As we prepared for our recent move, we made an effort to substantially reduce the amount of things that we own. As empty nesters, the house we just moved out of (and are attempting to sell) is so much bigger than what my husband and I need for just the two of us. In addition, our priorities and values have shifted over the past couple of years, and it has become important to us to simplify our lives and try to reduce our environmental impact.
This summer’s army-related move presented a great opportunity for us to downsize. Over the past year, we took many loads of goods to places like Good Will, the used bookstore, and the recycling center. In addition, last month we enlisted the services of an excellent auction/estate sale company called Caring Transitions. With their help, we sold furniture, exercise equipment, and all kinds of miscellaneous items.
It has felt great to part with things that we don’t need and that don’t bring us joy. Having less stuff will allow us to live in a smaller dwelling and will give us the freedom to move more easily. It will be easier to clean our house, and we will be freed up from the care and maintenance of so many unnecessary belongings.
All of this decluttering and downsizing has been part of a larger process of clarifying what is really important to us. In the past couple of years, we have been giving thought to where we might want to live after my husband retires from the military. We have even traveled to a couple of the places we are considering, and these experiences have helped us identify some of the things that are most important to us. This increased understanding of our priorities helped prepare us for our decluttering project.
We have been inspired in our minimalist efforts by some great books and other resources on this topic. Some of the books we have read and liked include The Power of Less by Leo Babauta, Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. There also are some great blogs on minimalism, including Be More with Less, Rowdy Kittens, and Zen Habits. Courtney Carver, the blogger behind Be More with Less, heads up a great year-long e-course called “A Simple Year,” which I have been participating in and have enjoyed a lot so far. We also have watched some great TED talks about minimalism; a nice list of these compiled by Sam Lustgarten can be found on frugaling.org.
We hope to continue downsizing as time passes. Some of our desired criteria for a retirement location, such as vegan friendliness, walkability, great public transportation, mild climate, and natural beauty/outdoor recreation are steering us toward some fairly expensive cities, and it will be to our advantage if we can fit our stuff in a small space.
Another important factor for me and my husband in our preparations to downsize has been working on our relationship. Part of the reason we purchased such a large house, in addition to the relatively low cost of housing and the desirable neighborhood, was the fact that we felt a strong need for (lots of) our own space. Thankfully, through concerted effort that included the help of a wonderful counselor as well as lots of time, patience, and love, we are now in a place where we feel like we can happily and peacefully live together in a smaller space.
Do you have any stories, tips, or resources to share about decluttering, simplifying, or downsizing?