Drastic Home Downsizing Made Simple
This past week has really be eventful – both good and bad. I’m glad to be back blogging and will post my Friday Five from last week this week.
One exciting thing about the last week was that we signed a lease for a new place starting on February 15! We’re very excited. With just two people and one poodle, our current 1,500 sq ft place is just too big sometimes. We have rooms here that I only go in a few days a week! We are now downsizing to a one-bedroom 800 sq ft apartment.
The complex is really nice and has all the bells and whistles you could want – pool, great gym, dance/yoga studio… even a mini movie theater! There are a lot of tradeoffs though. The biggest is getting rid of 50% of everything we own. Not that getting rid of a bunch of stuff has ever been all that hard for me, but this is really putting my money where my mouth is!
The picture above is just the first sweep of our belongings – most of this will end up at Salvation Army or on craigslist. We have a long way to go, but here are some things I’m keeping in mind.
1) Mementos aren’t memories – Over the years, I’ve really accumulated a lot of mementos, but with the sheer amount of them, they begin to lose their meaning. I’m letting go of this notion that I need a bunch of things to remind me of a good experience or person. One thing per person/per memory is just about right.
2) 50% everywhere – I’m tempted to get rid of 50% of our furniture and leave it at that. I went through yesterday, though, and got rid of maybe 30% of every category of our things: 30% fewer towels, 30% fewer sheets, 30% fewer dog things. I’m working my way up, but it was nice to downsize everywhere. I love the idea of having only my very favorite things around.
3) Decluttering paperwork is just as important as decluttering everything else – Since I started grad school I’ve kept all of my red ropes (legal accordion files) for all of my classes. I had maybe 20 of these things full of notes, papers, and articles. I started sorting through so many of them and realized that I had nearly all of it on my computer already. I now have four Target bags of paper clutter to recycle. Whew! That feels good.
4) Remember what I’m getting not what I’m losing – This could be a life philosophy of sorts, but for this kind of change, I really have to remind myself that I’m getting all kinds of good things from the move. I may have to give up working in my yard, which I love, but I can now use that energy to volunteer in my church prayer garden. I’m giving up a few rooms, but that means I’ll spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying my family.
5) Do the math – Even though we’re giving up a guest bedroom and bathroom, we’re moving next door to a new hotel opening soon. My husband figured out the cost of that extra bedroom in our current place and compared it to putting our friends and family up in a nice hotel for a night or two a few times a year. The hotel just makes more economic sense. Looking at the actual costs of the new place, we also had to figure in how much cheaper it will be to heat and how little energy we will consume with new energy efficient appliances. We can also cancel our gym membership (even though I will really miss the indoor pool and sauna!). We’re going to save a lot more than I realized.
6) Think of who’s getting my stuff – It wasn’t that long ago that my husband and I moved in together with nothing but pillows, sheets, knickknacks and a few suitcases. We had so little money that we couldn’t afford two plates that matched. I remembered how happy I was when my sister in law sent us her old set of dishes. We loved that set of dishes. When I think about giving things to charity, I think about how exciting it would be to find things that are nice and nearly new for a fraction of their cost. I know strangers are just as grateful and will treasure my things just as much as friends and family.
All in all, we are beyond excited. This is first our non-cross-country move in two years. In fact, it’s the closest move we’ve ever had: only four miles from our old place. I’m looking forward to a fresh start and to having my life look a little bit more like I always thought it would.
Have you ever made a drastic change? What’s the most you’ve had to downsize? Is my move inspiring or are we going too far?
“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'”