Whether you’re moving home or looking to make some savings on your household costs, downsizing is something many expats are considering in our straightened times. Shelina Jokhiya, founder of Decluttr Me, explains how to organise yourself to make the most of your move…

When it comes to expat moves, some people get virtually no notice at all and have to leave the country immediately – a hugely stressful process – while others will have a few months or even years to plan for the move. In an ideal world you’ll get as much notice as possible, but I hope the following tips and tricks will prove useful to anyone who finds themselves having to contemplate a move to a smaller property, whether due to a home move, retirement or an expat relocation.

Relocating can make for an incredibly stressful time, no matter what type of move you are making. Not only are you dealing with deciding what stuff to take with you, but also with the logistics of moving your items, cancelling the utility services, completing the last few weeks in your job, dealing with the visa formalities and, of course, saying goodbye to the friends you have made over the years.

To ease the burden of making the next move, here are a few of my tips to help alleviate the stress:

Tip # 1 Start reviewing your clothes and accessories

Will you need ten ballgowns for your next destination? Or 20 pairs of flip-flops, which might be a bit extreme for the European weather? We all have items in our closets which are old, don’t fit, are out of style or are something we have never worn. Sort them into bundles to donate, sell or throw away and only ship or move what you really need, love and want to wear.

Tip # 2 Declutter your books and magazines

You don’t need to take the old copies of local magazines to your next destination (unless you are in it – in which case, frame that page and get rid of the rest of the magazine). Lots of travel books? Donate them and, for future holidays, get the phone app issued by that country, which is normally free. Books are some of the bulkiest items many of us possess and can increase your shipping costs, so don’t take books you will never read again or that don’t hold any sentimental value to you.

Tip # 3 Get rid of…

Items still in the boxes from your last move. Did you put it in the shed and promptly forget about it? What are the odds you will need it again? Leave it outside, gift it to your gardener or helper, or donate it to one of the many registered charities here who can use it or sell it for funds. If you didn’t open it post last move then you never will.

Designer carrier bags and shoe boxes. Yes they are very pretty, but no you don’t need to take them across the world with you. Recycle them.

Gifts you were given and never liked. Donate them or give them as gifts to friends now (one person’s junk is another person’s treasure…).

Tip # 4 Starting selling bulky items

If you know there is an IKEA in the country you are moving to, don’t waste your money on shipping your IKEA items with you, unless they are vintage. Start selling furniture and appliances now using the Facebook second hand groups, secondhand apps or to your friends. But be warned – it is a buyer’s market at the moment so be prepared to get less than you might have been expecting. If you are from the USA, Canada or another country that likes to tax expats, make receipts for all the items you sell or donate so that you can claim them back when filing your tax returns.

Tip # 5 Review your paperwork

Do you really need to take all the papers from your job? Business cards from 2007 are most probably obsolete now. Old utility bills are not required, especially for your first apartment in the Marina. Shred or recycle all of these items. Just take the paperwork that you need for accounting and legal purposes, as well as records such as wedding and birth certificates.

Tip # 6 Throw away old toiletries and makeup

Both types of items have a sell by date (many have the dates on the products now) so if you are not using them now, throw them away and buy new toiletries and makeup at your new destination. Remember a lot of toiletries burst during transit. Unless it’s new, get rid of it.

Tip # 7 Bin expired food, medicine and other household items

If they have expired, throw them away. If they are close to expiring, use them now or donate them to your maid, gardener or friend.

Tip # 8 Sell your car

Yes you loved it, yes it is big and bulky enough to protect you from the crazy Nissan and Toyota drivers, but it’s time to let it go. Cars are often difficult to sell and involve a lot more paperwork and bureaucracy than household items, so don’t leave it until the last minute to try and sell it. And remember to pay off all your fines first.

Start dealing with these points as soon as possible from the moment you decide you are moving. The more time you have to declutter your items, the less panic you will feel closer to the leave date. As you get closer to the big move, start reviewing the items left in each room and decide if you really love them enough to take them to your next destination. Donate anything excessive such as plates, cutlery and older appliances. Keep a suitcase open to start packing items that you must have with you on an immediate basis when you land in your new destination.

Shelina Jokhiya has lived in Dubai for over 12 years and is the founder of DeCluttr Me, a home and office organising company and the UAE’s only licenced, professional organising service. Shelina has a passion for organising and decluttering, as well as sourcing innovative new storage methods and tips and tricks.