Best way to go about radically downsizing a 3 bedroom house?
May 15, 2013 10:35 AM   Subscribe

We're moving into a 38' RV in the next month and getting rid of our three bedroom apartment. We're trying not to put too much in storage so the vast majority of stuff has to go. I'm getting overwhelmed and I'm not sure of the best way to go about this.

We're taking things like electronics, clothes, some kitchen stuff. Tools and garage-type stuff will go in a shed on the campsite or in a storage unit. I'm having some difficulty conceptualizing the amount of stuff we can actually take with us. (It's a 38 ft fifth-wheel, one of the larger RVs out there.) What kind of sorting process is best?

Here are some examples of what I know we need to get rid of:
  • Living room, office and bedroom furniture - most of which was of Target quality to begin with and has been heavily used. Honestly most of this should just be trashed.
  • Clothing and shoes - mostly women's, mostly very petite sizes, not designer brands but still good quality. Some brand new stuff.
  • Electronic junk - old computer cables, webcams, computers with the hard drives removed, old (digital) camera, old flip phones
  • Kitchen stuff - Duplicate dinnerware, lots of coffee cups and wine glasses and small single-purpose appliances
  • Random crap - Christmas decorations that were gifts. We've never celebrated Christmas in our own home so this stuff has sat in the attic. Knick knacks that were souvenirs from family members (I am not sentimental). Old CDs and DVDs.
I doubt there's any single item worth over $30. Is it worth my time to sell on eBay or Craigslist? Should I have garage sales? (We get a lot of foot traffic in our neighborhood.)
posted by desjardins to Home & Garden (42 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:37 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Related: I am not a packrat by nature, but I still get the twinge of "I might need this someday..." or "It would be expensive to replace..." when I haven't used the thing in a year or two. How to combat this?
posted by desjardins at 10:37 AM on May 15, 2013

I suggest putting a table out during heavy foot traffic hours and taping a sign to it that says "free stuff to good home" and then also "please don't take the table". Put stuff on it. If the stuff is still there at the end of the day, it goes in the garbage.

I really need downsize my crap too, and when I do take "get rid of crap" advice, that's the advice I'm going to take, because we get good foot traffic too.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:40 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

I recently did this (sort of, from 3-bedroom + garage to a studio).

From experience, you will probably end up taking more than you think you can have, and then downsize again after you've moved.

I took pictures of EVERYTHING that I wanted to get rid of, and I sat down with some good music and food (you can also add wine) and just posted everything on Craigslist for extremely competitive prices. This means I get money AND they do the hauling away. I set aside several nights a week for packing/sorting/selling nights, so even if some buyer didn't show up, I was still using my time productively.

Things I couldn't sell, I got rid off by giving to friends or in lots on Craigslist or Freecycle.

Everything else I tossed.

To combat the "I might need this..." or "It would be expensive..." thoughts, I put storage into monetary amounts. e.g. A 3'x5' storage unit runs about $70/month (+ $9/month insurance) here. Renting a larger apartment (or buying a larger RV) would cost more per square foot. How often do you have to use something per year in order for it to be worth the storage? Will you use it that often?

It's okay to have to buy some things back after you move. That's what the money you get from selling all the stuff should go to.
posted by ethidda at 10:42 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

It would probably be simplest to pack up only the things you must have. I understand that you're moving into this small space long term, but changing the way of thinking to pretend that you're packing for a few-month trip is the only way to get rid of the "might want this someday" stuff. An RV is a really small space; try to think practically about what you actively want to see every day, reach around every time you open the closet, step over when you move from one end of the space to the other, etc.
Once you've got the "must have" packing set aside, that's when you sort the remainder into "worth paying to store" and "not worth paying to store". Will you be travelling around, or going somewhere far from the place you're storing stuff, or would you be able to return to the storage unit if you realized you missed something?
posted by aimedwander at 10:43 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

In my opinion, it is not worth your time to eBay or Craigslist unless you can devote your free time to dealing with it when you're talking an entire household. I tried doing it with some baby stuff recently and it was way more effort than it was worth.

I would do the garage sale. You could do "Everything on this table is $1" and "Everything in this box is $5" types of layout instead of labeling each item. Setup will be faster and everything that doesn't go can get tossed or donated.
posted by schnee at 10:45 AM on May 15, 2013

Response by poster: Will you be travelling around, or going somewhere far from the place you're storing stuff, or would you be able to return to the storage unit if you realized you missed something?

