Becoming Minimalist: Moving Tips

In case you're out of the loop, this dude and I are in the process of moving from London to the U.S.. And lord, is it a process.

I made the first leg of our move over the break – I'm currently in North Carolina, albeit temporarily since half of my life is still in London – and will be going back to finish everything up before we both settle, finally, this summer in Durham.

If you've ever lived between two countries then you're well-aware of the many difficulties involved. Like dealing with phone contracts, insurance plans, and carting paperwork across the ocean.

Since we'll be shipping most of our stuff over to North Carolina in the spring, when I came over last month for the holidays I brought little with me. Like, very little. Like one suitcase little. 

Last year I embraced a more minimalistic lifestyle which has helped me to no end in this move. When I was packing up just before the holidays, I found that the easiest part of my move rather than what once would've been the hardest was choosing what clothes and shoes to bring with me. Suddenly, putting "outfits" together seemed like the least important thing largely due to some prep work I'd done ahead of time.

Whether you're planning a move or are heading out on a long-haul holiday, here are a few minimalist moving tips to get you started on your packing:

1. Review each item individually

This is the first step in the process of packing like a minimalist. I'll be honest – this step is a lot of work, but it's also worth your time. To start, look at each item you plan to bring with you on your move. Taking the time to give each piece the attention that it deserves will help you to determine how much you like it or use it. If we're talking clothes, take every single item out of your closet – one by one. Think about the last time you wore the item, think about whether it's comfortable, and think about if you really want to wear it. Make sure you do the same thing with paperwork, old birthday cards, photos you printed at CVS in 2007, etc.

When I was working on this step, my mouth actually dropped open a few times. I can't even tell you how many magazine tear outs I brought along on my Brooklyn to London move in 2012. I also apparently took the time and, essentially, spent the money to move these tear outs throughout London without knowing I even had them in the first place.

Trust me – you won't believe some of the stuff you're holding on to. 


2. Give yourself some space

After you've gone through everything you plan to bring with you on your move, give yourself some time to let it all sink in. A month is ideal but if time doesn't allow, review all of your items again a few weeks or even days later. The idea here is to perform multiple edits, as there will be many items you don't want that you won't catch the first time around. 

'Scuse the wrinkles and fuzz!

3. Set a limit and stick to it

Because I made the unwise decision to fly an American airline when coming to North Carolina last month, I was limited to one piece of luggage in which to pack my temporary life. My winter-appropriate clothes and shoes, toiletries, paperwork, and Christmas gifts all had to fit in one measly bag. In the end, this limit helped me to pack in a much smarter, more conscious way.

And while I don't recommend flying the carrier I chose(I'm looking at you, United), I do recommend setting bag and box limits for your move. Once your set number of bags or boxes is filled, you're done. It sounds harsh but will help you become a better editor in the end.


4. Imagine yourself in your new environment

Remember: At some level, every single thing that you move will cost. Think long and hard about this before you pack those ZARA pants that don't really fit, the sneakers that rub your ankles, and those Christmas cards you got from your co-workers years ago. 

Imagine yourself on the other side of your move, when you open a box or piece of luggage and find these items. Do they really have a place in your new home? Will unpacking them bring you joy? If the answer is no, get rid of them before your move and save yourself some money, time, space, and – sometimes most importantly – mental clutter.

A few more thoughts on my experience with minimalism and moving:

It's almost as if in the mere act of getting rid of things, I found what I was really looking for.

All of those clothes, all that shopping, all that money, space, and time. I don't know what I was trying to fill by buying so much but I know that by slowing those actions I found whatever I was missing before, and found what I was looking for. 


Want more minimalism? Check out these posts: 

Why I'm Getting Rid Of One Thing, Every Day

What Happened When I Got Rid Of One Thing, Every Day

Thoughts On Mindful Shopping