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Store our belongings or sell the lot? | Don't Ever Look Back

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Store our belongings or sell the lot?

Store our belongings or sell the lot?

We have 7 weeks until we move out of our 2 bedroom apartment and back into a single room at Amy’s parents house. This might seem like a pretty simple move but as the moving date approaches, we face quite the dilemma!

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What the hell do we do with all our stuff?!

Over the past 12 months we’ve accumulated quite a lot of possessions, but what do we do with all of them when we move out? We’ve fallen in love with our fridge, our washing machine and our vacuum cleaner (if you’ve ever used a Dyson, you’d know why!) among other things. This post isn’t even taking into account what we’re going to do with our cars – fortunately we’ve still got 6+ months to think about that.

Essentially we’ve got two options – keep most of our stuff (and probably pay for storage) or sell the lot! Making this decision is incredible difficult, particularly when there are 2 parties involved who sometimes have conflicting opinions.

Option 1: Keep The Stuff

To put it simply, storage would be the ideal option for both of us… if it were free!

We’ve spent a lot of time researching the appliances we own and finding the best deals for them. We’ve also gone to a great deal of trouble to find and buy matching furniture throughout the apartment – so much so that it took us 5 months before we finally bought a dining setting that matched the look and feel of the rest of the apartment.

Being able to come home, find a new place to live and be able to furnish it immediately is the strongest reason to keep our belongings in storage. We’ve built up an attachment to these things and are quite proud of what we’ve accumulated. While that may be the consumer in us, it’s going to be very hard to let go.

The major (and perhaps only!) downside of storage is the cost. We’re expecting to spend 6 months staying with Amy’s parents to save money and then hopefully 12+ months on the road. Over a period of 18 months, the cost of storage nearly outweighs the cost of the possessions that we would be keeping!

Option 2: Sell It All

If we deem the cost of storage to be excessive, then selling the majority of our belongings is the only other viable alternative. The financial benefits of selling are extremely attractive.

Selling our belongings would provide an additional source of income and we would be hopeful of making $2,000-$3,000 for our bounty of goods. We would also save an additional $2,000+ not having to pay for storage for 18+ months, plus selling would eliminate the need for removalists on moving day which would result in another big cost saving.

Overall, selling would create approximately $5,000 of additional funds. These could either be used to extend our journey, or as a “coming home” fund to refurnish a new place when we come back from our travels. Despite this seemingly impressive amount, we still would make a big loss on some of our possessions (damn you, depreciation!). For example, we paid $1,400 for our brand new stainless steel fridge under 12 months ago and this is likely to fetch less than 50% of this amount which would be difficult to watch.

There is also the considerable effort involved in selling our belongings – taking photos and compiling listings on eBay, organising times for people to inspect and pick up goods at short notice, etc. While those last few reasons are fairly minor, they’re still a consideration.

From a financial standpoint, it obviously makes more sense to sell our stuff and start again when we get back, but as we all know – the heart plays a big part in decision making. As we discussed in saving for long term travel, we do plan on selling a lot of our belongings on eBay – the question that remains is how much we should sell? Some, or all?

Have you had to face the same dilemma before jetsetting off around the world? What did you do, or what would you do if you were in our circumstances?

Flickr Photos: lonely radio, jjay69


  1. Posted October 23, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Ahh making these decisions is so hard. I would say i can understand what y’all are going through but I am only semi going through this. I live with my sister and thankfully she is going to let me leave my furniture and belongings with her. I however dont wanna leave so much stuff behind so I have started to purge A LOT of things. I have recently been selling tons of old clothes i dont use any more, DVDs i dont watch anymore. Just anything i dont need I am getting rid of it. I am only going to leave behind the big things that are needed & some clothes. I have written about this on my blog if you wanna check it out. For me I know the hardest part is going to be selling my car when the time comes.

    I say 1st go through getting rid of the small things you don’t need and then start anaylyzing the big things and maybe only keep a few at the parents house if they let you.

  2. Posted October 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Sell it, Sell it, Sell it! Although thats easy for me to say as I didn’t spend time building stuff.

    If storage is going to cost you the same as the items again it might be best to sell and then you can buy the latest versions of everything when you return. Like I said though I didn’t have to go through this and it must be very tough.

  3. Posted October 23, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I recently faced the same dilemma. I didn’t want to get rid of anything, really, but didn’t want to pay for storage either. I think meeting yourselves at the halfway point is best. If you keep want you really want/need you can save money by renting a smaller storage unit and save money by not having to buy absolutely everything when you come back. Or perhaps your parents could store some or all of it for you? Maybe you could pay them to do so?

  4. Posted October 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I never had any possessions so do not face this dilemma however I would just say, sell it.
    Natalie recently posted..Domestic Flights In Turkey – Sites To Use

  5. Posted October 23, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all your comments! We’re going through all our stuff at the moment trying to work out what to keep and what to sell and it isn’t easy that’s for sure.

