blog

The SpareFoot Blog offers tips about self-storage, information about storage auctions, advice about home organization, news about SpareFoot and much more.
Contact the editor: [email protected]


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