Obviously, when moving to another country, you will not be able to cart everything you own along with you. So, first things first, you will need to have a massive clear out. Don’t forget to remind yourself that you don’t need to keep many material posession at all. While you are limited to how much you can throw onboard your plane, if you plan on travelling as often as you can after your arival, the less you have with you the better.
Preperation is essential. If you are too laid-back and unorganised like I am, chances are you will leave the following steps until the last minute and before you know it you’re rushing around trying to pack up in time. Luckily for me, my girlfriend is extremely organised and pushed me into gear! As soon as you decide your taking that one-way ticket to the other side of the world, jump in and begin to empty your house. We started clearing our house out 9 months before the departure date! During our routine rental house inspection 3 or 4 months before we were due to depart in August, our real estate agency thought we had abandoned the house! To our friends the house felt empty and lonely, (we couldn’t even offer them a seat!) but to us it was a step closer to freedom.
- If you have a spare room in your current house or apartment, take the time to pile everything you own in that one room. I mean everything – from your wallet and those books you never seem to read right down to your socks! In doing so well in advance, at least a few months before you leave, you will soon find which things you really do need on a daily basis and what is simply taking up space.
- Over the coming weeks, only remove items from that spare room if you really do need to use them in your daily routine. Once you realise what you need to use on a daily basis, put those items back in their original places as you re-discover them. If you work throughout most of the week like me, you will find you don’t tend to use many of your belongings at all, only what is required in going to work and using in your spare time. These steps will help you de-clutter until all that will come with you on your journey will fit inside your luggague or backpack. After you’ve completed this process, take a step back and take a look at how many material ‘things’ you really do own. I bet it’s a lot more than you first thought? Does that pile look a lot bigger now that its all crammed into one room instead of spread across the house?
- Now that you have seperated the essential daily items from the rest, you will need to sort through those ‘less important’ belongings. This is the crucial point where you need to decide what will go and what will stay. Break all of these left over items up into 4 groups – items you will sell, items you will give away, items you will store with family or friends and lastly the items that will go with you (assuming that you previously removed only the essential items from your spare room, then this group is almost sorted for you!)
- By this point, you will have dug up belongings you used to use a lot, items of sentimental value and items you had simply forgot you even had. With some of these belongings you will re-establish a connection with them. Ask your-self, “does this item actually mean something to me? Do I only think it does now that I’ve found it again?” You may find that you have become re-attached to some of these items and don’t want to part with them. Just remind yourself and force yourself to only keep those things that really do mean something to you, the things that you want to keep for years to come. If you are planning on storing most of your belongings while you travel or move overseas for a few years then this task won’t be much of a chore for you. However, if you are planning on getting rid of as many of your belongings as possible to pursue a minimalist lifestyle like myself then this stage may become quite difficult for you. As I previously mentioned, you will pick up some of these items and feel the need to cling on to them more than ever, regardless of the true value it holds. Put it this way – if you can’t see these items sitting in a display cabinet to share with your grandchildren towards the end of your life then chances are it’s not worth keeping! A great way to overcome the sudden fear of losing your ‘precious’ items is to simply take a few photographs of them! You will find that even after these sentimental objects are long gone the moment you refer back to a few photographs that nostalgia will instantly come flowing in. It’s in your hands once again!
When all of your belongings are sorted into their appropriate groups start to think about how you are going to get rid of them. Some things you may want to give away to charity and others to friends and family to store while you are away.
- A good place to start is always your local newspaper or trader followed by eBay or Gumtree. I would recommend advertising in your local trader first – the main benefits being no postage costs for the customer, the advertising costs are quite often free and you don’t have to take the time to box and post your items. Many of my Saturday’s were chewed up in preparing and posting parcels to customers who purchased the items online (I’m still boxing things up for eBay sales just 1 month before I’m due to leave the country!) Advertising locally first works especially well for large things. I got rid of my car and all of my furniture by advertising locally, even the floor rug scored some spare cash for me!
- Once you have sold as many items as you can locally, give eBay or Gumtree a try. While eBay is most popular, Gumtree is becoming a favourite for many Australian and British people. Unlike eBay, with listing fee’s varying depending on the type of item you are selling, Gumtree allows it’s users to list items for free and doesn’t take a cut for each listing (keep in mind GumTree doesn’t provide the same quality buyer protection and support as eBay does) Gumtree also offers listings for services, job availabilities and housing.
- When you’re online auctions come to an end and you begin to pack and ship your sold items be sure to check which of your customers have actually paid! At some points throughout the year I’d be selling up to 20 items at any one time. It sounds stupid, but when I began to post items it was so easy for me to get confused amongst all the sales and customers that I had actually posted 2 or 3 items to customers who had not paid! In the end these customers still didn’t pay up!
By the time you have finished clearing out all of your belongings you will be even more excited to set foot on the other side of the world. The only material items I now own (those that will come with me to London) are my small collection of clothes, laptop, camera, external hard drive, mobile phone, skateboard and a few books. Even the collection of items I put in storage with family is very small in comparison to what I once owned – just a box of childhood memories, my records and a collection of skateboard decks.
A large weight will be taken of your shoulders – I promise!