I have moved around quite a bit in my life. One lesson I quickly learned is that material possessions of non-essential items are a big burden. Even the Ancient Greeks knew that what you own, owns you. I no longer subscribe to an ultra-minimalist lifestyle. However, reducing your personal possessions so that you can quickly move is a great benefit.

My ideal setup consists of being able to put all my essential possessions into a backpack and a small duffel bag. I’m going to briefly go through my setup. Note that this is even helpful if you move house and have a lot more stuff because with your essentials at hand, you can already continue with your life at your new place, and unpack your other boxes whenever it suits you.

Arguably the most important items in your possession boil down to a thin folder with important documents, like your birth certificate (not needed in the United States) or your degrees. Your laptop is probably pretty important, and you probably keep your phone on you anyway. Credit cards and membership cards you can put into your backpack. Then you pick a plastic bag for toiletries, and an electric shaver. Yes, of course, an electric shaver can’t compete with a shaving razor, but you can use it everywhere, at least if you have one with an in-built battery.

At this point, your backpack is barely fully, so add a the following: three pairs of socks and underpants, two T-/dress/polo shirts, and an extra pair of trousers. Your backpack better have a separate pocket on the outside for storing a bottle of water because you surely do not want to risk ruining your documents. If you have a longer trip ahead of yourself, you need energy-dense food. A pound of cashew nuts, for instance, goes a long way. If you ever need to put together a bug-out bag, for instance because your bi-polar soon-to-be-ex wife just botched an attempt to kill you, this is it. You grab it and you leave, and then you can go anywhere you want.

In your duffel bag you put clothes: more pants, shorts, shirts, two pairs of shoes, and so on. I would not put anything in it which you will not use within the next few days, which may means that you won’t even be able to fill the duffel bag. I should probably mention that I do not have to wear suits in my line of work. If you do, then you may need to swap the duffel bag for a trunk. Leather shoes are also more difficult to maintain than sneakers.

The first time I did this, I was surprised by how little I really needed. You may end up with a few boxes with your remaining stuff at your new place, which you will unpack only weeks later. Thus, the big takeaway is that most of the stuff you collect you don’t really need, and if you don’t need it, why do you keep it?

Being “hypermobile” is particularly important if you need to move a lot. This may apply to you if you are a student or young professional who is jumping from one short-term rental contract to another, or if you need to travel a lot for work. You may then realize that there is not even any point in renting a larger place as you are living in a hotel half the time anyway.

While it has been quite a while since I moved a lot, sharing apartments with random people in Berlin and other places, the behavior of dividing my possessions into essentials and non-essentials has been ingrained in me. Even if you think you may never be in such a situation, you never know. Plenty of guys are surprised when they get laid off, or when their supposedly loving wife hands them the divorce papers. Maybe only your job or your family ties you down to your current city. Yet, when that is no longer the case, you probably want to be able to move as soon as possible, know what you need to take with you, and what you can discard.

Did you enjoy this article? Great! If you want to read more by Aaron, check out his excellent books, the latest of which is Meditation Without Bullshit. Aaron is available for one-on-one consultation sessions if you want honest advice. Lastly, donations for the upkeep of this site are highly appreciated.

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