Cluttered Moving

It can be very stressful simply to witness a family trying to move house never mind actually being the family involved. Speaking as someone who has experienced this many times, from bth sides, I can tell you moving is so much easier when the home is uncluttered and organised. It becomes apparent to most people when moving house how much stuff they have that they really don’t need or use, but now have to find the energy to prepare it, the means by which to move it and the space to accommodate it in the next home. This, I can tell you, is rarely a simple task especially given all the variables of each family’s circumstances. Such as…
1. Small children to deal with during the move, especially babies.
2. Moving nearby. Which means moving all your belongings from one place to another and having to deal with cleaning up your previous residence while trying to get organise in the new one that you’re moving into.
3. Trying to fit all the work in between work and family commitments.
4. Health issues to contend with.
… and the list goes on.

So,if you live in a a situation that isn’t particularly permanent, the time to consider how much excess stuff you have around your home is now. Not when when a move is imminent and there is little time left to reduce and prepare.

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Colleen, it was great to open my email and find one from 365!!! Thank heavens I am not moving, but I AM into a major project in my bedroom that will allow me to sell my high back antique oak bed and dresser if I can find a buyer. Also, planning another yard sale even though I said I’d never have another one. Ha! I didn’t have enough for one alone but I have someone joining me. Perhaps I can unload the last of my small antique things.

    The health issues are ongoing with my husband and he had an 8 day hospital stay in March and a 4 day this month ( mild heart attack). Drives round trip are about 150 miles if I don’t stay at night. I’m always thankful during these times that I have so much less to dust and care for. Even so, I can’t imagine the ordeal of moving!!!

    Hope all is going wonderful with you!!!

    • Hi Brenda, good to see you seem to have mastered the decluttering and are still making improvements. Good luck with the garage sale. And I hope your husband returns to better health ASAP.

  2. Colleen, so glad to hear from you! Yours is one of my all-time favorite blogs, and it has been very helpful to me. Hope all is well with you, and thanks for leaving 365 up for reference. God bless!

  3. Hi Colleen, lovely to hear from 365, hope the trip is going well. We went through this very thing last year, moved over 300 kilometres the week before Christmas. Luckily my years of decluttering helped but we have still ended up with a couple of boxes of niknacks that somehow blended into our old home but don’t really fit here. As we’re now in a country town I don’t have easy access to donating them to a thrift shop but next time we go to the city I will try & have a box ready to take. I did a similar thing a few weeks ago with some clothes. Overall though the move was pretty stress free.

    • Kathy A – As per below, I was helping friends shift just before Xmas. They were made a great offer to be out of the house before Xmas.

      I’m one of those crazy people who WANTS to shift house and has a Pinterest board dedicated to packing and shifting tips. Mind you, I’m the friend who is first to volunteer when they’re shifting. I just tell them I’m living vicariously through them.

      • Hi Moni, I’m sure your friends would think that was great! I couldn’t highlight more the value of friends when you’re moving, without ours the move certainly wouldn’t have been so stress free!
        We had to declutter even more of the personal stuff in our house to put it on the market so because we were moving so far we rented a storage shed for a couple of months & every few weeks our friends would load a trailer full of boxes with us & we’d have a weekend away in the country with them.
        The weekend of the big move, with professional movers for the big stuff, our friends were here & we had that storage shed empty in two days!

    • Hi Kathy A, I am glad you are still finding away to get rid of your stuff even if it requires a road trip to do it.

  4. Lovely to see you back in the bloggersphere! I am no further in my plans to downsize house, life threw me a heap of curve balls, but it is still the goal. I need to do another run through the house again soon, so perfect timing to see a post from you Colleen.

    I did however, have the experience of helping friends shift just before Xmas. Previously I had helped them downsize from a massive house to a small house and we decluttered further after they arrived at their new house. This shift, happened VERY suddenly. In the past they had gotten in professional shifters, this was their first DIY effort. And because it was a few days out from Xmas we couldn’t get many boxes so we loaded up boxes, took them to the new house, unpacked them, return, repeat. So a bit hectic but also things were set up quickly. They were very pleased that they had decluttered and said that if people had to physically handle all their stuff to shift rather than using shifters……there would be a lot more minimalists!

