How to fit two lives into one house
January 14, 2013 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving in with my SO in a couple of months. I have, roughly, twice as much stuff as he does. How can I pare it down? Any tips or tricks or advice for going from a single/flatsharing household to cohabitation when you're a packrat?

I currently share a house, as a lodger, so there will be no real 'household' stuff to combine save the odd mug or clothes rack. All my stuff lives in my room, but there's just so much of it.

- Clothing stored under the bed - either because it doesn't currently fit (I'm aiming to lose weight at the moment if only because it's cheaper than buying a new wardrobe) or because it's out of season. SO (I'm female, he's male) feels that the idea of having Summer Clothes and Winter Clothes is a luxury, but in a British climate I find it hard to wear the same clothes all year.
- Shoes. Again, I have (comparatively) lots, thanks to the vagaries of women's fashion making it hard to wear the same pair with everything. I've tried to think about whether I could get by with, say, one pair of shoes for going out, one pair of sandals, one pair of smart shoes for meetings, but that doesn't cover everything. I have huge feet as well, so regrets in getting rid of shoes are amplified because it might literally be the last pair of red heels that will fit my feet. I'm not even a shoe person - in the last week I've worn one pair of red leather trainers, one pair of pink ballet flats and one pair of brown leather boots - they just seem to have...grown. Taunting me that I would probably be putting more effort into my appearance if I didn't live in the most ennervating flat in London.
- Craft stuff. How do you decide what to keep and what to jettison? My head knows it needs to be done, but my heart says 'but wool is expennnnnssssive' and 'you won't be living near a woooooollll shooooop anymore'.
- Various 'miscellaneous' items, such as small ornaments and cushions. Do I get rid of the small chair in my room? If I get rid of the wicker basket holding my bedlinen, jumpers and summer duvet, where would that go?
- Sewing machine and bike. Both are heavy. One will require working out where to store it. Both are expensive. SO's bike is a Brompton so will be easy to carry and store, mine isn't, and two things I'm really looking forward to about a new place are having room at last to use my sewing machine and being able to go on bike rides together.
- Toiletries. I have a weird irrational panic about running out of stuff, so I have a small stockpile. Would it be a waste of time and money to get rid given that moving is expensive, or is it slightly insane to have three bottles of shower gel?

I've heard the maxim 'try and fit everything into your car'. I don't drive. I have very little idea of what a 'normal' quantity of possessions involves for an adult human female. I've digitised my CDs, I'm trying to move into ebooks and digital publications rather than accumulating more paper (I have two shelves of books at the moment which is the least I've lived with since I was eighteen) but sadly one cannot digitise clothing, nailvarnish or trinkets. The other complication is that my living space is depressing me to the point where it's affecting my mental health (I have bipolar disorder) - it's dark, the setup of being a lodger means that I'm pretty much in my room all the time (my landlord leaves the house only for work and spends the rest of the time working from home in the living room or watching films with the lights off, making the downstairs basically his bedroom, and communicates mainly with sarcastic comments which either irritates or trips my paranoia switch) and each evening I have to fight with my willpower just to even make somethign to eat. For the past few weeks I've just felt so drained that I've wanted to shove everything in boxes and bags and sort it out at the other end in a happier, clearer space, but this will make moving a nightmare. If nothing else, we need to know where everything will go when we look for a place to rent.

So any extra motivational tips or tricks would be great. Most 'declutter' guides are focused on people who have a whole house with multiple rooms, and I don't. We are NOT looking to put anything in storage - it will either live with us or have to go.
posted by mippy to Home & Garden (36 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Start by assuming you are bringing NOTHING with you in the move. Then, go through and see what essential things you would be leaving out. Then, only bring those things.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:35 AM on January 14, 2013

Get rid of the things that make you feel bad when you look at them. The too-small shirt you were given as a gift and feel rotten about. The craft books with projects you will never actually make. The craft supplies that you bought because of a project idea you were excited about initially, but no longer are interested in making. (It doesn't matter that the wool was expensive -- it matters if you love it and are excited to use it.) Anything clothing-wise that is uncomfortable and you do not look forward to wearing, unless it fills in an important wardrobe gap.

And then I vote bringing everything else with you. You'll figure out what you don't really need once you get there.

I see nothing wrong with keeping shoes and summer and winter clothing -- totally reasonable. Men's clothing is different.

On the toiletries: It would be worth getting rid of any products you no longer use. But if you will use them once you're moved, why on earth would you get rid of them only to repurchase them? It does make sense to stop buying new for the time being, but I see no reason why you wouldn't move the stuff you've already bought. (I personally have a minimum-quantity-on-hand policy for things like that -- much easier to always have one conditioner in reserve, so I don't have to go without conditioner.)

Definitely keep things like the sewing machine and the bike. I still regret leaving my old Raleigh when I graduated; yes, I bought another bike like I'd planned, but I miss the old one. If you get a better bike you can replace it then.

I have very little idea of what a 'normal' quantity of possessions involves for an adult human female.

For reference: I have been living in extremely small spaces for nearly two decades (dormitories, and then an extremely small apartment) and I haven't been able to fit everything I own in one car since before graduating from college (even if you leave out the furniture).
posted by pie ninja at 6:52 AM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Honestly, I think your SO is being unfair to you, and that his attitude (possibly combined with your own depression) is causing you to be unfair to yourself. I've said this before in other threads about combining households, but when one partner is a minimalist and the other likes to have a lot of possessions, the minimalist is not always right. Minimalism is not a virtue; it's an aesthetic preference, just like anything else. If he wants to have three pairs of shoes and wear the same clothing year-round, that is absolutely a valid choice. But if you want to have thirty pairs of shoes and store three spare wardrobes under your bed, that is also absolutely a valid choice. (Presuming, of course, that neither one of you is pathological about it, manifesting in some sort of clutter-phobia or hoarding disorder that negatively affects your psychological or physical health.) We'd all think it was crazy if you demanded that he buy twenty-seven more pairs of shoes so that he could have the same number as you do, but somehow we think it's less crazy when he think you should throw away twenty-seven pairs to have the same number as he has.

Look, if you want to get rid of stuff because you feel like you have more than you need, or because you don't want your apartment to be so full, or for any other reason, then do that. But if getting rid of stuff you like and want and feel like you need makes you stressed out, you don't have to get rid of it. If you feel like getting rid of stuff is a waste of money because you'll just end up having to replace it later and that makes you unhappy, don't get rid of it. Your SO loves you and wants to share his life with you. And he loves your personality, which includes the fact that you love making things and that you plan ahead for your future needs and that you take pleasure in wearing red shoes sometimes just because. And that means that just like you're going to need to adjust in some ways to his need for tidiness, he's going to need to adjust to the fact that you come with stuff, maybe lots of it.

