Moving Tips: Which Comes First, Purge or Pack?

Erin Best is REW's Managing Broker and Partner Success Manager.

Words byErin Best
Moving Tips: Which Comes First, Purge or Pack? hero image
Moving to a new home is an exciting process, but it also can present the challenge of deciding what to do with your belongings. Will it all fit? Do you even need all of your current belongings in your new space?

Moving begs the question: should you purge unwanted belongings before the move, or should you hold onto everything and deal with it later so you don’t have regrets? If you recall in our couples guide to compromising on a new home article, I mentioned that my husband and I have bought four homes together in 14 years. Depending on the circumstances, we’ve done both: purged first, and then packed with success, but we’ve also packed it all up and dealt with it later. I know which I prefer, but there’s no right or wrong way to prepare for a move. Every couple is different and no two moves are the same. Let’s explore practical tips and considerations to help you make an informed decision about whether to purge your belongings before a move.

Assess your moving goals and timeline.

Evaluate your moving goals and timeline. Always consider factors like the distance of your move, the size of your new home and your desired level of organization upon arrival. If you're moving long-distance or downsizing, purging may be necessary to streamline the process and minimize clutter in your new space. From personal experience, ‘later’ isn’t a day on the calendar.

What do you actually need or want to bring with you?

Take inventory of your belongings and assess their condition, utility and sentimental value. Identify items that serve a practical purpose, bring you joy or hold significant sentimental value. Conversely, pinpoint items that are outdated, in poor condition or are no longer needed that you can let go of guilt free.

How much storage does your new space have?

Evaluate the storage space available in your new home and how it compares to your current living situation. If you're moving to a smaller space or have limited storage options, purging excess belongings can help prevent overcrowding and promote better organization. However, if you have ample storage space, you may choose to preserve more of your belongings.

Work out moving costs.

Moving costs are based on factors like the volume and weight of your belongings. Consider the potential cost savings when deciding whether to purge your belongings to help reduce moving expenses. This will minimize the number of boxes and the overall weight of your shipment. If you’re relocating for work, many companies foot the bill of moving your belongings to your new home and you may not have to worry about it.

Emotional value and attachments.

Consider the emotional attachments you have to your belongings. Sentimental items may take up space, but they can also bring comfort and joy in your new home. Strike a balance between preserving meaningful belongings and letting go of items that no longer serve you.

Plan ahead for decluttering.

If you decide to purge your belongings before the move, create a plan of action to guide your decluttering process. Set aside dedicated time to sort through your belongings, categorize items into keep, donate, and discard piles, and enlist the help of family members or friends if needed.

Pro Tip.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure the last box you pack is full of the things you’ll need first when you get to your new space: your coffee pot, towels, bed sheets, your toiletries and some dishes.

Deciding whether to purge your belongings before a move is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of your moving goals, storage constraints, emotional attachments and budget considerations. By evaluating these factors and creating a strategic plan for decluttering, you can streamline the moving process, minimize stress and set the stage for a successful transition to your new home. Whether you choose to streamline your belongings or preserve meaningful items, remember that the ultimate goal is to create a space that feels comfortable, organized and reflective of your lifestyle and preferences.


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