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3 Minimal Moving Methods

Swift Industries Bike Bag 01

In a perfect world, I’d love to move by bike. But I don’t think my kittens would enjoy the ride. The big move is approaching quickly and we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our stuff, what we want to take with us and how the cats will handle the car ride.

Moving to a new apartment can be stressful and expensive. To minimize these issues we’ve focused on three strategies.

1. Do a cost benefit analysis.

Moving is expensive and it’s important to do a cost/benefit analysis before you run out and rent a U-Haul. For a fleeting moment I considered keeping our household stuff. But that moment died quickly after I looked up the rental costs of a U-Haul. For our move, renting a small U-Haul would be $398, plus gas and insurance! I can’t imagine the cost of moving a whole house! I’m grateful that we’ve downsized our stuff.

2. Donate now and find free or low cost furniture later.

One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in. – Francis Jourdain

I never thought I’d be saying this, but we’ll be donating our household stuff and purchasing used items in Portland. Why? It is more cost effective to give away our household items and buy used items. I know this sounds a little crazy, but it’s amazing what you can obtain on Craig’s List and Freecycle for little to no cost.

So far we’ve given away household plants, our bike rack, a monster cat tower, our chair, and other odds and ends. If anyone lives in the Sacramento area and needs a good used bed, please email me. The bed needs a good home.

This strategy might not work for everyone and that’s perfectly okay. Like I’ve said before, everyone’s simple living journey is different. Finding balance and the “enough point” is challenging and I think this move will be the perfect opportunity for us to discover what we need in our lives and what we’ll miss.

If all goes well, we’re going to purchase a tiny house this year or consider biking across the country. Large pieces of furniture won’t fit in a little house or on a bike, so this is a perfect opportunity to donate extra stuff and declutter.

3. Accept help from friends and family.

Accepting help isn’t easy for me. So when my folks offered to help us move I was hesitant. I didn’t want to inconvenience my parents. To be honest I didn’t think we’d all fit in my parents truck. 4 of us and 2 cats? Yikes! Plus, my mom is a heavy packer. She usually brings 4 or 5 BIG bags when traveling. 🙂

I decided that these concerns were foolish. Spending time with my parents and showing them around Portland are more important than stuff. Fitting us, the cats and our belongings in the monster truck shouldn’t be a problem. If we don’t fit in the truck, we can always rent a small car.

Thanks to my parents our moving costs will be very low. We’re paying for gas and I’m going to put them up in a hotel for a few nights. (We’re selling our bed and I don’t want my parents sleeping on the floor.)

Closing Thoughts

Wish us luck implementing these strategies. I’m hoping they work out. And I’ll be sure to report back. 🙂

For more on minimal moving read: Minimalist Moving Questions to Consider.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Everett Bogue January 14, 2010, 7:13 am

    These are great tips Tammy. Thanks so much for sharing them. As you know, we’re moving to the west coast (again, for me.) in May and it will be great to consider these things.

    Many people have the first reaction of wanting to keep the bed, the TV, the big old chair that the cat loves. It’s easy to forget just how much it costs to transport these things. It’s easy to replace necessities, especially with Portland’s huge recycling culture.

    Good luck with the move. Thanks for helping us think about moving!

    • Tammy January 14, 2010, 8:04 am

      Thanks Everett! 🙂 I’m looking forward to participating in the Portland recycling culture. I’m sure we’ll find some fun stuff for our little apartment.

      One of my friends is moving her full home across the country and it’s going to cost $5,000 or more. I can’t fathom spending that much on a move. Like you said, it’s much easier to replace items, versus trying to haul them with you.

      Good luck with your upcoming move. Once you’re back on the west coast, we’ll have to connect and have coffee in person. 🙂

  • Windwolf January 14, 2010, 7:39 am

    As an old hippy I really appreciate your general mindset and youthful optimistic exuberance. I would love to hear your updated take on a real classic book from 1973 – “Nomadic Furniture” by James Hennessey and Victor Papanek. It is obviously severely outdated, but might get your creative juices flowing. Peace

  • Alejandro Reyes January 14, 2010, 7:49 am

    You sure can handle everything, you guys just need to take it easy and really follow your steps, they sound great and I know I will implement them in the future.

    Be sure to take kitty litter with you and allow the cats to take their time to do what they need, be sure to do this in a place where the cats won’t run away. I really hope they can handle the ride, cats and trips don’t mix that well as far as I know.

    Great luck in this wonderful adventure!

    • Tammy January 14, 2010, 8:08 am

      @Alejandro – Thanks for the support. 🙂

      I’m nervous about moving the cats. We’re going to break up the drive to Portland and stay with family one night. It will be good for us and the cats.

