How To Downsize Your Home & Possessions For Your Upcoming Move

Because we take a personal approach to moving, our customers often become more like friends. And, as friends do, our customers often ask us for advice on all sorts of topics, like:

  • Will Oahu be a good place for my family?
  • Have you lived on other islands?
  • Where did you buy your car?
  • How different is island life from Mainland life?
  • Do you have Costco in Hawaii? (By the way, the answer is yes! Oahu, Maui and the Big Island all have a Costco.)

Now, when it comes to the actual move itself, one of the questions we often get is:

“What’s the best way to prepare for my move?”

Our #1 piece of advice?

Downsize as much as you can.

It makes sense, right? The fewer things you have to move, the less it will cost.

However, especially if this is their first big move, some people think:

“I’ve got a whole container. Why not fill it?”

Simply put: Your container isn’t one of those USPS “if it fits, it ships” boxes. Your move is priced by weight. So if you add a 50lb box of books to your container load, it’s simply going to cost more.

And, frankly, when you take a hard look at your belongings, you might find that you don’t even need a full container.

We’ve talked a number of our customers through the downsizing process. Let’s walk through it together, and hopefully, we can help you save you a few dollars on your move.

Strategy #1: Downsize What You Don’t Need

If you need some inspiration to pare down, look no further than Marie Kondo. The Japanese organization expert has a series on Netflix and a New York Times #1 bestselling book—The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up—entirely focused on clearing out clutter.

At its core, Kondo’s KonMari method asks you to pick up everything in your house (yes, everything) and ask yourself if that object “sparks joy.”

If it does, it stays. If it doesn’t, it goes.

That goes for everything in your house, including those baggy sweatpants with the stretched out waistband that you only wear when you’re sick, those college textbooks in the attic and your collectible Hummel figurine collection.

The other vital piece of advice Kondo offers is to evaluate items by category, not by room. The logic behind this is simple: We often keep similar items in different rooms, so unless you gather them all together, you won’t have a good sense of what you actually have.

For example, maybe you have scarves and hats in your bedroom closet, hanging in your entranceway and in a Rubbermaid tub in the attic. Under the KonMari system, you’d gather all your hats, scarves and other winter accessories on your bed, pick them up one by one and discard the ones that don’t “spark joy.”

And while we’re on the topic of winter accessories . . .

Pro Tip from Dennis Schultz, Vice President of Household Goods at Royal Hawaiian Movers: We see a lot of people bring winter gear to Hawaii—coats, gloves, ski gear and snowboarding equipment. Since we love to ski, that’s what my family did when we first moved to the Big Island….They haven’t been touched for 13 years.

Now, if you plan to do things like hike Haleakala Crater in Maui or summit Mauna Loa on the Big Island, you may want to keep a jacket or two because it gets cold at high elevations. However, you’ll want to consider getting rid of the rest of your winter gear. We found it easier to rent at our vacation destination, and the gear we brought out just sat in our garage.

The other thing to consider is that Hawaii isn’t just a destination. It’s a lifestyle. So take a careful look at all the things that you’ve used on the Mainland. Will they work for your new island life? If not, put them in the giveaway pile.

Shoes are a great example. Do you need all those leather oxfords? Or high heels? A couple of pairs will probably be plenty since the weather’s great for flip flops (“slippahs” in island-speak) all year long.

Anything you can eliminate will help you chip away at your moving cost.

Strategy #2: Ditch What You Can Buy at Your Destination

Once you’ve eliminated things you no longer need, there’s a second strategy that can help you save a little more on your move.

Take another look at your items from a different perspective, and ask yourself:

What would be cheaper to buy on island?

Remember, your move is priced by weight, so heavier items may actually be cheaper to purchase in Hawaii than moving them with you.

Items you may want to leave behind include:

  • A big old toolbox – Especially ones with lots of rusty items you haven’t used in forever.
  • Weight sets – dumbbells, barbells, etc. If a home gym is part of your lifestyle, you’ll probably want to replace your workout items once you arrive at your future island home.
  • Heavy wooden bedroom sets – In addition to being expensive to move, your old bedroom set may not suit the aesthetic of your island lifestyle.
  • Books – With digital books becoming increasingly common, how strongly do you feel about taking your entire book collection with you?

