6 Techniques to Make Moving Easier When You Have Too Much Stuff

Are you thinking about moving to a new house? Is the thought of the hassle, stress, and lost time that often comes with moving keeping you awake at night? Don’t worry, we have six helpful techniques on how to make moving easier – especially when you have a lot of stuff! Keep reading to learn more.

One of the most overwhelming things about moving is figuring out what to do with everything, especially when you are downsizing. Can it be your favorite old chair? The vast table that sits unused in the formal dining room. The old college books that your kids will never use. Moving is a good time to decide whether you should take the time to sell items that are just taking up space or donate them instead. There are lots of tools available to help you, including Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, or Freecycle. It can be challenging to say goodbye to a home that has been around for a very long time. Moving can also be compounded by making decisions about sentimental items and whether to keep them. By deciding what is essential in your life, you can trim the excess and find yourself with more usable space even in a smaller home.

Here are six techniques to make moving more streamlined when you’re downsizing your house. 

Technique #1: Have An Estate Sale 

The advantage of having an estate sale is people will walk into your home and offer prices for the furniture and items you want to sell in your property. Having an estate sale is not the same as having garage sales in which you need to move your furniture and other items outside of your house.

To get the highest price possible for your property, you need to make sure everything is thoroughly dusted and cleaned, and staged strategically so your items are displayed in their best light. It’s difficult not to get emotionally attached to the stuff you are selling. Therefore, it is often worth considering hiring a professional service specializing in estate sales and have them handle it. These companies do the work for a commission (typically between 30-50% of the proceeds from the sale). You may wish to spend the day elsewhere, so they can complete the job of selling your items professionally and save you the angst of seeing sentimental items go out the door.

It’s important to vet potential estate sale companies to ensure your valuables are priced correctly and sold with integrity. Check references, look them up on the Better Business Bureau website, attend one of their sales to see how they are run, and always make sure to get your agreement in writing. You may wish to go through your belongings and have a room set aside for things that are not for sale. If items do not sell during the auction, make sure that you are clear about whether you want the auction company to remove them or leave them on the property. Online estate auctions are also growing in popularity and may help you reach a broader audience. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of an in-person versus online estate sale.

If you have treasured collections, antiques, or cars that you suspect are highly valuable, you may want to find a certified appraiser in your area that specializes in your collectible, antique, or other item so that you can understand its true value prior to selling. You can find an appraiser through one of these major appraiser organizations:  International Society of Appraisers, American Society of Appraisers, or Appraisers Association of America.

Do keep in mind that many professional estate sales just break even (that is, the income is the same as the expense). If you have REALLY valuable items, an estate sale or auction may make sense. Be sure to consider the estimated income against the likely expense.

If you don’t have enough high value items to make an estate sale worthwhile, consider selling your unwanted stuff on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or OfferUp. You will need to photograph and describe each item individually to get top dollar, but it may be worth the effort. To be clear, when I say top dollar, I mean 50% to 70% of retail for items that are new or like new. Well used but functional items should be listed between 25% and 50%. This will generate more income than a garage sale, where items are typically sold for 5% to 10% of retail.

Technique #2: Donate Your Belongings to Charity


There are several non-profits that will accept donations of gently used items, clothing, furniture, and appliances. Contact Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat ReStore, or other local options in your area to find out what they will accept. Some of these charities will even come to pick up your stuff free of charge, saving you more work. Your clothes, furniture, and toys can find a good home elsewhere and take them off your hands with minimal hassle. Keep in mind that charities will only accept items in excellent condition. They don’t have to be new, but most won’t accept items that are noticeably used.

Tip: It is important to keep track of all the items you donated and get a donation receipt; having these documents will be beneficial when you file your taxes at the end of the year. Be sure to check with a qualified tax professional regarding dollar limits for donations as the amount can change year to year. Typically, you will need to itemize deductions rather than take the standard deduction when claiming charitable contributions.

If your goal is to see the items find a new home and you aren’t worried about the few hundred dollars you might make at a sale or in tax deductions, consider Freecycle.org, where you give items to other families who are looking for just that thing.

Technique #3: Pass Sentimental Items to Your Family Members

Do you have children or grandchildren who might be interested in certain items in your home? Things that may seem like ordinary objects or junk to you, such as knick-knacks, framed photos, or grandma’s knitted afghan can be considered family heirlooms to your loved ones. There may be items that bring back happy memories from their childhood, such as holiday ornaments, table settings, or the special cake plate that displayed birthday cakes across several generations. If you are downsizing, you can consider checking with your family first to see what items they might be interested in keeping. There might be items that you no longer use or need, but you don’t have the heart to sell or give away. Knowing that your household items have sentimental value to your family can make you feel better about letting them go.