      I just hope they don’t cry the whole way. They hate riding in the car. ):

      • Alejandro Reyes January 19, 2010, 8:24 am

        My kitty does hate it too. It’s very hard on them. But usually kitties cling more to someone. Among my family, my kitty likes me best so she is a bit less nervous when she rides with me even if we are just playing a little bit without opening her carrier.

        You can really do it, and don’t forget to give your kitties a prize after the ride is over!

  • Chris O'Byrne January 14, 2010, 8:24 am

    I have done the very same thing with our furniture on a few occasions and have always been very glad we did. Once in a while we might miss a piece of furniture we used to have, but the feeling lasts for a few minutes and is soon forgotten. Once you have your tiny house, you’ll never have to move just your belongings again!

    • Tammy January 14, 2010, 8:31 am

      @Chris! I agree. 🙂 If we ever move, we can tow our little home behind us and don’t have to worry about U-Hauls.

  • Laura January 14, 2010, 9:18 am

    One thing that I laugh about is the idea of Russ and I moving to a non-Long Beach location after our tour. After all the getting rid of stuff that we did before we left, we still stored away enough boxes to require a small Uhaul or very large pickup. I seriously commend you guys for being able to do your move this way! I might have to never “settle” into a house again, just so I don’t have to figure it out. 🙂

    • Tammy January 14, 2010, 9:32 am

      @Laura – Thanks! Well you could always donate the stuff you stored away and start fresh after the tour. If you haven’t missed your stuff on the road, I’m sure you won’t need it again. 🙂

  • Anda January 14, 2010, 9:58 am

    I’ve moved a lot – in town moves, back and forth across the country, to and from Portland, and now from Phx to Fort Collins. The biggest mistake we made (and only once) was having furniture that we could not move just the two of us. Those two pieces got sold before the last big move. And, we keep that in mind when getting new furniture – if we can’t move it together, then we don’t get it. We have a constant getting-rid-of pile, but, we have a different approach to getting rid of things when moving: we move it then decide if we want to keep it or not. When we’re moving, or packing, all I want to do is burn everything. So, it’s a bad time to start chucking stuff. We’ve gotten rid of things on some moves, and realized we’d downsized so much we cut into “muscle,” and had to buy the things again. So now, a month or so before our move if stuff isn’t in the goodwill/ebay/craigslist pile already, we just decide to move it with us, and then put it into a pile later if we really don’t need it.

  • Lisa January 14, 2010, 10:07 am

    You’re a brave, adventurous woman! You inspire me everyday with your blog.

    • Tammy January 14, 2010, 6:03 pm

      @Lisa – thank you Lisa! Your kind words mean a lot. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  • chesapeake January 14, 2010, 10:14 am

    This is amazing. I grew up moving around (seven times in 19 years). When you have to account for each and every item as you pack, stuff moves from treasure to burden quickly. And that isn’t even counting the monetary cost. My mom always says, “Never fall in love with something that can’t love you back.” People are in love with their stuff, and I think it comes from a place of scarcity.

    I think that it is brilliant that you are taking the plunge and getting rid of your furniture. It means a truly fresh start. Fantastic. I could be way off base here, but it also makes the tiny house dream seem more real, doesn’t it?

    • Tammy January 14, 2010, 6:05 pm

      @chesapeake – You’re mom’s advice is excellent. It’s so true. And I love this quote: “Never fall in love with something that can’t love you back.” The move will definitely be a fresh start. And you are right, this makes the tiny house dream very real! I just hope we can make it happen this year. Patience is a virtue right? 🙂

  • Tina Smith January 14, 2010, 1:46 pm

    That is an awesome way for you guys to move and a great opportunity to further downsize before building your tiny house. Stress-less moving sounds like a dream. When you really sit down and think about it the more cost effective way is the better way overall, if it works out to have been cheaper in the end!

    • Tammy January 14, 2010, 6:07 pm

      @Tina – I agree; this is a great opportunity to downsize even further. I’m so excited!

      I can’t wait to have you, Tyler and the kids up for a visit! 🙂

      • Tina Smith January 14, 2010, 9:39 pm

        We cant wait to visit you guys too. We are excited for you guys on your next adventure!

  • Charley Forness January 14, 2010, 7:01 pm

    I think I would do exactly the same as you if I were moving across the country….except for the Cat Tower. Fat Kitty has made it plain that if I screw with the catnip plants or the cat bed that I might not wake up the next morning.

