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So, I have sold hundreds of homes in my real estate career.  And each and every time I give my clients checklists of things to do.  But until I recently purchased another home (fifteen years after purchasing my first) I did not fully appreciate everything that must be done prior to move-in.  This first lesson can begin even before you find your dream home and get it under contract.

First, Goodwill is your friend.  Start putting aside items to take to Goodwill NOW.  A good rule of thumb is anything you have not used for two years – goes to Goodwill.  I am loathe to increase our landfill load, but I feel no qualms about giving to Goodwill, where I know the items will go to good use and the money to a great organization.  Start culling through your stuff now!  And while you are at it, start packing up off season clothes and other things you do not use on a regular basis.

While you are doing this – and this may be the most important piece of advice I give – mark each and every box with as much detail about the contents as you can muster.  Have thick masking tape you can write on handy for this purpose, particularly if some of the boxes you are using are from the grocery or liquor store and have no clear space for writing.  Label each box on the top and on two sides, so that no matter where or how you are storing things, a label can be visible.  For your box packing, you will want to have on hand a thick black marker, wide masking tape, scissors, a cutting knife, and clear box tape.

For boxes, many find the clear storage boxes from your local discount store to be a great help, particularly if you may be storing things even temporarily in a garage, carport or storage unit.  I love liquor boxes.  I do not drink.  But the boxes are substantial, and small – perfect for carting books, and the liquor store has a fresh and large supply every day.  Go to your local store (liquor or other) and ask when the best time to pick up boxes might be.  And of course you can always BUY boxes, but that always seems wasteful to me.

And be prepared for the emotional impact of this entire packing up process.  My husband keeps more “stuff” than I do.  But then, he has three children, now grown – but there is plenty of “stuff” that we want to keep for them, and for good reason.  So, you cannot rid yourself of everything that you do not use regularly when you are keeping things for others – and that’s just part of the process.

I must say, even with the many things we do not use and yet have kept for others, culling through what we have and ridding ourselves of so much “stuff” feels incredibly wonderful and freeing.  One of the best parts of moving is that feeling of freedom – of starting afresh.