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Help me! I’m Drowning in Paper

paperPaper is my enemy number one!

I’m not kidding. I hate paper.

I know that different people have different pet peeves, for some it’s wires, for others it’s clutter (Tim), but for me, it has always been paper. I hate it and somehow I always manage to feel overwhelmed by it. I’m an IT person by trade, so you would think with everything being electronic these days, this would not be the case; but unfortunately, much of the rest of the world still operates on paper.

We sold our house last year and that generated a half-ton of paper, at least. We also have to keep copies of our investments statements, taxes, important papers – some of them for years. I mean Tim still has papers from when he was in the military 20 years ago – I wish I were kidding.

So, when we moved after the sale of our house, we vowed that we will go through the file cabinet full of paper, organize it, and get rid of things we don’t need.

Well, here we are eight months later and it hasn’t happened yet. And now, we are also preparing our documents for the move abroad as well as for my Polish citizenship and I simply want to scream: I hate paper!

So, yesterday, I decided: “that’s it. I am cleaning all this out.”

I spent three hours on the floor surrounded by paper: sorting, filing, trashing, along with a whole lot of cussing. But I finally did it! I cut it down to one drawer full of paper, neatly organized in folders with labels. I was so proud of myself!

I also organized the documents we need to take with us when we move. I thought I’d share the list with you because it may be helpful to you too.

So, here are the papers for each of us that we will absolutely need to take with us when we move: (many of these will have to be apostilled)

  • Birth certificates
  • Divorce and marriage certificates
  • SSN cards
  • Passports (of course)
  • My naturalization papers
  • Diplomas and certifications
  • Business documents


We will also need to get and take with us:

  • Medical records
  • FBI records
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Wills and advanced directives

That is not a small pile of paper. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to best take it abroad with you? Do you laminate the documents? How would you transport them? I’m curious to learn how others are dealing with this issue.

As for me, I will keep trying to keep this paper thing under control. I’m thinking about investing in this cool little paper scanner:  Doxie One – Standalone Paper & Photo Scanner – at least some things can be managed that way.

For my full list of things to consider before you move abroad, see Moving Abroad Checklist.


About Joanna

is a Polish American living in Arizona with her husband Tim. She is a founding partner of JTR Tech and she is proud to be a professional geek. She had dreamt of living abroad for many years. So, she and Tim created AbroadDreams.com to document the process of making their dream of moving abroad come true. They spent 2 years in Puerto Rico and several months in Spain and Poland. Now they are exploring the American Southwest.

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