zen habits : breathe

Low-Stress Ways To Move House and Declutter Your Life

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Annabel Candy of Get In the Hot Spot.

Did you know that moving house can be one of the most stressful times in your life? It’s right up there with losing your job, divorce or the death of a loved one, as one of the biggest causes of stress.

I’ve been there. In 2007 my husband and I sold our house along with most of our belongings and moved from New Zealand to Panama with our three young kids. We ended up spending 18 months in Central America and lived in Costa Rica for over a year during which time we moved house three times.

Moving house was easier in Costa Rica, because by then we’d got rid of most of our possessions and had less to cart around with us. We got good at giving things away, selling them or just chucking out all that rubbish that clutters up our lives.

Moving out of our home in New Zealand was the big one. I certainly felt the stress could come but managed to change that pressure into a buzz so I could enjoy the excitement of change and new beginnings. In the end moving house and countries was a fun way to declutter our lives.

Tips for a stress free move:

1. Get organised in advance. If you leave everything until the last minute it will be stressful. We sold our house five months before we left and then rented it back from the new owner. That way we could relax with the cash in our bank account and not worry about how we were going to finance the move.

2. Start selling non-essential items three months before you leave. Clutter and things you don’t use much build up in any house, especially if you have kids. You’ll find that there are plenty of things you can off-load two or three months before your move. Stuff like toys, tools, kitchen equipment, many clothes and everything that’s broken, or that you never use but have been saving for a rainy day.

3. Organise your personal belongings and paperwork. Get a concertina folder for essential documents like passports, birth certificates, and other certificates and keep them all together. Sort out your personal photos – put them in albums and chuck out all the blurred and boring ones. Give all the kids a memory box – a shoe box will be about the right size for them to keep all their school reports, photos, pictures and keep sakes in. Keep the box small – they will fill it!

4. Maximise this opportunity to minimalise. There’s no point in keeping too much stuff if you’re making a big move. Sending it overseas may cost more than replacing it and this is the ideal time to become more minimalist and get rid of all the possessions that are compromising your freedom. Make a list of everything you want to sell but need to keep until you leave: furniture and big electrical items such as the fridge, washing machine, stereo and dryer.

Write an email with title, description and price. Just sell everything for half what you bought it for. Remember, you want to get rid of it. Now email this to all friends and colleagues who live nearby. I predict a feeding frenzy. Print out the email, ask people to commit to buying something and add their name by the item. Ask them to swing by on moving day and pick it up. Simple yet effective and your friends will be delighted.

5. Have a huge garage sale for smaller items. Think of it as being paid to clean out your house and declutter your life. Again, remember to sell everything for a low price because your main aim is to get rid of stuff. If you’re not comfortable making money from selling your old clothes, toys, crockery and books then mention in the garage sale ad that all proceeds will go to a worthy cause, like Guampedia or your favourite charity.

By now your house, cupboards and garage should be looking nice and empty which will make cleaning easier. Don’t pack or store any breakables unless they have sentimental value or are not replaceable. Things like crockery and glasses can be picked up when you get there.

6. Packing. You can start packing up things you’re taking early too. Buy a big roll of bubble wrap, masking tape, cardboard corners for pictures and some tea-chests from removal company then pack a few things each night or blitz the lot in one day.

Give the kids one small box each for toys they want to keep. This will focus them on not over-packing and on getting rid of everything they don’t need any more. Tell them you’ll use some of the proceeds from selling their old stuff to fund a great family outing from your new home.

7. Moving day. When your friends come round to collect all the stuff they bought offer them all the crockery and glasses you needed until the last moment. If they don’t want it ask them to drop it off at a charity shop for you. They’ll be so pleased with the great deals they got from you they’ll be happy to oblige. Finally have a good clean up or use some of your garage sale money to hire a cleaner.

Boom! You’re out of there.

With less clutter tying you down, the world is your oyster. Just imagine if you were really good and got rid of it all, you’d be free as a bird.

If you’re like me you’ll enjoy the process of clearing out and moving house. Plus, it’s great knowing that your friends will think of you every time they open that beautiful old trunk you spent weeks restoring.

So you thought moving would be stressful? No way. Just adopt these zen habits before making a move and debunk the myth that moving house is stressful forever.

Read more from Annabel Candy at her blog, Get In the Hot Spot, a virtual treasure trove of inspiration, information and idiosyncrasies for people who want to live their dream. Or make her day and keep yourself updated on the latest articles, by subscribing to the free RSS feed.



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