Day 320 The journey so far

When we knew we would be moving back to Australia from the USA in July 2007, we wanted to move straight into our town-house with all our belongings and settle quickly into our new life. I suppose that is when  we truly began the decluttering.

We did several things to purge items we knew we didn’t want to take back with us. Luckily, we sold some stuff at a planned neighbourhood garage sale. We also listed other things for sale to other Aussies who were staying in the US, and sold some things to the family who replaced us. We also donated a bunch of stuff to charity. I kept several electronic items that I now regret not selling over there while we had the chance. At the time, I thought I would still use them but alas I haven’t for one reason or another.

Next we packed up all the things we felt we wouldn’t really need for a month and sent them ahead by sea freight at the end of May 2007. Then a month later we packed everything else up and sent that by air freight while we took a month touring Europe on our way home. I can’t say I remember missing anything out of the sea freight while living in the house for a month without it. We managed to survive quite well with just what we had left. Unbeknownst to me I suppose that was my first taste of minimalism.

We did notice that when everything lobbed on our doorstep in Australia two days after our arrival, there was far too much stuff to fit comfortably into our new home.

There was also the stuff that had been waiting in storage for seven and a half years for our return. Aside from furniture, there wasn’t much in this load of belongings that I had missed. Unfortunately, some of the stored items I looked forward to getting back no longer worked due to being unused for too many years. I will point out here that we weren’t expecting to be gone so long.

Over the next two and a half years, we continually decluttered stuff. At first, there was a quick purge of extra furniture and home goods that just would not fit into the house. Then, that slowed to sporadic purges as we began weeding out the obvious items that needed to go. Then the 365 day challenge began and the slow but steady fine tuning was under way. Now we are at day 320 with only 45 days to go to the finish line. Somehow I don’t think that is going to be the actual finish line because I am sure there are more than 40 items left but I am very pleased with the result so far.

The lessons I have learned along the way…

  1. When moving from country to country think very carefully about the things you take with you. Although I thought I did this there were several expensive items that have never been used since the move that would have been easier to off load in their country of origin.
  2. It is amazing how few things you really need to get by day to day.
  3. Things can be rendered useless from lack of use just as easily as overuse.
  4. The bigger the house the more stuff people tend to buy to fill it.
  5. Open space is a wonderful thing.
  6. If you don’t want to clean it, store it or move it don’t buy it.
  7. Decluttering slowly has been more effective and educational for me than decluttering quickly.

Item 320 of 365 less things

While my daughter was visiting we went through the box of old children’s books that she had chosen to save and culled them down a little.

Kids Books

5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. Having made a head start on tomorrow’s cleaning day
  2. Rain – We have had a string of hot days so it is nice to have a little cool down.
  3. Having fun while answering comments today – I always enjoy it but today I was just being a little silly
  4. My garden growing madly without any help from me
  5. Liam’s progress –He is through his post traumatic amnesia period and has an interview with the brain injury clinic tomorrow. Hopefully that means he will be moving on to the next phase of his rehab very soon.

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Your post on moving is very apt for me right now since I’m thinking we’ll be moving next year — not from one country to another but from one house to another, but the same principles apply. I’ve been thinking ahead and getting rid of things I don’t want to move with me to another house. I just got rid of a large number of books that I don’t us and won’t be re-reading. Why take those with me? I’m still working on the wedding gown. I actually think I’ll contact two women I know who work in theatre costuming, and see if one of their theatre companies could use it. Thinking about moving really gets me motivated to declutter!

    • Hi Eve,
      I feel very smug about how much less I am going to have to move next time. I am almost looking forward to it just to see how few boxes it will takes compared to our previous uplifts. Good luck and be ruthless and remember less is more – more space, more freedom, more time and often more cash in your pocket. 😉

  2. Every time we move I have been able to get my mother to cut out more stuff. We have moved 6 times in the 17 years she has been living with me. We still have a ways to go with her stuff. Grin.

    Glad to hear Liam is improving nicely.

    • Hi Deb J,
      any motivation is good motivation I say.

      Thank you, Liam is doing very well and I am looking forward to finding out what they have planned for him today.

  3. We set a date to move this Saturday! I am so excited that I started to pack today and probably packed 1/3 of our stuff in way less than an hour. When I told my husband that all the books and most of my clothes and some kitchen stuff is packed now, he asked me “All the books??” Well yes sir, haven’t you noticed the huge piles I’ve been hauling out of our home the past six months..
    I had a flea market table reserved ( and paid) for Saturday, but now I think I will just donate the lot. I don’t want to wait another week to move (on Sunday is my nieces birthday party) !!!!!!!!!! The more precious things I will donate to the animal shelter’s charity shop, as it’s my favorite charity.

    • Hi Cat’s Meow,
      you are living proof of the benefits of decluttering. I am looking forward to the full story of how your removal went and the comparison to the last time you moved. Please share it with us as soon as you are done including what your husband thought.

  4. Hi Colleen – Liam has been in our prayers here in South Dakota – so glad he is doing well. Do you mind if I ask what happened to cause his injuries? I try to read your post most every day but may have missed it. If it’s something you’ve kept private, I understand that too.

    Oh, yes – I 100% agree that slow decluttering is so much more effective that the speed version (kinda like with weight loss, too).

    • Hi Sara,
      thank you so much for your prayers and I am happy to say they have been answered. He may be home as soon as this weekend.
      What happened was he went out on his bicycle at about 8:30pm to go to the grocery store to buy a snack to have while writing a university essay. It started to get late and I was wondering why he hadn’t come home. After trying to call him and getting no response I waited patiently. About 15 minutes later the hospital called to say he was there in critical condition with a serious brain injury. He has ridden fast down a hill straight into the side of a car and his head took the full force of the impact. He came to aggressively in the hospital so they put him in a induced coma. They kept him sedated for a day and a half and then stopped the sedation and it took another 3 day for him the open his eyes. Then all we could do was watch and wait and it was very painful to see his distress but everyday we could see changes in him. It was incredible to watch him come back. It is amazing to think only four weeks ago we didn’t know if he would even wake up and now he is almost back to normal. We were very very very lucky!

      • Oh my goodness! What a terrible accident! I am so thankful with you for his miraculous recovery. His homecoming will be wonderful – I hope it’s very soon. Thank you for sharing what happened.


        • Hi Sara,
          thank you for your kinds thoughts and words. Like I said we were very lucky. I just hope he gets out soon because he is now very frustrated with being there.


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