Decluttering and Downsizing Makes Sense for a Long-Distance Move

It’s been said that moving is the third most stressful life event, which is why the process should involve careful thought and planning. One of the most valuable pieces of advice you’ll get from experienced long-distance movers is to declutter and downsize before relocating. We’ve created this guide to encourage you to lighten the load and provide you with actionable steps for getting it done before the moving truck arrives. For other moving tips, read our long-distance moving guide.

Get Motivated to Downsize

Most people tend to accumulate excess belongings over time, and ideally, they occasionally do a purge. Life gets busy, though, and decluttering often gets put off for years. A long-distance move is one of those significant events that can spur us to action. Downsizing will make unpacking more manageable, and it can also save you money on your move. If you need further motivation, think of decluttering before moving as an opportunity for a fresh start at your new home.

Start Decluttering Early

When planning a long-distance move, it’s never too early to start decluttering and downsizing. Getting organized by sorting through your belongings in advance will help reduce your stress as you begin to minimize your possessions and envision yourself in an organized new home. By reducing excess stuff, you’ll save money on boxes and packing supplies, as well as on the move itself.

Get Ready to Declutter

Before you start rummaging through everything you own, you’ll need some boxes and bags to sort items into categories such as keep, sell, donate, and discard. You’ll also want to make a specific plan for selling or donating useable items. Here are a few suggestions:

Note: With many online selling platforms, you can select the option for “local pickup only,” which is convenient when you don’t have time to deal with shipping the items.

Tackle One Room at a Time

Going through everything you own and making a decision about each item can feel like a monumental task, which is why it’s best to spread out the project by breaking it up into rooms. Tackling one room at a time and doing a little each day will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Start with a rarely used room or perhaps your garage and build momentum as you declutter each area of your home. As you work through each room, remember to include those out-of-sight areas, such as the cabinet underneath the bathroom sink.

Divide Each Room into Manageable Parts

If a room has an excessive amount of clutter to sort through, divide that room into sections. For example, you could declutter your upper kitchen cabinets one day, the lower cabinets the next, and the pantry the following day.

Life still happens even when preparing for a move, so you’ll need to pace yourself based on how many days you have left until the movers arrive. As with anything in life, consistency is key. Spend your spare time each day chipping away at decluttering projects, and you’ll be glad you did.

Don’t Move Things You Don’t Use Anymore

Often, people have a mental block against getting rid of “perfectly good” items, even though they never use them. Here are a few positive affirmations to tell yourself that may help you feel better about letting go of what you no longer need:

  • The money you spent on unwanted items is already gone.
  • Selling marketable items will provide you with some extra cash.
  • Someone else can greatly benefit from using your gently used cast-offs.
  • Donating to local charities that have thrift stores provides job opportunities for the less fortunate. (This benefit is in addition to helping the actual cause supported by the charity.)
  • You will enjoy relaxing in a clutter-free home when you arrive at your new destination.

As you downsize your belongings, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of the remaining stuff you still need to pack. Keep in mind that long-distance moving companies like Suddath offer optional packing services, which can help free you up to attend to other aspects of the move.

When in Doubt, Leave it Out!

Although it’s ideal to do some preliminary decluttering before you start packing, try to maintain the same minimalistic mindset as you’re boxing things up to take to your new home. If you feel hesitant about bringing something to the new house, don’t pack it. This additional layer of decluttering will make your job easier on the other end when you go to unbox everything.

Consider Whether Your Current Furniture and Appliances Will Work at Your New Home


Reducing your belongings isn’t only about saying goodbye to small, miscellaneous clutter. If you’re downsizing to a smaller home or even just an older house with smaller bedrooms and doorways, it’s possible that some of your furniture won’t fit in your new house. If you’re moving into a new place “sight unseen,” or you forgot to take measurements when you toured the home, ask your landlord or real estate agent for a detailed floorplan with dimensions.


It’s also possible that the new house already has appliances such as a refrigerator, washer, and dryer, and there’s no need to bring your current ones. Even if you do need to provide your own appliances, it might not be worth transporting that old fridge you inherited that’s on its last leg. With heavy items such as refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers, you can use the money you save by not moving them to buy new replacements.

Get Rid of Things That Don’t Belong on The Moving Truck

When moving state-to-state, an important thing to remember is that your long-distance movers won’t be allowed to take liquids, flammable items, candles, or batteries on the moving truck. Because of this restriction, you’ll have to drain items like gas cans, propane tanks, lawnmowers, and other gas-powered tools before moving day. Consider offering non-allowable items to your friends and neighbors or contact your current city’s waste management department to find out the procedure for properly disposing of potentially toxic or flammable items.

Ask Your Long-Distance Movers About Storage Options

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you’ll need to postpone decisions about what to do with your excess items. Maybe you’re running out of time and won’t be able to sort through your belongings before the move. Or perhaps you’ll be moving twice, and your temporary home is smaller than your final destination. Whatever the reason, people often need storage services surrounding a big move, which is why it’s essential to discuss this possibility with long-distance moving companies when getting quotes. Suddath offers a variety of storage options to meet your needs.

Final Thoughts

While moving can be a hectic time, decluttering and downsizing will help streamline the process of packing and unpacking. Still, you don’t have to box everything up yourself, and you certainly don’t have to transport it across the country. Long-distance moves can be stressful but enlisting the help of professional cross-country movers can help lighten the load both figuratively and literally.

With our long-standing partnership with Atlas Van Lines and over a century of experience as long-distance movers, Suddath’s moving teams can move you anywhere in North America. For more information about the full suite of moving services we provide, contact us today at 888-799-5033, or get a free online quote on your move.