He is not right and you are not wrong. You simply have different aesthetic preferences. Now, have a conversation with him about how you're going to reconcile those preferences in building your new life together.
posted by decathecting at 6:56 AM on January 14, 2013 [47 favorites]

What has helped me - I just moved / am moving from a large-ish flat in Dubai to a much smaller one in London. Is to be super organised with my things, which is something that does not come naturally to me at all.

I sorted my books, of which I have about 1500, roughly by size so that they can be shelved as densely as possible vertically speaking. My new place has fairly high ceilings so I'm getting floor-to-ceiling shelving put in just about everywhere and one of those little rolling step things they have in libraries to reach them, this can ge a good way to gain a surprising amount of extra space. Getting rid of books causes my physical pain, but I don't have a choice really - my new rule is that for every book I buy, two old ones have to be donated.

I store my shoes on the back of doors on those hanging rack things, I suspect that I have more shoes than you and some of them are giant calf length leather boots so this is essential to save space. In fact, every door that can take it has racks or things mounted on the back. It's a good way to store large numbers of small fiddly things like shoes that don't box up efficiently.

My off-season clothes get cleaned and then packed away in stackable plastic crates when I don't need them. One thing I do not do is keep old clothes around though. If it doesn't fit me anymore or is damaged or whatever it goes with my gardening/whatever clothes of which I have one set at any given time. When an item of clothing gets demoted from wearable to gardening, a corresponding gardening item gets binned - there's no need to have a whole wardrobe of rubbish clothes.

Have you considered replacing your bike with a folder as well? I'm an avid cyclist but needing space to store a bike can really limit your options in London.

There's no need to hoard toiletries, you don't live on the Hebrides and aren't going to get cut off from a fresh supply. I wouldn't bother throwing what you have away, but stop buying new ones.

I keep components around for electronics projects but I have them sorted into stackable parts bins, could you do something similar for your craft supplies? Don't keep common materials around that you're not immediately using, buy it when you need it. I know that's a hassle, but otherwise it can very easily eat up an enormous amount of space.

There is no such thing as a "normal" amount of stuff to own, I do my best these days to own only very nice physical objects and to cut down on the number of things I have.

Finally, it seems that your current living situation is not good for your mental health and good on you for making plans to get out. Make a detailed plan that contains everything you need to have done before you can move, whenever you feel yourself starting to panic about your current situation just think of the plan and focus on getting through the next few steps.
posted by atrazine at 6:59 AM on January 14, 2013

I sympathize. I moved internationally to join households with someone whose belongings could fit in a single suitcase, while I had an apartment crammed full of stuff. Here's what worked for me:

1) Just start. Start anywhere, with anything. You know that you have to get rid of some of it; there's no way around that. So start chipping away at it, every single day. I promise, it gets easier as you go!
2) As soon as you decide to get rid of something, do it immediately. Trash goes right into the trash. Donations go right to the drop-off. Kick-start the "out of sight, out of mind" thing.
3) Every time you think you're done, start again. Re-evaluate everything that you've decided to keep at least once.
4) Remind yourself of the real value of things. It's tempting to keep a backup bottle of shampoo, but if that shampoo is only $5, it's not worth it.

And don't give yourself too much grief over not having a "normal" amount of possessions; there is no "normal".
posted by neushoorn at 7:04 AM on January 14, 2013

There's a Metafilter-famous comment about dealing with clutter that boils down to: you bought it before, you can always buy it again. If you aren't using it now, get rid of it.

Another important idea to take to heart is: You cannot keep everything, so you have to make decisions about things. You may not have a car or fully appreciate that analogy, but you do know what your SO's apartment looks like and how much room he has to accommodate your things.

Clothing: For clothing that doesn't fit, maybe pick two or three sentimental/favorite items and get rid of the rest. What's the likelihood that you'll be that EXACT size again forever? Maybe you'll lose more weight than you expect, maybe you won't lose weight at all, etc. If there's a coat or leather jacket or $expensiveitem that you are particularly attached to, keep it for the "if/when", but otherwise, sell or donate the rest. You can buy those clothes again.

Now, for winter clothing: Only keep things you actually wear. It's winter now, so you should have a feel for clothing that you like wearing and want to keep wearing. Don't keep the expensive sweater you never wear because it was a gift or simply because it's expensive; if you don't wear it, it has no value to you. (In fact, it has negative value, because it's taking up precious space.)

Shoes: Pretty much the same as above. You know what shoes you wear on a regular basis. You should jettison any pairs that are only for one outfit. They are taking up valuable space. I'd say 10-12 pairs total should be sufficient. Do you wear those red heels? Could those red heels also be worn with the outfit you wore those red trainers or pink ballet flats? Start economizing and remember that black or brown will pretty much go with everything.

Craft stuff: Assuming you are not specifically working on a project right now, get rid of anything that can be easily ordered online or with a quick trip to the store. If it's valuable (sentimental or materially) or hard to replace (i.e., mastodon wool), keep. There's probably a market for the expensive wool that you have. Remember that you don't have the luxury of keeping everything. Is this wool so important that you'd rather have less of, say, winter clothes?

Misc items: Would the chair fit into SO's apartment? Do you love it so much you need to keep it? Do you love the ornaments and cushions so much you want to see them all the time? Would they be unnecessary clutter? As for the bed linens, duvet, etc. -- do they fit your SO's bed? Are you keeping your bed? Do you need X amount of linens? If you do decide to keep them, they could be stored under the bed in a plastic bin (like this one.)

Sewing machine and bike: If the bike is too heavy and won't get used because it is too heavy (or is too heavy to store on the wall, or what have you), sell it and get a lighter bike.
If you are actually going to use the sewing machine, keep it--- but remember that you are taking up valuable space, so make sure it actually gets used.

Toiletries: It's kind of crazy to have 3 bottles of shower gel. This stuff is easily purchased at a reasonable price in stores and online. It's weighing you down.

This entire exercise can be exciting and freeing! Don't try to rush it. Make thoughtful decisions, but keep in mind your new space limitations.
posted by Flamingo at 7:04 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had to go through this, so this is sort of what I did:
- Figure out how much space I'm going to have. We had our own furniture, so I knew exactly how much storage I'd have (unless there were built in cupboards), if you don't then come up with a conservative estimate. Then only pack stuff which will fit.

