≡ Menu

Minimalist Moving: Questions to Consider

Swift Industries Bike Bag 01

Our big move is approaching quickly. Over the weekend, we started preparing for our move up north. For the holidays we’re going to combine visiting family, moving a few things and scouting apartments in Portland. We’re excited for this trip! We can’t wait to visit with friends, family and our future city. 🙂

We decided to store some of the stuff we don’t need immediately at the ranch during our visit. During this pre-move planning I’ve been asking myself these questions:

1. What do we really need?

2. How much would it cost to move the big stuff? Like our bed, chair and desk?

3. How much does our stuff effect the freedom to move around?

We don’t need a lot and the cost of moving our big stuff is ridiculous. Slowly but surely we’re giving away big and small household items. GardenPunk took a few houseplants off our hands to add to her refugee collection. My friend Debby is taking our chair and footstool. The desk is going to some of Logan’s grad student friends at UC, Davis. I am still looking to find a good home for our bed and cat tower.

We don’t have many personal items, but the household stuff takes up a lot of space. Friends who have seen our apartment would disagree. I’d probably get the eye roll and something like: What?!? You barely have any furniture or kitchen items!”

And this is true. Compared to the majority of American’s we don’t have a lot of stuff in our home. But even organizing the three hundred items in our home feels a bit overwhelming. I’m itching to get rid of the excess.

Stuff restricts your freedom of movement. Theoretically, we could leave for Portland tomorrow. But figuring out what to do with all our stuff would be problematic.

This will be the best moving experience of our lives by far. We’ll make one trip to Portland, with all of our stuff in the back of a truck. Our new apartment will be very minimal and that makes me happy.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Greg - Live It with less December 21, 2009, 7:09 pm

    I have moved twice in the last year and because it was such a great oppurtunity to purge all our useless stuff in the first move, it made it a helluva lot easy the second time we had to move.

    All the best for the move

  • Jesse December 21, 2009, 11:06 pm

    I’m not sure you want the whole moving story…I was only partway through my purging of STUFF when I moved here. And now that I’m moving back I’m dealing with it all over again. I would be so able to move with just my luggage if it wasn’t for one little nagging issue…my bad back. See I sorta need to move my bed too…and that requires a whole lift van (what they call the crate your stuff goes in on the boat when you move internationally. And that requires $$$…and hence the reason I don’t sleep well at night – which come to think of it kinda negates the positive effects of the bed.


    Mazal Tov on your move, once I’m back in the PNW I’ll look you up for a tour of Portland!

    • Tammy December 22, 2009, 7:46 am

      Jesse – Gahhh. I have a bad back too. (As a side note, yoga has helped me strengthen it a lot – maybe that will help u too?).

      Also, have you considered purchasing a mattress topper? We’re saying goodbye to our big bed and keeping our mattress topper. They are super comfortable and have been good for my back. Plus they are much easier to move. Or you could sell your current bed and buy a used one, once you get settled ? I’ve looked around on craig’s list at bed options and there are some really nice beds for cheap.

      Look me up once you get back…

      • Jesse December 22, 2009, 9:37 am

        Of course I’ll look you up!

        the story behind my bed is that it’s a custom made futon from a company in Seattle. The futon layers themselves roll or fold up pretty small, it’s the frame that’s the killer for moving. That I could sell then get a new one…but since I would still have to pay for a shipment to get the futons home I may as well just bring it all. I don’t have anywhere near the minimum size for the smallest shipment so I pay the same no matter what. Just chalk it up to learning expenses I guess!

  • Michele Nicholls December 22, 2009, 2:56 am

    You are so right about stuff, and living in a small space is such good discipline – it’s amazing how much you can accumulate even in a caravan/trailer. At least we don’t have unneccesary furniture 😉 Over here we have an organisation called ‘Freecycle’, don’t know if you have it over there, but it enabled us to give away all the ‘stuff’ we didn’t need when we moved out of bricks and mortar, of which there was an embarressing quantity – one of my exes used to say ‘You expand to fill the space available’ he was right!
    On a recent tv programme here, it was pointed out that in previous climate change events, humans have survived by being nomadic, and having only as much ‘stuff’ as was essential and could be carried – we seem to have, in the West at least, thrown away that advantage! Our desire for comfort and ‘security’ is not only contributing to the change itself, but scuppering our ability to survive it ;(

    • Tammy December 22, 2009, 7:39 am

      Hi Michele – we do have Freecycle here too. If all else fails, I’m hoping someone on Freecycle will take our bed.

      You’re right about climate change; our desire for so much stuff is hurting the planet and filling up our landfills very quickly. It’s not a good thing. If you have a chance read Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage. It’s a great book about stuff, climate change and trash.

      Thanks for reading the blog!

  • Keira December 22, 2009, 6:42 am

    I’m moving to Dallas from Lansing, MI in 3 weeks with my two cats. As a challenge to myself, as well as a method of liberation, I am only bringing what will fit in my small car + 2-3 boxes of books I’m shipping through the mail. Unlike you, I have more than 300 things; lots more. I can’t wait to shed it all and start anew.

    • Tammy December 22, 2009, 7:34 am

      WOW Keira! I’m impressed. We have two cats as well. I’m a little nervous about the long drive. My cats hate riding in the car. ):

      Let me know how the move goes and good luck!

  • Alejandro Reyes December 22, 2009, 6:42 am

    I’m really glad to hear about your minimalistic view, it’s inspiring for my own minimalism. In some way it also makes me feel that you also want to walk lightly into this planet. Our family and friends usually don’t realize that what we are doing is for our own happiness. I really hope your example will lead them to at least give minimalism a try.