Initially we'll be at the same campground until October and the storage unit will be nearby. After October, who knows. Most likely, we'll be Somewhere Warm, far away from the storage unit, for another six months.
posted by desjardins at 10:46 AM on May 15, 2013


We moved from a 2,500 sq foot house with a full basement and a garage to a 1,200 square foot house, no basement for storage and no garage.

We donated three UPS sized trucks worth of "stuff", Salvation army took most of it, some went to a recycle group.

Without doubt the most freeing experience I've ever had. I haven't missed a single item, and I gave away stuff I've been hauling around most of my life.
posted by HuronBob at 10:50 AM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]

If you can afford to put it in storage - do so. And six months later, you'll know exactly how little of it you needed. When I moved into my wife's house, about 90% of my stuff (outside of clothes, some key electronics) is in the basement. Books, furniture, old clothes (hey, this has value, etc)

We're due to move inside of the year - when we do, so much of that will disappear.
posted by filmgeek at 10:51 AM on May 15, 2013

On getting over the "might need this some day": What's your storage unite cost you per month? Call it a hundred bucks. How many cubic feet in your storage unit? Call it 8x8x8, or 512 cubic feet. What's your cost per cubic foot? Those examples make it $2.34/year. Call it $2.50.

Everything takes minimum of one cubic foot. Some things take more. That web came that you've been keeping around because some day you want to tie it into... Been around for 2 years. How much effort would it take to sell it for $5 right now? That tower computer case? Heck, that's almost 4 cubic feet, two years from now nobody will know what to do with the power supply, and you'll have spent $20 storing it.

Are you 50% likely to want to use that? You could replace that case for $40. Keeping it is a break-even.

And retrieving it if you do have to do something with it? Computer stuff over 3 years old is worthless. Computer stuff you haven't used in 2 years is worthless. Big items, similarly.

In our case we moved into a house that (fudging some numbers) cost us $500/sq.ft. In that light it makes it really easy to throw out the "some day" stuff.
posted by straw at 10:52 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just decluttered my house for its sale. I can tell you the best way was to have a dumpster and a person who is not emotionally attached to anything who can give you good cold hearted advice. It is the last 20% or so that will be hardest. Go room by room.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:52 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would trash all of it except the clothes. And I would trash a lot of the clothes. The furniture probably will further disintegrate between the move to the storage unit and then wherever you end up moving. Plates and cups are super cheap to replace at Ikea. Anything of real value keep, but anything you can readily buy at Ikea is unlikely worth paying to store.

Obviously by trash I mean garage sale and/or donate.
posted by whoaali at 10:54 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Call an Estate Liquidation company, or a local thrift store. Tell them you have a house full of crap to get rid of.

They'll come, appraise, give you a price and then haul it away.

No fuss, no muss. And maybe a couple hundred in your pocket at the end of it.

You could do a yard sale, but it's a LOT of work and it's not worth it IMHO.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:58 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think your post has touched a chord with most of the female MeFites. We all have things we have not worn in recent memory. A woman's shelter might be able to use your extra clothing. Some woman w/o income could maybe dress for a job interview in your excess.
You have probably already digitized your photographs. In some places there are businesses that will accept electronic leftovers ($5.00 to be rid of a TV)
Set aside a morning to weed out the duplicates in your tableware and cook ware and linens. Good Will, Saint Vincent de Paul, or some group will redistribute to people who need housekeeping stuff.
Best of luck moving. Please keep your computer; MetaFilter would miss you.
posted by Cranberry at 10:58 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Tax note: Get a receipt for anything you give to charity for a deduction next year.
posted by Cranberry at 11:00 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

One garage sale, and the leftovers go to Goodwill or somewhere like that. Your town probably has at least one place that will come and pick up your leftover items.
posted by LarryC at 11:08 AM on May 15, 2013

Your post made me grab my calculator: I have paid $3700 over the past three years to store a bunch of old books, old clothes, and old dishes. Gah !

You're already getting good advice about the practical considerations of donation/selling/storing. I would add an emphasis on DO IT NOW... don't pack anything away to store and sort later.

