I’ll just come right out and say it, moving isn’t easy.  The thought of packing up years of accumulated possessions and putting them in box is daunting.  And that’s not the hardest part.  It’s what to do with family heirlooms, kids’ third grade artwork, and all your memories is what makes the process especially difficult.  We all know that home is where life happens, so moving it all can be overwhelming. 

If you think the job of Realtor is to price, market, negotiate, and transact, you’d be right!  However, the vast majority of time is spent assisting clients navigate the difficult process of preparing for sale.  Discussions often focus on what to keep, toss, and donate.  The goal is to streamline, simplify, and minimize so buyers can concentrate on the house – not what’s inside.  Conveying these recommendations with understanding and respect is an essential Realtor skill.

Decades of helping clients through this process has taught me some valuable lessons.

Start Early

A thousand decisions are encountered when determining what to do with your stuff.  Working under time pressure just adds stress.  Trust me, this is going to take longer than you think.  Give yourself a good 3 to 6 months of lead time and slowly chip away.

Identify What You Really Need

You acquired the stuff for a reason.  It seemed important at the time.  But now ask yourself, “when was the last time I used this thing?”  Maybe it’s time to let go of items you haven’t used in over a year.  Be selective.


With a house full of stuff, it’s hard to know where to start.  Most unused stuff ends up in attics, basements, and garages.  Start there.  Empty out as must as possible.  Subsequently, those spaces become good areas to house the things that get packed up for the upcoming move. 

Get Help

My mother-in-law often says, “many hands make light work”.  I’ve learned to never argue with her!  She’s right.  Invite family, friends, and neighbors to help.  We typically offer recommendations for professional organizers, haul-away services, and charities that accept donations.  The Village of Whitefish Bay is excellent for providing special pick-ups for garbage removal.

Separate Stuff from Memories

As you evaluate the importance of individual items and memorabilia, it can be helpful to ask yourself if it’s the item or the associated memory you enjoy?  Creating a digital photo album of these things will help you trigger happy memories later.  Let go of the stuff.  Keep the memories.

Enjoy the Process

You’ll be amazed by how good it feels once you get started.  Less mental stress and a sense of calm will prevail.  Like most difficult tasks, getting started is the hardest part.  Here’s to your simplified life!