We've got some top tips on how you can cut down on your possessions, but first you have to be ready to be ruthless! Before we get into the detail, here are a few general tips...
Declutter before you move
This often comes down to time. You think 'We don't have time to go through that now, just pack it and we'll deal with it later.' The likelihood is that you won't deal with it later - the item will continue to sit in a box in your new home because you weren't really sure what to do with it anyway. And it will have increased costs on your removals!
Stay on track
Going through items and sorting them can often lead to sentimentality, looking through those photo albums or getting distracted. Simply break it down into 'keep' and 'lose' piles, and go from there. Have a friend or family member help you stay focused - if you're keeping it, you don't need to have a look at it now. That can be done when you're unpacking.
Limit your space
This may happen naturally depending on where you're moving, but you could limit yourself further by only buying a certain number of packing boxes and deciding that once they are full, you are not packing anymore. This is a great incentive to take only the important stuff and clear out the items you don't need.
Don't start clearing your whole home in one day. You'll be tired, not feel like you're making progress and will likely give up. Work area by area, or just do a small task each day. Perhaps simply going through your bookcase and picking out books you don't want anymore could be a smaller task, working up to the wardrobe, kitchen cupboards, or even bigger jobs like the attic.
So now you know how you're going to get started with decluttering - what can you do with the items you no longer want?
1. Selling your items
- Car boot sales – What is junk to you could be valuable to others. Car boot sales are great ways to raise a few pounds and also get rid of all the stuff you’d otherwise have to transport to your new house. Bring everything along, but don’t expect to make a fortune. Remember: the whole point of going there is to get rid of things, so don’t lose a sale over a few pence. Aim to leave with no more than half what you went with.
- eBay – If you think some of your stuff could be worth something, listing it on eBay is a great idea. Just don’t forget to factor in selling fees and ensure you either have collection only or specify delivery charges in advance.
Gumtree – This is a free listing service so you get a higher return but there aren’t as many visitors. If you want to list on both just add a caveat saying you’ve listed the item elsewhere and that you reserve the right to end it at any time.
Local advertisements – Plenty of people steer clear of onlilne shopping and search locally for items. Put adverts in newspapers, shop windows and community magazines.
Specialist publications – If you’re selling high end equipment in a particular niche check out specialist publications e.g. fishing equipment in a fishing magazine.
2. Giving away your items
Friends and family – You know your items will go to a good home if you give them to friends and family so consider offering them to people you know first. Many people are happy to come and collect the items, saving you more time. You may also want to loan them and take them back when you have more space/time.
Charities – Most charity shops will be only too happy to accept donations, but check with them beforehand to see what they need. If you can’t drop your items off many will come to your door to pick them up. Some also drop off bags to enable you to donate clothes.
Schools – Schools always need painting equipment, computers, printers and other materials. Check with your child’s school and other local schools to see if any items will be of use.
Freecycle – This is a nationwide network of groups that promote recycling of goods between users. There will always be a homeowner in your local area who could benefit from what you have to give away.
Gumtree – The online listing service operates a ‘freebies’ section so you can give your stuff to a good home.
3. Give to charities
Charity shops always need new items and you can help them enormously during a house move. Even just a few items will be enormously beneficial to them. If you want to get rid of furniture, look for a charity that can oblige – many will come and collect it for you too, saving a trip to the dump. Some other charities specialise in certain items, such as garments; check before you take stuff along. The British Heart Foundation will collect large pieces of furniture to sell in the their shops. You can book a collection here.
- The Internet is a goldmine when you’re moving house. Freecycle is a fantastic project that allows you to post items free of charge for collection in your area. It helps recycle and re-use items that would otherwise end up in landfill.
- Local facilities – Large superstores and retail parks often have recycling facilities for clothing, glass and cardboard. Larger recycling centres will be able to take more complicated items like white goods, and maybe engine oil or petrol.
- Paint - If you have old tins of paint, you can donate these to Community Repaint who distribute it to projects in the UK.
- Free app – OLIO is a great way to clear out your cupboards. You can share any unwanted dry or fresh food with your local community so you don’t have to throw it away.
- Upholstering - If your item is beloved but just in need of a new lease of life, why not upholster? Use interesting prints and materials to re-cover items of furniture and make them useable again. You could even use fabrics you had planned to throw away, like clothes or curtains.
- Your boxes - It's easy to forget abour recycling after your move, but it's still a priority! Your boxes will be recyclable, or if they're still in good condition pass them on to another mover! You can find out more in our article about what to do with your boxes after moving.
5. Throwing away your items
Hire a skip – Skips really are an easy and practical way of throwing stuff away and are very cost-effective. If you don’t need a full skip consider renting one with a neighbour to save money.
Dumps – If you have a decent sized car you can take full loads down to the dump. They're great for furniture, garden waste and assorted household items and many have superior recycling facilities including recycling for furniture, TVs and electrical equipment.
Good luck purging your possessions! If you've got any other tips you'd like to share you can put them in the comments below.
Updated August 2020