You’ve made the decision to jump into full time living in your RV, so now what? How can you get rid of all the fluff and stuff you’ve collected while living in your house?
Here’s a checklist with our top tips on how to start downsizing.
Step No. 1 – Start early
Just like the time it takes to build a home, downsizing your belongings will always take longer than you have planned. With that knowledge in mind, try to start as early as you can to plan for your first day of freedom.
Step No. 2 – Know your RV
Some prospective full timers have yet to purchase their RV, campervan or travel trailer. But if you are one of the lucky ones, you know just what you’re going to be living in on the road and how much storage space you’ll have. Knowing how much space you’ll be living in will come in handy when you’re trying to stuff a few of those beloved snow globes into nooks and crannies the day before you leave.
If possible, plan what types of items you’ll put in certain locations of your home on wheels. For instance, clothes in a shirt closet or in drawers, food in pantries, etc. Also keep in mind what kind of exterior storage your vehicle may have and what items can be placed there.
Step No. 3 – Make lists
Make these three lists:
- Things you must keep (i.e. family heirlooms, photos, meaningful momentos, etc.)
- Things you’d like to keep (consider what’s negotiable and what items you could reasonably part with)
- Things you can’t keep (categorize these into sellable items, donate items and trash—and yes, we know that Beanie Babies collection may seem irreplaceable, but…)
Eventually, you will have fewer things in your “must keep” list than you start out with. Feel free to move items around on this list as you begin to realize what is really important to keep versus what you are willing to part with.
Step No. 4 – Give away to family
Once your lists are finalized, ask immediate family or close friends if there is something they would like to have. Sometimes they will even volunteer to keep things for you—at least, in their words, “until you come to your senses and want to move back into a house.”
Many won’t understand your desire to change the course of your life, but I’ve found that most are willing to help you in this endeavor and will eventually warm up to the idea.
Step No. 5 – Sell high value items
Many things like furniture and art collections are valued at higher prices than you might expect to receive from a yard sale. So find a different way to sell them. For instance, auction houses specialize in furniture, china, jewelry, and artwork.
Selling these items on local apps like LetGo and Facebook Marketplace do well, as long as your description tells the buyer about their value. Most people who would purchase such pieces know the difference between a Stickley chair and that pleather sofa that’s been used at a college frat house. So tell them what a great deal they would be getting, as you mention the item’s approximate value and the great sale price at which you are “willing to let it go.”
Step No. 6 – Have a yard sale
Everyone loves a bargain, and if you keep in mind that your goal is to get rid of stuff, people will find plenty of bargains at your yard sale.
Step No. 7 – Donate items to charity
If you have some pieces that could be useful to local charities like Habitat Restore or Goodwill, donate them. Most will even come pick up your donations. Be sure to get a receipt for your goods, as your donations are usually tax-deductible.
Step No. 8 – Storage
If you still have something you just can’t part with but don’t have room for in the RV, ask a friend if you can store a box in their basement or garage and offer them a bit of “rental” payment. If it’s more than a box or two, consider renting a storage space.
Step No. 9 – Throw it away
Whatever’s left needs to be tossed. Trust us: the minute you toss the rest, you’ll feel like a ton of weight has been taken off your shoulders.
New lease on life
Soon you’ll feel as though you’ve received a new lease on life—and when you finally hit the road, you’ll realize you have. There will be no need to buy a shot glass from every bar you visit or purchase a T-shirt from every street festival you’ll wander through, because you now have no space for them.
But better yet, you’ll begin placing more value on the memories you make and the people you meet along this new journey, rather than on collecting “things.”
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