    I really hope you find a great place and, of course, I wish you a lot of love during the holidays! And stay warm because I’m freezing here and it’s not so great.

    • Tammy December 22, 2009, 7:32 am

      I’ve been looking at a lot of really cute studios in Portland. We set up a tour at this little place and I can’t wait to see it!

      I don’t think my mom will be happy that we’re renting a smaller apartment. She always worries that there won’t be room for her. Even if there isn’t room, I can put her up in a nice hotel or bed and breakfast. I don’t think my parents understand why we want to be minimal, but we’re happy. So that makes them happy too. 🙂

      Thank you Alejandro. I wish you the best during the holiday season too. I hope you find time to spend with friends and family. And stay warm! 🙂

  • Liz December 22, 2009, 8:21 am

    Last summer my boyfriend and I took a 3-month road trip around the country. We had to pack up our house and store everything in his parent’s garage. During the trip we were in a Ford Focus 3-door hatchback with a roof box. Not much room or stuff – especially considering we had all our camping gear with us and clothes for a big range of weather. The great thing was we learned to live with very little stuff and realized how little that impacted our happiness (it actually made the trip more fun without worrying about our stuff all the time). When we came back we moved into my 500 sq ft condo and for the last 5 months or so have been just pulling things out of storage as we need them. We’re moving into a bigger home soon and it’s going to be really obvious what can be purged. If we haven’t thought about it in the last 8 months it must not be very important! That’s our story and I’m looking forward to moving with as little stuff as possible 🙂

  • Chris O'Byrne December 24, 2009, 8:27 pm

    Oh, boy, where to start? I think I will keep my explanation as minimal as I strive for in life. The worst move was around 6 years ago when I unloaded almost 2 tons of unnecessary crap. I’m not exaggerating about the 2 tons, either. Most of it was thrown away and when the roll-offs were weighed, it was almost 2 tons!

    Everything I own now can fit into a cargo van, including my sleeping area. I sleep on a futon mattress with foam underneath and even with a bad back it is very comfy. If I can figure out how to adequately weather-proof my van, I’ll move into that full time. I had plans for a solar panel on top until I realized I don’t use enough electricity to warrant it. My iPhone uses 1A and my netbook uses 1.5A and that’s about it for electrical needs and both can be charged via a 12-volt port very quickly.

    I guess my point is that by actually living in my van I negate the need to think in the traditional sense of moving. I spent the whole month of August living this way (including a long weekend in Portland) and it was very freeing. I even bought a bike halfway through the trip so I could park for longer periods and go exploring.

    • Tammy December 24, 2009, 9:38 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story Chris! It’s so inspiring. 🙂 I’m excited for our big move. It’s another opportunity to downsize our possessions and get ready for tiny house living.

      Happy Holidays and thanks for reading the blog!

  • Rick Roberts January 2, 2010, 12:19 pm

    I, too, have considered moving to Portland. My things are few, but I have 5 animals: two dogs, two cats, and a small parrot. I don’t anybody would rent to me!

    • Tammy January 3, 2010, 9:57 am

      @Rick – I’m sure you could find something. Portland is an animal friendly city. 🙂

  • keeping up with the kozlowskis January 27, 2010, 3:23 am

    hello again, I am right in the middle of a really quick down size I mean we will be leaving our 3 bed home that we have lived in since 2006 on the 30 of jan. I am finding this down size completely over whelming. I have had to sneak back in to my house while my husband is happily throwing away or giving away all our belongings to check your blogs hoping to find the strenth to keep going. Your 100 item list is a really good idea. So thank you. This whole down sizing sounds so much easier than it actually is. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I really wonder how you both managed it, to down size to a tiny house??????????????

  • Age dependent downsizing February 26, 2010, 12:16 pm

    What if you have become the ‘keeper of family memorabilia’ – photos, ledgers, touchstone pieces of furniture? I have no problem distributing most of my possessions to the larger community, but I have lost both my parents in the last two years and am surprised to find myself with the things that ‘cannot be parted with’. Are there other folks in your community that have found an obvious solution that I have not considered when it comes to these heirlooms. A Tiny House community in Portland is a hoped-for dream.

    • Tammy February 27, 2010, 8:37 am

      @Age dependent downsizing – Well it depends. 🙂 Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem donating family memorabilia, if no one else wanted the stuff. I have kept some items that can’t be replaced. For example, I wear my grandma’s engagement ring everyday. It’s irreplaceable. I’ve also scanned old photographs into my computer.

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing to hang onto items. At the same time, I think it’s important to consider whether or not the family stuff makes your life better. If having the items makes you happy, then keep the stuff. If not, consider donating the items. 🙂

      Check out this article: 5 Ways to Tackle Emotional Clutter .

      As a side note, this is a great idea for a blog post!

      Ahhh I would love a tiny house community in Portland! Not that would rock.

  • Meira March 3, 2010, 7:54 pm

    Ugh! I’m moving two doors down hill from my current house and i don’t have a fancy moving truck. So i have to carry every single thing i own down the hill. I must say it only took two days for me to decide that i have to get rid of a ton of junk. It only takes up one small room at my new house but now i’m so fed up with it all that i’m purging the stuff like crazy. Even my clothing is getting an overhaul. I’m going to throw out almost everything and start from scratch. … 🙂 talk about going completely minimalist fast!

Simple Share Buttons