Selling everything you own: Reality Check!

So you decide to take that huge leap into the unknown and sell everything you own to travel the world without ties and with no clear agenda for returning home. Your friends think you’re crazy as you explain how you don’t need anything except the clothes on your back and your passport full of visas. You’re family worry about you not getting on the property ladder, not settling down and whether you’ll have enough years to pay into a pension. Then reality strikes…you have one month to get rid of everything you own!

Do I need to sell everything?

There is no need to sell everything you own if you are going for a finite period. You don’t want to come back after 3 months backpacking around SE Asia to have nothing and ultimately start again. This would be both stressful and costly. However, if you intend to travel for as long as you can or are going for a year and haven’t got anywhere to store your belongings then this might be the most sensible option. We looked at storage costs for our belongings while we initially travelled for 12 to 18 months. This was to store a full house worth of furniture everything from a three seater sofa and double bed, down to our book and DVD collection. However, with quotes coming in well above £1500 we just knew this wasn’t feasible. Especially as much of what we wanted to store was from IKEA anyway and would be easily replaceable. It may be that you have someone who can store the items for you or you own your own property and can rent it out – these were not options open to us.

What are the benefits of selling everything you own?

One of the biggest benefits is freedom – freedom to travel for as long as you want with no material ties to bring you back if plans change. In addition to this is not having to pay for storage at a price equal to replacing your items and the peace of mind gained by not worrying about the security of your treasured possessions. However, what appealed to me more than anything about selling it all, stemmed from a quote from one of my favourite films – Fight Club:

The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything, that you’re free to do anything.

I had always been a bit of a minimalist but never quite achieved it on the kind of scale I wanted. It irritated me slightly (why I’m not 100% sure) when I saw others hoarding belongings or talking about how they just needed yet another item. Here was my chance to start again, to be free to do anything – the boss of my own destiny. Anthony on the other hand wasn’t in such a rush to slim down his possessions and so, if like him, you quite like the things you own & feel you’ve had to work pretty hard to have them in the first place – then this might be a much bigger step than you realise.

What are the difficulties and drawbacks of selling everything you own?

Just because we’d made the decision to sell it all (for the reasons already outlined) – didn’t mean it was all plain sailing. Firstly we had a full time job to do and needed to maintain our standard of living for as long as possible. Secondly, we didn’t want to be in the position of paying rent on an empty house so needed to coincide getting rid of our belongings with the end of our tenancy. Unfortunately for us this is the day after we finish our job contract.

We’re still not sure even as we write this post how we are going to coordinate leaving work on the Friday (did I point out this is also 6 days before Christmas!!) and moving out the following day, with all our belongings sold and removed.

However, ever the optimists, we continued with this plan in mind. We began in good spirits by photographing our items, mentioning items in passing to friends and family, as well as looking for the same or similar items online to work out our asking price. We flirted a bit with eBay – putting a single item on – naively unaware of the fees, the pricing for postage or the need to find something suitable to send the item in. On completion of the sale we gloated to others about how we were going to sell it all, and it may only be £20 but we had to start somewhere.

Since this first sale we have continued to use eBay for those items we believe are collectible AND are easy enough to package and send through the post. Everything else (mostly furniture and my car SMU) has gone on Gumtree. Gumtree seems to be really popular in our area and if this is the same for you then it’s a great place to advertise your items (for FREE) and have them collected too. So far we have shifted a whole load of stuff from my car down to our cutlery!! This did result in having to borrow two of everything (Noah’s Ark meets IKEA) from my mom!!

Tips on selling

  1. Take good photos of what you want to sell and lots of them. People won’t buy it if they can’t see it clearly.
  2. Know what your item is worth, but more importantly the lowest you’re willing to sell it for. Everyone wants a bargain.
  3. It’s a buyer’s market – you can only sell an item for what it’s worth to someone else. Trust me – just because you saved long and hard for something, doesn’t mean you’ll get a penny from anyone else!
  4. Be accurate on your descriptions and remain honest. Don’t try and make out it’s brand new if it’s not. If there is a problem or any damage then photograph it and be upfront about it.
  5. This one may just be the teacher in me…but keep a spreadsheet! Or a least a list. You’ll be surprised by how much you have to sell and will need to record details on the item, the route of sale, price you’re hoping to get and maybe even a list of who’s contacted you.
  6. If you’re selling on Gumtree or through any method that involves people coming to your home then don’t meet alone and request cash to ensure you actually get paid.

If you have any other tips or questions then please free to comment and if like us you plan to sell it all then good luck!

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