While the accomplishment of simplification / decluttering feels tremendous at the end, that doesn't help soothe the short-term twinges you feel every time you evaluate an item.

One of my soothing things was to take breaks to put the actual bags of trash in a dumpster. The act of joining my bags of trash with those of others helped soothe some of the guilt I was feeling.

During the sorting process I made one trip per day to Goodwill: I finished sorting by 6 PM so I could drive the day's proceeds there before 7. This irritated my partner because of how impractical it was, but it worked for me.
posted by Kakkerlak at 11:10 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

I once moved from a 2100 sq.ft. home with attached garage and small fenced back yard to an apartment under 1000 sq. ft. I had four yard sales while hubby and kids, who just did not understand, acted like I was the Wicked Witch forcing them at gunpoint to get rid of beloved possessions. When we arrived at the new place, hubby was unpacking boxes and trashing stuff as he went (before I even showed up) so the truck could be unloaded. Within the first week, I bribed my kids into donating another seven boxes to Goodwill by buying them a $15 game guide. Six months later, my oldest son was whining about missing TWO of those toys. I asked him dryly if he could even remember any of the others. He couldn't. He got zero sympathy from me.

My point: You probably won't need any of it. You probably won't remember most of it. It most likely is sucking the life out of you to clean all this stuff and the cost of storage and cleaning your mountain of possessions is eating you alive without you realizing it.

If you have not used it in the last year, get rid of it. Sell it or donate it or give it away, but just get rid of it. It is more of a burden than you know. You won't understand how much of a burden it is until this stuff is gone and your life is free of dealing with it.

If money does not matter, donate or give it away or trash it. Why? Because it costs time, energy and money to sell things. It likely isn't worth the cost involved.

If money does matter and you think some things will sell for enough money to be worth the effort involved, judiciously sell some things. My four yard sales netted around $600 total. I was selling a lot of still decent furniture. We also went online and sold a lot of videogames to one site that paid decently and gave the money to the kids (it was their games). So if you can find a means to make a few bucks that doesn't just take forever, make you crazy, etc, sell the things that might be worth selling. But, again, since you think none of it is really worth that much, if a few bucks really doesn't matter, it will probably be less painful to give things away and then trash those items that no one wants.

I will never again own tons of crap. You don't realize how enslaved you are to it until it is gone.

Best of luck and congratulations.
posted by Michele in California at 11:12 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

I haven't tried this, but this is the perfect thing for Ship to Storage type companies. You box it up, mail it, and they store it. You pay for monthly storage, and they'll ship it back to you anytime. This would be perfect for seasonal things. It is location independent, so it doesn't matter where you are now, where you will be in the future, or where the storage location is.

I'd say this is the perfect way to get over those "but I might need this" twinges. If you've paid to store something for 6 months, and haven't used it, and you realize it will continue to cost you money to not use something, the frank math often strips the situation bare of emotion.
posted by fontophilic at 11:16 AM on May 15, 2013

Dress for Success has a branch in Racine, which would be a great place to donate any women's suits or professional clothing.
posted by scody at 11:16 AM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]

There are a ton of organizations that help families and others to establish a home when they have been homeless or in insecure housing who I'm sure would love to come and take whatever you can't use. Stuff like the kitchenware, any furniture, good clothing, etc. would all be useful to someone just getting established again. Here is a list of furniture banks across North America. I've had really good experiences with Bridging, an organization my grandpa used to volunteer with.

Best of luck with your new adventure!
posted by goggie at 11:19 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd hold a yard sale and post signs around the neighborhood and advertise wherever people advertise these things in your area, specifying the clothing sizes - it sounds like you could make a few hundred bucks with a day of light effort. Then you can in good conscience donate whatever is left.

(I have done a couple of yard sales so I'm not just making this up.)
posted by Frowner at 11:20 AM on May 15, 2013

What kind of sorting process is best?