So, you can only bring so many clothes as will fit in the e.g the wardrobe, no more. Keep summer and winter clothes in one additional under-the-bed box or drawer if you have to (I have a massive sheep skin coat that only comes out in the depths of winter, you would have to pry that out of my cold dead hands) but get rid of stuff that really doesn't fit you. After all, even if you lose weight will you be exactly the same shape again some day? Probably not. Get rid of it unless it was really really expensive or beloved.

- Shoes is personal. I don't have many, but what I would do is only keep those that are high quality and are going to last anyway, around 10 -14 pairs max (including things like gym shoes, walking boots, wellies etc.) If you have shoes you can only wear with only single outfit, they go. If it will wear out in less than a year, it goes.

- Thinks realistically about craft stuff. This is my weakness. I have a whole bookcase for craft stuff and my sewing machine is in the cupboard. However, set reasonable limits - "I will keep as much wool as will fit in this storage box and no more". Then the issue is how much room the new flat will have for these boxes and go from there. If you're still looking for a flat, try find one with one large built in cupboard, this helps SO MUCH.

- Toiletries are annoying to pack and unpack. I would keep my favourite stuff and give the rest away UNLESS your bathroom is going to be huge. They don't tend to have much storage.

- Take photos of any ornaments you're attached to, and then give them all away except maybe those which are really important to you. Get rid of all the cushions except one or two for the sofa if they match the colour scheme of the new place. I'd keep the wicker basket unless you're getting rid of the contents. Keep in mind where you want this stuff to go, if you can't think of a specific place it would be useful, get rid of it.

Get rid of stuff you do not use. Go through all your nail varnish and get rid of any you haven't worn more than once or twice or which have dried up. Go through pens and test them all, organise paperwork into folders so they don't take up much space.

- Bring the bike and the sewing machine. If they bring you joy you'll find somewhere to put them, and if you decide later on that tripping over the bike just isn't worth it then you get rid of it then

Really, it depends on the flat. Once you know where you're moving, you only bring things if you KNOW where you're going to put them.
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:07 AM on January 14, 2013

The way you describe your possessions, it doesn't sound like an inordinate amount of stuff to me. It probably feels that way to you because it's all in one room. Maybe the stress of the move is also doing that to you.

I recently went through my closet and got rid of a ton of clothes and shoes. I'm now down to about 50 items of clothing (if you don't count loungewear and workout gear) and a dozen pair of shoes. I live in a true four-season climate and this is plenty of clothes for me, maybe too many. So it can be done - IF you want to. But there should be a reason for culling your wardrobe besides just the fact that you have more clothes than your SO.

I pared down my wardrobe by getting rid of one item every day; that let me focus on the low-hanging fruit that I didn't really like or that didn't fit, wasn't in good shape, etc. Eventually the decision of what to get rid of that day got harder, until finally there was nothing I wanted to get rid of, and I was done. I also bought a few things along the way to fill in the gaps (e.g. if I got rid of my only black skirt because it didn't flatter, I bought a skirt secondhand to replace it). You have a couple of months, so maybe you could start by packing up only your most favorite things into a box. The next day, pack a box with your next-most-favorite things, and so on. Having a process helps you evaluate what you really love and what you can part with, rather than just looking at the entirety of your possessions and feeling hopeless about how to make a dent.

You do seem to have something of a hoarder mentality, to a degree. You will be able to find shoes to fit your feet, even if you have to order them online. (I'm a US size 11 (UK 9) so I sympathize, but I don't have trouble finding shoes.) You will be able to buy wool again. You will be able to find toiletries. There is no real need to stockpile these kinds of things.
posted by payoto at 7:10 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

If your stuff fits into one room now, it will fit into nearly any normal sized one bedroom. Why not keep in mind that you would value a place with a large closet and/or a craft alcove/area and figure the rest out when you know where you're actually moving? I don't think it's unreasonable to just move it all and purge as you're unpacking. There's no point spending energy purging toilietries if the real problem turns out to be that the closet is tiny and all of your SO's stuff needs to be on hangers.

Set a deadline for yourself eg one month after moving, and ask your SO to deal with our. Your mental health is more important.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 7:17 AM on January 14, 2013

Yeah, a summer wardrobe and a winter wardrobe is normal. And shoes -- if you're talking 50 pairs, sure, cut down, if you're talking 12-15, you're fine. Other than your excessive shower gel, nothing sounds that excessive. The chair -- well, that depends on how much space you will have in your new space, the basket depends on whether you will have enough closet space.

Also, listen to decathecting.
posted by jeather at 7:27 AM on January 14, 2013

Part of the challenge of moving in with someone is giving up the idea that each of you needs all the things you needed when you were on your own. Embrace the idea of "ours". Some things are personal items and you need your own, but a lot of household stuff, just because you currently have a set and he has a set doesn't mean that the two of you need two sets.

For example, you're thinking about the basket that your bedlinen and summer duvet go in, and worrying where you'd put those things if you got rid of the basket - presumably you're sharing a bed, and that bed already has bedlinens and duvet. Done. He's got that covered. Or you look at yours and his, and decide that yours are the ones that become "ours" and are stored wherever he's been storing his all this time.

Sit down and have some real conversations about whose stuff you're keeping (kitchenware, dinnerware, bedlinens, bathlinens, furniture, etc.). Just because you may have more stuff right now doesn't mean that he won't have to throw things out; when I moved in with my boyfriend, I'd been on a good job for a few years and had purchased quite a bit of household stuff, so he got rid of a lot of the second-hand things he'd been getting by on since he first left home.
posted by aimedwander at 7:29 AM on January 14, 2013

Moving is a great time to get rid of stuff that you've been holding on to forever just because. Other people have had great advice so far as to how to get rid of clutter, but I'd like to suggest that you also focus on how you'll feel a few months from now. It can be hard to get rid of things when you're staring right at them, but three months from now are you really still going to be regretting not having that one specific bottle of shampoo or that one specific type/color of yarn? My experience (after a recent move which involved a pod that was much smaller than expected and way too small for most of the furniture I'd had since I was a kid) is that of all the stuff I gave away or sold - and holy cow, was there ever a lot - there's maybe one small thing I wish I'd kept for practical purposes, and even that would be easily replaced if I'd just get off my butt and go do it. To be honest, I wish I'd gotten rid of even more than I did. Like Flamingo said above, everything you've bought once you can buy again.

