When it comes to what to pack and what to sell before you move to a warmer climate Jennifer Patterson, owner of Terra Designs in Charleston, South Carolina, knows her stuff. Here are her tips for sorting out your belongings before you load up the truck:
Coastal climates are harsh environments. You’ll be dealing with high humidity, salt, new kinds of insects, rainfall, house guests and high temperatures. In historic and tourist towns, real estate prices are high and old houses are smaller—don’t count on having as much square footage or storage, and don’t count on having a basement. Also, in high-humidity environments you won’t want to store anything in an attic or garage that can mold or rot. Take into consideration that many beach towns are at sea level and have a high likelihood of flooding—your valuables should never be on the ground floor. All of these factors may sound like negatives, but they actually can be to your benefit. Coastal dwellers are minimalists—and since you’ll want to spend more time outdoors having fun and less time in doors cleaning dustables—that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
What should you take with you when you pack? “Linen fabrics, old wood tables, white slip covered sofas and natural grass rugs,” Patterson says. “Hotter climates require a lighter palate of colors and fabrics that soothe the senses.” Bring any outdoor fabrics and furniture, all of your lighter linens and all of your china and serving ware, Patterson advises. “Coastal towns are usual very social and you’ll do plenty of entertaining.” This experienced interior designer also warns that going native doesn’t mean going nautical. Instead combine your vintage or heirloom pieces with more modern furnishings for a fresh twist on traditional coastal decor. Mixing old with new keeps your home from being too themed, stuffy or pretentious. Bring compact furniture, bicycles and outdoor gear, light sweaters, sweatshirts and fleece jackets, cotton and linen clothing. Also bring all of your ladders and tools—due to the salty, humid environment, coastal homes require more maintenance than houses in other parts of the country.
What to leave behind? “Don’t bring any of your large, overstuffed furniture, leather sofas or dark wool rugs,” Patterson says. “You’ll have a better chance selling them on consignment in your own city.” Also sell or donate heavy winter clothing, show shovels and blowers, sleds, skis and snowboards (unless you travel for ski vacations), dark clothing, heavy wool, down, fleece or flannel linens and dark, heavy or over-sized furnishings, flashy dress clothes, large purses or leather handbags and extra sets of anything besides light linens, beach towels and china.
When you move to the coast, your whole way of living will change. While it’s tempting to try to re-purpose the clothing and furnishings you already own—the fact is you’ll end up donating them. A better tactic is to rent a smaller moving truck, sell what you can before you leave and save the money to buy new things when you arrive.