2 years ago, we were preparing to move to New Zealand. We knew we couldn't bring furniture, personal belongings, etc; we had to pare down to what we really needed for a year abroad. Shipping anything to New Zealand is extremely expensive, so we narrowed our belongings down to 10 boxes. 2 boxes per person for clothes; two boxes for toys, a box of books, and my work computer.
It really wasn't a lot, when you think of how much "stuff" we all have. We arrived in New Zealand on a Tuesday morning, went directly to our new house to drop off our stuff, and went to the store. First on the list: a crib for Lilly (a "cot" in NZ speak). It still boggles my mind: we got off the plane and had no where for Lilly to sleep. In our first week there, we acquired a new (used) car, towels, a vacuum, a few toys for Lilly (it was her birthday right after we arrived), a coffee maker, etc. We bought all the furniture from the previous occupants of the house, so at least that was easy (albeit somewhat expensive). It was a bizarre time; it wasn't like we were college students starting fresh; we were a family trying to figure out our new way of life and attempting to live somewhat comfortably. I think the average person probably takes it for granted how much "stuff" they have in their house, and the absence of that for us was somewhat unsettling.
And a year later, we sold everything we had bought those first few weeks, and packed up our 10 boxes and moved back to the US. The organizing, the selling of our stuff on trademe.co.nz, the sorting and packing, it seems all surreal now. And it was so nice to move back to our already-furnished house in Charlottesville, with all our old things that we loved so much. I remember the first time I used a plate and fork upon arriving back at our house; those Mikasa French Countryside pieces were so nice and heavy compared to our temporary belongings in NZ. And we were so thankful that, while it was ok for a year, we'd never have to live so simply again.
Fast forward a year later to today. We just got the quotes to move most of our stuff to New York City 6 weeks from today, and it is ridiculously expensive. So Jon and I talked it over, and started to think: what do we really actually need to survive in NYC for a year? If we go through our entire house of belongings, what could we feel fine selling & putting into storage; and what would we actually need to move to NY?
As soon as I asked the question, I knew the answer: 10 boxes.
So, the plan at the moment is to move to New York City, with our little family of three, with whatever we can fit into 10 boxes and ship FedEx. Wish us luck...