    @Jaime – We’re definitely gonna declutter our lives and purge a lot of the unnecessary belongings – it’s getting rid of the things we will need again in the future that’s difficult. We’ll be keeping as much as we physically can, but unfortunately that won’t be very much due to limited spaces. Thanks for the advice – we read your blog post and can certainly relate to being a minimalist!

    @Kirsty – Completely agree… although that brings up something I hadn’t thought of – what do I do with the PS3?! Surely there will be some new whiz-bang console out by the time we get back so I guess that’s gonna have to go as well!

    @Sabina – The cost of storage starts at $70/month for a 5ft x 5ft unit, even that’s too expensive to keep what we have. Fingers crossed we can recoup most of what we paid for the big items. Unfortunately the parents don’t have enough space to store all our stuff!

    @Natalie – I think in a few months we’ll be in the same boat and be able to fit all our possessions into a couple of suitcases. Well done on being a minimalist, we’re very impressed.

  6. Posted October 24, 2010 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    I am just going through this myself. Luckily, my parents are letting me store some stuff in their attic and that’s made things a bit easier. I’ve purged as much as I can, selling and donating a ton. Ebay, craigslist and amazon are time consuming, but worth it in the end. My plan is/was to keep the things that I knew I was just going to buy right when I got back like my bed and kitchen items. I’ve also kept the things I’ve collected traveling over the years that actually mean something to me. If it sparks a memory, I probably kept it. The closer I get to my move date, the less I want to keep. Most of the time these things just feel like anchors and this trip is about the opposite… Good luck!

    • Posted October 24, 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Some great advice Brooks – so long as we’ve got a bed and a few clothes when we get back, there’s probably not too much else that we need. We’ll be keeping a few things like our kitchen stuff which just wouldn’t sell anyway and obviously personal items like photos, travel souvenirs, etc.

      Couldn’t agree more – it’s time to purge, purge, purge. It’s best to do it now than wait until the week before we leave!

  7. Posted October 24, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    We went through a similar dilemma before our trip. Here was our thought process, and maybe it will help you. Basically, we had two general strategies to help us decide.

    1) Will you want to keep it or have it ten years from now? If so, keep it. If not, sell it. If you’ve got some old crappy stuff, why not get rid of it.

    2) Is the cost of storing it (and transporting it to storage) more or less than the cost of buying the same item new after the trip? Or how about buying the same item used but in good condition? Obviously there is depreciation, but is that depreciated value of the item really worth keeping? In other words, look at it from a different financial angle.

    After your trip, you’ll probably realize (like most travelers) that you have too much stuff and wish you had just sold it all to begin with! Good luck.
    Bryan recently posted..Taking Better Travel Photos

  8. Posted October 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Hey guys, big decision. I suppose we got off a little easy because I own my apartment in Sydney and was able to rent it out fully furnished and get higher rent for it that way. It beats all the effort needed to sell everything. But we still sold TONS of stuff on ebay and I think that’s what we would have done if we didn’t have the apartment.
    Just be direct in the ebay sales: local pick up only for big items (or things that are tricky to wrap and post). You’ll be surprised by a lot of things that get quite a good price. We sold snowboards (don’t try to wrap up ad send these buggers), clothes, furniture, computers, shoes, old disfunctional camera etc. It was really funny to watch things that we thought wouldn’t get any bids, rocket up to $100+ and then angry when really valuable stuff got nothing or $10…
    But I seriously haven’t given a second thought to all my ‘precious’ things that I left in the apartment for the tenants. I think it’ll be like Christmas again when we finally do return. And I’ve forgotten about most of my shoes, handbags, clothes that I either sold or gave away to friends.
    I vote SELL!
    Globetrooper Lauren recently posted..Huacachina- The Sand-Boarding Mecca of Peru

  9. Posted October 24, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    The first time I went travelling I stored virtually everything at my parents (who had a barn!!) But when I came back nearly 2 years later, easily over half I looked at and said ‘Why on earth did I hang onto THAT’!!

    Electronic items get superseded so quickly – they may be worth half today but in 18months they’ll be worth nothing!!

    And put the choosing of those ‘perfect’ pieces of furniture down to experience so when you come to re-purchase it’ll be easier having gone through the process before –

    Who knows what will happen on this trip – You may end up falling into the lap of the most amazing job opportunity overseas and not want to come back 😉
    Linda recently posted..So- Who is Linda

  10. Posted October 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow, we’ve been overwhelmed with all of these responses and the general consensus from everyone is to sell! So thanks for all your advice – selling it all is what we’re going to do!

    @Bryan – two very good strategies! I think most of the stuff would be long gone 10 years from now even if we weren’t traveling. And the cost of storage definitely isn’t worth it, I guess it’s the attachment we feel but that’s just something we need to overcome I guess.

    @Lauren – Very lucky! We’ve thought about furnishing a room at one of the parents’ house but we’d probably come back and either feel too bad taking it back or decide we don’t want it anymore! Thanks for the eBay advice – the auctions are fun to watch once they’re up and running, it’s setting them up that is the draining part!

