What Do I Actually NEED?

I’m here to report that my head is still spinning. I’m beginning to wonder if this is still early engagement excitement, or if I’m going to be operating in this foggy headed state all year.

Fun times.

So, one of the biggest tasks immediately at hand for me is the process of moving the contents of my house into my fiance’s already full house. I’ve done the full pack up and move everything at once type move a solid handful of times before. While they come with their own set of difficulties, I’m familiar with those difficulties and how to handle them. If I wasn’t, there are countless resources on the internet to help me through the process.

Moving gradually over the course of a month or two? Not so much.

When you know everything eventually has to go, but you’re still living there, where does a person start?

Well, I started by taking my clear tubs of off-season clothes and some toiletries over to his place during the week and texted him this picture:


Text: The invasion has begun.

He laughed.

I was still left scratching my head though. What do I pack up and take away first?

Thinking about my accumulated mass of household belongings, I realized I was looking at the problem all wrong. I shouldn’t be concerned about what to pack first, I should be concerned about what to pack last.

I sat down and thought about what I needed in order to function normally at home during the work week. What do I need in each room? If I planned out a work week worth of meals and only picked up those groceries, what would I need? Strip down all of the hobbies, fancy kitchen utensils and multiple going out outfits: What is my bare minimum?

Turns out the answer is fewer items than I thought.

I broke the list down by room so that I could set those items aside in a pile. Anything not in that pile is fair game to be packed up. Call it the anti-packing list.


  • sheet set/duvet/pillows
  • throw blankets (for the nights it gets really cold)
  • space heater (some nights I run it for half an hour or so before bed instead of turning up the furnace)
  • laundry hamper


  • all work clothes minus one work outfit at my fiance’s (just in case)
  • one socializing outfit (just in case)
  • 1 sweater and 1 set of comfy pants for curling up and reading/blogging in
  • 2 sets of workout clothes
  • 1/2 of my socks and underwear
  • housecoat/slippers
  • laundry detergent (in basement)


  • towel set/bathmat
  • toothbrush/toothpaste/floss
  • face wash/moisturizer/Vaseline
  • shampoo/conditioner/body wash/razors
  • blow dryer/brush/hair elastics/bobby pins
  • nail polish remover/cotton pads (I paint my nails on the weekend and take it off during the week)
  • toilet paper/tampons
  • basic first aid supplies/tylenol
  • cleaning supplies


  • medium pot
  • small pan
  • medium bowl
  • wooden spoons (double as a spatula)
  • cutting board
  • chef knife/paring knife
  • kettle/tea/tea bags/little bit of sugar
  • basic dish set and cutlery
  • glass leftover containers (for taking lunches to work)
  • a couple tea towels


  • completely left alone as is.

Why, after going through the exercise of determining my must haves, would I not bother to pack up anything in my living room? Long story short, when I eventually sell my home I’m going to need some pictures for the real estate listing, and I’ve been advised that having some furniture in the rooms is helpful for prospective buyers. I can do a reasonable job of staging my bedroom and bathroom for photos with my basics, but not so much with the living room. It will be one of the last things to get packed up. That and it’s where I spend most of my time at home anyway.

I’m off to home depot today to pick up some storage tubs so I can get my move on.

What is on your must have list during the work week? If you had to live somewhere while slowly moving, what would you keep out?

Recommended Reading: Spending proportionately to your income or your net worth

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12 thoughts on “What Do I Actually NEED?

  1. I *may* find myself in a similar situation, but I’m hoping to avoid it. The boyfriend and I are moving into a new place on Feb 1st, but I still have my apartment until the end of the month. I’m hoping to have everything packed and ready to go on moving day, but I suspect I may have to move a few car-loads on my own after the fact. (Although, I suppose I have been living like this somewhat, as I slowly pack things I don’t need away in boxes…)

    Also CONGRATS on the engagement :)

    • Thanks Amanda :)
      I like your idea of having most of the moving done right at the beginning. There’s always some lingering stuff, but at least having your place for a month means you don’t have to feel rushed if it doesn’t all go smoothly on day 1. Doing it slowly is a little frustrating, but at the same time since I’m the only one moving at the moment it’s making the organization process go a little smoother. I’m hoping to get a larger chunk moved this weekend since my fiance is coming to pick me up in his truck rather than me driving my car over.

  2. My last couple moves, I packed up all the clothes that I needed for the subsequent two weeks into a suitcase and then lived out of that suitcase. Everything else got packed.

    I also packed up the kitchen fairly early and ate out a lot, but that’s not really the best idea either… I like your plan a lot better.

    • You have a good point. The house will be completely empty by the time buyers start coming through, I just wanted some furniture in there so that I could take a few pictures once the renos were done. Realistically though, I could probably just angle the shots so that you can’t see the unfinished areas.

  3. For our last move, I started with knick knacks and hobby stuff. Then moved on to books and DVDs. Off season clothes and other seasonal items that were not in the season of moving. Kitchen stuff (other than things we knew we weren’t going to use like fancy glasses) where one of the last things we packed. We also tried to eat as much food from our fridge/freezer and cupboards to have less to pack there but it requires keeping a lot of kitchen items available.

    One tip, if available in your area, you should rent moving containers instead of buying (unless the stuff you’re putting in those containers are staying in storage). Something like frog boxes. We used those for our last move instead of buying lots of cardboard boxes or plastic storage bins. They get delivered, you pack them and move them (and they’re stackable), and after your move, they come and take them back. It was a life saver for us, for sure only cost about $100 for 25 boxes for a week but its less clutter to deal with at the end. Good luck with the move! :)

    • I actually have a bunch of cardboard boxes collapsed in my basement from the last time I moved, so hopefully I’ll have enough to see myself through :) I picked up some locking rubbermaid tubs so that I had some bug resistant storage for some of the things that we have to keep out in the garage over the next year or so until we move to a different location (it’s being planned)

  4. Oh my, how well I understand. I wrote a list in order of packing – first to last. Anything in ‘storage’ obviously was first, as were any books, or out of season clothing. Any kitchen stuff that was for entertaining/baking also got packed. Pretty much all the linens too. Things like my pantry, I did quite late, but given I used a lot of same sized conatiners, it was pretty quickly to pack up (and unpack actually!)

    With clothing, the moving company provided 3 wardrobe boxes (which ended up being one too many!) which you transfer all the hanging things into and then right back into the wardrobe – they are awesome!

    I totally support Morgaine’s comment above re:Frog boxes, we use something similar in work moves and they are so much better than oodles of tape! That being said, I had a good supply of second hand, same sized boxes, so I used them instead (I am CHEAP!)

    The only problem I found with the staggered pack up over days/weeks is that you end up with half full books, and I don’t like to have too many ‘mix and match’ boxes. I like it to be easy to unpack, and have one box all end up in one cupboard/shelf/room.

    Here were my moving tips: http://www.livetolist.com/?p=1990 and how they worked in practice: http://www.livetolist.com/?p=2109

    • I think next time I move I’ll get a couple of those closet boxes, just for ease of moving both my fiance’s and my clothes. A lot of my clothes were in the laudry needing to be washed when I was moving, so I just stuffed everything into a couple bags and washed them at his place.

      Thanks for reminding me about your moving tips posts!

  5. Pack away the personal stuff too – photos & frames. It’ll help with the staging!

    As for me, I suprisingly don’t NEED much. I’m not a full minimalist but I’m pretty good with just the basics.

    • Good call. I’m thinking I’ll take some photos with the frames up, and some photos with the frames down, so that when it comes time to post a listing the realtor has some options to choose from.

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