Photo by Jupiterimages/Goodshoot / Getty Images
Photo by Jupiterimages/Goodshoot / Getty Images

Moving is an exciting prospect. A new space! A new lease (perhaps on life)! As we hear from Done & Done Home clients, moving into a new home often comes with a recommitment to staying organized. Often, this hopeful pledge crumbles when the reality of packing, hiring movers, and unpacking at your new home sets in, and you may start throwing things in boxes indiscriminately just to get it finished on time.

Here’s the good news: we can help.

The trick is to declutter your home before you pack up. And it’s not as hard as it seems. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to minimize your possessions so you pack less, move less, and save money.

And if you don’t feel like you can or want to do it alone – give us a call! We can help.

  • Take Your Time: Mark off a weekend approximately three weeks before your move date that is dedicated to decluttering. This way, you won’t feel panicked and can make rational, thoughtful decisions about what you keep.
  • Stock up on supplies: Go to Staples or and order boxes. And pick up a box of contractor bags (which are very strong trash bags) to pack up your toss pile. For moving boxes, most moving companies will deliver a medley of perfectly sized boxes right to your door if they are handling your move.
  • Be methodical: You are going to make decisions about everything you own. Which pieces of clothing really work for you, or kitchen appliances do you actually use? Everything else, you can donate.
  • Start with your clothes. For an in-depth on how to declutter your closet, read our blog on performing a full closet purge. The short story is: take every piece out of your closet. If it doesn’t fit, or you don’t feel good in it, or you haven’t worn it in four seasons: fold it into a box to be donated to your closest Housing Works.
  • Move on to the kitchen: You may own a mandolin, or a truffle shaver, or a potato masher, but do you use it? Cooking is a far more pleasurable experience without having to dive into an overpacked kitchen cabinet to look for the right pan. Donate all undamaged items, and recycle the rest.
  • Books: The wonderful thing about books is that they can be donated or sold. Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe will take your donations and give you a tax-deductible donation receipt, or you can drop them at The Strand, where a book buyer will write you a check for the ones they are interested in.
  • Paper: People tend to hold onto more paper documents than they need. Old bills can be thrown away, but makes sure to use a shredder to protect your identity. If you have a lot of paper files to dispose of, you can hire a  to pick it up and shred it onsite. (Read this for more specific information on which tax documents to keep, and for how long.)
  • For donating miscellaneous items: such as baby equipment, musical instruments, and electronics, check out our full guide to Donating in NYC.
  • Remember the toss pile: Donation sites take gently used items that are in good condition, so anything that is stained or ripped can be thrown out directly. To recycle electronic equipment, you can contact the manufacturer directly.

Draw it out: Make a scale drawing of your new apartment, and play around with how you will arrange your furniture in your new place. Remember to mark the windows so you know which direction the light is coming from. If something doesn’t fit, you can make an appointment and Housing Works will pick it up for you. Also, you can plug your move details into this handy moving checklist, and it will give you reminders of everything you need to accomplish ahead of your move.

Track your savings: Every donation site will give you a receipt that you can then claim as a deduction on your taxes! You will have to assign value to the items, so keep track of which items you are donating, and give the information to your accountant.

Take a breath, you’re done! As humans, we feel the need to fill empty space immediately. But be thoughtful about what you bring into your new home – your life will grow there, and you want to respect your space by making it easy to keep clean by combating clutter before it even begins.

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