Pro Tip from Mills Matsuoka, Certified Moving Consultant at Royal Hawaiian Movers: If you’re a book lover who can’t stand to leave your library behind, take a look at USPS Media Mail. This service allows you to send boxes of books of up to 70lbs at a lower rate than other types of shipments.

So how do you decide what goes and what gets purchased in Hawaii? Good news: Once you have a quote from a shipping company, all you need is a little simple math. Here’s the equation:

Weight in pounds x Cost per pound = Moving cost per item

So for example, let’s say that your moving company has offered you a rate of $1.87 per pound for your move. If you have a set of two 50-pound dumbbells, here’s the cost to move that set:

100 x $1.87 = $187

If you can purchase those dumbbells for anything less than $187, you probably want to purchase them once you arrive.

Now that we’ve shown you two ways to save a little on your moving cost, let’s look at the flip side: A few ways to actually bring money in to help defray your moving costs.

Strategy #3: Give Your Moving Budget a Boost

Thanks to our first two strategies, you now have a pile of items you don’t want to move to Hawaii.

If you decide to sell them, the Internet offers you a number of options to collect cash and move your budget toward the black.

Depending on your location, certain “for sale” sites may be more popular than others, but the most common ones include:

  • Craigslist
  • Facebook (Don’t forget any local buy/sell Facebook Groups!)
  • LetGo
  • eBay (Note: eBay used to be a place mainly for collectibles, but it’s become a marketplace for lots of items, especially women’s clothing. So if you have any gently used Lululemon gear you’re looking to get rid of, hop on!)

You can also have a traditional yard sale, but make sure to advertise it in local Facebook Groups, with pictures of some of the items you’re selling. You’ll get a lot more foot traffic that way!

Don’t forget about consignment shops! One of our Royal Hawaiian customers in Oahu had a house full of antique Hawaiian furniture. By working with a local consignment shop, she made enough money selling her pieces to pay for her entire move to the Mainland.

Finally, you can donate anything you don’t sell to a local non-profit, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army or Purple Heart.

If you have unopened, non-perishable food left over when you move, we recommend getting in touch with Move for Hunger. This non-profit collects unopened, non-perishable food for local food banks who distribute donations to local families in need.

In addition to the warm feeling you’ll get from donating to any of these non-profits, you may also be able to snag a tax deduction. Be sure to save your receipts!

Speaking of taxes, you also may be able to get Uncle Sam to help pay for your move. In certain cases, your moving expenses may also be tax deductible, so make sure you document all of your costs and talk to your accountant.

Ultimately, these two deduction opportunities may offer you some tax savings to help fund your move.

Finally, if all these strategies have worked their magic, and you find yourself with a TON less stuff, you may want to consider . . .

Strategy #4: Downsizing from a Container

In the most extreme cases, you may find that you’ve downsized so much that a container doesn’t make sense anymore.

Instead, you’ll likely be looking at moving what the industry calls a less-than-container load (LCL). For our residential moves, we usually use liftvans, which are crates that measure 7′ x 7′ x 4′ or about 200 cubic feet. That’s about the size of a bedroom’s worth of stuff—depending on the bedroom, of course!

You can pack as many liftvans as you want, but once you get up to five or six, it’s probably just as cost-effective to choose a container.

The best way to find the right LCL option for you is to talk to your moving company. They’ll help you select the best option for moving your items to their new home in Hawaii.

Less Really Can Be More

Moving to Hawaii can mean a fresh start for you and your family. It’s a chance to make new friends, cultivate new hobbies and experience a new culture that’s different than the one you’re used to.

So as you prepare for your move, evaluate what will be a part of that new life and what you’re ready to leave behind.

In addition to saving you some money—and maybe sparking some joy—downsizing can also represent the start of a new aesthetic and lifestyle that will serve you well in your new home.

If you need any advice on your options for moving your items to Hawaii, don’t hesitate to ask one of our Certified Moving Consultants. We’d be happy to help (even if you just want to ask directions to Costco)!

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