Insider Tested Tips For How to Get Rid of Stuff Before a Move

Posted in: I'm Moving, Organization

Hi, I’m Kevin. I’ve been a professional mover for 15 years. Based on my years of experience helping people on their move day, and doing some purging of my own, I’m gonna help you with the top 3 main ways to purge your stuff to make your move easier:

  1. Have a yard sale – we’ll show you how to advertise stuff to sell (don’t forget to list your yard/garage sale on Craigslist)
  2. Sell your stuff online – selling on eBay is easier than you think, and it’s not your only option
  3. Donate your unwanted items – there’s lots of options, and we have a list of the best places for specific things from blankets to electronics to cars

Moving 101

You probably feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff right now

On all the moves I’ve been on in all the years I’ve been a mover I can count on one hand the number of times the customer didn’t comment on their disbelief at how much stuff they had. My reply was always a commiserative “yes, I know, it’s unbelievable.” Now I find myself on the miserating side and, after a month of packing and selling and donating and giving things away for free, I wonder why I don’t just pile it all up in the backyard, burn it and have a beer.

After a full month of purging and only three more weeks to go before I vacate this house and I look around and feel that I haven’t accomplished a thing. There’s still stuff everywhere. It’s a miracle this house didn’t sink right into the ground while we were here. I have gotten rid of a bunch of stuff through various avenues, however. And my giddiness at my (admittedly modest) success compels me to lay out a few things I’ve found to work (or not).

Your mileage may vary, but perhaps the following will make the run-up to your own move a bit less taxing.

“Have a yard sale!”toys

(Check out our “Use it or Lose it” methodology for determining what to keep and what to purge. It’ll make letting go easier.)

I’ve gone about this three ways. The first time, I decided at 10pm to have one the next day. So in the morning after wolfing down our frozen waffles we hauled a bunch of furniture and boxes of toys and clothes out into the yard. Surprisingly we made almost $40 – due in large part to the woman who was across the street all day remodeling the home she and her husband just bought. Aside from her and a friend we convinced to come take a look, though, the time and effort brought little.

Our street, mind you, is not a busy one. More traffic might bring more people and more sales. We advise, however, a little more planning.

(Check out our pro-tips for buying and selling on Craigslist.)

We announced the next yard sale on Craigslist, on the recommendation of the friend who came to the first one and, evidently, felt sorry for us. We also painted YARD SALE with an arrow and our address on large pieces of heavy paper and hung them on telephone poles along the surrounding busier streets. (TIP: a sign written with a Sharpie on regular letter-sized paper is barely visible let alone legible to someone driving by; go big on this or don’t go at all.)

We had a fair few people come by. Most of them slowed down to glance out their window at our yard full of stuff, then continued on down the street and around the corner and out of sight. Still, we made about $60 on the day – half from the woman still remodeling across the street and none from the few people who responded to our craigslist posting.

Our final yard sale strategy has involved leaving everything out there every day for a week on the off chance someone will drive by, see something they like and come knocking on our door offering us cash for whatever caught their eye. This has brought a windfall of dollar bills – from my four-year-old son’s perspective.

Verdict: People are picky about how they spend their singles; you’ll have to put out a vast selection of junk if you want to get rid of any of it.

“Sell your stuff online!”

We’ve tried a few things in this vein, with some decent success for the effort. Craigslist has not been good to us – for months I’ve been trying to sell, among other items, the two Lightning McQueen beds my sons have outgrown (one physically, one emotionally). I got a few inquiries over those months but no takers. I did sell a child seat once. But overall my luck has not been good.

Two weeks ago I got on eBay for the first time ever and listed one of those beds for $35. On the second try it sold for $41. Thank you and good riddance. If I had more free time I’d figure out the shipping on the other items I am putting up for auction; for now I’m staying local and offering free pick-up. Less work, but for a smaller market. I just don’t have the time to go crazy for a $15 Hot Wheels Big “O” Race Track with chargeable car.

