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Downsizing: Is It For You?

It can be freeing when you don’t have a lot of physical possessions to worry about. If you need to move from one location to another, whether it’s a long or short distance, you don’t have to deal with getting a truck to move a lot of heavy furniture, you don’t have to hunt down several pairs of brawny arms to help with the lifting, and you don’t have to have a designated space to store what you can’t use if you’re not able to take that furniture with you. In other words, if you don’t own a lot of stuff your ease of mobility is greatly enhanced.

I’ve owned various pieces of furniture through the years, but having moved cross-country several times, as well as in-and-out of various apartments and homes of family members, I’ve both gained and gotten rid of a number of things. Some of the furniture I owned in the past was recycled to other family members — the first set of coffee and end-tables that I bought 5-6 years ago were once used in my younger sister’s apartment, and now my 19-year-old brother will be using them when he moves into a new apartment this weekend. A 25-inch TV that I bought back in 1999 (a monster of a set, but it’s still hanging in there) is currently in the home of my older sister, and she’s also had my computer desk at her place for the past few years.

When I moved to northern VA last fall (and into the first apartment that I’ve ever lived in entirely on my own), I had to buy a number of things to fill up the space — a bookshelf, several tables, a sofa and chair. (I’m no longer in possession of this furniture either, but that’s a subject for another post.)

The thing is, there are both advantages and disadvantages to not having a lot of possessions. Like I said, easy mobility is definitely an advantage. I recently moved out of my apartment and, not ready to sign another lease, decided to move in temporarily with a friend. But just because a friend is willing to take you in and store some of your things, doesn’t mean they have the room — or the inclination — to store a lot of your stuff. A closet cleared out to house my clothes, a few bins and suitcases, additional food in the kitchen — it’s a lot different than showing up with a moving truck. So when you need to go somewhere fast, having a lesser amount of “things” is a good way to ensure that you’ll have a better chance of being welcomed wherever you’re going.

The disadvantage to this arrangement is a lack of comfort; not being able to have your things spread out as opposed to someone else’s. My older sister moved into a new townhouse recently, and…you know, it looks really great. She’s collected some really nice things over the years — a period of time in which I spent five months in Amsterdam on a study-abroad program, went back and forth across the U.S., and then moved to northern VA. I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve made, but sometimes — especially when I notice that I can fit most of my possessions in a few car loads — it’s tough seeing what the alternative might have been.

[Read the rest of this post at BlogHer]

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14 Comments

  • Reply ally bean October 8, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    We live in the midwest and we have stuff. That’s how it is here– everyone has lots and lots of stuff. For us, all of our stuff has some meaning or usefulness so we keep it.

    However, when we get older and ready to move into a smaller home I’ll gladly let go some of this stuff. In fact, it sounds rather pleasant, but that is for the senior years.

  • Reply Marie D. October 8, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    I moved twice last year. I had tons of stuff, I don’t know how I could put il all in the tiny places I lived in.
    Now I have more roomm but I find it easier to let go of things, I have given a lot of clothes, thrown away things I don’t really know why I was keeping… One of my colleagues told me that when you can let go of material things easier, it means you’re more grown up, I hope it’s true ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply janet October 8, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    I’d like to think I get rid of things I don’t need, but I’m sure I still have too much stuff. I have made a real effort in the past 6 months to purge though — I didn’t want to move old junk into a new house. The best part is making money on selling most of it (and donating the rest!).

  • Reply geeky October 8, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I’m a fan of less stuff in general, but especially when it comes to moving. I can’t stand clutter and I don’t like having things just for the sake of having them.

  • Reply Kate October 8, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    I haven’t moved in almost TWO YEARS right now (I’m two months short of that mark).

    This officially marks the longest I’ve lived in one place since I was (counts on fingers) sixteen years old. I’m now twenty-seven.

    My stuff is down to a bare, bare minimum of crap, but already I’m feeling the need to move again so I can do a thorough cleaning. My mother keeps some of my prized books in her attic back home (too many to lug around with me), but other than that, I can move all of my stuff across town in less than two hours (that’s loading AND unloading).

  • Reply been there, done that October 8, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    We built our dream home last year and moved in in July. We had also compiled 2 sets of ‘things’ when we bought our townhome 3 years previously. When we were getting ready to move, I got rid of a few things, but moved most of it. When we were cleaning up the new house and putting things away I started “sending stuff to the basement.” Actually, some of it was new stuff I had bought specifically for this home. We had spent so many months with our things in boxes, I just came to the realization I could do without all this stuff. So, few things were put back on the walls, few things were put back on the kitchen counter, few things were put up in the bathroom. In some of the rooms there is nothing on the walls and nothing decorating anything, it’s just plain and simple, and I like it that way.

    Recently we acquired 2 kittens that are living in the main part of the house with another cat. The clutter from these two, i.e. scratching posts, a cage, beds, toys, etc is driving me nuts!!! Not to mention the extra litter boxes and the diarrhea they have had, good thing we have wood floors!!

    All that said, I like the downsizing.

  • Reply Katyola October 8, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Just to keep things exciting, I’ve changed my blog address. Now it’s themepartygirl.blogspot.com. But it’s still the same old stuff.

  • Reply alyndabear October 8, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    I’ll be sorting this one out for myself very soon.. because I’m moving to a different country, only allowed to take 20kg as I go.

    Yipes.

  • Reply Marianne October 9, 2007 at 5:42 am

    My husband and I live in about 750 square feet and we’re expecting a baby in January. It feels sort of small, but mostly cozy. We had to get rid of a lot of stuff (e.g. a bazillion books) when we moved in.

    We don’t have a lot of stuff and maybe not some of the things our friends have, but we have what we need. And wow, I really needed to purge a bunch of grad school stuff. It was good to have the kick in the pants.

  • Reply mikkie October 9, 2007 at 5:58 am

    Generally I don’t own a lot of stuff. Basically same reason as you. I moved around a bit in the last few years and then you clean up a lot and each move means throwing away at least three garbage bags of stuff.

    so how the hell did I then end up with a little less than 30 moving boxes when I moved two months ago?

    Well, ahum, I don’t own a lot of stuff, except that I do own a more than fair share of books and cd’s.

    Books? 15 boxes (Not sure whether to be proud or ashamed)

    Cd’s? about 4 boxes

    So while I aspire to be a “no-stuff” girl I fail when the books come into the picture.

  • Reply Janet October 10, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    I still have a few unpacked boxes! Seriously, I could probably just toss the whole box and its contents and not miss a thing.

  • Reply LJ (District Belle) October 11, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    I’m still pleased with my decision to purge! I think it’s another fine line scenario. I’m a nostalic person. Many things are connected with memories. And there are certain pieces of furniture that I’m not prepared to let go of. It’s about deciding what’s worth making room for (or choosing to pay for more room to accomodate).

    As mobile as I want to be, I’ll never toss yearbooks. I’ll always keep old journals and notebooks with poetry. But I’ve stopped feeling I’ve gotta keep all presents forever!

  • Reply Nen November 16, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Great post, Zandria! Thanks for giving me the heads up on it.
    I too am one with a difficulty letting go of books. I still have a few texts from engineering school!
    My whole “Simple Living” category on my blog covers my journey toward simple, minimal living… it’s THAT big of an issue here! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’ve even taken on the “100 Thing Challenge” set up by Dave at http://guynameddave.typepad.com/stuckinstuff/
    So not easy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Zandria.us » Living in a Small Space May 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    […] find something to fill it up. There’s nothing wrong with living in a small space, or downsizing your possessions to fit into that space. Every time I’ve weeded through my possessions […]

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