Abundance is too much.. I’m downsizing my life

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Quick Backstory //

My name is Erin Tannehill. I’m married to a man just as ambitious as myself, and together we have two fur babies and a small flock of chickens.

In 2015, we moved out of our 1,450+ square foot home into a 600 square foot studio style shop apartment. We decluttered about 80% of the things we owned, because we wanted to fit comfortably in our new space.

Our reason for downsizing is because we want to live a simpler lifestyle that includes homesteading and minimalist living. While we do have plans to build our dream home [less than 1,700 square feet], this downsize has been a pivotable part of our lives.

Without it, we wouldn’t get to experience the joys of living purposefully and for ourselves versus everyone else. We wouldn’t have learned that value isn’t created through possession, but how we experience life.

While living smaller can challenge you, it is one that I would choose over and over again!

Now that you know a little about my story, let’s dive into how to downsize and simplify your life so that you can experience the joys of simple living as I have done since 2015.

My Experience with Downsizing Early

My husband and I have always valued travel above all else in our relationship. We prioritized money in our travel fund over buying new clothes or increasing the square footage of our homes.

Our first apartment was a rental priced far below what we could technically afford. This meant we always had extra money to travel with.

After that apartment, we purchased a modest home on an acre of beautiful land.  

Then, I discovered YouTube channels like Exploring Alternatives and Gone with the Wynns. 

They offered hours of intentional living inspiration and I was hooked.

I shared a video of the Wynns living and traveling full-time in their RV and told my husband “we could do that, let’s do that.”

And off we went on the next chapter in our lives.  

Starting the downsizing process

We renovated a Box Truck into a tiny home on wheels to move across the country in.  Our new home would have only 112 sq ft of living space. 

Within a year we had donated or sold 75% of belongings – we couldn’t keep anything “just because.” 

We also held a garage sale three months before moving into our new tiny home. This helped us let go of a large amount of items in a short amount of time.

Now, over three years later we’ve upgraded to a 300 sq ft fifth wheel RV that we’ve renovated ourselves.  To me, it’s the cutest little apartment on wheels ever!

In my life, downsizing means flexibility.  

Each season is a new opportunity to create a life we love.

We also have more control over how much our lifestyle costs. This was important in 2020 when we lost work due to the pandemic. 

I realize my downsizing story is extreme, and I’m not here to convince you to move into 112 sq ft.  I know it’s not for everyone! 

The good news is, there are plenty of options if you’re considering a move into a downsized dwelling.

Video

3. Helping others to help yourself

Before I throw anything away or donate it to a place like Goodwill or Value Village, I always ask myself if it can be useful to someone who is in need that can’t afford even a thrift store price. When I was going through my basement I found no less than seven tents, and a bunch of sleeping bags. I have a perfectly serviceable tent, and a couple of sleeping bags that I can employ depending on the weather. I took those immediately to the local homeless shelter and outreach program. The city of Seattle is aggressively sweeping homeless camps daily, and people are losing their possessions. There is always a need for soap, tents, sleeping bags, pillows, clothing, and personal grooming items. I no longer menstruate, but I still had a lot of left-over things from when I did, into the box for the women’s shelter they went. I also use Buy Nothing, which is a program designed to help share things through your community to prevent wasteful buying; I gave away old laptops, and gaming consoles, and games. I gave away everything I could, and what wasn’t useful or taken, then got donated to places that would resell them. My neighbor helps resettle refugees, and I gave her all my superfluous furniture and items for children that my own kids have outgrown. Anything to add a little bit of home to newly arrived people seeking to escape an impossible situation, including all unopened, nonperishable food. I also have a myriad of frozen meats, and vegetables that went to the local food bank, and through this act of altruism, I was able to help myself through helping others. It made it easier to let go of items I would have otherwise held on to, knowing they were going to improve the lives of people who are more in need than I am.

The long and short of this is, we are all carrying too many things with us, and while it is easy to get caught up in consumer culture, and constantly buy new things, and simply take the things we no longer want or need to the dump, there can be life for many of the things in your home after you are done with it. Please do make sure that when you are purging your items you are seeking to give them away as you can. I understand the inclination to Offer Up and Poshmark your used items, but helping people in need should always come before someone turns a profit.

Reasons to Downsize //

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of downsizing, figuring the importance of it, and how to establish a WHY that is true to your situation, let’s talk about some reasons to downsize.

1 // To reduce expenses

Living in a smaller home can result in many expenses reducing. Here are a few you may experience depending on your situation:

  • Lower utility bills
  • Lower mortgage payment or no mortgage payment
  • Reduced or eliminated HOA fees
  • Reduced real estate taxes

When we downsized, we saw a reduction in our mortgage payment and real estate taxes. Our utility bills increased as we were on well water before moving and now are on city water. Overall, our expenses decreased, so I’m happy with that!

2 // Less to maintain

With a smaller home, there is less to maintain, which is great! It reduced the time I spend cleaning and tidying my home.

When it comes to repairs, there is less to worry about fixing, because you aren’t in the same size space you used to be. There could be less doors, windows, plumbing and light fixtures, etc.

3 // More flexibility

The freedom that comes with downsizing isn’t one I anticipated, but the truth is that with less time cleaning and tidying, I have more time to do things I love!

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Once you transition and feel at home in your new space, you’ll have time for these things, again! You can get outside more and enjoy living your life more than you did before downsizing.

4 // Achieve goals quicker

With reduced expenses and more time to do the things you want to do, you’ll actually be able to achieve your goals quicker than before downsizing.

If your goal is to grow a magnificent garden that feeds your family for the year, you’ll have time to put into that and make it happen. Pretty cool right?

5 // To live more and be happier

I love this TEDx Talk by Rita Wilkins which explains why she downsized! It shows you that everyone has a different reason for downsizing and what joy it can bring you.

It isn’t just about your ideal life, but also the feelings associated with what downsizing can offer. Downsizing to be happier and more fulfilled through experiencing life with just what you need versus a lot of excess things is really the only reason anyone needs to downsize.

It is up to you what you make this experience mean.

Where Am I?

Current Adventure:Wellington, New ZealandRecent Adventures:Queensland, AustraliaWest Palm Beach, FL, USAVenice, ItalyLondon, UKParis, FranceUpcoming Adventures: Coromandal, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

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