My approach to this sort of sorting is to start with the new, empty space and furnish it with the best of what I have until the space feels comfortable, but stop before it's cluttered. Get rid of everything that doesn't fit, or put it in temporary storage if you can't yet stand to part with it. After some interval, get rid of everything that's still in storage.
posted by jon1270 at 11:31 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I sold my place that was chock full of furniture but not much in terms of personal effects, I had one of those furniture recycling places come with a BIG TRUCK and take basically everything. If I had lived in the area they would have taken it for free. As it was, they took it for $15 which was the cost for them to get out there. They took basically everything. Boxes of kitchen stuff, bookshelves, any furniture that wasn't totally destroyed, boxes of random books/records/dishes, clothing. It was really amazing to have the place be all full of stuff and me going UGH to having it be basically cleaned out and have me feel like I helped this organization with their business (they have a place where folks rehab stuff and sell it in their giant thrift store, items they sell create money for other programs). I just went through my house and put little stickers on things as I was making this plan and when the day came told the folks "Take everything with the stickers, here is a list" and they handled it. So great.

I'd save storage locker for sentimental stuff and just get a number of plastic crates that you know will fit in the size locker you have and that's all you get. I'd also get the smallest storage unit possible.

This is one of those things that seems like a bigger thing than it is. Start with a free table for "clearly need to go" stuff. Take other stuff to freecycle or Craigslist. Get rid of a bag of clothes per day, and a bag of recycling trash per day. You can totally do this!
posted by jessamyn at 11:36 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

I just discovered a non-profit in my town that helps folks that are transitioning from homelessness. They supply furniture, small appliances, kitchen goods, bedding, knick-knacks...basically anything to help make a cold empty box into a home. I think much of your stuff could find a home with a group like that.

I agree that donating your clothing to a group helping women transition back in the workforce would be great. I definitely wouldn't waste your time with a tag sale or Craigslist because the are both huge time sucks and the $ probably won't be that good. Basically, you want two or three groups to come pick up the majority of your stuff.

I might also consider getting one of those big "dumpster" bags. Just toss stuff in as you go and they'll come haul it away when it's full.
posted by victoriab at 11:37 AM on May 15, 2013

i would take the clothes to a consignment shop that gives cash on the spot, such as clothes mentor. best buy will recycle some of the electronic junk.
posted by katieanne at 11:40 AM on May 15, 2013

I'm having some difficulty conceptualizing the amount of stuff we can actually take with us.

Do you have a schematic of your storage/living space? When I had to move into a rather small studio, I measured the space and roughed out a floorplan, and it really helped keep me on target for furnishing it. If you find you need a strong spatial cue for how much you can fit in a cupboard or drawer in the RV, you can find a comparable space in your house or make yourself a rough model of it out of cardboard and give it a trial packing.

I wrote a bit here about my decluttering approach and how I deal with the "but I can't get rid of this" type items. (I called them "sentimental" there because that's generally my "having second thoughts about getting rid of this" problem -- the thing is, in the initial sort, keep moving, and then come back to the stuff that you're hung up on, for whatever reason, and re-evaluate it in light of what you know you want/need to keep).
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:43 AM on May 15, 2013

For the large items that you want to trash (cheap and broken furniture), I had good experiences with 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
posted by matildaben at 11:45 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of the charity organizations will do pick-ups of stuff, and many of them take a wide variety of things - clothes, kitchen stuff, toys, knic kknacks, and (yes) Christmas ornaments. Try Big Brothers Big Sisters.

For electronic junk, see if there is a charity computer recycling drop off near you. Often you can just drop off a box of electronics and wash your hands of it all. Most of them guarantee they will shred hard drives as well. Unless you have something near new, I don't think it's worth trying to sell computer cords and webcams and that sort of thing individually.
posted by marginaliana at 11:52 AM on May 15, 2013

Last time I moved (and downsized) I found that places like Salvation Army were more picky about condition of donations (ie, older couch with stain on cushion that can just be turned over, still servicable: NO). Similar to some of the suggestions above, I found an organization that works with victims of domestic violence (helps them set up new households), and they were happy to take my extra furniture.
posted by maryrussell at 12:17 PM on May 15, 2013

Do not get a storage unit.

Do not. Get. A. Storage. Unit.

If you're thinking about getting a storage unit, do the math on having a storage unit for 7-10 years, not a year or two.

You will not just rent it for some limited amount of time. Once you have one, getting rid of it is nearly impossible. Everything is boxed up in a way that makes what is where inside the locker completely opaque. Not only will you have trouble finding individual items, but after a few years you won't even have a good handle on what exactly it contains. I know meticulous, smart people with organized storage units that they don't have a good handle on what exactly is in there.

