Moving Fantasies

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

My husband surprised me this morning by telling me that a recruiter from Microsoft had contacted him about a job. I think I surprised him even more by saying, “In Washington State? Go for it.” Truth be told, I surprised myself. I have lived in Austin, Texas for almost 30 years, virtually all of my adult life. I like my life here, but the summers are brutal, my husband is terribly allergic to pecan trees for six weeks every spring, and the statewide politics make me grind my teeth in frustration.  Washington is cool and rainy with no pecans, and the politics are much more to my liking. I happily whiled away my chore time fantasizing about how different life would be if we moved from the Southern Central United States 2200 miles (35oo Km) to the Pacific Northwest. (Believe me, I only imaged the good stuff and ignored all the negatives.)

It wasn’t long at all before I started dreaming about the packing, and you’ll be happy to know that these thoughts didn’t terrify me. (Thanks to decluttering, of course.) What I started thinking of was how much more stuff I would unload if the alternative was to haul it across the country. I imagined sorting through everything, considering everything. Frayed underwear – out. The plastic pitcher with the almost cracked handle – out. The living room sofas and on the one on the screen porch – definitely out.  So then I started thinking, “If these things aren’t valuable enough for me to take across the country, are they valuable enough for me to hang onto right now?” I’m not a minimalist by any means, but stuff that you don’t value is stuff that you don’t need, right? I wondered: In a perfectly decluttered house, would you be able to move without decluttering more as you packed?

I talked to Dan about this. His conclusion was that moving is an extreme event and that requires more scrutiny than day-to-day life.  I think he’s right, but I also think that if you’re stuck on something, asking yourself, “Would I be happy to move this across the country?” is a helpful criterion.

I want to know what you think: Is the ideally decluttered house ready to be packed and moved at any moment, or does moving realistically necessitate a deeper level of decluttering?

Today’s Declutter Item

As insane as this may sound this is an empty box. At some point we decluttered the broken amplifier but the box was still wasting space in the garage.


Things that made me happy, made me laugh, made me feel grateful, fascinated me or I thought were just plain awesome.

Cindy’s post reminded me of the wonderful years we spend in Seattle and I have dedicated this gratitude list the that experience.

  • The opportunity to get to know the real Americans – Who were quite different from the stupid prejudice opinions we had been lead to believe.
  • Living in a different country and all that has to offer – Like driving on the other side of the road.
  • Enjoying our first winter Christmas.
  • Cinnabon, garlic fries, Taco Bell, soft pretzels, brownie mix (Ghirardelli of course), toaster strudels, the endless variety of ice-cream … – Not Hershies though because they have no business calling the chocolate.
  • Baseball

This list could go on and on these are just a few of the things that came very quickly to mind.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.



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Comments

  1. Wow, Cindy! Are you really going to move???

    Here’s my two cents’ worth on your question– It depends. When we moved cross Pacific, we didn’t take any furniture. Dragging it along would have been crazy and would have cluttered up our lives incredibly. When we moved from the Pacific Northwest 🙂 [Portland] to Southern California, we brought our furniture, garden tools, books, games and kitchen stuff and continued using these things. Our last move involved downsizing one bedroom so we gave away the futon that was in that third bedroom. If you are using the furniture or other items in your current situation, they’re not clutter. But as we found out, even if you had room for the stuff and used it in the ‘old’ place, you may not have room for it in the new, and it immediately becomes clutter. At least that’s what happened to us.

    Colleen, I loved your thankfulness list. Meeting the ‘real’ people is the best way to rid the world of prejudice.

    • Hi Willow,
      I, like you, have moved quite a bit over the last 24 years and I agree with everything you say here. It makes sense to take things with you to some places but not to others. The cost of moving it verses the cost to replace it can be the deciding factor. We have been considering lately about replacing some of our living room furniture now that we no longer need such large pieces because we don’t need the storage they provide. We have put that on the back burner for now though because it fits in the house OK but in three years we may be in a totally different situation again so why rush the decision. We could end up with thousands of dollars worth of new furniture that won’t suit our choice of accommodation once the kids leave home or if we decide to become world nomads.

      Sometimes we have to see ourselves for what we are before we can appreciate others for who they are. The difference between us all is what makes the world so interesting. The problem is that we often focus on the negatives instead of the positives.

  2. Sounds exciting!

    I think it depends with furniture as willow pointed out. However when it comes to books, clothes, knick knacks, recreational stuff, etc., I think the “would you want to move with it” is a good indicator. I think I’m a little bit more minimalist that you, but not by much (I’m a college student who once I got hit with the declutter bug probably got rid of 365 things in a week – but I have the advantage of knowing I’ve been living at school without everything in my room back home). Nevertheless, if something doesn’t hold value to you, what value does it bring to your life? You like the look of a decluttered home, I say go for it. I think there will always be stuff that doesn’t make the cut when moving, clutter has a way of seeping in whether we are looking for it or not. Doesn’t mean you have to make drastic cuts, just to appreciate every item you own.

