I’ll be frank. Your relationship with things is about to change. If you are serious about becoming location independent, you need a location independent selling plan to match your new-found lust for simple living. Unless you plan on fully relocating your entire home each time you pick up for a new location, you’re pretty much going to be carrying your life on your back or in your car/RV. And that doesn’t leave a lot of room for error – or your precious baseball card collection. Or your favorite Cabbage Patch doll (still in the box of course).
You get my drift, it’s time for some hard choices. Not the type you make when you move to a new home, the type you make when your home becomes the road.
Are you up for the challenge? Depending on where you’re starting in your life path, this may be as simple as boxing up your closet (peace out mom and dad!) to as complicated as undoing years of accumulation in a family home (why did we think all this storage space was a good idea?)
Our newly minted 10-point location independent sale prep guide should help take some of the burden off your shoulders in figuring out where to start. (We hope.) Because this just may be one of the hardest things you’re about to do. And since we already did it for you, why not benefit from our trials and tribulations, right? Right?!?!?
TL;DR: In case you like to skip to then end, and if you’re wondering whether or not it was worth it, I will share that we did make about $10,000 from going through this exercise. And that was worth it for us.
Step 1: Assess Your Move & Location Independent Selling Timeline.
This is a crucial first step in figuring out just how much your life might suck for the next few weeks while you touch every single thing you own, decide where it’s going and then relocate it accordingly to wait for its final destination.
In our world, here were the parameters we had to work with:
- We had just sold a 3BD/2BA house with a finished basement, and a two-car garage with attic that we’d lived in for 10+ years. (We’d be very efficient about storing anything humanly possible in every nook and cranny.)
- We had about five (5) weeks to get out.
- We were traveling across the country in a Honda Fit, so room for some stuff, but not much.
Even if you don’t have exactly the same issues to tackle that we did, I do suspect you’re going to have a similar set of decisions to make. Start by determining your final move-out date and working backwards. Once you know that date, plan for key activities each of the weekends leading up to the move-out date. For example, we knew we needed to have our final BIG yard and garage sale no later than the weekend before we were moving out in order to capitalize on making money back for the things we couldn’t take with us, and it didn’t make sense to store. This included nearly all the furniture from our three-bedroom home.
In order to list your items online or have a meaningful sale, you need to have already gone room by room and categorized everything into the stay, go, sell, donate, pitch process. I’d recommend giving yourself no less than 1 – 2 days per room to do this. I’d start with the most complicated rooms (think large furniture, valuable items to sell, etc.) You also need to leave yourself time to photograph, research and post larger items for sale. That may add another week to your timeline.
When it’s all said and done, your location independent selling timeline might look something like this:
Step 2: Assess Your Quantity of “Shiznet”.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. At least that’s what they’ll tell you. This is only true if you’re crap happens to have been well cared for and isn’t 25 years old (unless it’s a fine antique). You need to take this concept into mind and perhaps ask some friends to help you with the readiness process.
Invite helpers that will be honest with you. I cannot tell you how critical this step is. Your entire timeline and effort depends on how well you can determine what is and isn’t sell-able in your life. The last thing you want is to come to the end of your timeline and realize you have so many things you no longer really want or need, but you’ve not unloaded them yet.
Here’s a quick checklist to help you determine if it might sell and be worth the effort to list online:
- How old is it?
- How worn is it? Does it basically still look brand new or does it look like your dog had a favorite spot?
- Is the brand recognizable and perceived as quality or value?
- Is it still fashionable / desirable as a form of clothing, art, furniture, decor or home supply?
- Is it timeless and useful no matter the age (some tools, games, toys, antiques, etc.)
- Would you buy it if you saw it sitting on a cluttered garage sale table? Be honest.
Doing this and making a detailed room-by-room list for yourself will not only help you ensure you don’t forget about something precious, but also prevent you from forgetting to research the used pricing of a key valuable item. Give yourself several days (if not weeks) to adequately finish this step.
Step 3: Assess Your Moving and Selling Budget.
It’s nice to start to add details about what price you’d like to list some of your items for online and at your sale. I might recommend Excel or Google Sheets for this effort. This way, you can have a basic idea about what the effort might net you to determine how worthwhile it is for you to pursue. This was a big aid to me in continuing to work through the process of selling, and also helped me decide what was valuable enough to list online (furniture) and what small things (stuff under $10) that simply didn’t merit the effort.
Don’t forget to budget for some expenses for your location independent selling plan.
The largest expenses that we had to ready ourselves for moving out and hitting the road were:
- Nearby storage unit for ~6 weeks (about $70)
- Moving storage boxes, packing tape and similar supplies (~$60)
- Online listing services to promote our garage sale ($25)
- Metal shelving units for longer-term storage ($160)
- You might also have extra hotel expenses, auto storage expenses or other similar items here.
Step 4: Plan Your Move. Plan your Sale(s).
I touched on this quite a bit up in Step 1: Timeline, but I’d like to further help you envision what’s necessary to get the stuff ready to go its merry way.
