About Us

Janet and Paul Stearns

What it’s really like to get rid of all your stuff

If you’ve read my post on why we sold our house and moved into our RV, you’ll know that I had so much fun decorating our home during the 5 years we lived there. When it came time to downsize, I wondered how we would handle giving up literally everything, all those things we bought for the house. Would we really be able to do it? Or would we wind up with a gigantic storage unit?

I have to tell you that my husband is a really great partner because once we decide to do something, he goes all in to make things happen. He immediately set our boundary limits by going out and securing a 5’x5’ storage space. If it didn’t fit in there and it didn’t fit in the RV, it had to go.

Setting the rules

  • It went into the RV if we were absolutely going to use it while we were in the RV.
  • It went into storage if it qualified as important paperwork, personally priceless, or something we couldn’t live without if we ever had a stick-and-bricks home again.

We were big sci-fi collectors and had hundreds of books and collectibles. I had a full-sized TARDIS in the garage.

WHAT are we going to do with all this stuff?


Selling it all

I used the photos our professional photographer took when listing our house to sell our major pieces of furniture. Bedroom sets, dining table, living room furniture, outdoor furniture. These things were easy to part with.

Then there were the things like home decorations and artwork that were a bit more personal and more difficult to post for sale. I had a harder time parting with these.

Then an amazing thing happened

I began posting my items via yard sale groups on Facebook in and around our neighborhood. My neighbors responded in a tremendous way by buying nearly everything like it was a black Friday sale. I was inundated with text messages and phone calls asking if they could come to look at my stuff, and did I have anything I hadn’t posted yet that they could see before anyone else did? When the first weekend of selling was over, we were completely exhausted, and I was planning on doing this over the next 5 weeks until closing!

But that’s not really the amazing thing I was referring to. What was amazing was how happy everyone was with the items they were purchasing. Ecstatic, actually. Maybe I sold it for too little, or maybe I have good taste, or maybe my neighbors just like to buy stuff. All I know is everyone was so happy and I became happy too. It was cool to know that all the things I bought to make our house a home would be spread all over the neighborhood, almost like we were still there. And it was making everyone happy. So much happy.

After that, it became a fun game. I posted different types of items each weekend. One weekend furniture, one weekend garage items, one weekend kitchen items. Neighbors were asking, “let me know when it’s patio weekend, I want that table!”

I’ll never forget my neighbor, Kristen, driving off with my mod lamp strapped to her golf cart with the giant swing arc placing the lamp over the front of the cart. I told her to leave it like that always and run power to it so it can light the way in front of her as she drove. Wish I took a picture of that.

Another amazing thing that happened was the outpouring of support and encouragement from our neighbors when they found out why we were selling all our stuff. Many of them said that giving it all up and traveling is something they wished they could do or hope to do sometime in the future and they were truly excited for us to be taking that step.

What we struggled with

We had two leather chairs that Kalani and Tikaa loved to sit in. The chairs were perfectly sized for them. I wanted to keep those for our next house but Paul was adamant, I’ll give him credit. We would have to pay more to have a bigger storage space to keep them for I-don’t-know-how-long. We could buy new, similar chairs for much less than the long-term storage cost. Yes, it does have personal meaning, but it’s the memory of how much they loved those chairs that have the meaning, not the actual chairs.

It was the same thing with the books

I dragged those books everywhere with me throughout my entire life. Boxes and boxes of books that I packed and unpacked each time I moved. Painstakingly putting them back in alphabetical order by genre on the bookshelves and then packing them with care once again. Paul did the same with his books and when we married, we combined our books together and continued this exercise.

I’ve read every one of those books, many more than once. But in the 5 years we lived in our house, I hadn’t picked up a single one of them. No need, everything is on my Kindle nowadays. But still, I found that book in that little store at that time in my life. That’s a tough thing to give up.

Paul, who admits nothing, admitted to me that donating our books was the hardest part for him as well.

We donated the majority of our books, movies and audio CDs (yes we still had those) to various organizations; primarily Ronald McDonald House and the VA. All our Star Wars books and collectible items were donated to Rancho Obi-Wan where maybe one day we can visit them. We each kept one box of books that we couldn’t part with which are now in storage.

The final weekend

On the last weekend in our home, we still had lots of items left over. Some stuff I thought would sell but didn’t. Some items were just too small to list individually and there was just no time left. So for our big finale, I invited everyone who bought something from us over the last 5 weeks to come by and shop the rest for free. Yes FREE.

When they were shopped out, I posted to our neighborhood yard sale page on Facebook and told all our neighbors to come and get the rest.

By Sunday afternoon, there were only two little boxes of items that went to Goodwill.

It was a crazy weekend.

On the last day, when we left the empty house and pulled into our waterfront RV spot, I didn’t miss any of it.

I felt liberated and happy. So much happy.

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