Purging Your Life
You're going to have to be brutally honest when you do this. Take a look around you and ask yourself if you really need everything. Take one room at a time and work systematically. You should be able to sort everything into three groups.
- Sell: Expensive or nice items can be sold online (ebay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc), at a garage sale, or at a consignment shop.
- Donate: Items that are in decent condition should be given away to Oxfam, Salvation Army, Am Vets, or other charity shops. You could even donate to your church or an assisted living home. Or donate to family members: things like baby clothes and toys are especially useful to those with young children.
- Throw Away: Things that are useless (like old warranties for electronics that you no longer have) should be thrown away. Try to recycle as much as you can. You could also try putting stuff in your yard with a "free" sign on it. You'd be surprised how much of it will disappear. One person's trash is another person's treasure.
Deciding What to Get Rid of
So how do you decide what to keep? Try asking yourself the questions below as you go through your stuff. You can find more info about selling or storing your stuff at the expat guy.
- Will it be in style in a couple of years? (Things like old clothes fall into this category)
- Will it still be valid? (Warranties, bank statements, credit card statements, tax documents, etc. Shread important papers!)
- Is it still useful? (Old computers, ancient radios, etc)
- Is it easy to replace? (Cardboard boxes, paper cups, etc)
- Do you use it? (Books, CDs, cassettes, movies)
What Should You Keep?
- Does it have sedimental value? (Photos, heirlooms, etc)
- Photos, some clothes, pictures your children made have lots of memories attached to them, but don't keep everything. Save a couple of the best things and get rid of the rest. Save the best items then take picutres of the rest. You can save the pictures and donate the rest to someone who could use them.
- Furniture. If you're going for a short time you should probably keep your furniture so you can use it when you get back. If you're going for a while, you could ship it or sell it.
The world isn't what it used to be. Countries are becoming more global and you can probably buy everything you need overseas. It might be harder to find or more expensive, but you should be able to find just about everything. If you can't find it in country you can often order things online.
Finding clothes or shoes that fit can be difficult and some people decide to get everything tailor made. It's usually cheaper than shipping stuff from back home and tailors are cheaper overseas. While it's still more expensive than buying things in stores you'll have quality items instead of quantity.
In some countries it can be hard to find things or you might not be able to find the same brands as back home. You have a couple of choices: stock up when you go home, order online, learn to do without, get stuff from expats that are leaving, or adapt to what the locals use. Good deodorant is expensive here in Korea, however, I've gotten enough free deodorant from friends who have left Korea to last me a year. What's harder to find or more expensive varies country to country so be sure to do a bit of research before you go.
It's not easy to get rid of things, but once your life is less cluttered, you'll feel better. Keep only the necessary items and next time you go shopping: ask yourself if you really need it.
Updated 15 February 2012