    The new start should also mean new (to you) furniture, in fact, it might be a nice little personal challenge for you and your SO to try to only furnish your home with repurposed / recycled furniture. That would be interesting to read about (I can sense you wanting to reach thru the computer screen to claw my eyes out so I’ll stop typing now).

    Happy Moving,

    • Tammy January 15, 2010, 3:46 pm

      @Charley – You are hilarious. We are keeping a small cat tower. I think our 2 cats would go crazy without something to scratch.

      I’d love to furnish our new apartment with minimal, repurposed furniture. And don’t worry, I’ll be blogging about our adventures. 🙂

  • Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell January 15, 2010, 5:15 am

    Very good points, Tammy. You’re doing your move very smart. When we did it, we hired a neighbor to help, who had a truck, but it wasn’t near big enough. We ended up renting a storage space for over a year and then renting another truck, just so I could give most of it away once it arrived.
    Good luck with the cats, too!

  • Beth January 15, 2010, 7:12 am

    These are really great ideas for moving – which I have relatively recently done with a lot of downsizing. The only thing I always struggle with is the replacement of things that you throw out when you leave your apartment. You can see yourself living without them, and then you find yourself like I am now which is – without a kitchen table 🙂
    I do think its a great way to be eco-friendly and save money at the same time.
    Great tips!!

    • Tammy January 15, 2010, 7:20 am

      Thanks Beth! I’m sure you could find a cute kitchen table on craig’s list or freecylce. It’s amazing how much you can find online that is inexpensive or free. Right now we use a coffee table for dinning and sit on big pillows. It’s simple and saves a lot of space. 🙂

  • Joe3 January 15, 2010, 8:44 am


    I’m happy you accepted your parents help. One of my neatest experiences/memories was when my daughter and her boyfriend were moving from Florida to Arizona and they asked if I would help. Like you, they sold or gave away most items, so it was a small truck pulling the second car, that they were concerned about, and sought out my help.
    It was the BEST trip ever, it took 6 days with many menorable side trips and stops along the way. We still talk about THAT trip and it was 5 years ago. It’s nice as a parent to do things with an adult child, those memories are precious for us ( adult parents ) as children always have their own lives. I hope your trip will be as safe and memorable as ours was. Good Luck with your new life, and I’ll be looking forward to your posts from your new home.

  • Ryan January 17, 2010, 7:32 pm

    If you are going to move via truck look at ABF or Pensky stay away from U-haul they are higher priced and worse service.

    One other option: I did a move from St. Louis to Detroit a few years ago and bought a $500 minivan to carry live plants, cats and fish that the moving company refused to move. I sold it at the other end for $700. I was looking at Ford F650 right before the last move for $1500. At my wife’s insisting we did ABF instead.

  • Heather January 18, 2010, 9:54 am

    Hi Tammy,

    I saw your blog as a link from one of the tiny house blogs and I have been reading it for a little while now and thought I might comment on your last post about moving and selling everything. I am going to present a different perspective.

    I thought about this a lot and while the notion seems really liberating, it might in the long run be more expensive. I guess it really depends on what your end objective is. Maybe you want new (recycled) stuff and are sick of what you have. When you mentioned the cost of $400 to move, I thought it was very reasonable, especially any distance outside of the city you live in. I also remembered a post you did about loving your bed and how comfortable it was. I believe someone in your family bought it for you. I think buying used is mostly the way to go….except for a bed. Call me old-fashioned but the thought of someone’s bodily fluids leaking through the mattress cover (if there was one) and also the idea of dander, bed bugs, and lice nits that often can’t be seen with the naked eye, kind of ruins it for me. No thanks, a bed has to be new. It could even be a blow-up bed (those are really comfy, by the way), but I want to know my bugs are my own.

    I do realize you didn’t say that you were going to buy a used bed, and maybe you will buy something like Dee sleeps on, making my point redundant. However, if you have to buy another bed, and you buy a new one, there goes your budget. I do think, in the long run, you will spend more than $400 replacing all of your stuff but maybe the purging, as you say, helps you to know what you really need. I know that your plan is to move into a small house and from looking at Jay Schaffer’s plans, he does say specifically that a queen-size bed will fit up in the loft. Obviously, it will just be the mattress on the floor but it should work. I do realize all of your stuff may be gone by now too, making my point pretty useless.

    I love the small house movement. It warms my heart and seems quite freeing. The thing that bothers me a bit though is that, with all the talk about being independent in this way (sans mortgage, etc.), in some cases the small house owner then goes and puts his house on his parent’s property and plugs into their water and utilities. Huh??? This is a disappointment to me. They want to not have a mortgage but don’t mind using the stuff from the poor stiff who has one? I don’t find that very liberating.

