Monday, November 19, 2012

Transitioning to Smaller Living

We finally did it.  

After years of wanting to be here, we moved to the Texas Hill Country and are so happy.  Moving can be stressful. Our move was a logistical nightmare, but we tackled it bit by bit. Our friends and family helped us at every turn. And through it all, what have we learned?

  • For starters, don't get overwhelmed by the size of your moving project.  We had a big house full of stuff and wanted to live with less 5 hours away. Tackle a little at a time, do what you can.  Plan to work in 1-2 hour segments.  Pack what you can, make piles for sell or donate.  
  • Quantify what small living means to each member of the family.  Agree to the scope of the project.  I am willing to forgo a formal dining room, formal living room, and game room.  I am willing to live in an apartment with a small kitchen temporarily, but at some point I want a well organized kitchen that will allow both of us to work side by side.
  • Only buy quality items and only buy items you really love/need.  We thought we were doing a good job of selling and giving away our possessions, but each time we took stock we realized there was still so much left to sell, give away, reuse, or pack. Sure we had some quality kitchen items and garage tools that we knew we wanted to use later on, but we also realized we had acquired a large number items that we really didn't love. 
  • Sell what you will not take with you.  Don't wait to do it all at once.  As soon as you have a pile, plan a garage sale or a trip to Goodwill. Put those big items on Craig's list.
  • Organize as you pack.  Ask yourself, what will I need as soon as I get there?  What can I pack for longer storage and possibly not use for 6 months?  Label boxes with the intended room and a list of items.  Pack similar items in the same box.  I knew I would need to log into work as soon as I got to the new place so my laptop, monitor, headset and phone were the last to be packed and the first to be unpacked.
  • And lastly, moving is expensive in resources and energy.  Moving is not sustainable.   Even though we combined trips to work on the cabin with moving loads of boxes to storage, we still had many trips and spent a lot of money on gasoline for the vehicle.  For a thrifty, sustainable couple, knowing this fact hurt our ego and pocketbook quite a bit.  Thank goodness the act of moving is a transition and is not a long term drain on finances and time.

And one more thing, for us, this transition is more than just a different house.  It's a different way of being, thinking, and living.  For us, the term "smaller living" is such a paradox. Yes we live in a smaller home with less items, but now we have time and energy to live large. We have more time for each other, more time for projects to develop our ranch, more time outdoors, more exercise, more fresh air, more dreams coming true...  overall - more experiences, less stuff.  For us, this is a sustainable lifestyle because it is something we can do for a long time.

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