    • Hi Katie,
      I don’t believe we have had you comment here at 365lessthings and if that is true I would like to say welcome and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have moved a lot over the years and I have always decluttered before a move and also always wondered why I bothered to keep a lot of the stuff once I got to my next destination. The difference with my latest declutter is the deeper intention behind it. This declutter is very different in that I have really had the time to consider everything I have and why I have it and then let most of it go. I have also learned from the items I have let go, mostly not to shop for stuff I don’t need or have a use for. This time there will be no recluttering. Next time I move I won’t even need to think about what should come and what should go because hopefully by then there will be nothing that isn’t worth moving.

  3. I think it is both actually. Sometimes you can be decluttered to a level that is fine for every day life. But moving does bring things into focus and there will be things you are happy to live amongst but wouldn’t pay to move or store because cash is often at a premium when changing life to this extent.

    Plus if you are moving across oceans or large countries there can be different weather conditions which mean you no longer need to have certain possessions. And Willow’s point about different sizes of house, less bedrooms, different storage solutions etc.

    Wow Cindy, sounds exciting!

    • Hi lesley,
      there is certainly a lot to think about when it comes to moving. Like you say climate is one of them. Even when houses are the same size the configuration of the rooms can make a big difference to how things fit in. Oh it is so worth the bother though. I love to move around and see new places and meet new people.

  4. Colleen, I liked your list. I wish i could come live in Australia for even a year just to get to know you all. Cindy, I once told my Mom that as far as I was concerned there was very little that we have that I would keep if I was on my own. I then told her that what she kept should be because she wants it not because I might or because we might use it some day. I am not attached to stuff but people. Stuff is just something to use until I no longer need it. When I lived on my own I had very little so that if I moved it wouldn’t take long to pack up and go. It was wonderful.

    • Hi Deb J,
      we are a friendly bunch us Aussies so you would probably have a real good time if you came. If you end up on your own again you should sell up and come down under and travel around for while. We have lots of great cheap hostels for travellers. You can come and visit me as well, if I am still here that is. 😉

      • Would love to come but don’t know if I ever will. I have several friends in various parts of Australia. I like the idea of the hostels. Who knows. I try not to say never as one can always hope.

  5. I think that moving requires a deeper level of scrutiny than everyday living. And moves can be very different from one another – anything from moving next door or across town to across the country or around the world. I know I’d pack differently for each of those 🙂 But even asking that question – if I’d love the item enough to ship it a long distance – helps me look at things a different way, and it just might be what I would need to let go of something I’ve been waffling on.

    Be sure to keep us posted on whether this move becomes a reality, Cindy. Isn’t it amazing that now you can see this as an opportunity rather than a dreaded chore? I want to get to that point too.

    Colleen, what are some of your favourite brands of chocolate? Wait – maybe it’s not safe to tell those of us who don’t need any new temptations LOL

    • Hi Jo,
      I moved around the corner once and it was the worst move of all. At least when you move to a new city or country you pack up in one place clean up and move on to the next then unpack. Moving around the cover involves doing all those things at once without a break in between. What a pain. Add in a husband who gets sent out of town on business while you are in the middle of this mess and the phone company says they have to lines to connect your phone even though you moved into an established house two streets away. it was easier moving to America and a whole lot more fun. Anyway enough of my rant.

      Chocolate now that is a good subject. I like dark (semi sweet) chocolate the most – Ghirardelli from San Francisco is good, we have Nestlé Club here which is really quite good for an inexpensive brand, I love Lindt as well and there is a chocolate shop on Mercer Island in Seattle called Oh! Chocolate which is very good. Liam is friends with the owners son and I think he tried just about every kind they had. When he went to visit last year they had chocolate coated potato chips that he said sounded strange but were a delicious addition to their brand. Most Belgium chocolate is good although we were there once and Liam said it wasn’t as good as Oh chocolate. I have just been in Canberra (our nation’s capital) for the last couple of days and they have a shop called Koko Black where they serve all sorts of chocolate delights as well sell their own brand of chocolates. Their Belgian hot chocolate was delicious as was their hot chocolate affogato excellent too. I have a great recipe for Molten Chocolate Lava Cake from the Baker’s Semi-sweet chocolate people. Best served with whipped cream and strawberries. I had better leave this subject now before I get in trouble for making people fat.

      • Well, I asked for it! Five pounds heavier just from reading that entry, Colleen 🙂

        Seriously, thank you for taking the time to share those. The chocolate coated potato chips sound yummy – I have always loved salt and chocolate together.

        Now, back to my regularly scheduled healthy foods . . . hee hee.

        • I feel like making molten chocolate lava cakes for dessert but that is definitely out of the question after eating out for the last two days. I dare not get on the scales for about a week.

