Every time I’ve moved, I have taken a huge amount of stuff along – instead of culling before the move, I’ve always done it on the other end. I think this is inevitable. Wouldn’t a move be the perfect time to reduce the stuff in our home? Reasons why it doesn’t work that way:
- An employer is paying for the move. Why get rid of it when it moves for free? When we moved to our current city, in fact, insurance was by the pound, so we moved a bunch of cinder blocks (supporting a door desk) even though we didn’t think we would use them. That was crazy, but it is easier to let things linger in the move pile when you aren’t paying for the hauling.
- There is fear and uncertainty in a move – it is very easy to fall into the “we might need this in the new place” trap since we’re nervous about owning our first place, and we honestly don’t know what we will really need. In fact, we’ve been buying more stuff because we’ll be setting up the place from scratch. The new place is much larger (we have a 21 month old in our one bedroom apartment now, which is mighty cramped), so it is easy to expand outwards.
- Even stuff we really dislike, such as our amazingly ugly sofa from my wife’s graduate school days, is going to be moved because we have visitors coming to help us after we move in, so we’ll need a sofa right away in Canada for them to sleep on, etc. We have no idea where to buy a sofa in Montreal, and since we believe in investigating purchases thoroughly, we’ll end up moving this one to buy us time to make a good decision on a new sofa later. The realistic alternative would be to give this one away while in the US, then buy a temporary sofa (probably equally ugly and more poorly made) in our new city, and then research and buy the one we really want later. Yes, we could have replaced it here in the US and shipped the new one, but we don’t even have good measurements for the place we purchased.
- It is surprisingly difficult to find stuff you like at a good price. We comparison shop and wait for a good deal. If we needed everything all at once right after moving (how long can you really wait to get a kitchen table?), we’d end up buying a compromise at an inflated price due to haste.
I wish it were otherwise – I still cling to the fantasy of the fresh start, including the thought that maybe the truck will start on fire and we’ll get a hefty insurance payment to start fresh. But beyond the environmental damage of all that stuff being destroyed, I know that replacing it all would be a nightmare, and we’d end up with so many compromises we would likely be worse off from a minimalist perspective. We have given away stacks of stuff and sold some things we don’t need, but we’re still moving a substantial amount of excess. Hopefully we’ll have enough discipline to really do the cull on the other end.