It´s been a while since I have been living with less of what I used to have when I lived in a big city. I’ve been living way more frugally and with less stuff for 8 years now. This is part of a group writing project. Check at the end of this post what the other families on the move have to say on this topic.
Having less is a choice on minimalism for me. In everything that I can find to go minimal, I do it. I find that having less stuff makes me live more. I don´t I have to worry or work to maintain some things, I can use that time to do things I love instead, and that don’t require stuff or money to do, like hanging out with friends.
Even though I was living with less already, traveling with a backpack really limits the stuff you own. I’ll be practical. Since I left my home in Brazil, 10 months ago:
I don’t have internet at home. Every morning I go to a friend’s hotel and use the internet there, while I’m there at the reception if she needs me. Besides saving money (the biggest reason), I like to have my internet hours controlled like this. I can’t get too addicted and check on it at home, while with my daughter and I have to be more productive in my available hours though getting some real sleep remains the hard part…
I don’t have a car. I sold my surf mobile 6 months prior to our trip to Costa Rica. I wanted to spend less and have the money to buy the airplane tickets, but the main reason was really to not depend on the car and instead to bike more.
I hardly consume any goods, so I´m not contributing too much to the endless cycle of consumption and waste that goes on in our society. I have only one pair of flip flops that I change when I need. I bought a few clothes for me and Luísa (replacements) during this year, and besides a few home supplies, I don’t buy much.
I live in a tiny studio (I love how this word in English makes my place so sophisticated), while back home I was in a 3 bedroom house. Living in a small house is probably the biggest reason why we are out and in nature so much of the time. Sure, the reason to live like this is to save money, but I also got the benefit of spending little to no time cleaning and caring for a house, it’s simply freeing.
My daughter has way fewer toys. Back home we had already downsized her toys to a big box plus a couple of teddy bears, but in a trip, starting of a backpack and moving homes a few times a year we are keeping the minimum. She plays more imaginatively than ever. The imaginary friends are gone (I miss Tiago), she has plenty of real friends to hang out every day and they love playing with sticks, rocks, and anything they find on their way. Finding the right balance remains challenging, though.
We both have a lot fewer clothes and stuff. This was dictated by our backpack, but I love it. I don´t miss any clothing (in fact, I don´t even remember what I left home), and my daughter doesn´t get overwhelmed when it´s time to choose what to put on.
Less electronics in my routine. I had a pretty nice laptop and I like editing videos. But I chose to travel with a cheap and light netbook instead. I just want to have less to be steeled from, so I don´t worry about my values (but so far, so good, I’ve only had some money and my credit card stolen from my bag during a trip). I can buy another cheap netbook if I have to, but I can´t buy another Vaio…
Back home, I had acoustic boxes, I watched videos and listened to music. I do this way less now. I liked these things, but it’s ok to be without. And I surely miss the washing machine. We have paradise to ourselves. I might not have a fully equipped house and wardrobe, but I live 1 minute away from stunning Caribbean beaches. We live in the jungle and get to see sloths and howler monkeys very often, besides the red dart frog and the black and green dart frog in our street. Do I have to own anything?
Having less of what´s actually existing around me and that I can use (paying for it or not like internet connection and a washing machine) makes me think of how we could be using everything more efficiently and intelligently. It’s so blatantly obvious that we don´t need to own everything of what is nice to use.
Think of all the cars stopped at parking lots from 9 to 5 that could be used by people with a different work schedule. Think of anything else and how we could have less clutter in the world and giving access to things we find important and useful to everyone. Surely the costs of maintenance would be split, and so the benefits. See also this interview with Ethan who’s been in Costa Rica now for a while with his 2-year old son. Amazing!
But I´ll spare you my words on how the world sucks and how I how I believe at the end of the monetary system and in The Venus Project. The truth about living with less stuff is that you end up going for more experiences. To have fun, you go out in nature and you meet with people, for instance.
And what is living with less when I think of people that don’t have the minimum (clean air, water, shelter, food and a relevant education)? I have all the essentials and way more than that. I really wish all the people could have what I consider less in my life.