What has worked well for us so far involves a Facebook page for a local ‘Moms On A Budget’ club. The competition is fierce; these women sell anything and everything and no sooner have you posted a picture of the desk you’d like to get rid of than three other posts appear, one for a lamp, one for a decorative mirror and six for a total of eleven pairs of “new” shoes, all at deep discount prices.

We created an album of the items we want to sell and keep adding new photos. This means all our stuff can be seen at one time AND each time we upload a new photo or someone comments on an item our album gets bumped to the top of the page, ahead of all the shoes. The drawback so far is having to constantly check for new messages by people interested in this, wanting measurements on that and asking if you will hold that other thing until they can come by after work/school/the country club – and then hoping they don’t flake, which so far has been much more an issue on craigslist.

Verdict: Online selling saves both time and your back compared to setting up a yard sale.

“Donate your unwanted clothing!”

We get these plastic bags in the mail all the time from various vetsbagorganizations asking us to leave our used and unwanted clothes and various other items out by the curb on a specified day for pick-up. These groups seem to be predominantly veteran-related – which sounds great, I guess. Unfortunately none of them has offered to haul away the sofa and love seat I can’t seem to pawn off on anyone, and I’d rather not have to bring it myself to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. But I would do this sooner than I would leave it for the garbage man. As a society we already produce way too much trash. And there is always someone out there who can use the things you can’t. There is another option than hauling your larger donations to the charitable organization, though. You can always donate things to people on Craigslist in the “Free” section. Just list your item in there and then like magic people will come to you and pick it up and take it right off your hands. You just won’t enjoy the benefit of a tax write off this way.

(Where to donate? Check out this list of places to donate specific items.)

Verdict: donating to those in need feels really good, and might be the easiest route to go.

Whichever route you decide to try, take my advice and get to purging early.

Seriously, no matter how many times you might hear it, you really have no idea how much stuff you have until you have to move it.


  1. dasi

    You can call the Savlation Army to schedule a pick up…they’ll send a truck and men to load your items into the truck. I emptied a storage unit this way. Bonus that it’s a tax deduction. I just listed the items as they loaded them into the truck. Go to remember: get rid of everything all at once….that stuff multiplies in the dark.

  2. kevin kato

    Excellent input Dasi. Question: did they refuse to take anything? Near the tail end of my recent move I brought six wooden dining room chairs and a big hefty oak cabinet to my local Salvation Army store. They took the chairs but told me the cabinet was not in good enough shape for them to be able to sell and I had to haul it back to my house and put it out front hoping someone would take it before my landlady or the town raised any issues. I hear in New York City you have to provide certification that you’ve had your mattress de-bugged before they accept the bed you are trying to donate. I guess the sentiment “beggars can’t be choosers” does not always apply!

    Thanks for the double tip: the tax deduction is a nice bonus and yes, things really do seem to multiply when we are not looking. Where did my kids get all those toys?!

  3. Dena

    consignment store is where i take my stuff , getting a little money for my stuff makes it easier somehow to get rid of, and what they wont sell or think is good enough for their store they donate to habitat for humanity, I even took some light fixtures from sons house he just bought and wanted to up date them and go from the brass to silver and he was going to trash them , well i got 200 bucks for him for them from the consignmnent stores, my mother in law passed away and had to deal with All her stuff in the house, scince than , I’ve been purging like crazy!!!! and do it every so often now.

  4. Elizabeth romo

    Yeah,I know exactly what you mean! I have been hauling a saturn car I bought used but immaculant. It was my first car I bought so new like,right after they stole my Honda ,five days prior. Only for my boyfriend to wreck the front end 2weeks later. I have been meaning to fix it but something always comes up, and I don’t have the extra cash. It’s been in my different garages for four years now and I noticed all this other stuff I have been lugging around from place to place also. I put stuff out at my curb and people always stop and pick it up! It’s a slow progress but I am ridding of stuff lil by lil!

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