Some people dread moving. They see it as a huge ordeal, life changing, and a giant stressor in their life. Me, (Shannon) not so much. I’ve calculated that in my lifetime, I have moved 23 times. I don’t think that is a terrible number, though I can see how that makes some people a little nervous. Now, Gerry has moved quite a few times as well, but he would rather stay put a little longer than I desire.
I’m a compulsive declutterer. It’s a trait I’m actually rather proud of, and one that always serves me well when it comes time to relocate. If you’ve seen the film, Heat, you know the part when Robert Deniro says to Al Pacino,
Moving as Minimalists
“Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”
-Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro)
OK, so two things – first, if you haven’t seen that film, run, don’t walk to your streaming service to find it, second, it’s not that I’m fearful of the heat per se, but I enjoy the freedom I have from my stuff.
We both agree that moving, as minimalists, is much easier than prior to our minimalist lifestyle. I can recall our move to our house in Wake Forest, NC, that included movers, rental trucks, the works! Ahhhhhh! I cringe at the thoughts of that now. When we left that home, we had one truck with our furniture, and all of our belongings. It was exhilarating to finally be rid of all of the stuff that weighed us down for so long.
Keeping things decluttered
So, how do we keep our belongings to a minimum, and still not live in a stark barren home? Well, here are a few ways we do so:
We play the minimalism game each year. You can read more about that here, but essentially it is a way to declutter items that you’ve collected, that you don’t even realize you have. It’s truly ridiculous how fast items can be accumulated, even for us.
Refuse. Reuse. Recycle. This practice has helped us a ton! It was learned by Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home. We have done this long enough now that our friends and family no longer give us things, just to give us, like knick-knacks from trips they’ve been on, or things to sit around. We ask to not receive gifts, and if someone does, they give us experiences, or help us with a task, rather than a tangible gift. Refusing items helps tremendously but then, reusing items, and recycling them helps as well.
Buy quality over quantity. We do much more research on our purchases. If we need something, we research products that are made for sustainability, and longevity. We want items that will last a long time, as to not have to replace it, and send another item to the landfill.
What else do we do?
Say no to storage! This one drives me insane. Why pay someone to store items for you? Unless you are in between homes while moving, you shouldn’t pay money to have someone store your crap. Get rid of it! If you have a storage bill right now, as yourself what is being stored. I’m willing to bet you don’t even know what is in there. If it’s not bringing joy to your life (and by the way, if it’s in storage, it’s not) then give it to someone else. Think of the money you will save.
Think small. We no longer live in dwellings that are too big for us. We appreciate the tiny living movement, as tiny/small living allows us to live large, and have our big adventures! If you have a home that is too big for you, you are more than likely going to buy things to fill it. With a large home, you still end up living in one to two rooms of that large house anyway, so why pay for all of that energy?
Not only does moving, as minimalists, save us time, but it saves us money- in gas, movers, and storage fees. With our downsized lifestyle, we also save money on housing; as we mentioned above, there is no need to pay for space we don’t use.
You don’t have to minimize your items, just for the sake of moving. Try it as a lifestyle. You won’t believe the feeling of freedom you will have, not being tied down to your material things. Not having so much stuff also reduces stress, stress that you probably didn’t even know you had… a literal weight will be lifted. Need more tips on moving, or moving into the minimalist lifestyle, take a look at this essay, written by Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists. He and Joshua Fields Millburn have been a resource for us on this journey, since 2016.