Posted by Ben Wills in Home Buying

Buying a new home? Exciting! The moving process? Not so much.

It can be stressful, exhausting, and even emotional to pack up your current residence and choose what you’re taking with you to your new house.

We assembled a list of common items to help you trim down your amount of things to move so you can check these off as you go and hopefully avoid any unnecessary headaches along the way.

Piles of Moving Boxes

How to Get Rid of Stuff Before Moving

Before you start the downsizing or right-sizing process, take a deep breath and remember that your possessions are just things. Even though they might have sentimental or other value, you want to make things as easy on yourself as possible during your move, so it’s best to face the realization that you probably won’t be bringing everything with you.

Clear a space in your garage or living room and divide into your get-rid-of quadrants with these categories: sell, donate, and toss.

What Items to Sell

“Items in good or new condition that you will not use are the best to sell at a garage sale or even online,” shares Kerry Sherin from Ownerly, a leading home valuation company.

Start with the easiest decisions to get the ball rolling.

  • Wedding gifts you didn’t ask for and have never used
  • Clothes you or a family member wore once
  • Toys or gadgets you thought your kids would love but wound up collecting dust in their closet instead

Next, it’s time to figure out where to sell these items. From Facebook Marketplace to eBay, you’ll have a wealth of common and trusted online selling platforms to consider, but find the option that’s easiest and most convenient for you. Here are some of the top-rated resale apps to choose from.

This process not only puts a few bucks back in your wallet, but it also recycles items and puts them in the hands of someone who will use them—so it’s a win-win.

What Items to Donate

The donation process is one of the most rewarding, because your gently used items can be much-needed blessings for others!

Common household items to add to your donation pile:

  • Outgrown children’s items, such as toys, books, baby clothes, etc.
  • Duplicate items that you want to upgrade or already have redundancies of, such as tools
  • Gently used clothing, shoes, and accessories that still have life in them, but haven’t been used in a while

If you’re having a hard time parting with some belongings like clothes, remind yourself that freeing up some space now means a shopping trip can be your reward to yourself once you’ve moved into the new place!

Donation Boxes

Sherin offers another incredibly heartwarming donation tip: “Blankets, towels, and any other items related to pets may also be able to be donated to your local humane society or animal shelter. Groups like this use these types of items often and are almost always seeking donations.”

One commonly overlooked item you can donate: plant cuttings! If one of your houseplants has excess growth that makes it tricky to move, learn how to propagate parts of it and offer these to friends or family to start a new plant of their own!

What Items to Toss

These should be more immediately obvious, but if you’re faced with the “what if I need this someday” question, here’s a list to help you get going:

  • Open containers of paper, liquids, or other perishable items
  • Expired food, beverages, medications, etc.
  • Damaged, fading, or worn-out items
  • Mismatched or incomplete sets of dishes, decorations, etc.

Get more ideas for what to toss in each room.

How to Organize Items for Your Move

Now all that’s left is the items you want to keep or put in storage! To make moving day even easier, decide now which of your things you’ll need immediately upon moving in vs. seasonal or occasional items.

What Items to Keep and Move Immediately

Keep and pack up these articles you’ll definitely need immediately in the new place:

  • Kitchen items: plates, silverware, cups, etc.
  • Clothes, underwear, etc.
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • Devices and their chargers
  • Bed and towel linens
  • Important personal documents

Also keep handy the things you don’t want to have to dig for when you do need them, such as sweaters, slippers, cleaning equipment, etc.

Check out our moving-day essentials list to make sure you have everything you need in your boxes.

What Items to Put in Storage

Finally, we’ve arrived at the pieces you don’t need any time soon but have determined are valuable enough to hold onto.

As a general rule of thumb, “Store things you're not going to use in the next few weeks or months, like [seasonal] decorations,” states Sherin. This is an easier chunk of belongings to get you started.

Next, add things that would just get in the way on moving day because you won’t have a place for them yet, such as family heirlooms, photo albums, wall art, vacation gear, kitchen gadgets, and fancy dish sets.

If you’re really wanting to scale back to only move absolute necessities, store larger furniture and off-season clothing—you can always retrieve these when you have the space.

Take a step back and look at your sell, donate, toss, keep, and store piles. Reward yourself with takeout from your favorite local restaurant and take a load off—you’ve earned it!

Couple Celebrating on Move-In Day

Go ahead: celebrate! It will feel amazing once you’ve successfully downsized and transported all your must-haves to the new place. A fresh start, a brand new home, and boundless possibilities. Soak in every moment!

Plan your moving process with our helpful hacks that take the stress out of the day!


Ben Wills
Ben Wills


​Ben Wills is the Mortgage Branch Training Officer for M/I Financial, LLC. Ben has been in the mortgage field for over 40 years and has assisted thousands of homeowners in financing new home construction.

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