Planning a move out of state can be daunting, whether you're moving for work, family, or other reasons. Our Complete Guide to Moving Out of State answers all your biggest questions about moving out of state, from creating to-do lists, planning, and budgeting for your move to downsizing, packing your belongings, and settling into your new home.
Downsizing for a move out of state can be extremely freeing—but also overwhelming. You have to figure out what to keep, sell or donate, or toss away altogether. How do you decide what’s worth keeping and what you can really do without? It may come down to how much space you’ll have in your new home compared to your old one, or it may just come down to what you truly want and need.
In this part of the Complete Guide to Moving Out of State, we’ll share our advice on how to downsize for an out of state move. We’ll share tips on how to declutter and stay organized throughout the entire out of state moving process, how to downsize clothes, and we’ll also give you some helpful checklists and other resources along the way.
TSI TIP: If you have a lot of items to sort through or no idea where to start, a professional organizer can help. Pro organizers will help you by putting together a space plan for your new home, sorting through all your belongings, defining which items will go where, and then taking care of getting it all done so that you can focus on your move. Learn more about TSI’s professional home organizer services.
If you are going to tackle this challenge on your own, here are some tips to get started.
When you’re downsizing for a move, you’ll want to sort your stuff into “yes”, “maybe”, and “no” categories. Some people like to tackle one room at a time, while others prefer to focus on groups of things, like furniture, electronics, or clothes. It doesn’t matter how you begin or where you start—you just have to dive in.
Toss Unused Items
Anything broken, damaged or that you simply dislike should be tossed away as you sort. It can get expensive to haul unnecessary junk, and getting rid of these items can help keep your moving costs as low as possible. Start with the easy stuff—these items might include:
- Old baby clothes or kids’ toys
- Unused or broken appliances
- Gifts you never liked but felt guilty giving away
- Remotes and cables for electronics you don’t even have anymore
- College textbooks you haven’t touched since graduation
If you’re taking a room-by-room approach, your basement, attic, and garage are great places to start early because you’ll likely find lots of stuff to toss away, such as:
- Paint cans
- Pool chemicals
- Gas cans
- Rusty tools
- Old coats and boots
- Outdated furniture
- Broken appliances
TSI TIP: For things like paint and batteries, you may need to contact your township to find out where and how to safely discard these items.
You may also have some larger items you may no longer need, particularly if you’re downsizing from a house to an apartment or condo. In this case, you may want to sell or donate things like:
- Lawnmowers, snowblowers, leaf blowers, and other landscaping tools
- Extra fridges and freezers
- Canoes or kayaks (and accessories)
- Sporting equipment and accessories (skis, skates, life jackets, helmets, etc.)
- Snowmobiles, motorcycles, or extra cars
- BBQs and propane tanks
- Patio furniture
TSI TIP: Read our Packing Guide for Moving: A Room by Room List for detailed packing instructions for every room in your home.
Sort the Rest
Once you’ve figured out what you won’t take with you to your new home, it’s time to make some slightly more difficult decisions about what to keep as you pack.
During this process, ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time I used or wore this item?
- Is this still useful?
- Does it fit into my newly downsized life?
- Do I still like it?
- Is there someone else who would get more use out of it?
Since you’ve already tossed away what you don’t need or want, you can sort these belongings into four piles:
- Keep anything that is usable or serves a legitimate purpose. Also keep things that make you happy—items don’t necessarily have to be useful or used regularly to be worth holding onto.
- Sell items that are in good condition but are no longer needed. You can have a garage/yard sale, post things online (ie: Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace), or sell at a local consignment shop.
- Donate whatever isn’t worth selling, but is in good enough condition to wear or use by someone else.
- Recycle items that are damaged, worn out, or unusable, but are made with recyclable materials.
How To Pack To Move Out of State
In this part of the Complete Guide to Moving Out of State, we’ll offer our advice for helping you pack your household to move, including how to declutter and stay organized throughout the entire packing process, helpful checklists, and more.
How To Downsize Clothes
No matter how large or small your wardrobe, most people only wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time. Moving out of state is a great time to lighten your load (and your moving costs!) and clear out some of your unwanted and unused clothing. If you’re moving to a southern state from a northern state, for instance, you can unload those bulky winter coats and heavy boots.
Here are some tips on how to downsize clothes:
- Sort all your clothes into categories, like: tops, bottoms, PJs, swimwear, delicates, shoes, etc.
- Assess each individual item then put it into piles: Yes (I want to keep it), no (I’ll never wear it), and maybe (I’m not sure).
- Put the “yes” pile aside.
- Move on to the “no” pile and determine if each item is in good enough condition to sell or donate. If not, build a “toss it” pile. If yes, build a “sell/donate” pile.
- Now, sort through the “sell/donate” pile to decide whether the item is worth selling or if you’d rather donate it.
- Next, move on to the “maybe” pile and follow the same steps (starting at number 4).
It might take you a few passes to really thin out your entire wardrobe—and that’s okay. Try stuff on, and come back to it later if you’re unsure. If you’re having a hard time deciding about a particular item, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I look good in this?
- When was the last time I wore this?
- Am I comfortable in this?
- Do I see any rips, tears or other signs of wear e?
- Do I have (or need) more than one of these?
- Would I buy this again if I saw it in a store?
Be brutally honest with yourself and go with your gut reaction.
Where & How To Get Rid of Stuff When Downsizing
There are plenty of ways to get rid of stuff when downsizing for an out of state move. Read on for our tips on hosting yard sales, posting items on the internet, and working with consignment shops.
Garage or yard sales
Garage and yard sales are a quick and easy way to get rid of your stuff and recoup some money at the same time. Here are our top three tips for a successful garage or yard sale:
- Timing: The better the weather, the better your sale will be. Depending on where you live, spring, summer and fall (and weekends and holidays) are when most people are off work and likely to be out and about.
- Location: Make sure your yard or garage is easily accessible. If your house is deep inside a subdivision or you live in an apartment, see if you can borrow a friend or family member’s yard. Also, make sure to put all your items as close to the road as possible for people to see as they go by.
- Advertising: Put up signs around the neighborhood, print out flyers, and use online advertising, too! Create a Facebook event, advertise in local groups and ask friends and family to share it.
Related Post: 26 Tips for Hosting a Successful Garage Sale
If you can’t do a yard or garage sale (or even if you can), the easiest alternative is to sell your stuff on the internet. Depending on what you’re selling, you have plenty of sites at your disposal:
- For books, toys, furniture, collectibles, antiques, appliances, and more, try eBay, Craigslist, VarageSale, or Facebook Marketplace.
- If you have a lot of clothes and accessories, try Poshmark, thredUP, or Tradesy.
- For vehicles, you can turn to Autotrader, eBay, CarGurus, or Carvana.
If you’re not up for a yard or garage sale and you’re not much of an Internet guru, you can send some of your things to a consignment shop. The shop will sell your items for you, take a commission (typically between 40-60%), then pay you the balance—all you have to do is drop off your things and let them do the rest.
Consignment shops are great if you have items that are in high demand, or are unique. For example, some consignment shops specialize in reselling antiques, while others sell vintage or designer clothing. You’ll pay what may seem like a hefty commission, but you’ll also benefit from the shop’s established, higher-paying clientele.
Downsizing for a move forces you to evaluate what really matters. When you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of stuff when downsizing for an out of state move, err on the side of minimalism—if only to help reduce your moving costs. Embrace the mindset that less is more, then strip away all those unnecessary “things” you’ve accumulated over time. Keep only what you need and what gives you joy.