    • Hi Moni, I am very familiar with curve balls my friend. Have had way too many of them over the last few years. But what doesn’t kill us makes as stronger right? I don’t believe that for one minute actually but worth trying to convince us both right?
      I wish you luck with trying to downsize. And if ricocheting children has anything to do with the inability to downsize I would suggest that your move house as soon as the nest is empty again and after that there is no coming back.

      • Hi Colleen, the kids are easy peezy. Alas husband ran into some mental health issues which have presented some challenges and avoiding major life changes at this point is key. But it won’t be forever. I look at it as an opportunity declutter ‘baggage’ instead which hopefully will make the next stage of life even better. Fingers crossed.

  5. Glad you’re back here. I enjoy your old blog articles every day to motivate me.

  6. Ugh. We moved a year ago. We knew we had too much stuff and we started sorting it as we packed it and donating, but eventually we simply had neither time nor brain power. We did manage to mark boxes we thought probably should have most things go away (or we didn’t need for 6ish months). We stuffed a large basement closet full and called it “quarantine.”

    I had started putting stuff away and getting rid of stuff from that room–was working great to let us keep the entire rest of the house nice and clean and deal with the normal living stuff first then turn to the less used and require it need a good home or go away.

    Highly recommend it, if you can’t deal with it before the move. I do suggest if your quarantine room is in the basement you put stuff up on pallets.

    Our quarantine stuff is unfortunately now hither and yon all over the place, some in boxes, some not, stuffed wherever we could, because the basement flooded. On the bright side, as long as we are having to rip out the walls and the carpet we decided we didn’t need so much furniture either and gave some of it away!

    I think I will be regathering all the stuff that was in quarantine and putting it back as soon as I put the walls back up in that room. It’s not as efficient as dealing with it where it is, but the rapid improvement in my mood of not having it all over is probably a net win. Am trying to get rid of a small pile every week anyway, but it’s overwhelming in its current state.

    • Hi Kayote, it sounds like most of that quarantined stuff will go in the end since it was still in the basement after a year. As you know though I approve of just getting rid of stuff a little at a time so long as it isn’t just being ignored until the next move comes about. So keep working at it and be ruthless.

    • Hi Kayote – I am curious. If you don’t mind sharing, what kind of stuff is in Quarantine?

  7. deanna ar USA

    Hi Colleen, it’s good to hear from 365! My decluttering efforts have become very, very slow…on the other hand, I’m not bringing very much in. I’ve been reading more on being frugal to encourage me in that area.

    It’s good to hear updates from everyone!

  8. I just finished a cross country move, and this is how I kept it simple:

    I rented an on-site storage unit of the same size as the unit I thought I would need for the actual move.

    As I went though each drawer, storage bin, cupboard and closet, I considered EACH ITEM and only packed what I was certain I wanted to take.

    Each packed box was marked with contents, and went right into the on-site storage unit (you could do the same with a secure garage, if it is empty.)

    I did NOT PACK what I did not want to take.

    When I had gone though my entire home, I disciplined myself to living out of a suitcase, with one set of towels and sheets and only a very few kitchen items during the last days of packing, until my actual moving day.

    Then, I went back through my home, putting sticky notes with prices on the items of furniture, large and small, that I was NOT taking, and displaying items I was not taking around the home. Unwanted clothes were left on hangers in the closets. Unwanted kitchen things were left in the kitchen, and so forth.

    When the moving company arrived, everything was already packed, and only the furniture I wanted to keep was removed from the house. My already-packed boxes were simple to transfer from the storage container to the cross-country vehicle, and the few things I had been “camping out at home” with during the final week were tossed in last, along with a box of things I would need at once on the other end (toilet paper, light bulbs, coffee maker and coffee, some canned goods and pet food, etc.).

