Moving to a new house can rank up there as one of the most stressful times in your life. But it can also be a tremendous opportunity to reassess the objects that you have in your life and the kind of life you want to live.
As soon as you find your new home
Measure up and take pictures of every room so you can plan where furniture will go, what excess furniture there might be and where there might be gaps that have to be filled.
Two months before moving day
Use this time to run an eye-opening experiment to discover what you use and what you don’t use in your current life. Buy a pack of dot stickers and place a sheet in every room. Over the next 30 days, pop a sticker on every item as you use it (so long as it won’t damage it). Also, put a dot on ornaments or art that you notice and appreciate. At the end of the first month, notice what has a sticker and (more importantly) notice what does not. Ask yourself whether these sticker-less items deserve to move with you to your new home.
Anything that isn’t pulling its weight by either being beautiful or useful or anything that you don’t have a deep, emotional connection to, might be worth questioning. An object that is none of these things is a non-object – a negative drain – simply clutter. Sell it, donate it, give it away or recycle it if you can’t do any of the above options.
One month before moving day
At this point, start thinking about moving materials. Try to resist buying a whole load of new boxes and bubble wrap. There are better options that are far less wasteful. Start stockpiling useful cardboard boxes from local shops, friends and family. Do get some strong tape to shore up any boxes that are looking a bit dodgy though.
Remember you can use drawers, bins, bags, suitcases and even pillowcases to pack up your things. Borrow blankets and towels to wrap around precious items. Newspaper works well too. If you must buy packing materials, try to get biodegradable ones such as wheat-based packing peanuts.
Which way to move?
This will depend on your budget, how much stuff you have, how far you’re moving, how much time you have to move and how much help you have.
You can choose from:
Moving yourself using your own car/public transport
Nice and cheap, can be quite a workout and takes more time.
Hiring a van yourself
Handy for doing bigger loads in one go if you and pals can do the heavy lifting
Hiring a van with men/women to help you
They won’t pack for you, but they’ll haul your piano up four flights of stairs!
Hiring a professional moving company
Hand over the dosh and sit back as all your things are whisked into boxes and taken away to magically reappear at the next location.
The day before packing
Take pictures of everything precious that you’re packing for insurance purposes in case it gets broken by the people you hire.
Try to find a balance between packing early enough so that everything is in boxes before moving day, but late enough so you don’t have to live in a house full of boxes for weeks. This will depend on the time on your hands and how much there is to haul.
Pack your “A-team” stuff first. This is the stuff that you reach for first, serves you well and that you would happily have in the house you die in. Once they’re all packed up, then look at the “B-team” and again make them justify their place in your life.
As you pack, think about the unpacking. Pack things together that will belong in the same room, ideally the same cupboard. Don’t put anything in a box that you don’t actively want. This is your chance to get rid of all the stuff that gets you thinking “I’m not sure what to do with this,” “I’ve never liked it but it was a gift” and “What is this anyway?”
Put heavier, less breakable things in the bottom of boxes and anything that might get crushed on the top. Wrap linen or clothes around precious items and write on the side of boxes what’s in there and which room it belongs in. Be sure to mark particularly fragile boxes as such.
Anything important, such as passports, certificates or jewellery, pack into one box. This is the box you really don’t want to lose track of so take it personally to your next home.
Have a “first-day” box or suitcase ready to unpack for your first day and night with enough crockery, utensils, cooking equipment, toilet roll, toiletries, snacks and phone chargers to last you until you can unpack everything else you need.
In your new home
Now that everything is in your new place, and you’ve only brought with you the objects that you want for the long term, imagine that your new front door is a scanner which beeps every time a shoddy, badly made or temporary item crosses through it. When everything in your house has been chosen mindfully and with purpose, it makes for a calming, less cluttered space. Enjoy it.
Tara Button is on a mission to change the way the world shops forever. In 2016 her little idea went bigly viral and BuyMeOnce was born. After working 10 years in advertising, she's now using her powers for good rather than evil. She lives in Hertfordshire with a murderous cat and a husband she gets to laugh at every day. Her debut book A Life Less Throwaway is published with Harper Collins in the UK and Penguin Random House in the USA.