As I mentioned in a previous post, my company is moving offices across town, which makes my commute much less economical and more time-consuming. At first, we were rather frustrated with the news, realizing that we would have move either somewhere closer or somewhere cheaper. Given how much we love our apartment, this was more depressing than the thought of how much my commute was going to grow, but thankfully our outlook has evolved into something more positive.
After a weekend of discussion, we decided to downsize into a smaller apartment in our complex instead of moving to a different one altogether. This gave us the benefit of already knowing the management (which is exceptionally good at times), staying in a neighborhood in which we feel safe, and keeping the look and amenities of our apartment that we have come to love. And it ended up saving us a lot of money after everything was said and done–the cost of moving will be tremendously cheaper with us just moving our stuff down a floor and our new rent will save us around $340 a month.
We were still a bit frustrated after making the decision to move apartments, however, because we have pack up by mid-August, move apartments, and miss out on a little over a week between now and then while we set out toward Alaska on a relaxing cruise. The thought of having to pack and go through all of our stuff in less than a month was overwhelming to say the least. But we finally saw the situation for what it is: a chance to downsize to a more cost-friendly lifestyle with an opportunity to learn to live with less. There are a lot of methods for starting a minimalist lifestyle, all of which focus on going through all of your possessions and keeping only those that serve a need or ease your stress in some way. Some people, such as The Minimalists, suggest an extreme method that involves packing up everything you own into boxes and pulling stuff out only as you need it. Within a week, you have everything you need and can keep the rest packed up and ship it off to donate or sell. That’s a bit too much for us. Instead, we started going through our stuff a little at a time before we even knew we would be moving. We started with our books and DVDs and had only begun to consider decor and cluttered spaces in our living room when we were forced with the decision of where to go.
Now that we have to pack everything we own to move, we have the perfect scenario for cleaning up our home a la minimalism. Rather than deciding to keep or donate items after we pack them, we are considering every single item before we pack it. If we haven’t used it in a while or know we don’t use it anymore, it goes in the recycle sack or a donation box. When one of us gives the all familiar “just in case” excuse that led us to keep three sleeping bags and four-person tent in our closet for the past three years (none of which we spent camping), the other is an accountability partner. Do we really need the sleeping bags and tent? When would we go camping? Is it something that someone else will get use out of and that we can replace if we need it again? The answers are no, never, and yes. Just like that we’ve freed up a large bit of the storage space we are actually losing when we downsize. That much more stress packed away to move out of our lives.
Knowing that we get to stay in our complex and that we think the new floor plan will let us utilize the living space much more naturally, we’ve found that some of our stress is already melting away. Add to it the thoughts that we are giving away items that others will find more useful than we do, that we will make a little money off of our better items that go to Craigslist, and that we will have much less clutter once we move, in the end we’ve decided that the circumstances were unfortunately rushed but will benefit us in the end. The new apartment’s floor plan is very open and will let us utilize the dining area much more. There are more windows that light up the space with more natural light, and our cat is going to love the active view of the street and fountains. Turns out our stumble into minimalism was well-timed after all! Now it’s time to get serious…