    Friends had agreed to have a moving sale on my behalf AFTER I moved, and we split the proceeds. Unsold items went to a resale shop which supports a homeless shelter.

    I now have a clean, empty house, ready to go on the market.

    I did this for two reasons: I have seen too many people have a huge yard sale prior to a big move, only to find, as they pack, that there was MUCH MORE they should have unloaded, but they didn’t find it because they didn’t dig deep enough.

    Secondly, I have had decluttering garage sales of my own in the past, only to realize later that, “oh, I should have sold this, and also that…”

    This process made the move SO much less stressful. It also allowed me to organize the belongings that I intended to keep as I went along, so no surprises on the other end as to what might be in which box, or what room it should go to.

    It is hardest for me to part with books and music, but working steadily allowed me to give a good hard look at things like accidentally acquired duplicate copies of music and movies, books I realized I would NEVER read again, clothes which no longer fit or suited me (I tried on EVERYTHING which I had not worn in a while), and kitchen items I never use.

    Sadly, many of these things had been gifts from well meaning people in the past. In recent years I have “trained” friends and family to donate to good causes on my behalf, or, for those who feel that they MUST buy a gift for me, make it something consumable, like a bottle of wine, nice coffee or tea, a bath product or some other treat.

    This may sound tedious, but it was actually MUCH more efficient to do it this way than to pack hastily and end up taking far too much. It also made the move cheaper, because I had less to move! The modest cost of the on-site storage unit for several weeks was more than made up for by the savings in moving less stuff.

    Hint: the FIRST thing I packed was the television. 🙂

    • Dez, I’m not moving, but if I were, I would do exactly as you said, if possible. Great ideas!
      Maybe you should write a booklet on the perfect move and sell it!!!

    • Dez, what a great idea. When we made the last move into the Senior Living places, we designated a room in which to lace everything that was going. After Mom moved and while I was waiting to sell, I disposed of everything in the house we no longer wanted. I didn’t have a sale. I just boxed it all up and gave it to charity. It was so much easier.

      Now I am in temporary quarters while my apartment is renovated. It was easy to decide what to take since the temp place is furnished. I miss my own stuff as it is more comfortable for someone short like me, but I am glad I didn’t have to move it all. Not that I have too much, but that I didn’t want to have to move anything. I’m tired of moving.

  9. Great to see your blog post in my email!
    I am currently looking to downsize and with my continually decluttering over the past several years feel I have a good start on it. As mentioned above when you actually move there are more items that need to be decluttered and I will start working on those areas.
    Happy trails in your journeys.

  10. I have just parted with 2 childhood treasures… They have been on my mind a lot recently, so I finally decided to pass them to my best friend (She likes vintage items). I told her if she decides she doesn’t want them, she can *quietly* let them go. She seemed pleased to have them though. A clear sparkly box was given to me as part of a magical gift I received from a coworker of my mothers. This lady (Maggie) knitted the most beautiful Barbie clothes, made a wardrobe w/ hanging rod out of a cardboard box, and filled this clear box with sparkly Barbie heels for me. I don’t have any of it now (since I passed it all to my best friend, in stages), but I will never forget that gift I’m not sure who gave me the other (gold) box but I have probably had it for 50 years and I kept my childhood treasures in it. Neither of these things were valuable as far as I know, but both were Highly Sentimental items. *gives self a pat on the back*

    • Peggy, I just have to congratulate you!! Sentimental things can be so hard. I grew up poor, didn’t have a lot, and what I did have was taken care of and treasured. I still have a small container of sentimental things plus my Mom’s childhood doll and about 5 of my own. For the first time ever, I have been wondering if I could let them go. I’m not sure yet, but the thought at least is in my brain. It is amazing how when we let go, we become more and more able to let go of more.