    @Linda – Haha that’s exactly how we think we’d going to feel if we came back to all that furniture. Most of our small electronics (laptop, camera, etc) will be coming with us and our TV is just about at its use-by-date. Great thinking about using our experience to guide us in the future, we’ll remember that!

  11. Posted November 8, 2010 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    I would say sell it! I know you have an attachment to these items now, but once you get out there you’ll forget about it all. I had some stuff in storage for a year in my friends storage unit and when I went to get it out, guess where it went? My garage, and I didn’t touch it there either. You forget about it! Plus, who knows what you’ll be doing in a year or so. I would put the money $5k into an account that you don’t touch, that way when you come home you can decide how to use those funds (refurnish) or if you want to extend your travels.

  12. Posted November 24, 2010 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    I remember when I had to do that. I had moved to the US for my studies and 12 months later I moved on to China for a 6 month internship, knowing I would return to the US after that again to continue my studies. I had just bought all that neat stuff and made my little home away from home, but China was such a great opportunity. So I was lucky and asked my friends if they could store my car while I was gone and everything that fit into my car could stay and everything else went.

    I have moved between countries quite a few times and always arrived with no more than 2 suitcases and even after 6 months to one year, you accumulate so much “crap” (sorry) and build up your “home” again.

    I also felt that every time I experienced living in a different culture, my taste changed a bit and I got inspired by the places I visited, so may be you could keep an eye out for new inspiration on how to decorate your new home. Also keep in mind that your old furniture might not fit into the new apartment.

    Hope this helps! I enjoy reading your blog and wish you well with all your preparations for your trip!


  13. Posted January 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I sold everything except for a few boxes of things I really wanted to keep, and it was a great decision. It’s not just that it made me some extra money. After spending some time on the road I learnt how to live with less and I actually preferred this simplicity. After coming back from the trip it was really easy to organise myself, as I didn’t really have anything to organise 🙂 I found a furnished studio apartment and haven’t bought a single piece of furniture or any kind of appliances since I came back in September. And I love it this way. Life is really much easier when there is less stuff around 🙂
    Magda recently posted..Misterious giants of Easter Island

  14. Jennifer
    Posted August 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    HI guys,

    I see by the time you read this you will be well on your way. My husband and I decided that I would take a leave from my teaching job, and take another teaching job in Brunei. The paper work along seemed unsurmountable, the application, visas, leave…never mind the question at hand, what to do with our stuff.

    Naturally we googled it before we thought about it too hard and came up with this helpful dialogue. I just thought I would let you know how it turned out for us.

    Since we had lived overseas before, the one thing I really enjoyed about getting back to Canada was getting my hands on kitchen utensils I was used to. I really enjoyed shopping for my new plates, my pots, my measuring spoons. I knew in Asia, I wasn’t going to have the same collection. So I announced to my husband, “I don’t care what we take, but I am taking the whole kitchen!!”

    It snowballed from there. Just as much as I wanted the kitchen, he wanted the tool shed, and how could our new house feel like home without our home decor stuff? The kids toys, our clothes, our reference books and of course 15 Djembe drums (but really, I swear, that was to enable him to run his workshops). Next thing I knew we had 54 boxes packed and loaded onto the back of a truck with a really dodge looking guy loading it.

    So we cleared house, whatever we didn’t want to take, we didn’t keep. Like the previous write said, amazon, craigslist, garage sales, good will, family and friends, it all went. We left my mother with winter clothes.

    But on top of the decision about the stuff, what to do about the house? Sell it and pay off all of our debts or rent it? Selling it though, so FINAL. Needless to say my mother cried when she saw the for sale sign on our lawn.

    Though we had to wait quite a while for our 54 to make their way down here, it finally did and we stood on the dock and watched it pull in while waving Canadian flags. (no, not really).

    Now that we are in the new house, and all of our worldly possessions unpacked and put in their new places, we are so incrediably happy we did it this way, its hard to express. It cost us $2000 CDN all in, door to door, and I feel that it woud have cost us that much at least to replace all the things we brought. Never mind that they were already my things, the things I liked to use. The things I bought that make my home my home.

    When I started down this road I wondered, are we just trying to re-capture the globe trotting glory days of our 20s when we had our 20 kgs and that was it? No. I now wanted to put some miles under my feet for my kids. Imagine that they could experience different cultures and a different way of life from this early age. What a way to bring my family together and give them all I can, the dream of all parents.

    So in regards to material possessions, I have come the concludsion through this experience that some of the things I own allow me to express who I am. I love to cook and put on dinner parties and entertain that way; and these things allow me that freedom to do that. I want it both ways, I want to be free to roam the earth when I have the time and finances to do so, but I want to be able to enjoy my life when I am not doing that too. Also, another important factor, is having familiar things around make the kids feel more settled too.

    So to all of you adventure seekers out there, good luck with your own decisions for your own reasons. I guess this turned into more of a ramble than the original question about store or sell.

    Bon Chance!

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