Some other things that helped when we moved:
  • Instead of just giving things away to the nearest available charity, see if there's one around that supports a cause you really care about. I was lucky in that we lived right next to a thrift shop that supported the shelter from which we'd adopted our dog, so every time I was on the fence about an item I could remind myself that giving it away could help to pay for the care of other homeless pets.
  • Take pictures of everything you get rid of that has sentimental value - it's a whole lot easier for my partner to store tons of pictures of the cute shirts she gave away than it would have been to store those shirts, for instance.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself - don't feel like you have to give everything up. Even culling out, say, 30% of your shoe collection will make a dent, and if you can sort all your toiletries into 'favorite/less favorite' piles and then decide to get rid of, say, 60% of your less favorite ones you're still doing something (this is what we had to do for lotions and towels, and we still have more of both than we really know what to do with).
Good luck and happy moving!
posted by DingoMutt at 7:34 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am a person who used to have a ton of stuff, then moved in with my minimalist SO into a tiny (under 300 square feet) apartment, and now am content with a lot less.

Clothing: If it doesn't fit, or is unflattering, my general rule is to get rid of it. Are you planning on losing weight, or are you actually currently losing weight? Those are very different. Keeping one or two special items is reasonable, a whole wardrobe you can't wear is not. (I used to hang on clothes promising myself I would fit into them soon. I got rid of them about a year ago, and subsequently lost the weight. I don't miss my old clothes, by the way).

Shoes: get rid of anything actually worn out, or that you don't wear. Shoes that you like but don't wear because nothing matches them or they hurt your feet aren't doing you any good, they're just taking up space. There's no need to think you'll never find shoes that fit again, there's always the Internet.

Craft stuff: just be honest about what you are going to use. You might not live near a wool shop anymore, but you can always order more on the internet.

Toiletries: I think having a small stockpile of hairgel is insane, unless you found some on sale for really cheap and you have the space to store it. I would get rid of anything you aren't actually going to use, or anything that is old and dried out (cosmetics, moisturizer, nail polish, etc.).

When I'm purging stuff I try to ask myself "what am I going to gain by keeping this?" because there is definitely something I lose by keeping something--less space, more clutter. It's harder for me to keep my place clean when I have more stuff, which is part of the reason I have stopped being a total packrat.

decathecting 's advice is spot on, too.
posted by inertia at 7:37 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

My approach would be to start by estimating how much you can realistically have at the new flat without compromising the functioning of the space. This doesn't necessarily mean a 50-50 division of everything, btw, and you should try to get your BF on board with the idea that men's and women's wardrobe needs and expectations are significantly different. (anecdottally in the "do as I say and not as I do" vein, my husband and I split clothing space about 50-50 or slightly in his favor due to his packrat tendencies, and it frankly pisses me off because he only actually routinely wears about 20-30 percent of the clothing he owns, while I routinely wear 70-80 percent of what I own and face hard culling decisions every time I get something new).

More concretely, figure out about how many n's of clothing item X you can store based on space and your own wardrobe preferences: e.g., n sweaters, n pairs of pants, n winter dresses, n summer dresses, n t-shirts, n pairs of shoes, and so on. Then rather than figuring out what to get rid of, start by picking the ones you most want to keep. When you reach "n", you may find yourself rethinking some of your earlier decisions, but stick to your n.

With craft stuff, if you engage in a lot of different crafting activities you may want to narrow that down to one or two types of crafts only (sewing and knitting, perhaps) and making some initial decisions that way. Then pick a few projects that are currently underway or you have recently been planning and jettison all the material that is left over from old projects, things that got started years ago and never completed, things that you have been stockpiling "just in case."

For me, at least, if you only need to get rid of about 20% of your possessions you can do that by picking the things you like least and want to get rid of. But it is much harder to get rid of, say, 50% of your stuff with that approach. I also find it a little more emotionally upbeat to focus on picking the things you love and want to keep (it fits and it's flattering! I use it all the time and it makes my life better! ). Identifying things you want to get rid of is a little more emotionally negative and draining because it requires you to mentally rehearse all the negative reasons why you should let something go.

As to the chair: you may be using it now because your situation leaves you confined to your room much of the time. When you have free access to all the normal spaces of an apartment (a kitchen table, a comfortable chair or sofa in the TV area), are you actually going to need a chair in the bedroom to sit on? Do you use in NOW to sit on, or do you use it as a place to pile your stuff and hang your coat? If the latter is the case, you'd be better served by having an appropriate place to hang your coat and an appropriate "landing pad" to put your stuff from day to day.

The only exception to downsizing that I would personally make would be to keep the toiletries (but break the habit of having more than 1 spare of any type of item on hand). Put your extras in a box and plan on working down through the box as you run out of items. In a few month's time that problem will resolve itself.
posted by drlith at 7:42 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you are combining households then he is getting rid of some of his stuff too in order to make room for you, yes?

I don't think it sounds like you have too much stuff or anything on the level of hoarding. Especially with the clothing where the social demands on women are so different to what men experience and it sounds like your idea of "normal" has been skewed by your SO's choices. It sounds like a lot of your items you keep because you fear being unable to replace them due to a lack of money. Is the lack of money a real on-going, long-term situation situation or one more that is in your head due to the past (if you've experienced financial instability it takes a bloody LONG time to recalibrate back to "normal")? Will you be combining finances with your SO and how does that affect your projected budget in the next six months? Would your SO agree to let you have a larger part of the discretionary budget later for replacement purchases if you agree to give up some belongings now? Am I reading it right that first you will move in with your SO at their current accommodation and then the two of you will find another place together soon after?

I would get rid of anything you can without beating yourself up. Then box the "nice to hold on to" items, (the wool, the red shoes, clothes that dont fit); next, box up things you know you will need/want/use soonish (next season's clothes, your favourite crafts, variety of favourite shoes, sewing machine); lastly box things that are immediately necessary when you move (shampoo, clothes, a few shoes, comfort items). And by box, I don't mean a cardboard box, get proper, nice looking containers that can sit in a closet, or you can throw a tablecloth over to make a nightstand. If after the NEXT (soonish) move they are still boxed up you will be in a cleaner headspace (ha, I meant clearer but cleaner works too) to rationally deal with your belongings, starting with re-evaluating if you REALLY need that tchotchke that you haven't seen for a year.
posted by saucysault at 7:43 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

p.s., I lost about 40 lbs in recent years. Ironically, in the year or so before I planned to/started losing weight I got rid of a lot of my too-small clothing that I had been saving for when I lost weight and started buying new, and higher-qualify, clothing in my then-current size. I think that acceptance of myself as deserving new things, and that I could look good and wear nice clothing regardless of my weight, was an important mental step in getting ready to make the diet/lifestyle changes needed to lose weight.
posted by drlith at 7:46 AM on January 14, 2013 [7 favorites]

In going through clothes, I use the hanger method - turn all the hangers one way, and then once worn, turn them the other way. At the end of the "season", if you haven't worn it, get rid of it. This won't help you before you move, though.

