We moved. Twenty years after building the house we’d raise our two kids in, in the neighborhood we’d grow attached to, where thousands of memories took root.. we decided it was time for for a change.
Twenty years between moves is a long time for most people and to be honest, we never thought we’d stay in one home for that long. But every time we considered a move, we’d end up updating the bathrooms, finishing the basement, adding a patio with hot tub, or some other costly improvement and end up staying “just a bit longer.”
Part of reason we stayed was sheer dread of the process of moving. The volume of work to pack, transport and unpack is daunting. Another factor was that we really liked our house and the neighborhood. It was close to frequently visited locales, the gym, the hair salon, Walgreens, walking paths, neighborhood restaurants, etc. and not to be discounted, we’d built at a good time and our home equity was favorable.
So why move? In a nutshell, we craved something different. Yes, we were verging on “empty-nesterness”, but ultimately we didn’t go for the kidless downsize. What we really wanted was an open floorplan, a big yard with a view and space for our two dogs to roam and the ever popular “master bedroom on the main” to put it in realtor speak.
Yes, we wanted a straight shot from bed to coffee with no staircase to navigate. We also wanted comfortable space for the adult kids when they visit, hence the guest rooms in a daylight basement. Privacy for all.
We’d been looking for that “perfect home” for a few years when we realized that there’s was no such thing unless one had a scenic lot and unlimited funds for the perfect home. Instead we found a home with a floorplan we liked on a spacious lot and decided to make it our own. And so after a few price negotiations we purchased the new house, listed our existing home, started on renovations and began the dreaded task of relocating twenty years worth of accumulated stuff.
We went through closets, storage areas, junk drawers and every manner of places where stuff accumulates. We donated furniture, clothes, appliances, books and toys. I took carloads of clothes to the resale shop and threw out all kinds of odds and ends that should never have been kept in the first place. It seemed to be a never ending and completely overwhelming process. We packed, unpacked, donated in a never ending quest to relocate an entire household. It’s something I never want to do again. At least on this scale. So here’s what I learned from moving from a large, longtime home:
Start the address, account change process soon. You’ll find there are hundreds of accounts, subscriptions, services, etc you need to Update.. fortunately, most of mine were online. The upside? It will take awhile for the junk mail to find you again.
You’ll never miss what you never unpack. Almost two months have passed since our move and there are still boxes sitting unpacked throughout the house. Really no idea what’s in them and if they disappeared, I’d welcome the bonus of not having to unpack or store them.
Your adult kids probably don’t want every cast-off you so thoughtfully set aside for them. Yes, there are the practical items, the Kuerig you’ve updated with the Nespresso machine, some lamps and maybe a side table or two, but once they have their own paychecks, they really want to pick their own accessories. Conversely, they also often don’t want their own stuff either. Stand firm and insist they either take it or discard!
You don’t need 20 burned out jar candles.. just throw them out already.
Same for coffee mugs that were gifts collected over the past 20 years. Ditto picture frames, fake plants, the bread-maker thats been gathering dust since 1998 and shouldn’t have made the cut for the previous move. In other words, purge the never used, worn out and redundant items.
Condense and curate your wardrobe. Easier said than done, but so freeing.
And as for toiletries and make-up.. many a trash bag was filled emptying the bathroom drawers and closets. I’m vowing to never get to that level in the new house. Never used Sephora freebies, adios! Travel sized partially used toothpaste? You get the picture.
Shredding papers that have been judiciously filed away for decades is enlightening. Receipts from appliances that have been replaced twice already, car repair invoices from three cars ago.. time to move on, but good lessons learned about the life-cycle of “stuff”. With electronic files, no need to save ten years of tax paperwork.
No more Knick-knacks. Or at least “way fewer” Knick-knacks. Also holiday decor has been whittled down significantly. Old damaged Christmas trees and ornaments did not make the cut.
If you got rid of something and then regret it? Guess what, odds are you can purchase an even better version of said item.. but on second thought, you probably won’t.
New starts are a good thing. We loved our old home but are so glad we took the plunge and moved. Our new place is already forming new memories. There are pieces of furniture and artwork from the old house that lend just the right amount of familiarity. But the true gauge of what makes this home is that the kids, the dogs and my husband and I have settled in and it’s like we’ve been here forever. Except for those pesky unpacked boxes!