Why You Don't Have to Downsize to Live Simply
Every so once in a while when I find the time to read a blog or a book, I often find myself reading something about minimalism. I've talked about minimalism here on the blog before several times and while I don't really consider our family a total minimalistic family (can you say, books and craft supplies overload here?? 🙂 ) we still like to apply some of the principals of the lifestyle to our simple life.
One thing that I see recommended so much on minimalistic blogs and in books about minimalism is the pressure to downsize. To sell off everything that you can so that you can move into a smaller home so that you will be happy.
Downsizing? Yes, having lived in a camper for several years I have a pretty good idea of what that lifestyle is like. But I'm not here to talk about fulltime RV living today, I'm here to talk about downsizing and why I don't think it's necessary to live a simple lifestyle or even a minimalistic lifestyle.
The Infatuation with Downsizing
The idea behind downsizing is great. To own fewer items so that you have less clutter, less stress, and possibly even fewer bills. I think we would all agree that those 3 things are something that we could easily do without.
But unless you truly cannot afford the home that you are in or have an honest to goodness reason to move soon, why are we so obsessed with think that downsizing means we must trade our home for a different, smaller one? Many of us put a great deal of time and effort into fixing up and maintaining the homes we already have. Could it possibly be worth it to leave all of it behind because we think that something else might give us a better life? Funny how we are so quick to forget about the potential problems that a new house could have, no matter what the size, when we only have one motivation behind something. It reminds me of buying a new car. For some reason, we are so willing to sell the old one because it requires maintenance and fixing but we forget that a new car (maybe not immediately but in time) will require the exact same thing?
In some cases, you may need to move to a smaller home. Perhaps the bills are too much of a strain on your finances in your current location and it actually would make sense for your family to move. As long as you remember to factor in the costs of a realtor, of moving, and of all the emotional stress that a move will take on your family and it's ultimately still worth it, then perhaps honest-to-goodness downsizing is right for your family.
An Attitude Adjustment
My family could live in a smaller house. We've done it before, we could do it again. But at this point and time, it makes no sense for us to move just to get into a small square footage. We have wonderful neighbors, we have amazing land attached to our property, we have done a lot of improvements to the property already like starting fruit trees and fixing up the old house. To move and simply leave it all behind for the sake of a smaller footprint wouldn't be logical at the moment.
Maybe that's where you are at in your journey as well. You've put a lot of time and effort into your home or homestead and your family is doing well with it as is. Yes, you could live in a smaller space if you really tried, but is that what you truly want?
To me, downsizing doesn't have to mean moving. It can mean downsizing my clutter, downsizing my clothing, downsizing my household items, even downsizing my bills...without having to call a single realtor.
Let me remind you that if you have clutter in your current home, the problem is not with the size of the home. If you simply move to a smaller home I can promise you that the clutter will not simply disappear.
The problem lies with our attitude.
By believing that we must "downsize" we are creating a spirit of discontentment within ourselves. Even though what we want is not a bad thing, having discontentment in one area of our lives will spread to more areas until we are simply fully unsatisfied with our life, no matter where we live or what we own. If we are able to change the way that we look at things and our attitude about a situation, we can be much better off than we could by simply changing where we live.
An Alternative Way of Thinking
So once you've changed your attitude about the situation, what's next? You still want to downsize and that's perfectly fine. You can do it right where you are at!
If you haven't read my book, 31 Days to Simpler Living yet, I would highly recommend starting there. In each of the 31 days, I challenge you to "downsize" a certain area of your life. Whether it be physical clutter or mental clutter. If you are looking for a step by step approach to a minimalistic lifestyle, it's a great place to start.
Otherwise you can start by taking an overview of the space you have. Start by taking your time clearing out the clutter. It does not need to be all cleared out in one day. In fact, I highly recommend a period of 3 to 6 months to fully remove clutter. Take it one room at a time when you are able and then once you finish...do it again and again until you are happy with the items that you still have left.
Do not feel the need to fill every single room in your home just because you have it. If there are rooms that you rarely or never go in, clean them out, move the need-to-keep items to another room, and block off the room so that you no longer have to heat or cool it.
Place in each room, only what you really want to have in it. If you have a big entryway with a bunch of odd looking uncomfortable furniture that you never use, it's only there for decor, remove it! Only you get to decide what needs to be in your home, no designer or real estate agent should be telling you what each room is for and what you should put in it. If you have a room that is "supposed" to be a dining room but what you really need is a study/homeschool room, convert it! We recently took our smaller family room and put a homeschool room in it because we simply don't need a family room and a living room. Plus the kids are THRILLED with the change!
If you are unhappy with a portion of your home, we've truly found this to be the best approach. To either stop usign a room completely until we really need it, or to refresh the purpose of a room to something we really find useful.
Will This Solve The Problem?
Like I said above. Perhaps you do honestly need a home with smaller square footage. Nothing wrong with that. But before making that big decision, can you first ask yourself if the discontentment with your home is based off of your own needs? Or is it based off of your idea of what minimalism should look like?
Can you take care of the clutter in the house you already have?
Can you take care of the stress that you have?
It depends on the cause of the stress, but if it's caused by discontentment, then yes.
Can you downsize bills in your current home?
Most likely, yes. By closing off rooms you aren't using and only filling your home with things you truly want/need, you can make a leap of progress towards downsizing bills and by just being creative.
I have my own days of discontentment. I look around at a room and think, goodness this would be so much easier to clean the floor if it was half the size! (Who hasn't had that thought?) But then I try and remind myself to stop looking at the glass half empty and change gears so that I'm looking at it half full. I have so much more to be thankful for than I have to be discontent about.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, please leave a comment!
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