Technique #4: Document Photographs Of Sentimental Items

A suggestion we heard a few years ago was to photograph everything that you no longer need, or don’t want, but have a hard time letting go of. Taking pictures allows you to keep the memories alive in your heart. We hang on to so many things out of sentiment that we don’t often look at or use. Things that are meaningful but take up precious space – your child’s art projects, napkins from a special restaurant, or souvenirs that were collected from unforgettable trips over the years. It can be said that they all occupy valuable places in your heart! Therefore, you may want to take a photo of each item for yourself and future generations to see. Consider scanning them and saving them to a hard drive or in digital storage for old printed photos. By storing pictures in digital format, you can view your memories at any time. Your precious images can easily be taken with you without another box to pack, move, and then store in a closet where they are soon forgotten.

Technique #5: Hire A Professional Junk Removal, or Moving Service

Garage filled with stuff, an as-is house purchase.

Another option is to consider hiring a professional junk removal and/or moving service.

Junk removal often covers a wide range of services from single, large items like broken appliances or old mattresses, to complete estate clean-outs. This Old House reports that the national average cost of junk removal is $200 to $250. Pricing is typically based on volume (the more space you take up on their truck, the higher the cost) and they offer per-item pricing for appliances, furniture, cars, etc. You can get a free estimate for your situation – whether that is a few large items or a massive clean-out. Research a variety of companies to find the right fit for you. If you are worried about throwing all that stuff away, there’s good news! Not all junk removal goes straight to the landfill. There are services who advertise as eco-friendly, meaning they recycle what they can, donate items to local charities, and only dispose of the “junk” that can’t be recycled or donated.

You can also hire professional movers to pack, load, and deliver your belongings to your next home. It’s worthwhile to get several estimates and check with people you trust for recommendations. We had a neighbor who went with the cheapest estimate they received and ended up paying just as much as the priciest estimate when all was said and done. The entirety of their belongings did not fit on the truck of the moving company they hired (after being assured everything would fit). They had to rent a last-minute trailer to take the rest. The situation added additional stress to their move, and moving is already stressful enough!

There are even moving services who specialize in helping seniors downsize and relocate to a senior living community, assisted living, or memory care facility. Senior move managers are certified to provide assistance to seniors with dementia and play a crucial role in helping the elderly during the challenging and emotional process of transitioning from their lifetime homes to new living arrangements. These compassionate professionals specialize in organizing, coordinating, and facilitating the entire relocation process, ensuring a smooth and stress-free move. From decluttering and downsizing to packing, moving, and setting up the new space, senior move managers handle every aspect with empathy and expertise. They work closely with seniors and their families to preserve cherished memories and belongings while optimizing the senior’s new living environment for comfort and safety.

One story we heard reinforces the special care that is taken with this type of move. The senior move manager took a photo of their elderly client’s curio cabinet and set it up in their assisted living apartment exactly as it was in the senior’s home before the move. This brought comfort and joy to the senior to have the familiarity of their lifetime home in their new living environment!

The cost for a senior move manager will vary based on location and the extent of services required. Some charge an hourly rate, while others may offer a flat fee or package deals that include a set number of hours or services. Discuss the fees and pricing structure upfront to gain a clear understanding of costs and which option will fit your budget. Some seniors may be eligible for assistance or reimbursement through veterans’ benefits, or other programs, so be sure to ask about these resources.

Technique #6: Sell Your House Directly to a Professional Home Buyer

When you sell your house directly to a professional home buyer such as Anna Buys Houses, you can sell your house as-is – no cleaning, repairs, or renovation needed. Just take the items you want to keep and leave the rest behind. Our job is to take care of all the details and find creative ways to distribute your stuff, so you don’t worry about it anymore. Professional home buyers pay in cash so you don’t need to worry about the sale falling through due to financing not being approved AND you can choose a closing date that works best for you. When you want to downsize, selling your home directly to professional buyers can be one of the easiest ways to make your next move.

Now that you know there are several techniques for making your move easier, what is your next step? If you have any questions about moving or selling your home as-is, without fees or commissions, fill out this form or call us at 402-313-8700 so you can start moving with ease and on a timeline that works best for you! 

Additional readings:

6 Techniques to Make Moving Easier When You Have Too Much Stuff
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