Retiring in Williamsburg Blog

Lifestyles, Community Information. Helping you find your new home

What To Leave Behind When You Retire


When you move – whether it is long distance, international or across town – you can save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars by carefully considering what to bring with you and what to leave behind. As your dwelling space gets smaller, your old life won’t fit. More importantly, your new life shouldn’t overwhelm you. Retiring in Williamsburg should feel relaxed and unhurried, not cluttered.

Don Aslett, author of “Clutter’s Last Stand: It’s Time To De-junk Your Life!” says he’s heard countless stories of people who choose to move their junk instead of just getting rid of it.  “A move is a reminder, a temporary snapshot of denial,” he says of this annoying tendency. Yes, moving is always messy and chaotic, but “a snapshot of denial”?  Aslett says to give each item the Immediacy Test: (How long you had it, who gave it to you, or how much it cost, are all irrelevant). The only question that should matter, “Does this enhance my life right now?” De-junking may actually be therapeutic, says Aslett, “When you start throwing tangible stuff out … you’ll find you don’t need accumulation to be happy.”

what to leave behind when you retireEXERCISE EQUIPMENT – most people buy these things with the best intentions, but now you’re stuck with this huge 4-Easy-Paymented dust collector. Assume that you’ll join a gym, use the facility’s center, or power walk with your spouse.

OUTDATED CLOTHING – it is so easy to over pack clothing. Don’t drag around clothes that don’t fit, don’t suit the climate, or don’t suit your lifestyle, anymore. Do your best to separate emotionally from what you will never wear, again. Lastly, if you are moving to a warmer climate, take only your best winter sweaters and heavy coat for holiday travel.

SEVERAL BOXES OF MOMENTOS – as you pack to move, you are faced with framed photos of people that you cannot remember, diplomas, utility bills from 1980, etc. Today, this paper adds stress, clutter, and why would you clutter your new life? Whittle it down to a box or two.  Take the Groan Test. Patricia Linderman, co-author of “The Expert Expat: Your Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad,” says, “If an object will make you groan when you open its box — as in, ‘why in the world did I move that?’ — leave it behind.  Objects like knickknacks and heavy books are likely to cause groans and should only be packed if they’re of direct use or great sentimental value.” Use your move as an opportunity to get rid of all that old junk that just takes up space; anything that you must keep but cannot pack should go into a small amount of long-term storage boxes, clearly marked Long-Term so that they go in the back of your attic. Remember: the more stuff you have, the more you will pay to move it.

OLD FURNITURE THAT YOU WERE STORING FOR A FRIEND – you’ve never really able to place a finger on how you acquired it. If it doesn’t fit your life, here, why would you move it on to your new life?

BOOK COLLECTIONS – of course, you have favorites and you’ll have space for these, but books are heavy and few are read more than once, anyway. Limit yourself to only a few special books: ones with personal inscriptions or favorite and well-read books that you love, still.

PAPERWORK – don’t be weighed down by excess paper. Keep for three years: income documents, deductibles, charitable contributions. Keep for six years: tax returns and payroll. Keep indefinitely – deeds, titles, and partnership contracts. An option if you want to keep paperwork is to scan documents and then upload them onto your computer, eliminating clutter and keeping you organized.

LAWN CARE EQUIPMENT – are you moving into a condo or moving into a community where Lawn Care is part of your Home Owners Association (HOA fees)? Sometimes this includes snow removal, gardening and general lawn maintenance. Leaving these things behind will greatly reduce your moving costs and help eliminated extra hassle once you’ve arrived.

LET YOUR KIDS DECIDE – often, over half of the junk that parents keep is “for the kids.” But parents are surprised how often kids don’t want the things they save. So, line it up and then let them choose what to take with them, now. Don’t save it for them. They can have what they want to keep.

UNFINISHED PROJECTS – if you haven’t read that book or finished that project, in this final hour of moving, it is time to let it go.

GIVE AWAY STUFF TO YOUR FRIENDS – tell everyone you’re paring down and your friends will take full advantage of your “impaired judgment,” says Aslett.

Don’t hesitate to leave your physical and emotional baggage behind when you leave your old life. Moving into your new home is a great way to simplify – don’t make the mistake of shipping your old life. Your new life awaits you – whether you are Retiring in Williamsburg or somewhere else, leave the excess behind – don’t let it slow you down. It is time to let go. Bid adieu to too much stuff – say hello to SIMPLE.

What did you regret moving?

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Rolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO


Licensed in Virginia

Liz Moore and Associates,

5350 Discovery Park Blvd.

Williamsburg, VA 23188

Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


Author: retiringinwilliamsburgrolfkramer

Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.

4 thoughts on “What To Leave Behind When You Retire

  1. Sometimes it is so hard to let go of things and move on. It seems that retirement (and while you are downsizing) is the PERFECT time to do so. thanks for a great article.

  2. I regretted moving hubby’s comic book collection. Mouse Trap. But I cannot make someone ELSE let go of their “stuff”

  3. Life is so much easier if you don’t have stuff that is not useful or beautiful. Friends and children never gave a gift that was meant to be a….

    • Agreed, Pam. Life can be simpler if we choose not to drag our whole life’s belongings around with us. What did you do with your ‘stuff?’ Sell it? Give it to the children?

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