VIRGINIA Woolf rightly said a woman needs a room of her own in which to write. What she neglected to add is that this space should not contain a mattress stacked against a wall and threatening to slump on to the desk, empty bookcases buckled by years of overload, and packing boxes marshalled like anti-tank blocks making it hard to reach the door. She would agree, I think, that these are not ideal conditions in which to compose one’s thoughts. As I type, from a nearby room comes the squeal of tape being ripped to seal up yet another container. To date, we have used enough bubble-wrap to swaddle the London Eye.

In the last two weeks, our flat has been invaded by an emperor’s army of cardboard boxes, stuffed with books and saucepans. They bear labels such as Poetry/Winter Socks, or Scottish History/family photos/Tupperware. If we came under attack, we could hold out for months if it weren’t for the cupboards, in which there is only one tin – Greek giant beans – and a half-empty jar of peanut butter.

Where once there were pictures and photos and mirrors, now there are walls resembling darts boards. Our bedroom is more like a squatter’s den than anywhere you’d want to spend the night. In some respects it is a minimalist’s dream: only the bare essentials are left, and not even all of those.

Moving house suddenly makes asceticism appealing. As you sift through decades of belongings, it is a brutal but effective way of making you look closely at what you possess, and why. Are 20,000-odd books really necessary?

As for ornaments, knick-knacks, clothes and gadgets, you begin to appreciate what squirrels we are. Apart from items of sentimental value, why would we drag all this stuff from one place to the next?

My grandmother’s tea-set must be kept, obviously, but cloudy Ikea tumblers?

The temptation, of course, is to pack everything up in a hurry and promise to throw things out at a later date when there’s time to make a considered selection. But because, like an increasing number of house-movers, we are putting everything into storage, the thought of keeping items we will never use or look at again is daft. Better to jettison them now.

So, while we have still kept more books then we strictly require, the relief of discarding other objects is immense, the sense of being less encumbered liberating.

At the storage unit where half our belongings have already been stashed, staff are amazed at how many more people are now selling before attempting to buy. Demand for the largest units, they told me, is booming. If on the final day of removal we have booked too small a container, God help us, because I doubt they’ll have another square metre to rent us.

This has come about because, despite frequent predictions of a slowdown in the property market, when a For Sale sign goes up in East Lothian, it is feeding time at the piranha tank. As a result, canny sellers are positioning themselves as cash buyers, so they can snap up a property the minute it goes on sale.

Indeed, so frenzied has house-buying become, there is a steady rise in the numbers buying in the Borders, or in Glasgow and the capital and commuting to London. Some would call that having your cake and eating it. A better description, surely, is barking.

A neighbour’s friend sold his house within two hours of it going online, but ours was nowhere as fast – five weeks that felt a lot longer.

The couple who bought it, however, almost smashed the national average of 26 minutes in deciding to buy. The UK norm is 27 minutes, yet we take three-quarters of an hour to choose a smart phone.

It sounds crazy, given the financial and emotional investment in finding a new home.

From observation, however, it rings true. You can tell from the outset which house-hunters are serious, and those who are going through the motions. The very first viewer, who laughed at a creaky floorboard, was clearly on a mission to pick fault. But others were hooked within a minute, and their interest obvious. The couple to whom we are selling – assuming all goes to plan – walked around it twice, sat down, and said they were going to make an offer the next morning. As they remarked, you know almost immediately if a place is right for you.

Once we have handed over the keys our search for a rural idyll can begin in earnest. For the moment, though, that can wait. The next few months will be an experiment in living minimally. One hopes that, with most of our goods under lock and key, it might free up our minds as well as our future.