Here is what every day leading up to the sale sort of looked like for us:
- Go to a room in your house.
- Start to pack a room in your house.
- Divide the items into your pre-determined categories (stay, go, sell online, sell garage sale, donate, trash, etc.)
- Box and label the items that were staying home and needed to go into longer-term storage. (I made some handy color-coded labels that I used per room and put two (2) on each box – one on top and one on side so we knew what was in each box.)
- Take garage sale items to garage or off-site depending on storage space.
- Take “stay” items to storage space, labeled and packed.
- Put all other items (donate, trash, recycle, return) in their respective sections in the garage for processing.
- Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. RE-PEAT. OMG, is it over yet? Repeat.
This is a great time to start to determine how much space you will need for your sale. My general rule of thumb is that each box of stuff will take up about one (1) table. My friends thought I was crazy (I’m sure) when I asked for about 30 folding tables on loan for our sale, but we actually filled every single one of those tables, and were able to organize our stuff pretty well by room, type, size, and shape so that people could shop easily.
And when people can see what you have for sale, they can buy. If you have too many things crammed too tightly on a table, people cannot tell if there is anything that they’d enjoy taking home with them in their hot mitts. This was super obvious when we had people browsing the tables, so I’d suggest you over estimate your needs hear instead of skimping. You can always take down a table, you cannot manifest one if you don’t have it the day of the sale.
Our sale actually ended up including the entire garage, as well as the entire back yard. (Our garages were detached and on the alley, so this made more sense for us.) We were able to put the most easily damaged or high-valuable items in the garage where they could be watched, and other more durable items in the backyard in case it rained, or if someone got sticky fingers. (I don’t care if you lift a spatula, but a couch is another matter.)
Step 5: Online Sales.
After you’ve done your first round of “stuff” assessments, it’s time to take it to the Interwebs for some sales. I had two (2) very effective locations to list our items. These included Craigslist and Facebook Local Sale Listing Groups. Most people know about listing their items on Craiglist and do so one item at a time in normal life. However, you’re life will not be normal during this time. You’re trying to be as effective and efficient with your time as possible. In this case, I’d batch process my Craiglist postings so I was putting up several at a time. I’d also make sure I always checked the “show other ads by this user” option on all our posts. When you do this, an extra little box (either on the side or below the post if you’re on mobile) shows up to allow users to see all YOUR Craiglist posts in one place. This is super handy when you want to advertise what all you’re selling on your own Facebook page and profile. We had a ton of furniture for sale, and rather than waste my time answering loads of questions about each set, people could see it all and ask me reserving it in one place.
Local Facebook sales groups are very specific to your exact city, so you’ll need to do some research, but there are group pages (normally accessible by invitation from a friend in the group) that specifically allow residents in a targeted geographic region list their personal items for sale. You have less haggling in these groups and a more dedicated, serious population of users always looking for gently used sale items. This is also a great way to cross-promote your complete list of Craigslist items (remember the link I mentioned above?) and your big ol’ yard sale. So this serves many purposes. Find these private groups if you can.
Nextdoor is also a new favorite in many neighborhoods. If you’re not familiar with the tool, it serves as an online neighborhood forum that is specific to your area. It is used for general announcements, crime notifications and sales. Glorious sales. The same logic applies here as the Facebook group. Use this tool to cross-promote all you other Craigslist listings, your big yard sale and if you are feeling extra capable, consider a special “Neighbors Preview Night” where they get first dibs on your sale items.
PayPal and Venmo make great options for accepting online payments. While I’d normally shy away from having any Craigslist transactions reserved with PayPal, speed may be of the utmost importance in this instance and if you are dealing with neighbors, friends, or friends of friends, I allow for a little more accessibility in accomplishing the goal. Are there risks? Sure. Are there rewards and is speed one of them? Yep.
Step 6: Garage and Yard Sales.
If you’d like to help capitalize on your downsizing goals, I suggest you have a big ol’ garage or yard sale. Depending on where you live, you may have some limitations about what you’re allowed to do in your neighborhood and length of sale, so check to make sure you’re in compliance before you start and then have a neighbor come over and “kindly” inform you. Ahem.
There are a few no-brainer spots for advertising your garage sale. I’m going to give you my list (in order) of the places that I listed our sale and their significance in driving traffic:
- Craigslist. Undoubtedly, this is the best (free) place to advertise your garage sale. As I mentioned above, one of the best things about Craigslist is the “see other ads by this user” feature and if you capitalize on using this link to all your listed items frequently (including in your garage sale listing) you really help the maximum number of people see whether or not you’re selling something they want to buy. Many of the people attending our sale specifically mentioned items they’d seen online and were looking for them exactly. Keywords are your friend here, so be as specific as possible about the types of items you have to sell.
- Facebook or Nextdoor Neighborhood Pages. This is a very concentrated audience of interested and educated buyers. It’s also less effort for a neighbor to come over and get something from you instead of a person on the other side of town. If both of these locations exist for you, consider spending time advertising your sale here.