For craft stuff - I just went through much of my craft supplies and got rid of a bunch of stuff. If I hadn't done anything with it in a while (years!), I got rid of it - easier to rebuy the things later than to pay for somewhere to store them.

That might also be worthwhile - look at your objects, and think whether or not you would be willing to pay for storage for them, thinking of the cost of storage for a year. For much of my stuff, it would simply be easier to rebuy the objects than to pay to store them for the amount of time that I hadn't used them for.

For your shoes, I'd put them all together, and sort by color - then I'd see if I had any that were the same type. For example, when I did this with mine, I found 3 pairs of short black boots - I was able to get rid of two of them. Then, I'd move them, and work with the same system as the seasonal clothes - if you don't wear them for a season, you'll get rid of them.

Maybe having a system, and knowing that you're working on it will be helpful to your SO, while helping you in that you will not get rid of stuff you think you'll use. I found that setting a firm time limit was helpful with my objects - if I couldn't bring myself to get rid of them at the beginning of the season, if I hadn't worn them, I'd have to do it - so I'd either wear them, or acknowledge that I wasn't going to.
posted by needlegrrl at 8:05 AM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: Just want to quickly clarify something before reading properly.

I have gone through most of my life with more stuff than I can fit into one place. At the moment, in my room, there is no floor space because I’ve been clearing out my (messy) desk and I haven’t had time or space to put things away. My SO is not quite a minimalist – he has a sizeable collection of boardgames – but his living space has been tidy and calm while we have been together, whereas mine has always been chaotic and cluttered. (The other issue I’ve had is ‘let’s buy this for when I will be living New Glamorous Life’, which has meant I’ve had spare sets of bedsheets, a dinner service, or a slightly too small winter coat all waiting for the mythical times when I will be sufficiently happy/successful/thinner and will be able to use them and enjoy them rather than ‘waste’ them now. In almost all cases, those items have got broken, no longer to my taste or not useful in the end. But this feeling does happen when living in a stopgap type environment which is what my place as a lodger has been a bit like – and the boyf made a good point in that it would be nice to be able to choose our bedsheets/dinner service/chandeliers and tigerskin rugs together rather than using stuff from 2004.) When I previously (briefly) lived with a boyfriend, we were both packrats, and it caused more conflict in what was an already deteriorating relationship. I know that moving in with someone does involve a certain degree of stress and adjustment, so I want to avoid this as much as I can.

The issue I have is that we will have to share one bedroom and one living room, which means that while there will be more physical space for me to relax and no need to keep my possessions sequestered in quite the same way, we will need to keep our clothes, shoes and other personal items in one room, one wardrobe, probably one set of drawers. At the moment, I have a wardrobe, drawers, a large wicker hamper and three big boxes under the bed containing clothing, plus three storage boxes of shoes and one of handbags (which sounds like a lot but it’s about three).
posted by mippy at 8:15 AM on January 14, 2013

Oh lord, I am a clothes/shoe hog, made worse by the fact that I like to shop at thrift stores, so it's easy to buy lots of cheap things. Even so, I feel so much better downsizing my wardrobe. When we moved, I threw out some stuff outright (would I want to wear this right now, or is it uncomfortable/itchy/tight/whatever? Then why will I want to wear it in the future)? and other stuff went into a huge pile if I felt like I hadn't worn it in awhile but I might still want it.

Once you have the huge pile, count it and get rid of at least half. Since I've used this method it has never done me wrong. Staring at 10 shirts that you like but just don't wear very much? Get rid of 5. You will feel better and still get to hang on to some things you like. The more I do this, the more I am able to get rid of more than half of the pile, too.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:20 AM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: Why not keep in mind that you would value a place with a large closet and/or a craft alcove/area and figure the rest out when you know where you're actually moving?

We'd like to do this ideally, but with the cost of renting in London, we have to be prepared to take somewhere that isn't a great deal bigger than our two rooms stuck together. A big table (or space for one) is non-negotiable, but anything in our budget isn't going to be huge by any means. I've had to turn down flatshare rooms in the past purely because there hasn't been enough room for my things, and given that I am dying to move out of my place (SO's flat is much more comfortable and fun, so I spend a lot of time there) I don't want to delay it too much because of excess possessions.

Also, when I moved out of my old place, we had to do it in two transit van trips. This isn't so bad when you have a friend with a hired van to drive you and it's only about a mile away, but we don't know if we'll have to hire a man and van to move, and I will probably be moving from one compass point to another, so two trips is not ideal.
posted by mippy at 8:22 AM on January 14, 2013

It sounds like you have a lot of aspirational purchases, things I will use one day maybe. When I'm skinny, my life is together or whatever. Honestly I think you are safe to ditch them. Your boyfriend has a point getting things for your life together as a couple is great. It does feel a little like you don't think you deserve nice things now, but can only have use those nice sheets (or whatever) at some mythical time when you have your shit together. If you aren't going to use whatever you bring with you move in with your boyfriend then dump it. If you love your clothes split into seasons and use them in those seasons then bring them, you have a right to your stuff too you'll just have to work on a way to store them that fits in with your boyfriend and maybe the storage boxes under the bed you keep a whole bunch of clothes that don't currently fit you i might be the way to go.

Crap you bought for a magical "perfect life" either ditch it or use it.

If your craft things are important to you then your boyfriend is going to have to accommodate them a little, if you can't have a whole table set up for crafts get some nice totes or storage boxes, or even a set of plastic drawers on wheels. If your boyfriend has a problem find some compromise on how many boxes you bring, but remember you are allowed to bring your things. Keep any tools and this includes your sewing machine, get rid of any items that would be easy to replace and just keep the special inspirational pieces if nothing else. Keeping stuff because you got it cheap or because you aspire to one day maybe use it in a project you might think of one day is OK if you have the space. Also if you are a fabric crafter that stuff squishes up so much more than you think, you'll be surprised how much wool you can fit i one plastic storage box.

