Why you really just need 1 Backpack and 1 Suitcase for moving. Minimalist living.

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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Last year, I invited our newcome colleague to get lunch together. He just moved from New York to Austin and we started talking about his moving experience. Turns out that he had hired a moving company to pack and move his belongings and the boxes were arriving 2 weeks after so he had to make do with limited personal items and no furniture.

2 weeks after, he came to my desk and said he is going to take the afternoon off. The moving truck has arrived at the gate of their apartment complex but they won’t be able to move those boxes into the apartment. My colleague asked them to leave the boxes outside of the gate and he’ll move them into his apartment. “How many boxes?” I asked. “20”. I almost fell out of my chair. He had paid thousands of dollars to get those 20 boxes moved here to Austin and now he has to carry the boxes a long distance and up the stairs by himself.

My side of the story? My family and I also just moved from another state to Austin a couple of months prior. Yet, being a minimalist family, we packed 1 suitcase and 1 backpack each, took the plane, and swiftly ubered to our new home. Moving, done.

One backpack for expensive and important items

This is where all of our expensive or hard-to-replace items are kept. This includes wallets, phones, or laptops. The risk is higher if these items get lost during transit so we keep them with us in carry-ons.

There are also documents as well. Most of our documents are digitalized and stored in both hard-drives and in the cloud. For the small number of documents that can’t be digitalized, we put them in our carry-ons.

One suitcase for replaceable items

Items that can be reacquired should the suitcase goes missing goes into the suitcase. We’re talking about clothes, shoes, and other necessities. The idea is to put items that you think you would need within 1 week of moving and will be too inconvenient to purchase. We kept a capsule closet so we didn’t have much to place in the suitcase anyway.

Where are all the other items?

Books and Notebooks

Two years ago, we made a move to digitalize all of our books and notebooks.


This is a common question that we get. We did some calculations and realized that because we’re moving across states, we might end up paying more for a moving company than if we try to sell our old furniture and buy new ones when we reach Austin. Buying new furniture also saves us a lot of hassle and stress associated with moving large items.

Naturally, there are going to be large furniture or appliances that are not cost-effective to replace or you want to bring to your new place. In this scenario, you would still save a lot with moving costs.

I also wrote about our mindset for decluttering other top 3 difficult items in this other story.

Our family didn’t become minimalists overnights. Prior to our decision to go minimal, you would find us spending weeks packing up for a trip. It took us many stages and conversations. In the end, we are so glad that we started on the journey of minimalism. Now, we can pretty much pack up within a day, making trips and travels a hassle-free breeze.

We now spend more family time together than moving and organizing items that don’t really matter in our lives.

Written by

software engineer (web full-stack) + Machine Learning grad student at UT Austin. I write about studying tips, productivity, and minimalism.

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