Many times when people move their decision to move is motivated by a desire for MORE space, but Megan's story is just the opposite. I really enjoyed reading about her journey and I think you will too!
|via Nicola, Flickr Creative Commons|
In 2008 when my husband, Travis, and I decided to buy our first house we didn’t set out to go smaller. We fell in love with a particular neighborhood and bought what was available. At 1144 square feet with no garage, the new house was significantly smaller than our 1800 square foot townhouse, but the new house just felt like home. We decided we would make the smaller space work.
Living in the smaller space was frustrating at first. We had to rent a storage unit to store most of our extra belongings. Even then, it was a tight fit. We went from having a generous two-car gage to street parking with no outdoor storage at all. At one point, we had 5 bicycles in the dining room! Our kitchen was another disaster. We only had three useable cabinets and a very small pantry. Slowly, we got rid of a lot of the clutter and got creative with storing what was left. We also built a shed for the bikes. After a few months, we got rid of the storage unit. We had downsized a lot, but we still had a lot of stuff.
|a small kitchen calls for creative, and organized open storage|
I continued to dwindle down our possessions, and as I did, I started to feel empowered and happy. The new house was also very close to downtown and we started walking to all of our favorite destinations - including work. I really enjoyed our pedestrian lifestyle and our smaller house. It took me a fraction of the time to clean it and it was a lot cheaper to heat and cool.
Our new lifestyle prompted me to start reading about minimalism and trying to find other ways to simplify our life, but it was all theoretical - a lot of reading and talking, but not a whole lot else. The stories out there were inspiring but also drastic. I was looking to make our life a little less hectic not give up all modern convinces or possessions.
I had a big “ah-ha” moment when my husband took a job in Austin and moved half of our stuff down to Texas while I stayed in Kansas to sell our house. I marveled at all the extra space, the clean surfaces and empty cabinets. I thought about what I didn’t miss and what I was grateful to still have on hand. Having only half of my stuff gave me a new prospective on what I really needed and wanted in a home.
When we recombined households, we were more deliberate. We settled on a 900 square foot, 2 bedroom,1 bath apartment, again with no garage. Once again, we had to get rid of a lot of stuff and get creative with storage.
This time, I was more determined than ever to cut the clutter out of my life. I loved living with less and I wasn’t about to go back. I was ruthless in downsizing. The first few weeks in Texas were chaos filled with trips to Goodwill as I purged our belongings even further.
It’s been challenging living in a smaller place. It’s an ongoing process. I’m still downsizing everyday. I average 1-2 trips a month to Goodwill with a box or two of donations. When I run across something I haven’t used in awhile I ask myself why I still have it. It’s hard to get rid of things you’ve had for a long time, but for me, it’s worth it. Living smaller means I use each and every object in my home and I always know where things are.
|otherwise un-useable space under the stairs holds their bike collection|
Yes, it’s much cheaper to heat and cool a smaller place and cleaning is a breeze, but honestly, it’s the mental clarity and freedom that comes from living with less that I enjoy the most.
Travis and I plan to make one more leap in our downsizing journey. We’re working towards moving downtown again. This time into a 1 bedroom apartment. We also plan to give up our car. Four years ago I would have balked at the idea of living in a 1 bedroom apartment with no car, but now, I can’t wait to do it.
Learning to separate myself from my stuff has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for us.
Living in Europe? No problem, we don’t have to worry about what to do with our stuff. Spend half the year traveling? That’s fine, my space is small enough and cheap enough that it doesn’t seem like a waste to let it be vacant six months of the year. The most rewarding thing though is waking up each morning to a tidy, clutter free home full of only things I truly treasure.
Kind of makes you want to to through your stuff and get rid of some of it, doesn't it?
Be sure to check out more about Megan's life and journey towards realistic minimalism in her blog The Happenstance Homemaker.