You have been looking for an apartment a long time, and finally things seem to be falling in place. You found a place you liked. You filled out the rental application. All credit checks went through successfully. Finally you heard back from the landlord – approved! You went through the lease and signed it. You have a move-in date scheduled.

You are happy, excited, relieved. You have already begun dreaming about your new space and what it’d be like to live there. Then you look around your current apartment and realize that all your belongings have to be packed into boxes, ready to be moved, in a few days or less. And you don’t even know where to begin.

What next?

Don’t fear; you are not the first (or the last) person on this planet who has to pack up their apartment and move. This is a manageable task, so long as you go about it in a methodical manner. To simplify the moving process, declutter your apartment even before you begin packing your stuff.

Decluttering will help you to get rid of things you no longer use and get a fresh start in a neat and tidy new apartment. You can save on moving costs, and the moving process will be less stressful since you will have fewer boxes to deal with. Also, your packing and unpacking time will be greatly reduced. And if you choose to sell unwanted items, you could make some money too.

Not sure where to begin? Here are some tips on how to declutter your apartment before moving.

Start Now

Don’t wait until moving day to begin decluttering. It could take a couple of days (or more) to complete the process, especially if you have never done it before. Give yourself sufficient time to go through all your belongings and decide what you want to keep, donate, sell or toss.

How to Decide

It isn’t always easy knowing what to keep and what to part with as you go about decluttering your apartment. Here are a few rules of thumb to help you make the not-so-easy decisions.

If it is damaged, it should be thrown away, no exceptions. For clothes, if you haven’t worn a garment in over a year, think about selling or donating it. Don’t forget to sort through all seasonal clothing (e.g. boots, jackets, coats, swimwear) and evaluate what needs to be kept and what has to go. In case of medication and groceries, check expiration date. Any item that has passed its expiration date needs to be tossed in the dustbin.

Decluttering is also a good time to let go of duplicate items. Maybe you bought them on sale, or you wanted to keep an extra one handy. Before you go ahead and pack these items, be sure that you will actually use them, and that they are worth the hassle of packing and moving.

Often we have objects in our homes that have sentimental value. Perhaps they are gifts from loved ones, or mementos from an earlier time. As you sort through these items, take some time to think if you really want to take them with you to your new apartment. Do you love and enjoy having these objects in your home? If you have no use for something, and it doesn’t hold any emotional value for you, consider parting ways with it.

Instead of wondering if you should keep a specific item or get rid of it, ask yourself if you would want to pack, move and unpack that item in your new home. Is the item worth the cost and hassle of moving it? Will it be useful to you in your new apartment?

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Use the quote above to guide your decluttering process.

Know Your Options

When it comes to parting with your belongings, make sure you know your options: donate, sell, toss.

Items that are broken, stained, torn, or unusable should just be tossed out. As much as possible, dispose of items in an eco-friendly way. If you want to get rid of big-ticket items like a couch, TV, appliances, or electronics, consider selling them. Donating is a great option for old clothes, CDs and DVDs, kitchen supplies, knickknacks, and anything else that is still usable. Plants are not the easiest items to transport. Consider donating them to friends and neighbors, and pick new plants for your new home.

If you are a book lover and have shelves upon shelves of books, ask local libraries if they’d be willing to take them off your hands. You can also donate them to book charities that work to increase literacy and access to reading material in various parts of the country and the world. Parting with books isn’t always easy, especially if you are a book lover, but you can always find Kindle versions of your favorite books that you can take anywhere with you, no cost!

Be Methodical

Start small. Pick a closet, or even just one drawer in a dresser. Go through your belongings, one at a time. Don’t try to do an entire room at once because it can get overwhelming pretty quick. As you complete decluttering smaller spaces, you will gain a sense of accomplishment that can help you tackle larger areas and entire rooms later. Be sure to cover all areas, including the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom closet, and storage closet.

Before you begin decluttering, have trash bags, a shredder and markers ready to help with the process. To make things simpler, have three labeled boxes handy as you tackle one room after another. Box 1 is for items you want to keep, Box 2 is for items that you want to sell or donate, and Box 3 is for items that are to be thrown.

If you like, you can invite friends over and make it a decluttering party. However, it may end up happening that you have a lot of fun without getting much decluttering done! If that’s the case, keep the music and snacks handy but skip inviting your friends.

Take a Break

Decluttering can be physically and mentally exhausting, so take regular breaks and celebrate your accomplishments, major and minor. Have a relaxing cup of tea, chat with a friend, or watch cat videos on YouTube! Knowing that a reward awaits you can provide extra motivation in getting the job done.

Set Up a Pickup

After you’ve finished going through all of your belongings, you will find yourself with a couple of more boxes of items you’d like to donate. If you have a car, you can simply drive everything to the nearest shelter or second-hand store.

Don’t have a car? Not a problem. Some thrift store chains, including the Salvation Army and Goodwill, will actually pick up your items for you, so you don’t have to cart them across your neighborhood. The Salvation Army will pick up boxes, furniture, and almost anything else, and some Goodwill stores pick up large items that are hard to transport.

Get Online

Finally, it’s time to deal with the items you want to sell. You can post a status on Facebook asking friends if they’d be interested in buying your items. Selling to friends is often a lot easier and less risky than selling to strangers. If your friends aren’t interested, try selling on sites like eBay or Amazon.

Remember: Decluttering can feel like an overwhelming task, but it gets easier as you go along, and you will feel better prepared when moving day rolls around.

Photo by Onur Bahçıvancılar on Unsplash

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