Just remember there is no normal amount of stuff. You can have as much stuff as you like in your life. Your boyfriend has no more right to say how much of your stuff is the correct amount anymore than a bunch of strangers on the internet do. I am a minimalist, I like a few nice quality things, my husband is of the OMG it's on sale for $1 so I bought 50 of them school of thought. Compromises have to be made on both parts and it's not always easy. Your boyfriend is going to have to deal with a bit more clutter than he likes. You might have to have less stuff around for the life you someday want to live and think more about stuff that you will use and love now.
posted by wwax at 8:43 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

2 months is enough time to eBay all your clothes that don't fit and shoes that you haven't worn in, say, over a year. My other half was surprised how much she could get selling her stuff on eBay if you make a bit of effort (i.e. take nice pictures, check what postage will actually be instead of pulling a number out of the air, write good descriptions, and pay attention to what time you start the auctions).

If you sell all your clothes/shoes that you never actually wear currently, you'll have a bunch of cash to put aside so that when you do need a new wardrobe you'll have some money to spend on it.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:53 AM on January 14, 2013

Another vote for not keeping the aspirational stuff including the clothes that don't fit anymore, and keeping the stuff that you can use now. I also have the feeling that everything else you remembered and listed here is stuff you value or use and want to keep- look around for misc. stuff that you own but forgot you owned is probably a good place to start.

And maybe cut down on the extra toiletries? It takes weeks and weeks to use up a bottle of shower gel- just keep one extra bottle around and replace that. If you can live with less spares, that will free up some space.
posted by Aliera at 8:57 AM on January 14, 2013

For the aspirational items, how about picking the best 3 items and donating the rest? Make a wishlist on your favorite shopping sites for replacements and order a few after the move.

Swap the bike for one that's easier to haul and store. Put out the word to your friends and coworkers, they might be able to help. I would keep the sewing machine, though. They are harder to pick up on the spur of the moment and some items need repairing right now.

For the craft stuff, you could try a delayed swap. Your swap buddies take your stuff now, then give you stuff you can use after the move.
posted by dragonplayer at 9:40 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

decathecting mostly hit it on the nose, but I'd add that the answer depends a bit on what you're moving into. for example, could you rent a storage space in the apartment building until you've lived there a year and can judge what you do and don't really need? is there a basement where some storage shelves could be added to hold your off-season stuff, etc., out of sight?

also, I'd start living your New Glamorous Life right now -- why sleep on the crummy sheets and store nice ones in the attic? live it up. anything worth owning is worth enjoying as well.

but use any move as a chance to winnow your stuff substantially -- just having lived in one place for a while generally means you've hung onto stuff you don't really need or want, in addition to the really useful and future-looking stuff. try to get ice veins for sorting out the difference.
posted by acm at 9:53 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: eBay isn't an option - last time I listed a bunch of stuff, I got sick unexpectedly, missed my posting deadlines and my seller account got pulled. It's less the car boot sale it used to be - buyers, and the site, expect similar standards of service to sites like Amazon these days.

dragonplayer - I can't ride a folding bike, I chose my Pashley drop-frame after learning to ride on a similar but unfixable bike when I was 26. I'm dyspraxic so riding a bike at all is difficult - having a heavy frame without the bar at the top really helps.

for example, could you rent a storage space in the apartment building until you've lived there a year and can judge what you do and don't really need?

Most flats in London are not purpose-built but are above shops or converted from former family homes - the storage space available is what's in the flat. I should also point out that in 99.9% of rented places in the UK, you can't put nails into the wall (or paint or recarpet etc. or in many cases even put up a picture with blu-tack - I've seen it written into contracts, believe it or not) so no fixing shelves or hanging my bike on the wall (which is a shame because it would look quite cool).

Out of all the things I've got rid of in the five years we've been together - and this involves my stuff filling a room the size I'm in now plus a storage locker not that much smaller - the one thing I've regretted were the tapes I taped off the radio between 13 and 25. I really miss those as a kind of audio memory box, even though I'd have to work out how to digitise them now. I worry that I won't know what I'll miss.
posted by mippy at 10:29 AM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: Is the lack of money a real on-going, long-term situation situation or one more that is in your head due to the past (if you've experienced financial instability it takes a bloody LONG time to recalibrate back to "normal")? Will you be combining finances with your SO and how does that affect your projected budget in the next six months? Would your SO agree to let you have a larger part of the discretionary budget later for replacement purchases if you agree to give up some belongings now? Am I reading it right that first you will move in with your SO at their current accommodation and then the two of you will find another place together soon after?

Without wanting to go very much into finances, we both have stable jobs - i'm on a temporary promotion for the next six months and will return to my old position afterward - but I will be going from a cheap rent with bills included to a renting-a-flat rent with managing the bills separately on top of that (let's say double what I'm currently paying each month at the moment if the bills all come in at once) and as I struggle with managing money (thanks bipolar disorder) I am concerned about how that, plus the cost of a deposit, letting fees etc, is going to set us back for the next few months. In my experience moving always involves some cost you don't expect. I think it's this that makes me second-guess the wisdom behind just throwing stuff out.

We will be moving into a new flat together, as he is moving to London from elsewhere, so we're both setting up a household together.
posted by mippy at 10:34 AM on January 14, 2013

A few disjointed thoughts about this:

1. You won't know what you'll miss, but it will probably be something weird and unexpected. I became much more minimalist about two years ago, and the only thing I've ever actively missed is a brown cashmere pullover vest that I never wore and never had any intention of wearing, as it was a gift. I don't know why I miss it, or what is going on there, but... whatever. I don't even miss it anymore, I just had pangs over it for a little while.

2. Don't bother with eBay. This is not a problem that you want to make more difficult to solve. At most, have a few friends over to pick over stuff that's new or gently used that they might want. Donate or throw away the rest.

3. Get rid of the stuff that you're saving for "someday" - that day has now passed. Someday turned out to be never. It happens. Moving in with your boyfriend opens up lots of great possibilities for new somedays.

4. Most people wear about 20% of their clothes 80% of the time. Get rid of everything that you don't wear regularly for each season. I did this about six months ago, and guess what? I still only wear about 50% of what I own on a regular basis, even though I got rid of probably 60% of my clothing. It's weird. I kept one small box of sentimentally valuable clothes, but anything that didn't fit, was stained, was ripped, was ugly, or that I just plain didn't wear went out. I actually had some friends come over and pick over my stuff and they were thrilled with what they were able to take.

