Home Before Your Move How to Declutter for Your Move (Hint: It’s Not Only About Sparking Joy)

How to Declutter for Your Move (Hint: It’s Not Only About Sparking Joy)

by Ali Wenzke
How to Declutter For Your Move. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

I’m all for seeking items that spark joy, but sometimes you need to get down to business. Moving is one of those times. When you declutter before a move, it’s different than your typical spring cleaning weekend. You may be dreading it, but decluttering now will save you time and money in the future. Plus, it will make you happier.

Think about how much money is at stake

It’s a costly decision to wait to declutter until after your move.  When you declutter, you can make money by selling the items or by making a charitable contribution. Also, you will save money by pairing down your things.

If you’re moving on your own, you’ll save money in packing supplies and you can opt for the smaller rental truck. With local movers, you’ll save money on the time it would spend the movers to move your extra stuff. For long-distance movers, you’ll save money on the weight load. No matter how you look at it, if you declutter now, your moving budget will look much better.

Begin with the heavy stuff and with the easiest things to pack

To declutter for your move, you want to start with the heavy items. We always started with our books.  Even if you’re drowning in books, it’s a fairly easy category to get through. You don’t need to try them on and you’re not getting sucked into a scrapbook you made ten years ago. It’s quick and easy. Plus, you’ll be saving big money on not moving these heavy items. Also, their rectangular shape makes them simple to pack after you finish the decluttering process.

Here’s a checklist to guide you through the decluttering order for your move:


Tackle your stuff by category, not by room

In order to make this an effective decluttering project, you need to declutter by category. That means you should gather every single book you own, from all corners of your house, before you begin the decluttering process. Go into your attic, your basement, your closest, your office, and your bedroom and find them all. Then, lay out each book and decide which ones you want to keep.

How to Declutter For Your Move. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

Declutter all of your books at the same time.

Set up five piles: Keep – Pack, Keep – Display, Sell, Donate and Trash

As you declutter each category, make five piles. Keep garbage bags handy for your trash and donate piles. Immediately after your decluttering session, take out the trash. Write down each and every donation item for tax purposes. For those items you wish to sell, take a picture of it right away. You can list it online or set up a time for a garage sale. For the items you want to keep, pack as much of it as you can. For the other “keep” items, you may want them to stage your house for sale or because you still need some clothes for the next few months. 

Rephrase how you ask the decluttering question

Don’t ask yourself, “Should I get rid of this item?”

Instead, ask yourself, “Do I want to pack, move, and unpack this item in my beautiful, clean, new home?”

Yes, you want to keep the items that spark joy, but there’s more at stake here. Decide whether this is an item that you adore and that it’s worth the money to move it. Will it make you happy when you see it again in your new home? Is it worth the cost and hassle to take this item with you?

How to Declutter For Your Move. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

What do you love enough to bring into your new, clean home?

If you’re a Keeper, ask for help from a Declutterer

Some of us feel more attached to our belongings than others. Maybe you want to hold onto an item because you feel guilty giving it away or you think you may use it one day. If you consider yourself a “Keeper”, ask for help. Invite a friend or your mom or an organizational expert to help you through the process. That person can help assuage some of the guilt and they can motivate you to declutter things that you won’t really want in your new place.

Start to declutter your home ASAP

Before you get moving estimates or put your house on the market, you need to declutter. You want to get an accurate estimate of your move,  so declutter before the estimate happens, so you don’t end up overpaying. Maybe you can even forego movers altogether now that you’ve paired down so much.

If you’re selling your house, you want to make the best possible first impression. Don’t take photos or list your home until you’ve fully decluttered. Your clean, decluttered, and staged home will entice buyers to pay top dollar. See, you’re making all kinds of money because of your decluttering efforts.


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Michelle Bâby November 29, 2017 - 11:45 pm

These tips are so helpful even if you aren’t preparing for a move – I have found so much joy in decluttering but still have a long way to go. I will be very prepared to move, thanks to your solid advice! Thanks for the informative post, Art of Happy Moving!

Aaron February 5, 2018 - 3:15 pm

Been looking for ways to declutter my room, these are great tips. Less is more, as they say.

Ali Wenzke February 7, 2018 - 10:39 am

Thanks, Aaron! Good luck with the decluttering.

Darryl April 4, 2018 - 10:56 am

Suddenly everything has value when you are throwing things away. It can be so sad!! Thank God for my wife and her throwing away skills.

Ross Shetman June 15, 2018 - 8:45 am

Nice tips you share on this blog. I found your website just right for my needs. Thanks for sharing the great information. Good Luck!

Sean Phillips July 7, 2018 - 7:27 am

Great tips! During my move, I gave away clothes that are in perfect condition but no longer fit me. I always prefer to move lightly. It will help me to reduce the stress. Thanks for sharing the tips!

Removalist October 25, 2018 - 1:12 pm

You are so awesome! I don’t believe I’ve read something
like this before. So good to discover another person with a
few genuine thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up.
This site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with some originality!

Fantasia Brown February 9, 2021 - 4:52 am

Your blog is much appreciated. One of the easiest ways of organizing a move is to cut down on clutter. The less stuff you have, the less you have to pack and transport, and you can even make a little cash clearing it out at a garage sale.

Sasha April 12, 2021 - 6:39 pm

Can we collaborate? I’m a realtor in Austin.

Kathy davis May 13, 2021 - 10:21 pm

I sell houses and want to uses to help clients any ideas?

Dallas kira September 9, 2021 - 5:29 am

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Ellen Jacobson January 13, 2022 - 7:30 am

You have shared a wonderful blog for moving services. It gives us best support to arrange our removal work. I am very glad to find this kind of informative blog. Thanks for your wonderful effort.


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