          • Trader Joe’s has a vegan swiss dark chocolate bar that is my favorite. Just a little bit in the evenings is all I need because it’s so rich and smooth. My husband opts for TJ’s fair trade dark chocolate bar.

  6. I agree that it depends on the moving distance. It might not make any sense to move much furniture across country or overseas. Sometimes your new apartment has different features, like more built-in storage, and you can declutter storage furniture. That being said, the average move should involve pretty minimal decluttering if you are already decluttered. It would be just like making a round of maintenance decluttering – you know, see if there is worn out undies you could replace or clothes that you child just grew out of.

    • Hi Cat’sMeow,
      there is always something lurking there that needs decluttering even when you think you are down to the bare minimum. I keep a close eye on this type of clutter these days.

  7. For me, the type of move would determine what I would keep or eliminate. If I moved to another country for instance, I would take almost nothing. However, I have used the “what-if-I-moved” scenario hundreds of times in my decluttering because it really does force me to be honest with myself about keeping or removing items. After moving many times during my childhood, I have now lived in the same location for 33 years and in the same house for almost 26 years. Moving may be VERY unlikely for me, but I can still pretend I am as I’m making decisions about decluttering my belongings 🙂

    • Hi Lisa in NM,
      that is a good strategy to use. When I move I don’t even have to pay for the uplift and removal because my husband is in the defence force our government pays for it all, no questions asked. I still however would rather declutter to minimise the unpacking and to save government funds that are best spent on something else other than my clutter.

  8. I’m at work now, so I only have a quick moment. Today is the ninth anniversary of living in our current house, and I realized that’s the longest I have lived in any one house in my entire life. Wow!

    Looks like the job is in the Bay Area of California, not Washington State, so that’s out. The Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the US and is earthquake prone. I’ll keep the heat and my husband’s pecan allergies instead.

  9. I think that if I would move to another country (Belgium not included, because that is not that far away – actually 3 km’s away from my house, lol) I probably take some clothes, one or two books and my toiletry with me and go. Like I said before, materialistic things do not really matter in life (that looks like I’m becoming a minimalist). So yeah, I would sell/donate/give away a lot of stuff before moving.

    My favourite brand of chocolate is Milka. 🙂 It is so soft, and creamy, and chocolate-y… I want it!

    • Hi Nurchamiel,
      I have tried Milka Chocolate it is soft and creamy. Do they make dark chocolate as well or only milk chocolate?

      • I don’t think they make dark chocolate as well. 🙁

        (Actually, for me, it is great – I really don’t like dark chocolate except for cooking).

  10. I love this post. We just moved 7 weeks ago and I did get rid of alot because we moved from a 3 bedroom house with HUGE built ins ( 1 was 11ft high and 3.5m long and the other 2 were 11ft high and 2m long) 2 garden sheds and lots of kitchen cupboards, to a small 3 bedroom duplex. We didn’t have alot to begin with, my MIL said she was tough on clutter but I was extreme lol, but we still had to declutter some things. The garden tools went as we have no garden here, the kids books got halved (we now live very close to the library and DS11 & I have Kindles) the toys got culled even more, the just in case linen got tossed and the large collection of Christmas lights got sold. The only thing I am sad about is we had to rehome our 2 dogs as we could not get a rental with pets (actually we were lucky to get one at all the market is so tight), but we made sure they went to good homes. Even with the declutter as I packed and unpacked I am still finding things that just don’t fit in this house or I don’t love enough to find a place for them.

    I like Lisa in NM’s idea that if you are unsure to ask yourself if you would pay to move it.

    Thankyou Colleen and Cindy for this blog I am sure there are many like me who read it but don’t post.

    • Hi Debra F,
      I just want to back up Cindy’s welcome, we are glad to have you here at 365lessthings and hope you drop by often with a comment.
      I know how you feel about letting your dogs go we chose to do the same thing when we moved to the USA. One of our dogs got so stressed when he travelled and I thought the journey would likely kill him plus they were outdoor dogs which wouldn’t have worked in the Seattle climate then there was all the fuss it would have taken to get them back home again (we don’t have rabies in Australia and there is a lot of testing and quarantine time involved). We found someone to give them to who was familiar with the breed and we will never get pets again because it is just too hard for both the animals and owners when moves like that happen. I am also familiar with moving form a huge 3 bedroom house down to a small 3 bedroom townhouse but oh how I love small now. I would never go big again.

    • Debra, we’ve had to move and ‘re-locate’ our dog to a ‘new’ good home….it’s not fun. I’ve gotten used to not having the pet clutter around (is that really sad of me?)…we can’t have pets in our current rental, so it keeps my ‘wanting a pet’ at bay…but it is hard on my kids. They’ve ‘adopted’ many doggies in our new neighborhood, which is nice. Play and pet and love and return to owner. Kinda perfekt!

