Downsizing – how to get rid of everything you own

Too much stuff!Last year, just before Christmas, my husband got a new job where he will be working as a project manager in France, and managing projects throughout Europe and some parts of Asia. The job required him to be in Paris by the end of January; however, as part of his job he also needed to complete two weeks of training in Toronto just after New Years. This meant that it was up to me to figure out what to do with all of our “stuff” – our two cars, furniture, toys, paper, cutlery, plates, pots and pans, clothes… all of it! And I only had a month to do it.

I looked into shipping our furniture and personal belongings overseas, but it turned out to be way too expensive. I knew after receiving a few quotes for shipping that I’d be better off selling everything I own and re-buying whatever I needed in France. Plus, downsizing can be healthy! So, I sold or otherwise got rid of almost everything we owned in 28 days.

How did I do it? Here’s how…

1. Prioritize what to keep

There are certain things we kept – pictures, jewelry, and various treasures and keepsakes we have collected over the years – that we neither wanted to sell nor bring overseas. Those things we stored in my brother’s attic.

2. Craigslist

This by far is one of the best tools I used to sell my things. It worked best for furniture, appliances and big children’s items like bikes, toy kitchens and anything Thomas the Tank Engine.

My husband Brian had this to say about Craigslist: “Craigslist is the kind of place where you can buy something used, use it for two years, and then (assuming it’s still in good condition), sell it for the same price at which you bought it.”

3. Facebook

I periodically listed what I was doing on Facebook. I actually sold my Honda Odyssey to a friend via Facebook. I received over fifteen emails from my friends asking about it. So, you see, Facebooking isn’t a waste of time after all!!

4. Amazon.com

I sold some old textbooks I had through Amazon Marketplace. You can sell other things as well, but I stuck to books.

5. eBay

What with Craigslist working so well these days, and for free, it was hard for me to have to pay eBay in order to sell some things. I did use it for some higher end items that wouldn’t sell on Craigslist – a nearly-new Coach handbag, for example.

6. Garage sales

This was really not very useful for me at all. I had a garage sale and only made about 45 dollars. True, $45 is $45, but the venture really wasn’t worth the time and effort I put into it.

7. Consignment stores

This method works well for high-end baby items. I was going to sell my furniture at a consignment store as well, but after discussing commission and delivery charges with a local operation, I realized it was not worth it. They take between 50-60% of the sale price! Even if you get low-ball offers from Craigslist, you might come out ahead by selling through Craigslist like I did rather than through a consignment store.

8. The Intranet at work

These sites function much like Craigslist, but for the company you work for. My company has one and I sold several items this way. You usually get more money than on Craigslist because people prefer to buy things from co-workers as opposed to total strangers.

9. The Salvation Army and Goodwill

I had a lot of random things left over at the end that I really didn’t know what to do with. A lot of it went to our local Goodwill. Goodwill is especially fond of receiving “gently used” clothing. There are certain things that Goodwill and the Salvation Army won’t take, and for those items you can advertise on Craigslist that you’re giving them away, and someone will likely come by to take them!

10. Other people in need

Tragically, a friend of a friend’s house burned down during January, while I was getting rid of my stuff. The day before we left for France we left several bags’ worth of items for them – baby clothes, kitchen stuff, etc. The timing was great – it was good that the items we were no longer going to be able to use might be of help to someone else.

And there you have it – how to get rid of everything you own in 28 days!

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4 Responses to “Downsizing – how to get rid of everything you own”

  1. I am a HUGE fan of Craigs List … I also find graphic design and video gig leads on it! :)

    • Great point Barb – Craigslist is very useful for many things aside from simply selling stuff off. It seriously does hold a distinct advantage over eBay in that it is free – also, the fact that Craigslist tends to focus on items that are local to the buyers and sellers is something that is very helpful – you can buy something on Craigslist and, right after the sale has been finalized, drive over to pick it up from the seller.

      Best of luck with your graphic design and video work!

  2. Agreed …

    Merci!

    Bonjour!

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About the Author


I'm an American mother of three living in Paris, and I enjoy blogging and crocheting in my free time. I also study and teach language to children and adults, and have published two workbooks for teaching children French and Spanish. You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TheEnglishGuru.