Lessons from Combining Households

It’s done. The move is behind us.  Moving is one of the top three most stressful events in your life.  I don’t know how some people move over and over and over.  We are absolutely exhausted and don’t want to do it again any time soon, that’s for sure.

There are so many moves in this day and age where adults from different households move in together.  That in itself is a very exciting life transition. However, combining stuff from two households into one is a huge challenge.  I have helped clients through the process but haven’t done it myself in over 30 years. I have a whole new level of empathy to bring to my next downsizing project. 30 years ago, I had no stuff and neither did my partner.

However, later in life I think most of us own nicer stuff and are more attached to things that have been with us for a long time.  For example, in our case neither of us was willing to let go of our sectional sofa or television cabinet.  Yes, we brought two sofas and two large TV cabinets into our new two-bedroom unit.  Believe it or not, I think it’s working nicely much to my surprise.

His sectional was an affordable choice that he bought two years ago when he sold his house and downsized.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it whatsoever.  Its new home is in the second bedroom which we are using as the den and music room.  I sound just like my grandparents. They had the den for watching TV and the formal living room for visitors.  As many households have today, however, there is another TV in the living room, hence the need for two TV cabinets.  Plus they do have a lot of storage and are both new in the last two or three years.

My sectional sofa is a completely different story.  It has been in my life for probably 25 years. It is very well built and was reupholstered by my dad (with my uncle’s help) years ago as one of his last projects before retiring. So, as you may have guessed I am super attached.  And it’s still very comfortable. The fabric is starting to show some signs of wear and tear so it will likely be reupholstered again in a few years.  However, a good professional cleaning and some fabulous new legs gave it just the update it needed.

The Precious Sectional in It’s New Home

Each of us has attachments to different types of stuff.  I love décor so my furniture, draperies and artwork are very important to me.  He loves music and wrestling, so his bass guitars and wrestling memorabilia are very important to him.  One place where we were thankfully on the same page was in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Neither of us could care less about any of that so we kept what was in better condition and let go of the rest.

We both lived in small apartments so we couldn’t have a lot of stuff, or so we thought.  Both of us did a fair bit of purging before this move.  When you pack everything you own in bins and boxes and move it all into a new place, it certainly feels like way more stuff than you thought you owned.  However, when you unpack it all and put it away it’s not nearly as bad.

The main lesson we learned, which I have reiterated to clients many times over the years, is we should have purged more before moving.  I always recommend a second pass, perhaps a third pass is wise in this case.  We have five huge boxes full of things to giveaway which is a lot for two people with not much stuff.  And sadly, we paid movers to bring it all here.

My advice to anyone entering into this transition is to have lots of discussion before you move. Not only so that you can decide what to keep and what to let go of but also to help you when you are searching for a new place to live to ensure everything will fit. Look at everything you own and talk about what you are attached to and what you are not.  Be mindful of the other persons feelings and try to reach a common ground where you are both happy with what you have kept.  Word of warning, keep a lot less than you “want” to.  Please remember there is freedom in living with less.

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