Divorces typically end up with one or both people moving out and finding a new place. While that outcome sounds simple on paper, in practice, it’s often a complicated, emotional experience for both parties.
Want to make it a little easier? That’s what this article is for! Below, we’ll provide a move-out checklist you can follow. It’ll walk you through how to move on after a divorce so that you can enjoy your space as quickly as possible.
How to Prepare to Move Out After Divorce
It’s important to note that legally, moving out before a divorce is final could be a mistake. Consult an attorney and create a divorce move-out checklist that protects your interests and belongings.
Once you get past the logistics, you might be unsure how to start over in a new space. For most people, this is uncharted territory that should be handled delicately. Lean on your loved ones and the advice of your attorney to get through the process successfully. As storage experts, we want to focus on what to do with your stuff in the months following the move-out. We’ve found that approaching a new home with the right attitude can help alleviate some of the emotional burdens.
As you adapt, remember that it takes time to rebuild your home after a separation or a divorce. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like your new space isn’t immediately what you want it to be. Initially, it might feel like you’re nineteen again in your first apartment with only a chair and a futon. That’s okay—you’ll get there!
When you’re ready to approach the move itself, you can move onto our divorce moving-out checklist below.
Post-Divorce Moving Checklist
Not quite sure where to start? Follow this sequence to make your post-divorce move as seamless as possible.
1. Get rid of sentimental items.
There’s no universal “moving out and moving on” timeline, but many divorcees wish they had removed sentimental items from their homes sooner.
Instead of seeing items in your home as a constant reminder of a failed marriage, it’s better to look around and be reminded of your new life. Not having visual reminders might also help you move on quicker.
Before or during the packing process, set sentimental items aside to put in storage or get rid of altogether. Even if you’re not quite ready to part with them, knowing they’re tucked away is better than having them in plain sight.
Here’s how to get started:
- Start by removing photos of you and your ex. If you have digital copies of the photos, it’ll be even easier just to get rid of the physical copies. If you want a completely clean slate, you can also donate the frames and start fresh.
- Then, sift through the items you received as wedding gifts. Some of these gifts may not have many feelings associated with them, but others will. Categorize accordingly!
- If you come across other items that have painful memories attached to them, get them out of the house by selling, donating, or tossing them.
- When all sentimental items are removed from the home, go room by room to take a quick inventory. For example, if your ex took the pots and pans, you’ll need a new set. Determine what items are missing and what your budget is, and make a plan to replace what you need. It doesn’t all have to be done at once!
2. Make the bedroom reflect your personality.
Once the sentimental items are removed, most people prefer to start updates in the bedroom. Why? The bedroom is the most personal space you shared with your spouse, so it can be associated with painful memories.
Instead of wallowing in bed, try having fun making this space a makeover. This is your chance to turn your bedroom into the peaceful space of your dreams!
How to update your bedroom:
- Purchase new bedding that reflects your personality. If there’s a color scheme or pattern that makes you feel calm and centered, that’s an excellent choice for your new space.
- Choose a paint color that complements the bedding you’ve chosen. Paint goes a long way toward making the room feel new again. It’s also the cheapest way to make a significant impact right away.
- Decorate the bedroom how you want. Changing a lampshade or adding a new piece of art can really change the room’s dynamic. If you’re on a budget, second-hand stores are great for little decorative touches.
3. Redecorate at your own pace.
After a divorce, you might be functioning in survival mode for a while, and that’s okay. Don’t rush to redecorate a space just because you feel like you have to. Your design taste might even change as you get more in tune with your style, so be open to the evolution. In the meantime, focus on living in the space and slowly collecting items that reflect your personality.
Tips for decorating a space:
- Add decorative touches with new artwork, or frame some drawings from your kids.
- Consider old pieces you have had in storage, or seek out some family heirlooms. These items can help you reconnect to your life before the dissolved marriage.
- Swap out old light fixtures (or add new ones) to gradually update your space. Like paint, new lighting can really change the feel of your space.
- Add items that make you feel comfortable and at home, like throw pillows, blankets, or a comfy reading chair. You get to prioritize your own design needs, so make sure your space has what you need to relax.
Moving out after divorce is no easy task, but having clear goals makes it a little bit easier. If you’re not quite sure where to start, let this checklist be your guide.
Whether you end up pulling old mementos out of storage or adding fun touches here and there, you’ll find that the changes add up over time. Eventually, your space will feel all your own.
Editor’s Note: Originally published November 3rd, 2015 and was revised on July 1st, 2019 & July 11th, 2023 with more information.