    Now, suppose you find a little back yard in Oregon (because they allow little suites there) and you can plug in. That’s all good and well. Maybe you will pay a bit to do so. Sounds good. But you are still rather at the whim of the person whose services you are using. Maybe one day they will move or decide they don’t want you in their back yard. Maybe not, but planning ahead is a good idea. What then?

    Here is an idea. Why do you want to live in a small house? Is it for financial reasons to avoid a mortgage? Is it because of environmental reasons? (Thankfully, now that global warming is finally being exposed as the scam that it is, these ideas might change. It’s no wonder Al Gore refuses to meet and debate with any scientist who challenges him. It’s all about money and it’s quite pathetic indeed. For a good primer on this scam see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ft8LfE7AI2w There is a great deal of information out there on this.) Is it because you realize you don’t really need all that space?

    If you truly want to live in a small house, here is what I think is a win-win situation, because you never know what is around the corner (job loss, illness, etc.). Buy a house with a good back yard. Live in it for a few years to build up equity. Take equity and buy a tiny house (or use this time to build one yourself in your own back yard). Rent out your house at a cost that covers your mortgage, utilities, taxes (if possible). Move into your tiny house in the back yard. Pros: No one is going to ask you to leave. You won’t feel guilty using the hose. You can still live minimally. You are building up equity in the house and, if situations change, you can get that money out when you sell. Cons: I can’t see any :).

    There may come a time when you can’t negotiate those loft stairs anymore and you’ll be happy that you can take the money and start somewhere else in a place without stairs. I think having a backup is good. Some people think that it is best to rent all their lives, but in the end, I think they are wrong. You are left with nothing (unless you save a lot – but even if you do, real estate has typically been the best investment – obviously, you have to buy within your means). In the end, we don’t know if there will be pension money available to us. If you have parents who will be leaving you an inheritance, then you are probably set (but who wants to consider this when planning). If you are on your own, you may not be.

    I hope you don’t mind my note. I just thought I would bring you some other ideas. You may have thought of them already, but if not, maybe they will be helpful. That was my intent. Best wishes on your new and exciting move.


    • Tammy January 18, 2010, 10:41 am

      Hi Heather – thanks for leaving a comment. I’ll try and answer your questions.

      Why a tiny house? Check out these 2 posts on why we want to go small: Tiny House Dream and 10 Reasons to Go Small. We are planning on purchasing a small home (similar to Dee’s) – so our current furniture wouldn’t fit (including our bed). The selling of our stuff is to address this issue. Also, if we park in someone’s yard, we would chip in on the cost of utilities, pay rent, etc. Part of going small also means looking for community.

      The cost of moving? If we kept all of our stuff the cost of the U-Haul is $400. That does not include gas or insurance. With insurance and gas, it would probably be about $1000. As far as the bed goes, we are planning on purchasing a bed similar to Dee’s. Something that would fit in our tiny home. Ultimately we would like to have our own piece of small land. More than likely we would be off grid. Purchasing a house and spending up to $100,000 or more is not appealing to me. I’m really big on buying what I can afford and I can’t afford a traditional home.

      In the end, we want to live simply and lightly. We don’t need a big house and a lot of stuff. I’m tired of so much stuff, maintaining it, worrying about it, etc. In the end, I’m looking for balance. I recognize this lifestyle isn’t for everyone and that’s okay.

      Backup plans are a good idea (and we have a few). But I don’t want to spend the next 30 years of my life worrying about the last 20.

      If you have time, check out this video about stuff. It’s hilarious!

      Thanks again for your suggestions and sharing your perspective. )

      • Heather January 21, 2010, 6:24 pm

        Thanks Tammy. I hear where you are coming from. Best of luck with the move.

        • Tammy January 22, 2010, 9:34 am

          @Heather – Thank you! It’s always good to hear different perspectives. It helps me think through my choices. 🙂

          Thanks for reading the blog!

  • Annie October 17, 2011, 5:43 pm

    Hello Tammy!
    I did the same thing when I moved from Western to Central KY. Instead of renting the truck and stuff I just gave my stuff away (along with the home) to a homeless woman. I figured I had more than enough and she didn’t so why not share?

    I got more stuff when I finally found a place and spent considerably less than I would have by renting a truck plus had the pleasure of knowing I helped another human being. Most of what I have now was given to us or traded for so I know we helped the environment as well.

    Good luck on your tiny house move!


    • Tammy Strobel October 17, 2011, 7:45 pm

      @Anne – Right on! That super cool. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • lockestimate October 26, 2011, 7:45 am

    Helping others and caring for the environment is the way to go. Well done Anne.