What happens here is that since you can't really sort through it(or rather, don't want to because it's a bear) you just keep renting it because "well there's special/sentimental/expensive to replace/valuable stuff in there!".

Constructively, you're giving the stuff away and paying rent for the privilege. You won't ever want to deal with going in and spelunking to find something specific, and if you do it'll take 2-5 hours of endlessly going through boxes("but i KNOW it was in the one labelled XYZ", and then when you find it, you realize you emptied out XYZ box to put something new in it or shuffle things around 6 months ago).

This isn't just projection, it's also what i've watched my family, coworkers, etc go through. It's an utter waste of money.

Only keep things you use like, at least solidly a season a year. In my most recent move i got rid of everything except for stuff i use at least once a week + critical things i'd be angry if i didn't have(rarely used kitchen utensils i know i need to make a favorite meal, cords to charge my friends phones if they stay over, etc). It was liberating and my place looks amazing. Previously i had put things in storage, not this time. I sent a rubbermaid to my parents of things i didn't have time to sort but wanted to keep(sentimental items, etc) and fucked off on the rest.

I have similar thoughts to the people above of craigslist or ebay not being worth it. Don't look at this as a sunk cost thing. The amount of time you'll use up shipping ebay items and dealing with customers is large, and ebay takes like a 9% cut. A lot of house things are stupid to ship anyways and no one will bid on them. Similarly, craigslist is full of flakes and assholes who want to ask you 200 questions about a $20 kitchen table, show up an hour late, and then decide they don't quite like it or didn't expect this tiny scratch on the leg and leave. Call the goodwill truck for anything but like, home theater equipment and such. Electronics are probably worth trying to sell that way, same with anything that seems collectible(and is small) or jewelry/etc. Everything else goes to the thrift store.

I put a bike, and some other stuff that was probably valuable out on the curb this last move because i knew firsthand how much of my time selling it would waste. Don't be afraid to do this.
posted by emptythought at 12:55 PM on May 15, 2013 [13 favorites]

Oh, a good thought process i missed too. If you're willing to put something behind the barrier of it being a separate trip, sorting exercise, etc(basically an entire afternoon blown activity) just to find... How much do you really care about having it or need it?

The cost thing is a great thing to consider, but how much you're really filing it away to not think about just out of the want to keep it for some intangible or bullshit reason is a pretty powerful way to look at it.
posted by emptythought at 12:57 PM on May 15, 2013

Great suggestions above. One thing you may want to consider before giving away all of your clothes, the quality of ready-to-wear clothing has really gone downhill (imho) over the last decade or so; fabrics are thinner, cheaper, and sewn quite poorly, even designer labels aren't guaranteed to last, so if you have some items of particularly good quality that you're very fond of or that fit you really well, I recommend hanging on to them at least until you get settled. You can always get rid of them later; trust me, it can be frustrating trying to replace a favorite pair of pants or a nice jacket when similar things made these days are mostly crap.

Also, if you have rare books or dvds, think twice before getting rid of those. Put the ones you'd truly regret never seeing again in a separate box and decide what to do later when you're not pressed for time. If you don't need the physical copy of your dvds, just rip them and save a copy to your hard drive or upload it to your Dropbox account or similar service.

When I've had to do large purges, I've found it easiest to attack things one entire room at a time. It's less stressful for me to have one room in disarray rather than the whole house. Usually, I'll start with a bedroom or bathroom and take everything out of the drawers or closets and put them in a pile in the middle of the room. It's really motivating seeing all of the excess crap you've collected in a pile like that because you can see how much junk you actually own and it makes you want to tear through it and get rid of everything. Start with the largest items first and save the paperwork and little fiddly stuff for later when you can sort in front of the tv or something. Be brutal! Visualize your new clean place and ask yourself, "Do I really need this? Where will it go?" If you can't answer "yes, defintely!" to the first question and actually see the place where you'd store the item in your new home, put it in the donate pile. Once each room is all sorted, box and bag your donations and call a local charity to pick everything up.

Electronics depreciate fairly quickly; personally, I'd do everything I could to avoid dealing with the hassles of eBay. Try to sell anything of value locally or trade them in for cash or credit at places like Costco, Staples, and Sears.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:04 PM on May 15, 2013

Echoing emptythought:

I was a military wife for a couple of decades. I have had things in storage. Never, ever again.