- GSALR.com. Garage Sales by Map, is one of many garage sale directory sites owned by Treasure Listings (like several others on this list) it does offer a free listing option. It’s quick and easy to list here and on their other sites. **Note: This company didn’t ask for these mentions, I simply found their interface easy enough to use, and so similar on each domain that I saw no harm in taking the few extra minutes to post it on several of their options.
- Garage Sale Tracker. This gives users a map view of local garage sales in their area. Also owned by Treasure Listings.
- Garage Sales Everywhere. This is an app available on Android phones. Other similar apps also exist for iOS and Andriod phones. This app may or may not still be available, however you can easily find other similar tools if it is no longer current.
- YardSales.net. Another site owned by Treasure Listings. I figured, why not try listing the sale in multiple places? The interface is nearly identical on all their sites, so you’re pretty fast at entering the data after the first one.
- YardSaleSearch. Also owned by Treasure Listings.
Step 7: Donations.
Hopefully by now you’ve sold, recycled, or re-purposed nearly every single thing in your life you don’t plan on keeping. But, damn it if those lawn darts are still sitting in the box left over from the garage sale. One little impalement issue and now no one wants lawn darts. Figures.
In case you have one or many items left over (I think we had about 14 bags and boxes of things), don’t fret. There’s always time for donations. A win-win for any community and pack rat!
Every city will have its own set of great donation centers. The only suggestion I make here is to really look at what you have left and make sure it still has life left in it. If it is total trash, broken or just so outdated no one would honestly use it now, it’s time to recycle or trash that item. Sorry, it just is.
But, some items really do have life left in them, and if they just found the right home, someone else would get to enjoy them quite a bit, even if that means donating them.
Here are a few of my personal favorites that are available in most markets:
- Goodwill Industries. Nearly every major city has a number of Goodwill locations. Depending on where you live, some Goodwill operations will actually come to you for larger items. Goodwill has become more sophisticated in recent years and offers a number of online tracking tools, as well as good ol’ paper receipts. Don’t forget to get your receipts. The IRS is happy to help you figure out how to determine the value of your donated items.
- The Salvation Army. Similar to Goodwill, the Salvation Army is available in most major U.S. markets and offers pick-ups! You can learn more about the SA truck and its operations on their donation site.
- AMVETS. Offering donation services in exchange for funds to support veteran programs, AMVETS might be a good choice if a thrift store is in your area.
- Dress for Success. One of my personal favorites, Dress for Success is a non-profit organization that collects profession women’s wear and offers it to women in the community who are seeking gainful employment, or reentering the workforce. If you have a closet full of suits and professional separates and you know they are still in tip-top shape, make a point to get to know this organization. Your smart suit may be the difference between a new job and career for a woman in your community. Presently the organization has 140 affiliates in 20 countries.
- Shelters & Churches. Local homeless shelters and faith-based community outreach programs can always benefit from gently used clothing, household items and other small linens. If you have items that would be greatly appreciated by a family in need, consider this option as well.
Don’t forget to record a detailed receipt with resale values (not retail) of the items you donated for your tax deduction.
Step 8: The Final Purge.
It’s time to fill the dumpster. As sad as it is to admit, there are always going to be a few things left in your life that have no home. And those need to go out on trash day. If it is crushing your soul to entertain the fact that something you bought might end up in a landfill, consider leaving the more interesting stuff on the curb before trash day to see if any scavengers come along to get them. I know, I know, it’s not ideal, but it’s reality. Like I said at the start of this post…one man’s trash is another man’s Sunday Funday Pickup Truck Extravaganza.
Step 9: Move-Out Day.
You did it. You did it. You should have some cash in your pocket now and be down to the final cleaning. You didn’t accidentally sell all your cleaning products did you? Phew.
Celebrate with some bubbly after you finish what has to have been one of the most complicated tasks anyone has every undertaken. Yea! You winner, you!
Step 10: Contingency Storage & Dwellings. Living with Friends.
One of the things that may become necessary during your evaluation process, and shortly after your move-out day is a storage unit. We were able to get a small storage unit in a climate-controlled limited-access building near our home. I recommend you investigate your options in this regard in case this could be helpful to you as well.
The units can get quite pricey if you need a larger one, so be mindful of exactly how much space you will need. Do you have a friend who has space in a basement or garage you could use for a few weeks? This may also accomplish the goal while you are sorting and packing. Longer-range storage is probably best handled with a professional storage company, or with immediate family. (Others may grow weary of seeing your precious baubles filling up their lives for too long.)
Another thing we found helpful while sorting, moving and packing was staying with nearby friends. You may also find this handy and perhaps have someone in your life who can accommodate you in this way. Consider this as part of your planning process and see if this may also reduce some of your stress along the way. (After all it’s way easier to pack up the bedrooms, bathrooms and closets if you’re not still trying to use them every morning.)
Have more tips, ideas, tricks or questions? Share your location independent selling stories with us. I’d love to see your packing pictures! Maybe we’ll meet on the road one day.