A year ago our family made a drastic change. We got rid of almost half of what we owned, sold our 3300 sqft home and moved into a 1200 sqft rental. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done.
We were living, as most people do here in the suburbs, soaked in debt: mortgage, student debt, credit card, car loan. With two incomes we could manage it all, but we had to keep a careful eye on our bank balance. We were frustrated that we couldn’t offer more financial support as our kids went to post secondary school. We could see changes on the horizon, including shifting real estate values and rising interest rates. And there was always a subtle sense of anxiety lurking under the surface.
At first, we just sort of talked about imaginary scenarios where we sold everything and moved to PEI, our mid-life version of running away with the circus. But then we watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, on Netflix. We discovered Joshua Becker and started following his “becoming minimalist” page on Facebook. I read Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” We had some important conversations about money, jobs, and success.
At first, we took baby steps. We started to get rid of things in kitchen cupboards that we didn’t need and went through boxes of keepsakes that we hadn’t looked at in years. Then one day, we wandered into a local open house. “That house exactly like ours will sell for HOW MUCH?” my husband asked the realtor. And that was it. We called an agent and the For Sale sign went up. The hardest part was leaving behind my garden.
Quite accidentally (Providence!) we bought low and sold high, which meant that we could pay off the mortgage and all of our outstanding debt, with a leftovers to put in the bank. We looked at our monthly income and chose to move into a more modest neighbourhood where we could easily afford the rent.
We have so much less now. We sold and donated a huge amount of furniture and we pared down our wardrobes, our pantry, even our Christmas decorations. We got rid of sentimental items that were broken or useless. We gave away old costumes and prom dresses, shared craft supplies with a summer camp, and found a home for the bicycle no one was riding. All six of us of us sifted through books, clothes, photos, instruments and old notes from elementary school. We kept only those things that, as Marie Kondo says, “bring us joy.”
I know that some people would say we have taken a step down the ladder of success because we own less now. The world is always telling us that more is better. But we know that we have taken a huge leap into freedom because we have less to insure, less to clean, less to worry about. We use less energy to heat and cool our home. We spend less money on interest payments, less time mowing the lawn and are less worried about our grocery bill.
A lot has changed for our family in the past year. One of the best things has been the discovery that less really is more.