  11. Hi Colleen, I agree with everything you said in your post about moving. As our daughter & grandkids are still living with us, I haven’t been able to do much decluttering of my stuff. What I have been doing, however, is picking one category of our daughters items for her to go through each week. A couple of weeks ago, it was toiletries (make up, hair, lips, face, bath, tooth, leg, medicine, etc). I had it all categorized for her. She got rid of a lot. I didn’t have much luck with the hoodies, she looked but didn’t part with any. Today, I gave her linens. She got rid of 2 body pillows, a comforter, and a full/double fitted sheet. I figure it makes things a little better in our house and it will make her move a little easier whenever it happens. I wonder if maybe she will learn that it’s okay to part with some things???

  12. Hi Brenda, I took photos before I got rid of them. Photos take less room than the actual treasures! And my items weren’t being used any longer, so a photo is all I need 🙂

  13. Hi Colleen, I was so pleased to click on your blog and find this post and all the comments. I am in the position of having to move within a matter of a few days because our house flooded. We were away when it happened and arrived home to find a huge amount of damage – but it is all structural, none of our possessions got wet, which seems amazing given how wet the floors, ceilings and walls are. It looks like all but a few pieces of furniture will survive too. However, we are now going to have to move out completely so that all the repairs can be made. We are waiting to hear about temporary accommodation, and the insurance will arrange to pack everything for us and move and store it, but we still need to go through it ourselves and take care of some of the valuable/fragile pieces. I wish Moni were here to help since she seems to enjoy the packing/moving process – although even she might find this situation daunting as the house is hot and noisy with dozens of fans everywhere trying to dry things out! Moni, if you want to come to Dallas, Texas, there will be a warm welcome for all your packing expertise! Anyway, I guess we will get through this but I am so glad that we have already done such a lot of decluttering over the last 5 or 6 years, and through that we have disconnected emotionally from so many of the material items, but I know there is still more here than we really want. I think that at this stage since we have to get out of the house within a couple of days we will just let everything get packed up, but the unpacking in a few months will be the perfect opportunity to find new homes for a lot of things. Thank you again Colleen for your blog posts over the years. I am so glad that I found you, this situation would be so much more difficult if I hadn’t followed all your good advice and that of everyone who comments here. You just never know from one day to the next when life is going to take an unexpected turn so it’s best not to be burdened with unnecessary possessions which just make everything more complicated.

  14. Colleen, it is good to have a blog post from you pop up in my feed. I know you are enjoying your sabbatical/vacation and am thankful you were able to make such a trip. Keep enjoying it. Can’t wait to see more pictures some day.

  15. Lovely to hear from you again Colleen.

    My husband and I moved to a retirement village last month.

    To sell the house I removed any personal pictures and quilts, but the estate agents said it was a bit bare (!) and I should add cushions, candles, etc. So I got a partial house staging done which made the house look very glamorous! But what a palaver making the bed, all those layers of throws and 9 pillows and cushions!

    Anyway the house sold more quickly than expected so we moved into a house temporarily (in the retirement village) while our home is being built.

    We decided to live with only what we needed and to pack the rest, to save doing it all twice. Well because of all the decluttering I had already done, there weren’t that many boxes to store. The movers came and two hours later left our new home, with all the furniture in place. We had some boxes in the garage to still unpack but room for the car. Two days later everything was squared away, and our storage boxes fit into a cupboard.

    On Day 3 I spoke to some neighbours who told me they were “taking the day off”, so I asked what from, and they said unpacking. I asked them when they moved in and they said 3 weeks ago! Their garage was, and still is, full of stuff and their expensive car sits in the driveway.

    It was an extremely easy move, quite enjoyable in fact, compared to most peoples’ experience. Decluttering is now a habit for me, a regular part of my life and I just love how simple, easy and peaceful my life is. I have time to enjoy everything this new stage of life has to offer and am now line dancing, singing in a choir, doing Pilates, playing mah jong, etc.

    I don’t think that decluttering is the answer to all life’s problems, but it sure makes life easier so you can deal with them!

  16. Janetta, you and your husband are to be congratulated. What a great motivating testimonial to the decluttering movement. I certainly can attest to the fact that keeping things simple and deluttered not only makes living easier but also makes moving easier.