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How We Are Fitting Our Entire Lives into a 5’x8’ U-Haul Trailer

Inspired by a comment made by Greg, I thought I would share with you kind folks HOW we are taking 17 years of stuff and fitting it LITERALLY into a 5×8’ U-Haul Trailer.  Yes, you heard right, a Trailer. No, not a rental truck or semi, we are going for a fresh start on every level- so goodbye to the materialism of our past so we can have a new and improved future.

Since we are officially in the year of our move, there is no time like the present to start to box and bag what we aren’t currently using.  Here is what has been working for us so far, we hope it helps any of you considering the relocation process as well.

  1. I am fortunate to work for a place that constantly has boxes coming in and out of the building. I get to use these for free because they are ones we would recycle anyways.  Since last summer, we have been filling boxes with items as we come across them, and storing them in the garage or basement.
  2. I categorized boxes with friends names, items that could be donated back to work, gift ideas,  our garage sale, and donations to Goodwill.  Once a box was filled, we stuck in my car for transport to the right person or place.  If we don’t do it in the moment, it’s more to do later that we won’t have the time for.
  3. We kept all of our plastic bins for the U-Haul so that the cardboard boxes can be tossed after the garage sale, and not more bins to get rid of before moving.
  4. We all have become emotionally attached to things, and I had an especially hard day on Sunday.  I had this wall of bulletin boards with tons of Scrapbook items, pictures, and memories… and I took it all down.  I don’t know why it hit me like it did, it could have been the fact that “Phil Collins” was playing on my I-Pod while I did it, or that I didn’t have the correct dosage of Diet Coke, but it DID hit me.   I held pics of my best friend and I that we took in a photo booth, and of my co-workers in my other hand, and I knew that this year those relationships were going to change.  It’s all good… it’s just hard.
  5. Carl taped off the exact size of the trailer, so we will know how many of the bins will fit, what we can take, etc… Since we are doing this early, everyone here at home will understand what is expected to bring, and what needs to go.
  6. Don’t be afraid to throw away. Have you all seen “Hoarders?” Well, if you haven’t, watch it once and you will WANT to purge and get rid of stuff in your home.  I feel that show inspires me every time I see it, and I feel so much better getting rid of stuff.  Buy the black garbage bags, so you can’t see what you are chucking, and start to throw away what is just too much! Take it out to your garage right away, and do not look back!
  7. Use this technical age to down size your life. I have started a rather huge project, but one I am truly happy about. I had boxes and boxes of pictures, new and old, that I just never had the time to scrapbook.  Every other day, I have been scanning those pictures and starting to throw some away.  I will be backing them up on cd/dvd so that we have a virtual footprint in case my lap top is compromised.  It feels good to, again, down size and simplify.
  8. Our garage sale will be at the end of May, and everything that doesn’t sell will be thrown on the curb as freebies or picked up by a local Thrift Shop in our town.
  9. Stay optimistic about the move. We have found keeping everyone’s spirits lifted while having to get rid of items helps tremendously. Now, we ALL have our moments. When that  happens, step away from the boxes and trash, and do something else for awhile. Watch tv, take a walk, just get your mind off of it for awhile so you can gain a clear perspective again on WHY you are doing this.  Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of what the goal is when you are doing the same thing hours, days, or weeks on end.
  10. Look ahead to what you will gain from this.  We haven’t had new furniture in many years, so we are happy to have it soon.  The kids will get their own rooms, so they are super excited about that.  It will be refreshing to move a small amount and not have to worry about a days worth of moving things, opening boxes, etc…  Yes, we have to buy certain items, but like I said, we will enjoy the minor shopping spree for our new home in our new city and state.
  11. There is no time like the present. Whether you are moving this year, or 3 years from now, it is never too soon to start to organize your move.  You will be happy that you started earlier than later so that once the harder decisions start to cross your path, the easier things have already been done and taken care of.
  12. Be aware of what you purchase from here on out.  Our Christmas was quite different this year because of our pending move. We bought items that could be moved, and anything else had a shelf life of 5 months to be played with and/or used.  If you don’t want to move that brand new couch, wait to buy it where you are moving to. You get the idea.
  13. Don’t be afraid to keep things, just not everything.  We are keeping our memory boxes, Hallmark ornaments, and certain Disney items that we feel cannot be replaced. If it means ALOT to you, prioritize what level it means to you and move forward from there.
  14. We each get ONE bin for clothes… that’s right. It has to fit in one large bin what we have treasured wearing over the years, or it get’s tossed into the garage sale.  It will be a bit easier for us since alot of the heavier, warmer stuff won’t be needed as much as the shorts and t-shirts.  This does not include our winter jackets, which we will use to fill the gaps in, in the trailer. Yes, FL still can get cold, so we are bringing them, just in case.

I hope this answered your question Greg, and that we helped anyone else looking to move, relocate, or just down-size their lives.  Thanks for stopping by, I’m off to work on more boxes!


  1. Amy that’s exactly what I did this December. I have a small storage place in the yard and it was full with stuff. You couldn’t walk inside there if you wanted to grab something.
    So I decided to do a huge cleaning.

    And while I was busy I went through our closets, the boys rooms, my cabinets.

    When everything was cleaned out I had a truck come and take them all to a place that’s kind of like the Salvation Army you have there in the States.

    Porch sales are not common here.
    The truck had to come and go two times!!!!!!

    I felt relieved when everything was gone. It may hurt a little when you are throwing it away but soon you won’t even remember what it was that you throwed away 🙂


  2. Today while putting up our Christmas stuff for storage, our goal was to sort though the must keeps and the stuff we can let go. We really thought we might move back in the fall, but we realized how unprepared we were, and every day we have in our mind to downsize for the move. Although, we’re not downsizing like you guys, but good for you!


  3. I am so happy for you guys. I don’t know how you are able to do this but I give you and your family alot of credit. This has to be hard on your girls too. you are always in my thoughts here and I hope for the best for all of you. You sure have made me realize what I can do with done of the “junk” I can’t lift more than 3-5 lbs so I have to rely on Harry for that or one of the kids. This is what I want to work on now this year and that is clearing out all the unused, untouched, unneeded stuff..thanks Amy! You are a true inspiration and it will be upsetting to move so far away but there’s always the nice visits.


  4. Amy,
    I agree with Mark V who mentioned Freecycle. I love it and would rather post there than give to Goodwill etc. I know some may get offended for my saying that, but I’d rather see the items get used by those that need it and possibly can’t afford it. Goodwills prices can sometimes be a little steep on things. I just Freecycled my couch, loveseat and chair to a single mom with 3 young children. She needed help getting it picked up as well so hubby helped her.

    Good luck!!


  5. Good for you guys!! The only “things” we stressed about
    bringing were the costuming, the Disney ornaments,
    and…oh…roughly 40 boxes of books. We had only a couple pieces
    of furniture, and most of them have since been Freecycled!


  6. I am not planning on moving for at least 3 more years and I already think about “I don’t want to take that with me”. We could never fit everything in a 5×8 trailer, though, I am so impressed. Part of that is because Hubby and I build our own furniture and the stuff we build, we want to keep…plus the tools we use to build take up a lots of space! 🙂 I am super impressed with you!


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