The Stuff!

The Methodology

One of the most common questions we've been asked is "But what are you doing with all of your stuff?" Stuff here meaning all of our worldly possessions that are not going in our backpacks for travel. For the most part we really, really wanted to downsize. Even though Marie Kondo is not everyone's cup of tea, the KonMari method for only keeping in your life items that you absolutely love (or will need and are very practical to keep) helped us to simplify our possessions and our minds. At least in theory we want to be simple people. But not everything makes sense to get rid of. At this point we've pared down to our favorite and most prized/practical possessions, including but not limited to: four (!) bicycles, nice kitchen knives, and one shoe box filled with photos of our family and friends.  (Why am I hearing the faint sounds of Gollum ranting "My precioussss"?). I mean, we need four bicycles. [One road bike for long rides and one for commuter riding where neighborhood squirrels and acorns are out to get you] X [two people] = four bikes. QED.

We're fortunate that both sets of parents generously offered some space to us (in a short term capacity), so we're moving a small container down to California from Oregon. Before loading things up and shipping them 1,000 miles to CA, and then again shipping them X miles to Y location when we return, you bet we tried to make sure we really wanted to keep everything.

The Pruning

Everything was sorted into three categories: Keep it, Sell it, Donate it, Trash it. That's it, four piles.

It sounds easy right? *sarcasm voice* Only if you looove making thousands of tiny decisions that at their core are truly not that big of a deal, but in the moment they feel like such a big deal. If that seems fine to you, maybe you could consider a career as a home organizer.

What worked for selling: Facebook marketplace! It's certainly an easier interface than Craiglist, and we got lots of hits on almost everything we posted. But prepare yourself, you need to wear your patient pants to deal with receiving 10 messages for every 1 successful buyer. "Is this available?", then crickets, over and over again. But persistence paid off, and we sold our couch, futon, grill, and patio set.

What worked for donating: First we gave a bunch of things to friends, and whatever was left we gave away on the Buy Nothing Group in our area. Buy Nothing is a local Facebook-based group that started in Washington state, with the idea of reducing waste and forming tighter communities by gifting items or service. The idea is that you join the group for your area and gift/receive things to/from your neighbors. Over the ~2 years that we were in the group, we "were gifted" some useful and fun things: nice artwork, kitchen utensils, and fresh herbs when a neighbor had excess. It's spread to at least a few other states, and the Oregon community was very active. Everything that wasn't gifted went to Goodwill/other organizations that accept donations.

The Shipping (Decision)

When deciding how to ship our stuff, we considered:

  • Renting a U-haul truck and driving ourselves (and towing the VW Jetta)
    • Meh, not a good plan: Expensive, and neither of us wanted to drive over mountain passes in winter with a big truck we're unfamiliar with.
  • Buying a hitch and a trailer to drive down ourselves.
    • Meh, not a good plan: Our Jetta's user manual recommends a maximum of 1500 pounds of tow weight. Most trailers we found weigh... about a minimum of 1000 pounds. Also, again with the winter-mountain-passes.
  • Paying a moving company and having them ship it
    • Possible, but expensive.
  • Throwing it all AWAY
    • Oh, right. We decided to keep stuff (Gollum).
  • Using a Pod/cube/other you-pack storage unit. Where you pack it and then the company delivers to your final destination.
    • Winner, winner! It fits us perfectly, as these companies usually take a couple of weeks to deliver at your destination, and we wanted to slow travel down the CA coast and spend time with family anyway. A huge plus is that the cost is lower than full-move companies.

After this deliberation we booked our box. It arrived on a Tuesday, and after successfully not killing each other, we packed up ~280 cubic feet and sent it on its way on Friday. Just like that, our possessions were lifted from our shoulders, and we felt lighter. Livin' the dream.