I like to think that I’m on the “minimal side” of both travel and life but let me tell you one thing that I know for sure: there’s no better way to determine whether or not you’re truly a minimalist than by packing up everything you own and moving to a different country with all of your possessions in tow.
When we left Ottawa in 2013, my husband and I were like, “Let’s throw away everything! The desk, the couches, the floor lamp, the bookcase — they're outta here. Moving to our next place will be so much easier!"
The bar was set pretty high — which items were good enough that it was worth it to pack them up, put them in storage for over a year, and eventually drive them 1600 km south to our new home in the States? A lot of our items were older, mix-matched, and on their last leg anyway so it wasn't too hard to say goodbye.
|Moving day was like an Oprah giveaway episode for Goodwill|
I've been sort of travelling and sort of living transitionally since December 2013, so admittedly I felt like quite the minimalist last year. I didn’t buy anything expensive (with the exception of this beautiful lens that I still use all the time). I had limited clothing and rotated the same key pieces. M and I shared a cell phone, scaled down our travel, and didn’t splurge on pricey activities.
Things feel like they're changing now.
After having my green card application approved last month, I moved to the South and am now living in a suburb outside of Nashville. M and I moved into our new townhouse and — and how's this for awesome randomness — when we went to pick up the lease and our keys, we found out that our rent had been reduced by $30 a month and that we were getting the first month free. When does that kind of thing ever happen?? What a wonderful surprise.
I thought we’d be settled in pretty quickly considering that we barely brought any furniture with us, but it’s hard to put things away when you don’t actually have any pieces to put them into in the first place, ya know? The rational part of me understands this but the organizer in me finds it quite frustrating.
The only furniture we brought with us to the States was our bedroom stuff and a custom coffee/side table set that we received as a wedding present. In the past several weeks we’ve purchased a washer dryer set (used, thankfully, which saved us a bunch), sectional couch, bar stools, patio table and chairs, desk, office chairs, shelving… seriously my head is just spinning.
After going for so long without having the latest things and stuff, I finally have the means and justification to do so now but it feels weird spending all of this money. Do you know how much good couches cost these days? Way more than the $600 I thought they would, that’s for sure! On one hand, I kind of love getting to decorate our home and I have all of these ideas about how I want to make the space our own. There’s a whole new world of home decor shopping that’s open to me, not to mention all the online shopping to be had. With free shipping! In two days! It really is easy here.
On the other hand, we’ve also spent hundreds of dollars at freaking Target and similar stores like that who obviously don’t make their products locally. Or sustainably. Or small business-y, which is how I prefer to shop. It's a struggle but sometimes you just need a vacuum and a garbage can and jumbo rolls of toilet paper, you know?
I think that’s part of growing into adulthood, though. The older you get, the more you’ve developed your personal style, the more you’re in tune with what you’re looking for and what you really want. Hopefully it also means being able to afford a little bit better and knowing when you’re not willing to compromise. We're learning to balance it all. And maybe that’s the key to minimalism right there — not going overboard, not being excessive, but intentionally spending money on things that are comfortable, get used often, and quality that you know is going to last.
Could I live with less?
I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, but a simpler and more authentic kind of lifestyle is one that I’m working towards.
What about you — would you consider yourself a minimalist? Do you think minimalism is something worth striving for?