Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.
A lot of friends, family members, and blog readers assume that I was the one to suggest downsizing our lives. Believe it or not, my husband, Logan was the one who brought up the idea of downsizing. At the time I was working in the investment management industry and was extremely unhappy. I wanted to go back to school and start a new career in the social service sector, but, we were stuck and couldn’t figure out why. We felt stuck because we didn’t have enough time or money to follow our passions.
When Logan pitched the idea of downsizing we were having a conversation about why we were not going to buy a traditional house. We basically gave up on buying a traditional house because we were having money problems and realized that we could never afford a dream-home in the suburbs. And frankly, we were starting to wonder if we really wanted a traditional house because the interest on the house payment would have been more than our rent.
Logan said, “Why don’t we try moving into a one bedroom apartment to save money? Then we can use the money saved towards whatever we want, like education for a new career or a house in the future?”
With my hands on my hips and a snarky look on my face, I replied: “We can’t fit into a one bedroom, we have too much stuff. Plus, where am I going to put my parents when they come to visit us. On the couch? I don’t think so!”
If you’re in a relationship with someone who isn’t keen on the idea of downsizing, try some of these ideas:
1. Communicate. Talk about all the costs and benefits of downsizing together and make your intentions known so there is no room for assumptions. In my experience, communication is key to any successful relationship. While you’re talking make a pro/con list together and ask each other a lot of “why” questions, like:
- Why do you need to keep a particular item?
- Why not try something new?
- Why are you feeling so freaked out by this idea?
2. Encourage your partner to read inspiring books. While I was trying to decide whether or not downsizing was the right option I read a number of life changing books, including “Your Money or Your Life.” Reading books convinced me that downsizing was the best action to take.
3. Talk about the financial benefits of downsizing your abode and what you can do with the money you save. Crunch the numbers with your partner and show him or her how much money you can save by living in a smaller place with less stuff. With greater savings comes freedom and flexibility to make choices.
4. You can always move. While change is scary, it’s always good to experiment to try new things. And if you don’t like your new living situation, you can always move.
5. Compromise. If you don’t want to sell your house or commit to a new lease, try treating your current place like a smaller home. For example, I didn’t believe we could fit into a small one-bedroom apartment. So we did a test run by clearing out all the stuff in the guest bedroom and locking the door. Basically, we treated our two-bedroom apartment as a one-bedroom apartment for a few months. By taking that step, I was convinced we could start going smaller and smaller.
6. Start small. Remember you don’t have to declutter your whole house over night. Set manageable goals based on your life circumstance. When I started to simplify my life, I felt like I was in a competition. I kept looking at what other people were doing, in both blogs and books, and I tried to model those folks. There is nothing wrong with modeling and I learned a lot of valuable tips through reading and research. However, I finally realized that I had to start small, with one shelf at a time.
7. Take action! Now it’s time to take action. Keep talking to your partner about the benefits of downsizing and start the decluttering process.
No matter how small your accomplishments are, start celebrating them. Take a deep breath and admire the simplicity of your clutter free home. Living in a small space with less stuff is one path to creating space and a very happy life.
Tammy Strobel is a writer, photographer, and tiny house enthusiast. She created her blog, RowdyKittens.com, to share her story of embracing simplicity. Since then, her story has been featured in the New York Times, The Today Show, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, and in a variety of other media outlets. Tammy writes regularly at Rowdy Kittens and her new book is called, “You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap).” I’m proud to contribute an official endorsement to the book. You’ll love it.
From the book “You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap).” Copyright 2012 by Tammy Strobel. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com or 800-972-6657.
Thanks for sharing, I am very new to minimalism.
Lynn Reed says
Looking forward to more research, good suggestion. I’m 55, own my 1500 sq.ft. home, w’a casita on premise. I offered my kids (daughter, son-in-law & two kids) my house if they thought they would move back to Phx, some day. I have always known the little house would eventually be my resting place one day; round age 65…
Well 25 yrs in this “big” house & the task of downsizing is a bit overwhelming. Way more emotion to it than I expected. All the more reason (God’s) timing is best.
The kids’ lease ends September 30, both houses need work. I am well on my way. Once my babies are all here, it will heavenly (with boundaries)
Thanks for being part of my dialog on this topic.
The good thing about a 700 sqft apartment is that it wouldn’t swell with accumulation the way larger North American homes do. So it is a different starting point as a result of a different lifestyle and living space. I think your point that 700 square feet is livable for a family is a good one, but for us it is quite a journey to get there.
Everything is relative.
In my area (Amsterdam, Netherlands – high population density) our 700 ft appartment is considered a very nice size. If you want to stay in the affordable range, and not get huge mortgages or rents, this is a good size to go for.
In our building, there are plenty of families with 2 kids. Granted, that can be considered a bit cramped, but I hear talk around here of 1000+ft homes as cutesy, small and undersized for couples without kids.
My husband and I are not minimalists, but very comfortable in it, and never considered it small. We’re definitely not cramped We don’t rattle around in it either, but there are enough rooms so we can accomodate guests for sleeping, and a few times a year we entertain 8+ person dinner parties. I have had as many as 12 people stay overnight on a weekend long get-together. So everyone sleeps on mattresses on the floor. Having fun can be greatly enhanced by some creativity!
Everything is relative, guys.
Paula Grieco says
Great post Tammy! Really like the practical suggestions for action – especially starting small. Our family has been gradually de-owning and simplifying over the last year and it is liberating! I also like the reminder that you can always “move back” or go back to having more stuff – makes taking that first step less intimidating. Look forward to checking out your book.
Love my 1100 sq ft condo! Cleaning is quick, and no yard work or outside maintenance. yay!
Grayson Pope says
My wife, son and I live in a 1,300 square foot town home. There’s so many benefits to it I never realized. I grew up in a 3,000 square foot home with my family, and the amount of cleaning and yard work that go into it are insane. It’s feeding the beast, quite literally. The way my setup is now, I don’t have yard work every weekend, so I have more time with my family, and I don’t have to do any of the outside maintenance to the home. So…all that to say, someone is going to have to convince me to upsize!