It was 2012, and Luke and I had just bought our first house – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a garage. It was exactly what we needed. We each claimed a spare bedroom as our respective offices. Honestly, my “office” was half closet space, half art supplies. During the 4 years we lived in this house, that room only collected more clothes that I should have donated and stuff I didn’t know where else to put. Our 1,700-square foot house started to seem too small.
The Shift to Minimalism, Well Simplifying
We tossed around the idea of buying a bigger house, but at the time, our budget didn’t agree. As we talked more about what we “needed,” we realized we only really used the kitchen, our bedroom and bathroom, and a small portion of the living room. A bigger house wasn’t the answer. We needed less stuff.
We made small changes – I finally dropped that bag of clothes off at Goodwill, stopped shopping just because, and cleaned out the junk closets.
The annoyance I felt when sifting through the closet trying to find that one shirt happened less and less. The anxiety I used to feel walking into my half closet/half art room “office” dissipated as I got rid of all the stuff I didn’t use. We had simplified a bit, and it felt good.
However, our quest to simplify took a sharp turn to minimalism when Luke and I felt the calling to uproot our “normal life.” See, for the most part, we both grew up, went to school, and got (our dream) jobs in our hometown. We were where we wanted to be this point in life, but we couldn’t deny the urge to experience something new. Something that only true minimalism would allow us to do.
Fast forward to today, and we’re living in roughly a 230-square foot RV traveling full-time with our three dogs.
We spent the months leading up our “move” truly getting rid of things that weren’t necessities or items of true importance. Bags upon bags upon bags of clothes were donated. We sold most our stuff like excessive throw pillows, a cookie tray I never used, and curtains I hadn’t used since college. To be honest, I was a little overwhelming seeing all the stuff we had collected and rarely used.
With the excessive stuff gone and our living expenses reduced, there was an exhilarating sense of freedom. We were ready to hit the road.
Minimalism has allowed us to travel full-time while working from the road. In addition to the opportunity it has provided us, it’s taught us a few things.
We don’t have to be so stressed.
I can count on one hand the number of temple-switching stress headaches I’ve gotten since we started traveling, which is impressive given how frequent they were.
Minimalism has given us a sense of freedom from money, “keeping up,” never having enough time, and heck, constantly cleaning a dirty house.
We’re not buying excess stuff, which means two things: less stress to make more money and simply less clutter. I’ve learned and am continuing to learn that we have enough.
Full-time travel is by no means completely stress-free, but the simplicity we’ve chosen to live in is less stressful than our former “normal lives.” Plus, it’s hard to remain stressed when you can walk out the RV door and stare at the Tetons or go hiking in Yosemite.
We need way less than we think.
When we first bought our house, I knew in the back of my head we would outgrow it. The closets weren’t big enough, and I didn’t have a dedicated laundry room. It seems silly now, but if there was space, I was going to fill it up.
Now, I’ve learned to live with a fraction of the stuff that I thought wasn’t enough, and I truly feel content. There was a definite mind shift that had to take place. Happiness is not found in acquiring more or having the newest whatever, especially if it creates more clutter, anxiety or strain on finances.
Simply having open space to breath and saving money to do the things I really want have brought so much more happiness than an extra throw pillow or a new pair of shoes.
Yes, we can happily live with fewer material possessions, but we can also thrive in a “tiny” space with three dogs. Sure, it feels tight at times, and we can’t cook together, but it has the only spaces we used in our house – bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and (small) living space. We also take full advantage of our outdoor living space, whether it’s playing with the dogs, eating breakfast, or watching the stars at night. Living minimally doesn’t mean missing out or going without; we truly feel like we have abundantly more.
We are meant to experience life together.
We got married young; I was 20, and Luke was 21. Luke was working full-time, and I was still in school and working at night and on weekends. For the first year of our marriage, we rarely saw each other. After graduation, I worked a normal schedule, and Luke started his own business. Typically, he was working before I got out of bed, so we had a few hours at night and the occasional weekends together.
Luke and I both loved our jobs and didn’t think much of our schedules. As we started trading possessions for experiences, it became obvious how little time we spent together. We didn’t get married to work all the time to buy things we didn’t need, but that’s what was happening.
Now, life on the road is the exact opposite. We’re together all the time, which has its unique challenges, but we are living life together. When you married your best friend, it’s a pretty good trade-off. There’s just no way we would have been able to take enough time off work or been able to afford to go all the places we’ve been if we didn’t decide to minimalize.
Minimalism led us to live in an RV, at least for now. We wouldn’t trade the experiencing we’ve had together for anything, but I don’t believe you must move into an RV to experience the benefits of simplifying.
Decluttering, realizing what is “enough,” experiencing life with those you love, and ultimately finding contentment is available regardless of your square footage.
So, what’s going to be your first step to simplifying your life?