At our first duty station, stuff was in storage a month. Some organizer with multiple small drawers had been taped over to keep it shut (in a way that left lots of sticky tape surface untouched). Peeling off the tape revealed endless dead bugs stuck to the sticky side. This was not only gross but enlightening: It made me wonder how many other bugs had crawled all over (and pooped on) my possessions in that month.

I had other stuff in long term storage (a few years) in my mother's unfinished (dirt) basement. When I go it back, a lot of it was covered in mold and mildew and promptly went in the trash.

A later move involved storage of all household goods for three to four months. I could not stop sleeping until I sunned all mattresses in 110 degree heat in July in The Mojave Desert. My bed was making me ill from dust, dust mites and god-knows-what.

Never. Ever. Again.
posted by Michele in California at 1:12 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

A general rubric we've used, which helped us reduce our Useless Shit Pile by 2/3rds over the last couple of years, is:
  • Each human in the household is allowed one large Rubbermaid container of Sentimental Value objects.
  • For items NOT in the Sentimental Value container:
    • IF item has not been touched for 2 years, THEN pitch
    • ELSE submit item to Review Board (consisting of remainder of household.)
  • Objects submitted to Review Board must pass unanimous vote to keep AND go into immediate use, or they are pitched.
  • Tiebreaker items are submitted to Facebook review by friends and family, and any item that garners a simple majority of "pitch" votes gets pitched.

posted by scrump at 1:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

I pared my wardrobe down by getting rid of one thing every day. That was my rule. The first few weeks were easy as I got rid of the unflattering t-shirts and things I didn't like and other low-hanging fruit. Then it got a little bit harder and harder still until I realized I was done.

A rule like that ensures you make progress over time, and it also makes the decision easier because each day you aren't deciding what to keep, you're deciding what to get rid of -- and not everything, but just one thing at a time.

In your case you have a deadline, so you could make a rule that every person gets rid of 10 items a day, or 3 items from each of 10 categories, or whatever seems to make sense.

Goodwill. Don't save everything up for a garage sale or you will be living with all of it for too long and you won't really feel you've made progress. Craigslist is OK but it's a lot of work and that's time you could be spending culling and organizing.

I find the "but I may need it someday" feeling of attachment goes away the second I get the item out of the house. I have gotten rid of hundreds of things (not just clothing but household stuff, books, etc.) in the last year and I can think of maybe two things I wish I'd kept (and even then, I don't miss them that much or I could always replace them).
posted by payoto at 1:53 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

We recently moved from a 1800 square foot house, plus extensive basement, to a 800 square foot house, with basically no basement. My suggestion is this: Stop trying to figure out what you're getting rid of. Instead, try to figure out what you need to keep.

Walk into your kitchen and make supper. Put everything you use in a box. Do that every night for a week, and tada, now your kitchen is packed. If there's a special unitasker, by all means, grab it, but you've just pared down to your kitchen essentials.

This is harder in other areas, but still worth doing. For the closet, put everything that you've washed in the last two weeks in your suitcase, and then everything you wear for the next week. Don't think about what you should get rid of--think of the things that you use every day and the things that have particular value to you. If something doesn't fall into one of those categories, even if it'd theoretically be expensive to replace, it doesn't have enough value to you to justify keeping it. There's always that twinge, but my experience, honestly, is that once things are gone, you'll be more relieved than anything else. I was so relieved when we'd moved and pared our stuff down dramatically that I cried. There were one or two things I ended up thinking, you know, hey, wait, I want that back! And I bought a new one. Mostly, though, it was just relief.

Unless you're super flush, I'd at least try to sell things. I hauled several carloads of books to Half Price Books and ended up with about $400 for it--it was a pain, but totally worth the effort. Have a yard sale, or an open house, and then donate whatever is left.
posted by MeghanC at 1:59 PM on May 15, 2013

Michele in California makes an excellent point: long term storage can sometimes be more trouble than it's worth. I wouldn't advise putting anything in storage that's irreplaceable (family photos, heirlooms, etc.) because there's always a chance your property could get damaged, destroyed, or even infested with bedbugs.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:59 PM on May 15, 2013

37 feet long x 12 ? feet wise = 444 feet. When you look at the floor plan, you'll see that there's not much storage space. I would prune pretty hard.

