Now that you’re ready to remake your life in a new city, take a gander around your current space. How’d you acquire so much stuff, and what are you going to do with it all now?

Should you move everything at tremendous cost? Get rid of it, possibly regretting it later? To make your relocation reduction easier, SpareFoot reached out to relocation experts and people who had to make their own tough moving choices.

what to keep and what to leave behind when you move

Here’s a list of their top suggestions on what to take or leave behind:

Make Choices Based on Your Situation

If you’re moving to a short-term, furnished apartment, you’ll need only what’s missing: stuff along the lines of clothes, laptop or a favorite blanket or coffee mug.

Long-term relocation calls for a different strategy, says Billie Jean Bateson of Houston.

“I try to take with me as much as possible because in that case,” said Bateson

Anything Bateson hasn’t used for years gets donated or sold, she says.

Ugly couch

Assess the Furniture

The top item on the relocation chopping block for Elizabeth Peace and her military family in Fort Meade, MD, when they move is furniture.

“If it’s cheap furniture and I think it will fall apart with a cross country move, I donate it,” says Peace. “If it’s a nice piece and I’m worried about taking it overseas, I store it. If I haven’t used it in two years, I donate it.”

More furniture factors: Will your bulky furniture fit into the new space? How much will it cost to replace furniture items and appliances like washer, dryer and refrigerator versus what it will cost to move them? It might be cheaper to replace some, or all, of your furniture than moving it long distance.

If you decide to go the route of replacing your furniture, check out Pier 1 Imports and get free shipping on orders over $49 when you use the promo code FREESHIP49

Ask Yourself Tough Questions

Peace has a checklist of questions when it comes to figuring out what to take or leave behind. Here are a few:

  • Do I want to have to repurchase this item?
  • Have I used this item in the last two years?
  • Do I love this item? If not, why put the effort into moving it across the country?
  • Do I need to downsize for a smaller space?
  • Do I have multiples of this item and do I need more than one?

“Each time we pack up, we end up with bags and bags of donation items,” says Peace.

Background of the many books

Close the Chapter on Your Epic Book Collection

Moving should prompt a “stringent review” of what’s on your bookshelf, says relocation services provider Annette Reyman. Boxes of books weigh a ton and are a pain to move. Start with easy purges like old phone books, textbooks and that decades-old SAT test-prep book. Then move on to books you’ve read and won’t read again, and books you keep pushing down to the bottom of your reading queue.

“In this digital age, those written tomes are outdated almost as soon as they are printed,” says Reyman.

Make it easy on yourself and keep your reading material on a device like the Kindle or the Kindle app on your phone.

Ditch the CD and Movie Collection

Are you constantly listening to the same five CDs selected from the 500 in your music collection?

Boxes of CDs are almost as heavy as books. Digitize your collection before you move and donate the physical copies.

As for movies, if you ever get a hankering to watch “Sleepless in Seattle” again, you can watch nearly any old movie via an online streaming service. Sell those relics at a garage sale and use the money to download music online or buy a satellite radio subscription for road tunes.

Let Climate Clean Your Closet

Heavy, bulky clothing costs more to move and garment boxes are around seven times more expensive than regular moving boxes, says Reyman. If you’re moving from Chicago to San Diego, you won’t need puffy coats, heavy blankets and blizzard-wear attire. Donate those items to people who still have to brave the blizzards in your former frigid city.

stack of documents or files in office desk

Shred or Scan Your Old Documents

When Jenny Butler and her family moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis, MO, she went through old bills and paperwork and shredded the documents she didn’t need.

“We used our shredded bills as stuffing for all fragile items. It worked great and saved us money on packing materials too,” says Butler.

If there are any you need to preserve on the fly, try Cam Scanner. The app enables you to create copies using your smartphone.

angry annoyed woman raising hand up to say no stop

Enlist the Help of a Friend

If you have trouble throwing things out, bring in a ruthless friend to unclench your tenacious grip on needless possessions.

“Not every item you own is special,” says Butler. “Be willing to part with stuff.”

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