How would we downsize our 2000 square foot house with a huge basement and an acre of yard in Virginia to a 389 sq foot RV that would roam the country? We had to learn how to purge, and in a hurry!
We had no idea what RV we would be buying. But we did know that no matter the make, model, layout, etc…we would need to get rid of most of our belongings!
We were so scared that we might regret getting rid of things but it had to be done.
We decided that we would be making Texas our “home base” (my family is there, residency is easier, and of course…no state income taxes!). All of the stuff we wanted to keep for life after the rv (furniture, large dishes, sentimental items, etc), would go into a storage unit there. We may not like life in an RV and were not ready to get rid of everything. Yet.
I planned a yard sale. We knew that the majority of stuff in our home just needed to go and that I might as well make a little money off it. I started by clearing a space in the basement. Everything that I knew needed to go was placed in that area. We set up on a Saturday morning in our yard and we made about $600! Not too shabby!
After the first yard sale, I felt relieved, and excited. We got rid of so much! Until I stepped back into my basement. I was overwhelmed. The amount of things that we still had was daunting. Could I figure out how to purge this down to a manageable amount?
So I cleared a room. Everything that was to go in the RV went into that room and everything that was to be put in storage, I boxed up. If I wasn’t going to need it on the road, I didn’t need it then.
Slowly, things started getting easier. The piles started getting smaller. And I started to be less stressed.
Derek received orders to go help out an Air Force base in Florida for 4 months. We had an offer on our house (YAY!) and we were going to have to move out anyway. But we didn’t have the RV yet, so what were the kids and I supposed to do? We change our plans. (Military families are used to that!)
We purchased an enclosed cargo trailer. We would put all of our “storage items” and “RV items” into the trailer. Everything that was left in the house had to go! At least we had already started the process and knew how to purge the rest when needed.
We had one last yard sale that weekend. If it didn’t sell, it was hauled to the charity shop or the dump.
The night we loaded all of our stuff and ourselves into the truck and van was crazy! That trailer was full. I mean ‘stuffed like a can of biscuits’ full! We said "see ya later" to Derek's Mom, "goodbye" to our house, and hit the road.
When we got to Florida, we had just what we needed. Furniture, dishes, clothes, cleaning items, pet supplies, toys, etc. I knew we wouldn’t be there long, so I only unpacked the necessities. We realized in the first few days that we didn’t miss all the things we left behind, or even the things that were still boxed up in the cargo trailer.
After all, it is just stuff. If we weren’t missing it, why keep it?
So we made a HUGE decision… SELL IT ALL!
We decided NOT to get a storage unit in Texas for all of our furniture and personal items. We packed ONE BOX with a few sentimental items, our Grandfather clock that my Grandfather built, and a few of Derek’s guitars. These items are stored at a family member’s house. Everything else had to go!
I listed things for sale and made a little money on our furniture. But ultimately, the rest of the items were donated to a family in need. It felt good to help someone out, and it felt even better to be rid of all of the STUFF!
We sold the cargo trailer and that was that. We were FREE!
Cost: The monthly cost of even a small unit adds up over the months. If we even spent just 2 years in the RV, the unit would cost us THOUSANDS. That is money we can put towards trips and fun activities!
If we don’t need it in the RV, and it is not HUGELY sentimental, there is no need to keep it.
Mold, mildew, heat, etc. We had read stories of people who go to their storage unit after long periods of time only to find that their items have water damage, mold, mildew, etc. We were not prepared to pay top dollar for a climate controlled unit and so we knew that was a real risk.
After we figure out how to purge our excess stuff, it made moving into the RV easy!
We moved into the RV in Jan of 2018. I can honestly say, we have not missed a single thing! We have what we need (check out our list of best rv accessories). And we feel a weight was lifted from not having all the excess “baggage!”
People ask, “But what if you move into a house again?” Well, we will cross that bridge if we get there. Furniture is just stuff. You can replace it. Dishes are just stuff. You can buy more. And the same goes for pretty much everything else too!
If you are going through a downsize, learning how to purge your stuff is really the first step.
But what’s the easiest way to do this?
I think that following what we did makes it pretty simple and straightforward…
As you go through your day, just pick up items and place them in their respective areas. Pretty simple!
Start by seeing what you can sell. Make a few bucks and put it toward something important. Don’t spend too much time on this. Everyone likes a barter. Don’t do price stickers or any of that. The less work, the better!
You can also sell things online with sites like Ebay and Craigslist, or through apps like Let Go.
You can donate most items to charity shops, church organizations, or homeless shelters. Some of them even come pick it up!
Go through what you “thought” you needed to keep. Ask yourself these three questions…
Do I use it regularly, at least once a week? (Seasonal items of course do not fit within this question)
Does it serve more than one purpose? (Our rule in the RV is that things need to be dual purpose!) Example: Our ottoman not only is an ottoman for feet but it is also extra seating AND has storage inside!
Do you love it? This really applies to things like clothes, shoes, and toys. There are times we keep things because someone gave it to us and we would feel bad to ditch it. HEAR ME!!! No one wants you to keep stuff you don’t love. Get rid of it. Donate it. Sell it.
I struggled really hard with a few items. I had a dining table that was the very first item we bought as a married couple. It has been all over the world with us. I pictured my children and even grandchildren sitting around it for Christmas dinner one day.
But, wood is wood. We can get a new table and make new memories. Or better yet, we can build one as a family one day. Or…we may just live in an RV forever…I guess we will just have Christmas dinner around the campfire.
One thing that really inspired me when I was going through this process was reading other people’s stories and articles.
Lauren Greutman has a wonderful article about why we buy and hold on to things that we simply do not need.
Once you get started, learning how to purge really isn’t all that hard. Just keep your end goal in mind. You will feel relieved, refreshed, and ready for whatever your situation is.
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