5. I don't want to delay it too much because of excess possessions. You also don't want to be uncomfortable because of excess possessions. You don't want stress in your relationship because of excess possessions. (This is based on what you've said in your question and updates.) Use those feelings to your advantage and purge. Once you start getting rid of stuff, you won't know when to stop. It is going to feel SO GOOD to have less stuff. I promise. I used to hang on to everything that ever came in my house, and now I don't, and I like my home a lot more. Everything has a place, and everything that's in my house is here because I consciously decided to put it here. It feels good.
posted by k8lin at 10:49 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

is it slightly insane to have three bottles of shower gel?

Only three? I sometimes have three bottles of shower gel in current rotation. But the good news is that number's down from eight. (I might add that there's a significant difference between having eight different shower gels because you like getting new scents and can't decide on a favorite, and having eight bottles of the same gel because you don't want to run out.)

Some of this you'll learn as you go. I still have a ton of stuff, but cohabiting has curbed my acquisition and stashing a considerable amount. Some of it's the knowledge that you're now sharing a space and you'll essentially have a witness to your stuff; you shouldn't ever feel guilty about having or buying things you like (and if you do, it's time for therapy or a heartfelt talk with your partner or both), but it will make you feel a little more accountable. And you won't have as much patience for the aspirational things.

He'll have to gradually adjust, too. His lifestyle may seem tidier, more practical, or more virtuous, but he's not right and you're not wrong, and if either of you have got it in your head that his way is better, you'll need to get rid of that idea. Unless you are buying so many things that you are going into debt, or holding on to so many things that it is physically difficult to get around your apartment, you are not wrong.

That said, here are some potential criteria for narrowing down your things:

- Just get rid of the stuff that doesn't fit. I don't think you should consider keeping it to be an option. It'll make you feel bad in two ways: first, by being a reminder that you're not at your desired weight, and second, by being another pile of stuff taking up space. It's just as easy to get motivated to lose weight without them, honest.

- If you forgot you had it, you probably won't miss it if you give it away. If you haven't used it in the past year, you probably won't use it in the next year.

- If you find yourself making exceptions for a bunch of things you don't use or need, like "but I love this too much!" or "what if I need this someday?" then put all of those things into one pile. Literally put them all physically together. This way you'll get a clearer picture of exactly how many not-currently-useful things you're hanging on to, plus each individual item loses a bit of its emotional pull. Now go through the pile of exceptions and see if you can reduce it by half.

- Give your friends first pick of the giveaway pile. I feel better parting with nice things if I'm giving them to someone I know.

- Imagine losing all your belongings. How much of it would you replace within a week, and how much would you not bother with? Also, when you think about this, is the idea of starting over sort of exciting? Are you partly relieved to have fewer things to deal with, and to have avoided having to choose what to keep and what to toss? If so, keep that feeling in mind when you're going through your things.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:40 AM on January 14, 2013

The sweet spot here is to get rid of things that you are not using currently and have no immediate plans to use--clothes and shoes that don't fit or don't fit your lifestyle, linens you bought for a theoretical "grown up" single-person apartment.

For the craft stuff, just set some limits. Find a nice box or something and say "this is the size of my stash, it cannot exceed these boundaries". I have an internal rule that my quilting fabric can't exceed the confines of two clear zip-up containers and that if I buy more fabric, something needs to go. I've also come to the conclusion that it's okay to have projects in mind that never come to fruition--if I bought fabric for a baby quilt and never made it and now the kid is 3 and I don't know any more babies, I don't have to hang on to the fabric forever just in case someone else I know has another baby. If they do, they will likely have different taste and color preferences and I'd do something different anyway.

Just as department stores try to deter thefts but still build a certain amount of "inventory shrinkage" into their budgets, I've come to accept that as much as I try to only buy fabric for specific projects, not all of it is going to get used, just like I occasionally buy shoes that end up rubbing or moisturizers I end up disliking.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2013

I recently helped a friend kick off a significant reduction of her stuff, and the questions I asked were: "do you use it?" and "how do you feel about it?" Those are the key pieces for me -- there's no point keeping things that aren't useful or that evoke negative feelings. For things like ornaments, "useful" would mean "I enjoy looking at it and put it on display where I can actually see it."

Maybe it would help to have a friend over? Even someone just to sit and talk with you while you sort through stuff can help make this all feel a little less daunting. If you have someone whose judgement you trust who can help you feel more secure about letting go of some things, so much the better.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:24 PM on January 14, 2013

I can help!

First of all, don't feel that you need to live up to your SO's idea of parsimony. What works for him may not work for you. Husbunny would wear jeans and polo every day of his life. In fact he does. He has 7 pairs of jeans and 7 polos, 6 more of each than he would naturally have.

But, that said, most folks wear about 15% of their total wardrobe, the rest being pretty things that one may wear here and there, but not with any regularity.

So, do a sort:

1. Things that don't fit.

2. Things that fit, but I don't wear them.

3. Things that fit, but are out of season.

4. Things I love and wouldn't part with no matter what!

5. Things that I like, that fit, but don't wear often.

Now, take the pile of things that don't fit and donate them. When you lose weight, you can buy new things. Besides, most of that stuff is going to be out of style, or you'll just want new.

Ditto the things that fit that you don't wear. If you don't wear it, there's a reason. Stop torturing yourself and get rid of it.

Now the last three piles.

Things that fit, but are out of season. Pack them carefully into a plastic bin. Put fabric softener sheets or cedar balls in there. Save until the sun shines again. If you can fit it into something that slides under the bed, so much the better.

The things you love and wouldn't part with no matter what, well, those come with you, natch!

The last pile, see how much of it you can trim. We all have this pile. That one dress that we can wear to a wedding, and no where else. Our fanciest, black dress. A beautiful, crinckle cotton item we bought on an island vacation. See if you can park these items with friends. Spread the love around. That way if you want them again, you know where they are! If not, perhaps you can winnow it down to the bare few that you MUST continue to own. Okay, let the holiday dress go, but keep the black dress and the wedding dress.

Shoes, again, 15% are worn regularly, the rest go with one outfit. See what you can get rid of, find under-bed storage for the rest, and/or send the shoes with the dress to live with a friend.

