Last week we began the long arduous process of selling all of our things. We’re trying to limit our anxiety by getting on top of this sooner than later.
The ball got rolling on this project in October when we received a note from our landlord that our rent was going up in December. The increase in rent came as no surprise, since the rents are skyrocketing everywhere in Portland.
Most of the creative class, and my friends in the yoga community are being priced out of their neighborhoods. While our rent increase is still in a range that we can afford, we decided (kind of spur-of-the-moment) that we should use it as the motivation we need to get on top of this task.
We decided that we would sell everything and move out by the end of November, and then spend the month of December couch surfing with our friends. We hope that between the two of us we have enough places to stay and not overstay our welcome at any one place.
Now that the process has started, I’m glad that we’re getting rid of everything sooner rather than later. I didn’t want to be in possession of our stuff at the end of December and panicked about getting rid of things last minute. Plus, I imagine that the general business of the holidays would complicate our efforts of selling everything.
The Process of Selling
The key to selling all of your things is to realize that the value you place on them, is not the same value that others will have. You must be willing to severely discount most things, and not expect that they are investments you will get a good return on.
Of course there are a few items that we priced higher, and are diligently trying to sell, but for most things our starting price is less than half of what we paid for it. For many random objects: plates, utensils, and stuff, we’re pricing very very low. We’d rather get rid of it for any amount than be faced with dumping it off at donation centers.
There are plenty of other expats who have shared their stories of selling things. After reading their blogs, we knew what we were getting ourselves into.
Now that we’re halfway through November, we’ve got two weeks to go before we need to be out of our apartment. Here’s the process that we’re following to sell our stuff.
We created an event on Facebook so that we could easily invite our friends, post updates, photos, and times when people could come by and rummage. We also hoped to efficiently use this time for seeing some people one last time before we move.
Having everyone show up within one block of time didn’t really work out so well, but through the photos that we posted in the events page, we did end up selling many of our big furniture items.
If you have a lot of friends on Facebook, it can be a pain in the butt scrolling through and only inviting those who live nearby, or who would be interested. Fortunately, I have previously placed everyone I know in Portland into a separate list. Inviting only Portlanders to the event was as easy as clicking on one list instead of scrolling through all of my friends.
I made this list a few years ago when I realized that I didn’t want to blast my local yoga classes and events information to all of my friends that are spread all over the country. There’s no sense in advertising things to people (spamming) who would have no possible chance of attending anyway.
I’ve kept this list up to date over the years by adding new friends to the list as they come in. That way, I don’t have to scroll through my entire friend list to update it on occasion. Whenever I get a new friend in the Portland region, I immediately go to their profile, click on the friends drop down, select the “Add to another list” option, and select Portland.
You can make any number of lists this way to segment the things that you post to certain people in your entire friends list. I chose to make my own list instead of using Facebook’s location feature, because Facebook would automatically add or remove people to their location list as people update their location in their profiles. I prefer to choose who to add or remove myself.
We are using Craigslist for our big ticket items that our friends have not snatched up. These are items that we absolutely want to sell, and not be faced with having to give it away in order to be free of it.
Portland is a city that takes pride in reusing things, and reducing its carbon footprint. As a result, the Craigslist here is a very busy place. We’ve sold a few things, and we’re happy with the pace so far. However, sometimes selling on Craigslist is a waiting game. When will someone see your add and contact you?
Some people will give you ridiculously low offers on things (low balling). Don’t bother responding to them unless you’re desperate. You might feel like providing a polite “No thanks” is appropriate, but really, your time is too valuable to spend on ridiculous people.
Don’t put your things on Craigslist at the last minute and expect to sell everything that you want to.
After all else fails, our last decision will be to dump what we can off at Goodwill. We understand that Goodwill does not entirely live up to its name, and is kind of a racket. However, there is a Goodwill location only about 8 blocks from us, so the convenience of this situation will win out over seeking out more reputable organizations.
For the things that Goodwill will not accept, or are not worth taking to Goodwill, we will place into a nearby apartment complex’s dumpster. Please don’t tell them…
Sure it’s probably illegal dumping, but so is driving 5 miles over the speed limit – which I’ll also admit to. They leave it unlocked… *shrug*.
At the end of the day, I live pretty simply. We have a modest one-bedroom apartment. I rarely buy things that I don’t need, and even after 10 years in Portland I just don’t have all that much stuff compared to what I see other people with. For us, selling everything is not the monumental task that it might be for others. It is stressful nonetheless.
We’re keeping track of everything that we sell in a Google spreadsheet, and overall we anticipate that we will get about $10,000 for the things that we’re able to sell. That, along with our savings, should go a long way in Thailand.