Since you have a lot to get rid of, a garage sale or 2 is a good idea. What doesn't sell goes to Goodwill. As you go through stuff, ask yourself if it has value to you, sentimental or otherwise, and allow yourself to keep some things "just because." I'm sentimental and like having a box of personal mementos. When I moved to a small house with no attic/ basement/ garage, I gave away a lot of stuff on freecycle and craigslist/free, which was fairly painless.

- Living room, office and bedroom furniture - yard sale
- Clothing and shoes - mostly women's, mostly very petite sizes, not designer brands but still good quality. Some brand new stuff. When you have the yard sale, note Lots of size 9Petite clothes in great shape. Women's Size 6 1/2 shoes, etc.
- Electronic junk - old computer cables, webcams, computers with the hard drives removed, old (digital) camera - yard sale/ donate, old flip phones - donate
- Kitchen stuff - Duplicate dinnerware, lots of coffee cups and wine glasses and small single-purpose appliances - yard sale
- Random crap - Christmas decorations that were gifts. We've never celebrated Christmas in our own home so this stuff has sat in the attic. - yard sale. Knick knacks that were souvenirs from family members (I am not sentimental). Old CDs and DVDs. - yard sale.

I hope you'll be blogging your adventures.
posted by theora55 at 3:53 PM on May 15, 2013

If it's allowed in your building, have you considered an "estate" sale? Basically leave everything where it is in your apartment and have people come through to buy stuff. You can run it yourself or hire a company to run it for you. But first figure out what you need to keep, and set it apart from the sale stuff. Do you have the RV now? Could you pack it up and take it for a short trip to see what you need or don't need?
posted by auntie maim at 4:50 PM on May 15, 2013

Don't save everything up for a garage sale or you will be living with all of it for too long and you won't really feel you've made progress.

This is a great one too. I made the mistake of saving a BUNCH of clothing and other stuff i "knew" i could easily sell along with a bunch of extra stuff(two extra stereos worth of audio gear, etc) for a garage sale me and a bunch of friends were nebulously going to have in "june".

It keeps getting rescheduled, and everyone seems really iffy about it now. So i just have a big pile of stuff i've been carting around and shoving in corners for a "garage sale".

This is an opportunity cost thing with your own time, and was part of my point with the craigslist/ebay thing. How much do you get paid an hour? how much free time do you have outside work? I'd look really hard at how much time you're spending to save each garage sale thing and what you would price it as, include the time you have to run the sale. You also add the time you spend packing it up, moving it, figuring out what it's worth, etc.

I'd be willing to bet unless this is really ridiculously awesome stuff that you're making less than minimum wage here. The only times it makes sense is when it's like "$2000 couch in perfect shape i can get $400 for, and all i have to do is take a photo, list it, and let someone pick it up". Anything under $100 usually isn't worth the hassle you'll realize(and only is when you're already set up to sell things on ebay or somesuch, and have a really streamlined path of photo>box>shelf>list>sell>ship that takes almost no personal time), and anything under $50 doubly so.

wasting days and days to sell like $300 worth of stuff is a barely break even type thing, and adds a bunch of stress and a dragging on quality to the move which is already a stressful giant life event.

If you must sell a bunch of stuff and are dead set on it, the craigslist+estate sale thing is probably the best choice, but give everything like a week on craigslist+a weekend estate/apartment garage sale thing and then it all goes to goodwill. But keep in mind that this essentially becomes a stressful, poorly paying shitty job a lot quicker and deeper than it looks like from the outside.
posted by emptythought at 6:21 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you might find it useful to enlist a helper... Whether a professional organizer, or a sympathetic friend or relation, I find this is a job that goes better with help.

Invite your family to come and choose things they want of your furniture & household objects now. Also of the sentimental objects.

I'm not sure why you'd save sentimental objects beyond those that can decorate your new home or things like photo albums. Take photos... Maybe have a photo shoot day with the family of the sentimental objects. Tell stories to the younger generation & say goodbye to the stuff.

I am definitely in the school of donate rather than sell, because of the time required plus the satisfaction in knowing you're helping another family get established.

Personally, I'd select 2 weeks of summer clothes, 2 weeks of winter, 1 shovel, 1 box of tools potentially necessary for RV repair or improvement. Enough plates to serve 1 meal, enough kitchen tools for one week.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:12 AM on May 17, 2013

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