As for crafts, in the future, buy enough supplies for 1 project. Only buy new supplies for a new project when finished. Easy-peasy. As for the stuff you have now. Pick out the one thing you're ready to finish. Send the rest to friends or charity for them to enjoy.

Stockpile. I think stockpile is a form of hoarding. Trust me, I know. I usually buy a year's worth of something for my stockpile. Usually when it goes on sale, with a coupon. In your instance, I'd keep 1 of everything in abeyance, except for toilet paper because I'll be damned if I'm running out! I have 1 shelf in my linen closet for toiletry stockpile, when it's full, I stop. When I use something, I replace it.

Some things in the stockpile can go bad. Deodorant will get hard if not used within a few months, toothpaste can go bad and become toxic, so use them up before the expiration date, my Seventh Generation Lavender dishsoap got a nasty smell after a year. Live and learn. Don't buy so far in advance, especially if you don't have the storage.

In the end, if you have room for it all, keep it all. If you don't, decide what you want and what you don't want.

Again, don't let your SO bully you about your stuff. If there really is a space constraint, see about getting a small storage locker for things that you want to keep, but don't need on a regular basis.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I recently did this, except I was moving from an apartment by myself to an apartment with my boyfriend that has more living space but probably half the storage space. I also want to point out that my motivation for decreasing how much stuff I had wasn't because I HAD to, but because the amount of stuff I had and didn't use contributed to my depression and anxiety.

I think you've gotten some great advice above, but wanted to add few things that especially worked for me. I only had a week before moving so I wasn't able to pare down as much as I wanted, so I set a modest goal of getting rid of just a few boxes/bags of stuff pre-move. I devoted much of that time instead to very organized packing and did much of the tossing/keeping question in the new place, a couple hours a night. Removing the culling portion from the stress of the move made it easier for me to not just give up, because I could a)see how much I had accumulated and how much space it took up and b)I could see how much of that stuff wasn't useful in the now.

One of the most important questions I asked myself was "why did I buy this?" Often, it was a special item (that I never used again, but planned to), a thing that was on SAAALE (but I didn't really like, but it was such a good deal), or something I had planned to use "someday" (but had never gotten around to it). I tossed a lot of the first two; for the last, I kept only those things that would enhance my life/apartment with my boyfriend or that I could see myself using in the next 30 days. If I didn't use it, I got rid of it.

(In my case, though, a separate storage space was absolutely necessary, but we've been whittling that down too, in preparation for our next move.)
posted by sm1tten at 5:26 PM on January 14, 2013

I understand the issue fully, coming from a long line of hoarders - not to mention just moving and having to rent a place with a garage for all the detritus and overflow. My issues are similar to yours, though I also have books. (Thank god for my kindle)

I found my major issue was the small timeframe involved in moving, and having to pack without knowing how much storage space I would have. I think you should strongly consider renting a storage unit for a month at the same time as you move, so that you can move, then cull. Obviously do a pre-moving cull, but save the hard decisions for after you've moved.

Also, a note on the 'clothes that will fit me one day'. You have my permission to keep the 'clothes that fit me once and looked fabulous', so long as you have the storage space. However, don't keep the 'clothes that I bought because they will fit me when I am smaller'. Weightloss is a fickle thing, and bodies don't shrink in predictable ways. I've lost weight, and the aspirational clothes I've bought and saved have never, ever fit properly, even those where I fit into the size larger at a heavier weight.
posted by kjs4 at 7:11 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

You sort of kind of sound like me when I was moving in with my then boyfriend, now husband. In general I agree with decathecting. A lot of what you list seems entirely reasonable to me (toiletry stockpiling, wool, shoes, clothes that aren't appropriate now but may be in the future...) and here is how I cope now that I have been living in flats in London for over 2 years. As a background I am from California and I am still a bit traumatised by the lack of storage in this city.

- For me, a lot of the anxiety of having too much "stuff" comes down to having inappropriate storage solutions. I would have ziploc baggies full of wool just piled on each other. Shoes would be scattered around the house where I'm always losing them or tripping over them. Toiletries are teetering on each other in cramped cabinets. So Tip 1: Invest in appropriate storage together. The key is to think of it as an investment and not a luxury. As an example, we have one of those Ikea shelves that's made up of like 12 cubes and they also sell cube shaped storage boxes that fit in the shelves. That's where I keep my wool and knitting books. It looks very nice and they're all organized and it's become a conversation piece for guests. We even have a few shelves left over for books, our "nice" glasses and our liquor.

- Tip 2: Use it or lose it. You know all that stuff you say is "too nice" to use right now? Get over that. I had a lot of hangups around that and I've worked through it to finally accept the fact that life is too dang short to save the nice bed linens for when you have the nice bed in the nice house. You deserve them right now. It will make your not perfect bed and not perfect flat SO much nicer! Use all the things! If you seriously can't, gift it up to someone else because nice things are meant to be used.

- Tip 3: Only stockpile toiletry you can't leave the house without and only store one extra (except for TP). I came to this compromise with my husband and I think it works quite well. This means, only stockpile things that if you were to run out of, you can't even leave the house and you are screwed. Examples: Toilet paper (obv), toothpaste (because you can't go to work with stinky teeth), shampoo, deoderant, tampons... Examples of things that are NOT stockpiled: Hairspray (this is what ponytails are for), laundry detergent (you can definitely nip out of the house to get this) shaving cream, razors (you can use it one more time before you have to get some more or go without). I have let some things slip through because old habits die hard, but see Tip 1 to see how we keep it under control.

- Tip 4: You have a busy life, don't feel guilty about abandoned hobbies. My husband has a bike he has brought with us to every single flat in the last 5 years. Number of times he has ridden it: 1. He feels incredibly guilty everytime he looks at it. He spends £20 every year to buy a new cover for it so it can sit outside out of mind. He is FINALLY considering giving it away or selling it. It was a long process but he just had to realize it just Wasn't Going to Happen. And it's OK. So I would say, bring your bike and sewing machine, but give yourself a time limit. If you don't touch them within the first 6 months of moving in together, find ways to get rid of them (fyi, London Freecyclers are rabid!) and trust me, your shoulders will feel lighter and your flat will feel bigger!
posted by like_neon at 1:42 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

OP, if you want to get rid of expensive wool and knitting supplies, I'm a knitter in London. I'd be happy to make you an offer if I can see myself using it!

If otherwise, the UK Classifieds board on Ravelry is high-traffic and there's a good chance you can offload almost any yarn there.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 4:58 AM on January 15, 2013

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