What it took to pack up my entire life

Guys! In my last post, I told you the story of why I wanted to go. But I just realized that I never even shared WHERE I’m going!

… Drumroll please …

  • Washington D.C (I’ll explain this in a bit)
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Turkey
  • Croatia
  • Serbia
  • Cambodia
  • Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Malaysia
  • Cordoba, Argentina
  • Czech Republic
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand

To be honest, I haven’t started looking at weather conditions or what kind of stuff I would need to pack for an entire year because I had to move my entire life in December, 2015.

See, once I committed to Remote Year, I decided that going home to Virginia for the holidays and then flying back to LA for less than a couple months, only to fly back to VA and have to move all my stuff in February would be challenging, costly, and stressful. So I decided that my flight back to Virginia for Christmas 2015 would be a one way flight. (I know I said D.C above, because I live close to D.C…close enough. Plus if I said Virginia earlier, people would be like … where is that?)

All of a sudden, I had 2 months to pack my entire life and get ready to leave. 

What? Omg! You’re not prepared! It’s going to come up so soon! 

Yes. I know. And trust me when I say, I was having moments (more like weeks) of anxiety where I couldn’t breathe and my mind was racing at a million miles an hour. I was trying to juggle working full time, looking for a new job, packing up my stuff, AND saying my last time good-byes all at the same time. Want to instantly age 20 years? Do all that I just said. I grew a new wrinkle every day.

So, what did I do? 

Something had to go. I couldn’t keep up. In the middle of November 2015, I quit my job to focus on packing my whole life in preparation for my move because that was my biggest priority considering it was my soonest hard deadline – to get my stuff out of the apartment.

This process involved several phases.

PHASE 1. Start Craigslist-ing Everything

I spent a few days going through my apartment and taking inventory of everything I had. Snapping photos, uploading to craigslist, writing descriptions, setting prices, etc. It took FOREVER. I mean it was 2.5 years worth of accumulated stuff! I ended up selling my bed to my neighbor who was moving out and needed a bed for her new place. I was so happy to have gotten rid of it!..but also stuck without a bed for 2.5 weeks. So at first, I slept on an air mattress.

I’m not a witch…the white ring around where my mattress would go is diatomaceous earth to prevent bugs like silver fish from crawling on me in my sleep. Read about it here: http://lifehacker.com/5835163/kill-bugs-with-diatomaceous-earth

And had the worst sleep of my life for about a week. So I got inventive with our couch.

Thank God I’m not tall…

Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting a lot of responses, especially for my big items that seemed more pressing: dining set, desk, couch (I secretly hoped I wouldn’t sell this for a while because…bed). So, I needed an alternative.

 

PHASE 2. Look for Other Selling Platforms

Friends recommended quite a few, including clothing consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads where they buy your clothes from you, and apps like 5mile, Poshmark, and my PERSONAL FAVORITE, OfferUp (download here). OfferUp is a bit like tinder meets craigslist, without all the creep– ACTUALLY, hilarious incident

I guess I’m the creep here?

But in all seriousness, I had no incident of weird or shady people coming to pick things up. It’s super simple too because you snap the photo on your phone, put an asking price, add a title and description, and people can make an offer, which opens up the chat box for you. And in the chat box you can negotiate and set up a time and place to meet. I sold everything from kitchen organizing tools to art I painted at Paintnite.

IMG_1320

Selling paintings
Look ma, I’m a paid artist! 😛

It’s addicting. That little cha-ching sound every time someone messages you…I had my roommate hooked on it too! I digress…

 

PHASE 3. Separate Things into Manageable Piles

1. Things I need to keep and eventually fit into only 4 suitcases

2. Things I’ll use until I leave, but then will dispose of

3. Things I don’t need, but someone else could use (sell or donate)

4. Things I don’t need anymore, and neither will anyone else

5. Things I don’t need anymore…and never needed

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This is when I realized the shocking truth. I’ve been a hoarder! Well, compared to the show, I’m a step above minimalist, but I realized that I have a hard time parting with things when I don’t know what to do with them.

WHAT IF I NEED IT THAT ONE TIME THAT ONE THING HAPPENS?!?

Like my high school prom dress I found in the far back corner of my closet! (Say hey in the comments if you went to Ramstein, you MAY remember me wearing this back in ’07…nearly 10 years ago!)

The biggest accumulation was mail and receipts. I had a box full of 2-years worth of papers that I didn’t want to throw away because what if I got audited. Or needed to prove a purchase. Or whatever excuses I made for myself.

Here’s a new system that works: receive a paper/receipt, take a picture of it on my phone, transfer to computer and save file name as company and date. BOOM. Digitalize that ish.

 

PHASE 4. Become Oprah, and Give it All Away

If still no one has bought a posted item, YOU get a printer! YOU get a PS2! YOU get a couch!  I ended up giving most of my stuff away, either to Goodwill or the Boys & Girls Club of America in Venice. I have a special place in my heart for Boys & Girls Club of America (shout out to my Ramstein AYA people! Fun Fact: I won Youth of the Year for Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany in 2006. Boys & Girls Club really shaped my childhood!) If you have stuff that you’re not using (games, puzzles, school supplies, anything a kid can use) consider donating to this organization!

Toys, games, and school supplies!

**Handy Tip: Need to get rid of anything quick?
No one wanted my couch, I only had a day left in LA before I got on a plane, and the sanitation dept. wouldn’t do a pickup for another week. 

Post whatever it is you’re trying to get rid of here. Guaranteed within 5 seconds, you’ll have 10 responses! Okay…maybe not that many that quick, but seriously, I had about 30 responses within an hour of posting. Someone even offered to give me $20! Saved my bum, this one.

 

PHASE 5. We Gave it our Best, now Dump the Rest!

The second half of November flew by, then December flew by, and it was the day I was leaving. I had my 4 bags packed, but still a bunch of stuff that wasn’t sold. My rule for clothes and shoes: I only kept something if I ABSOLUTELY loved the way it looked on me and it fit PERFECTLY. Anything kinda “meh it’s alright” was tossed. Definitely adopting that mentality for any future clothing purchases because I ended up tossing quite a bit! Quality > quantity. But almost everything HAD to go! Running multiple trips to the trash (and I mean running literally), the apartment was cleared out, and then everything was cleaned. BIG HUGE THANKS to my brother! His help was so clutch in actually pulling this off.

IMG_3063

Next up: what I did with my car, the one I just bought when I moved to LA only 2 and a half years ago…and crashed a couple weeks before having to move. A story of how someone up there is definitely watching over me…

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