  11. Thank you everyone for your comments. I think together we are a smart group. I love that!

    Welcome Debra F. Glad your move went smoothly, except for the re-homing of the dogs : ( Come back and comment again. Colleen and I always love to hear from our readers.

  12. Cindy, I hope his interview went well!!! Will you be moving?

    As to the question at hand, we live a minimal life style. Yes, we even find more to declutter. Overall, however, moving is a SNAP! Due to my husband’s career right now, we’ve moved seven times in the last nine years. Several of those were on our own dime, and it was really inexpensive (considering!).

  13. Oh, I answered my own question after I read all the other comments…the Bay area, expensive, earth quakes. Got it. Understood! 😉

    Well, it still works to ask oneself, “would I pay money to move this item?”, etc. Great post, great topic!

    I just keep also thinking of the situation in Japan, and am happy to read/hear stories of folks being reunited. That is all that matters. Who cares about the ‘stuff’.

  14. Hi Cindy,
    I love to move and I am so excited for you. I hope you take the opportunity if something becomes of this. Moving can be hard sometimes but I think that the gains from the experience usually outweigh the losses. There are so many questions to ask and answer as to what to take and what to leave behind but no one knows better than you. Even if you don’t go you can certainly use the “would I take this with me” question to help with your normal declutter process.
    San Francisco that would have to be the minimalist capital of the USA. I think even Leo from Zen Habits lives there. It is so multicultural in so many ways and such a cool place to live. I am so jealous. I will be coming to visit though so make sure you keep enough beds.

  15. Ah yes nothing like moving to really declutter! When we moved to France from Canada we looked at every single thing we had and asked ‘do we want to pay someone to move this?’ and in that context we were able to purge down to the bare necessities. I love it!!

    B

  16. Back again. Cindy, I don’t blame you for saying no to the SF area. The expense alone in CA is horrible. Add in the earthquake hazard and the taxes and it’s a no go for me too. I lived in the LA area for almost 10 years and then 50 miles north of Santa Barbara in Lompoc for 7. I got out in 1988 before the costs really skyrocketed and I’m glad. I went through several earthquakes too and not again if I can help it.

  17. Surely thinking about the new life style automatically brings about looking at posessions in a new light, what might be useful comforting necessary in one part of the country or period in your life may well not be what is required at the next stage. This doesn’t mean they are clutter just role specific.

    • Hi Catherine,
      you are correct here. I brought a lot of stuff back to Australia from Seattle that I should not have bothered to bring. Stuff that was useful there but of no use to me here. The trick is to be more discerning about what will be useful and what won’t before you make the move and even that isn’t an exact science.

  18. When my sweetie and I moved from WA state to Memphis last summer, we had made the conscious decision that we needed to rent a trailer in order to move our two very large but very beautiful and EXTREMELY comfortable leather couches. I don’t regret this at all- they were a great deal when I got them, and they would have cost way more money to replace than to move, especially to buy similar quality pieces. The problem with renting a trailer, tho, is that you end up dragging everything with you. It’s true that we ended up taking two solid truck-loads of stuff to the thrift store AFTER what we sold at our garage sale, but we still ended up with a fully-packed trailer and the back of the SUV reasonably full. I know I would have tried MUCH harder to part with things if we had to fit everything we owned in the back of the SUV.

    I recently decided that I needed to reduce our junk, when we were re-arranging rooms and discovered that we had 5 whole boxes of stuff that had been packed, moved, and then never unpacked- after 9 months of living here! I didn’t even remember what was in the boxes! I ended up going through them and finding some things I had been looking for, but the majority of it is going to my church rummage sale. Now, to convince my sweetie to pare down his t-shirt collection!

    That being said, I am COMPLETELY jealous that you might be moving (have moved, definitely moving? I dunno… 🙂 to WA state- the whole place is beautiful, especially the Seattle area!

    • Hi Tess and welcome to 365 Less Things. Although it was Cindy and not me (Colleen) that wrote that post I can understand how you feel. I lived in Bellevue WA for seven and a half years and then returned to Australia, I still miss the Seattle area and it is four years later. I will hopefully be going back for a visit next year all going well. I can hardly wait. The offer Cindy was looking at was actually going to take her family to San Francisco but I don’t think it was worth the move so she stayed put.

      I am so glad you are continuing to declutter your home and I am sure the church is grateful of your rummage sale donations. When ever my family moves it is all paid for by my husbands work so there is no limit to what we can take and that is a recipe for clutter following us around forever. I have always done a declutter before each move nevertheless, but clearly not nearly as thorough a one as I should have. Good luck with that T-shirt collection, but to give you hope, I just had a conversation with my son today and he said he has decided to go through his keepsake boxes in the garage because he has decided he doesn’t want most of the stuff that is in them anymore. Yahoo!!!

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