What to Keep When Moving Across the Country?

Posted Moving Essentials / October 7, 2021
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

Seeing how many belongings you actually have inevitably leads to the question of what to keep when moving. Before you start to pack everything you own, devote some time to deciding what to keep and what to throw away before cross-country movers come. Use this unique chance to purge and get rid of everything that you don’t plan on using in the future.

Relocating is ideal timing to go through every room and see what you own and what will be useful in your new place. Decluttering is actually one of the essential relocation hacks if you wish to lower your relocation stress and to have the cheapest way to move out of state. So, learn to downsize for a move and get the idea of how to save money to move while keeping only the relocation essentials. It will significantly reduce the amount of anxiety about relocating and make you prepared for movers.

Why Is it Useful to Know What to Keep When Moving?

Relocating everything you own might seem like the most simple option you have – just take every single item, wrap it up, and put it in a relocation truck. However, the reality is much different. Knowing what to keep and what to sell when moving has several important pros:

  • You will save time – Sorting through your belongings is time-consuming, we agree, but it’s much more effective than deciding to pack everything you possess. Once you single out all the stuff you won’t take with you, you’ll spend much less time packing the things you’re taking with you. Also, this will mean a lot when it comes to unpacking after relocation.
  • It’s cost-effective – Not carrying all of your possessions is an important part of learning how to save on relocation costs. You’ll also save on packaging materials, which will decrease your relocation expenses checklist. Don’t forget about the money you’ll earn after selling your stuff online or at a garage sale! You can spend it on tips for movers or some other relocation costs. Cross-country moving can be rather expensive even if you choose the best time of the year to move, so any extra cash means a lot.
  • You’ll save space as well – In case you’re relocating for love and you’re planning on living together, you’ll appreciate any extra space you have in your new apartment. If not, it’s still good to have enough room for all the stuff you can buy to make your future apartment feel like home.

How to Decide What to Get Rid of and What to Keep?

And now we come to the crucial questions – How do I decide what to move and what items are worth moving?

The answer is probably very personal since everyone has their own list of stuff they can’t go without. But that actually narrows everything down – the only things you should move are the ones you find essential and the ones that aren’t cheaper to buy new than to pack and ship to another state.


What Should I Purge Before Moving to Another House?

When it comes to answering what to get rid of when moving across the country, you should first learn what items movers won’t move. Those are the items that you can’t pack and take with you, no matter what. Anything hazardous, flammable, perishable, toxic, or alive can’t be shipped in a relocation truck. This list also contains some stuff that you might not think of at first, like nail polish and nail polish removers, cleaning supplies, and also all the fresh or frozen food you have.

So, before you move, be sure you make a big dinner at your relocating away party and use everything you have in your fridge. Another option would be to donate the food you own to your local food bank or some other organization. Empty out your fridge and check if there are any expired groceries before you send them to the nearest charity.

What to Keep When Moving? Create a List of Things to Make it Easier to Keep Track

Having an inventory list of everything you’re taking with you is one of the relocation tips that will save you from a lot of trouble. Just write down everything that you find essential and update the list when you think of something new. The list of most commonly forgotten things to pack is long, so try to avoid the scenario where you think of some item halfway through your relocation.

First, Go Through Your Place and Pile-up All the Old Stuff You Own

If you own a lot of worn-down and old possessions, it’s best not to take them with you unless we’re talking about antiques, of course. Whatever you find that isn’t useful anymore or that can’t survive the trip to another state even with the utmost care, leave it behind. Shipping that kind of object will only stress you out. Now is the perfect timing to get rid of old appliances you haven’t used in years and old clothes that no longer fit. Check where you can donate clothes for the homeless nearby, or, if the materials are in good condition, sell them online or at a garage sale.

Leave Only the Things That Have Sentimental Value

Even if some item just collects dust in the corner of your living room, it doesn’t have to end up in the trash if you have certain memories connected to it. You might have to learn how to move a piano even if nobody plays it if you have some dear memories.

Sort Your Documents and Keep Important Ones

Every house has a pile of papers that were once important, but now they’re just recycling material. Instead of carrying every binder you find, go through your papers and separate the essential ones. Check out tutorials on how to organize important documents at home and find a safe place for them while the packing and relocating process lasts so you don’t lose them. Also, important documents such as your ID, driver’s license, and passport should be with you at all times.

Keep Everything That Your Kids or Pets Find Essential

If you’re like most parents, the chances are that the third of your relocation shipment will be toys from your kids or pets. One of the common things you forget to do when you move is to also purge their belongings and to leave only the most important toys. You do not want to waste time packing the seventh plastic container full of dolls, cars, or Legos that your kid won’t even remember once you arrive at the destination. Single out only the pieces that you know your little ones can’t go without and find out where to donate toys that you don’t need anymore. There are certainly lots of kids that will be more than happy to receive some lovely toys.

Do Not Pack the Toys That Comfort Your Kid or Pet

Hiring a long-distance moving company and relocating to another place is extremely stressful for kids and pets, so make sure you don’t pack the items that can comfort them during this period. It doesn’t have to be a plushie – it can be a book or blanket that smells of your old house. In the video below, you can see some more tips on how to prepare your kids for the upcoming move.

YouTube video

Be Very Strict When Deciding Which Furniture Stays

Have you measured your new place? Before you decide to wrap your couch, you’d have to be sure that it can fit in your new living room. Also, if you plan on remodeling, check which pieces match the style you want to have. Some furniture pieces are cheaper to leave behind than to transport, so check what’s the nearest place where you can donate furniture and take with you only the pieces you’re 100% sure about.

Bring Everything You Use on a Daily Basis

Here’s a handy tip – if you want to be certain that you’ve listed everything that you need in your new home, imagine your regular day from start to finish. That way, you’ll know every item that you need each day and in every room. Write everything down, and you’ll have the complete inventory list. This, of course, doesn’t apply to the objects that have broken down or that aren’t in good condition, and you planned on replacing them anyway. The things you need for your first apartment should only contain objects that are working and serve their purpose.

Pack a Bag With Essentials

Just like going on any other trip, you should have a bag with essential stuff with you during the relocation. That bag should contain all the smaller objects that you use each day such as documents, money, basic hygiene kit, phone, laptop, chargers, keys, and alike. Keep the bag light so that you can carry it with you.

Once You Finish Your List, Contact Professionals to Give You a Hand

Calling long-distance movers to assist you with your upcoming relocation is the smartest move you can make. Long-distance moving requires a lot of time, effort, and nerves, so it’s always good to have an expert to take care of everything. Professional cross-country moving services aren’t cheap, but they’re completely worth it – you’ll have a team of experienced and trained professionals that can wrap and cover every single item, carry them to the relocation truck, and transport them to your desired destination. This also applies to local moving, even if you’re just headed one street below your current apartment.

Reputable relocation companies can provide you with moving insurance as well, so you don’t have to think about the safety of your delicate belongings during the transport. Once the movers pack your possessions in high-quality moving boxes and supplies, there won’t be room for worrying. In case you require auto shipping, they’ve got you covered, and that also goes for storage services. Check out how much movers cost for the trip you had in mind, create a relocation budget, and you’re ready to go.

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