Cheapest Destinations Blog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Strange Joy of Shedding Possessions for a Move Abroad


Moving abroad out of the country

For the third and probably last time, I am shedding a big percentage of my possessions and am heading out of the country. I am moving abroad with just a few suitcases.

The photo above was the scene outside my house the first time I did this, back when our daughter was 10. All our worldly goods not coming with us to Mexico went into a moving truck. Two days later it all went into a 10 X 20-foot storage facility in another state. We flew out with what we could check or carry. The bags fit into a van at the end of our flight for the ride to Guanajuato’s center. For a year we got by with those items and what we could buy locally and it all worked out pretty well.

Old mug from childhood, another thing to get rid of when shedding possessions to move abroad

Why have I kept storing this mug from my childhood?

It was a reminder that we don’t really need more than a fraction of what we usually have in our homes. But now that I’m heading out of the country again, I’m amazed at how much we’d all managed to accumulate. It seems we humans fill the available storage space somehow no matter how much space there is. I would walk around my townhouse complex in Tampa and see two-car garages so full that the residents couldn’t put their car in the garage anymore.

Before that first move from Nashville, however, we did shed a good bit. We netted $417 at a yard sale where everything was priced to sell. I sold my 11-year-old Mazda for cash the same day it went up on Craigslist. Every time someone stopped by our house to say goodbye, we filled their arms with liquor, books, or plants, even talking a few into stuffing some furniture in their car. We recycled what felt like a hundred pounds of old files and papers. For the first time ever, I filled up our trash can for the weekly garbage pickup.

All this felt good. Really good. The metaphorical shackles fell away as I get ready to work from a laptop in a cheaper, slower, less electronically connected, less car-happy place.

Donating what we don't need anymore for a move abroad

With less stuff weighing us down, life got a bit simpler for my family. Sure, I still packed my favorite travel gear and gadgets and we picked up some cool Mexican pottery and decorative items during the year. But away from the consumerist culture, there wasn’t that “Buy buy buy!” refrain ringing in our ears every few minutes. We found a better life for half the price, with less stuff to look after.

A Second Purge and Moving Back to Mexico

Moving abroad means shedding possessions, even when they're ones that have sentimental valueThis time I think we literally got rid of a ton a stuff. As in 2,000 pounds of stuff. And we’re nowhere close to being hoarders. Still, things pile up over the years and some mementos follow us from place to place without even being examined. I found old letters and framed prom pictures from high school I still had, music that I hadn’t played since I studied in college.

Some things like that were symbolically hard to part with because getting rid of them meant I was permanently saying goodbye to that phase of my life. I’m not a musician anymore, I’m a writer, and I needed to come to terms with that. I haven’t worked in the music business, where I was in marketing, for 25 years. So why do I keep storing these old gold records? They had to go.

Some furniture and kitchen items we will keep seeing because they went to my daughter’s new apartment–she’s off on her own now in college. The rest we sold off, threw away, or donated. That was mostly a good feeling, even if our apartment did look strange with nothing in it.

Empty apartment after moving out

I probably still have too much clothing because I’m able to leave some at my mother–in-law’s house. We kept our CDs and books there too. No storage unit this time though. We have a house we own in Guanajuato, Mexico, so that will be our permanent base now. Eventually almost everything will make it down to there on later trips or will also be shed when there’s not a good reason to keep something.

Now excuse me while I find a way to fit what I really care about still into two suitcases and a carry-on for what may be my final move out of the USA. It’s time for one final big packing job after shedding possessions.


Miriam K

Friday 25th of August 2023

This was VERY helpful! Thank you.

Anastasia Tyler

Saturday 24th of November 2018

I can share your wonder at the crap we accumulate. I've lived and worked abroad and am just starting up my blog about it: I think our interests and experiences may be quite similar. I look forward to reading more.


Wednesday 14th of November 2018

Great piece of writing. Loved it.


Tuesday 13th of November 2018

Loved reading it throughout. Amazing piece. Cheers!

Greg Hartzell

Thursday 8th of November 2018

Hola Tim,

Felicitaciones y espero verte en tu ciudad mexicana algún día cuando regrese allí. Estoy en Puerto Escondido ahora. If you can't read this - maybe finally time to get more lessons? Ha ha.

Cindy Gerson

Saturday 23rd of February 2019

Hi Greg, I’m wondering about your adventure, I saw your video before you moved and would love an update on your adventure.