Our Downsizing Story

In 2005, my husband Logan and I, lived a normal middle class lifestyle. We were newlyweds with flashy rings, living in a two-bedroom apartment, driving two cars, commuting long distances to work and living well beyond our means. At this time, we were living in Davis, California, which is notorious for expensive real estate and a negative vacancy rating. We were living a life with too much stuff and stress.

Initially, we resisted the idea of moving into a smaller one-bedroom apartment because we were more concerned about appearances and space for guests than for our financial well-being. We decided something needed to change once we realized our debt was causing us so much stress. This change began by defining our values and prioritizing our needs versus wants.

The Downsizing Process

After creating many long pro/con lists, the downsizing process began. We sold one car and moved into a one-bedroom apartment near the train station, the local co-op and downtown amenities. Our lives changed for the better! Although we still drove everywhere, with lower rent and only one car we began chipping away at our debt. Around this time, we stumbled across Dee Williams’ tiny house, the Small House Movement and the concept of simple living.

Dee inspired us to go small and start thinking big. So after doing a lot of research and making many to-do lists, we decided to move from Davis to mid-town Sacramento. We scaled down even further, to a 400-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment within walking distance to my work. And now we’re living in a very tiny house.

Thinking big required setting goals and decluttering. Slowly we began focusing on the quantity and quality of our belongings. We donated our TV, most of our furniture and many of the items filing up our closets to friends, thrift stores and Freecycle.

The Benefits of Going Small

Downsizing can be stressful, but the benefits are tremendous. Moving to a smaller apartment in the city opened up amazing possibilities. Once we sold our one remaining car, life became even better because we saved money and worked less. It sounds like a cliche, but without the car and the TV we had the time, money and energy to prioritize our health, happiness and life goals. For instance, I quit my day job in early 2010, started my own small business and moved to Portland, Oregon. Without simplicity, I would still be stuck in my cubicle.

I hope our personal story will help you remove clutter from your life, one step at a time.

Good luck in your own simple living quest. Above all, pursue happiness and not more stuff.

///

Comments are closed. 

1 Pam Hirsch July 10, 2009

Tammy,

I LOVE this story in so many ways! My husband and I live in a 2 year old 2400 sq. ft. home outside Seattle bought at the height of the market. Dumb. It’s taken 50 years to figure out that clutter and stuff just brings… more clutter and stuff. Especially to the non-tangible parts of our lives. Simplicity – especially quality simplicity – brings freedom and serenity. Good for you and thanks for the example.

Pam Hirsch

2 Tammy July 10, 2009

Pam – thanks for leaving a comment. :) Our downsizing journey has been a long process, but well worth the time and effort. Now that we have downsized, we actually have time to spend with friend, family and each other. It’s a great feeling! Living a simple life is the key to happiness. :)

3 lorri guy August 10, 2010

i lov reading your story. I was married for 11 yrs and one day he walked out and left me with 3 kids and no means. He owns to restraunts and i had nothing. I move to a small town to be near family soon found myslfe with out that to. I lost my care and had no job in a town with no way to get a round. 7 yrs later alot of miles on my feet and a bike I gave to someone worse off then I. I have a 71 vw bus I use only when I must. Im saving for a new bike but on 900 a month its hard but in due time will come. I have learned to live on so little and its ok God didnt mean for us to have so much that we lose sight of him and whats around use. God Bless. I love the fact u care enough to say your way is not best for everone but for you it is, your not passing judgement on anyone thank you

4 kate August 10, 2010

Hi Lori, wow, you too! I was married 4.5 yrs with a 4yr old son and my husband decided that he was tired of the economy and struggling and he up and left the country! No child support, nothing… he even forgot about his kid’s birthday. Anyhow, as we speak I am in the process of packing and moving from a 3bdrm home to a 2 bdrm apt. I have already freecycled a bunch of stuff that I would not/could not fit into the apt. and I feel so liberated and so light! I don’t have to worry about work, I have a secure job I’ve been at for 18yrs, the move will allow me to shorten my commute from 40miles one way to 7miles one way. I can’t wait for that! I am repriotizing my life and have decided that “stuff” is NOT where it’s at for me, I will from now on enjoy my life with my son as much as possible, I will live it to the fullest and not identify my self worth by the things I own like too many members of my family and friends. Best of luck to you, I hope you get the bike very soon and begin enjoying your simpler life.

5 Michelle Brixius-Kasich August 20, 2010

Where are you from lorri? I go on Craigslist.org and find stuff like bikes. I would be willing to help you if you live close…

6 Michael October 26, 2009

Lovely story! I enjoyed your story and look forward to looking around your site more. Very nice pictures too, good stuff! : )

7 Tammy October 26, 2009

Hey Michael – thanks so much for reading the blog! :) I appreciate it.

8 Erin November 19, 2009

It has taken us 20 years of marriage to finally start rethinking normal. We have too much house and too much stuff. A planned overseas move in 18 months has really gotten me thinking of how much “stuff” I’ll have to deal with to get us started on our adventure. I’m cowed by the job, but am chipping away at it, day by day.

9 Tammy November 20, 2009

@Erin – Good luck with your downsizing process. Keep me posted on how it goes. :) Hugs to ya.

10 Ellen December 20, 2009

I’ve been working again this weekend on “rethinking normal” Lots of inventory went to the booth which really frees up the house. Today we began discussing in earnest moving down to make our lives more manageable. For instance we have a big yard and it is hard for us to keep it up and important to me to have it look nice.
If we could rent the house, we could move to something smaller with no yard upkeep, a little less money, and fewer utilities hopefully. We would be hard pressed to sell now if we want to retrieve our investment. We paid a large chunk down, but now we have lost the equity with the economy. It is hard to think that the house lost that much value!

In the meantime, I am looking around at pieces of furniture I could get rid of to help financially. It accumulates with the business. Though I have downsized my life considerably, there is more I could do. Your article was wonderful to reread on a day like this. Hugs

11 Tami December 31, 2009

Tammy –

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story! The concept of enough and living with “less” is baffling to most, so it’s heartwarming to know there are others locally that feel the same way we do.

Thanks too for sharing the Small House Movement information. Good stuff!

I look forward to reading more about your downsizing.

12 John Andersen January 24, 2010

Enjoyed watching your interview on Peak Moment. I agree Portland is a great place to live. We’ve been here since 1997. In the Post Peak Oil world it promises to be a better place than most.

But bigger than that, I applaud your thinking, and would be delighted if many more young people follow your path.

13 Tammy January 24, 2010

Thank you John! I really appreciate your kind words.

We’re excited about moving to Portland. It’s a beautiful city and there are so many like minded people there. I’m looking forward to connecting with others and building community. :)

14 keeping up with the kozlowskis January 26, 2010

Hello, Greetings from poland. I just watched your interview on peak moment and loved it. We are on a similar road to doing what you did. Your website has given me valueable information about how to do this more quickly. However I am not as brave as you for get rid of house hold stuff. I just find it hard to give away things that were presents or just in general house hold things I really like. Have you any tips on how I could get more brutal about decluttering.

15 Tammy January 26, 2010

@keeping up with the kozlowskis – Thanks for reading RowdyKittens. I’m glad you enjoyed the peak moment interview. A great starting point for downsizing is: The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life. The eBook is fantastic and full of useful information. If you can’t afford the ebook, I’d recommend reading Zen Habits, Far Beyond the Stars and Simpler Living. I have a number of resources listed on my Blogroll.

Also you might find these posts helpful: Living with 72 Things and Less Really is More. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m happy to help. :)

16 duchess February 11, 2010

This is my idea of the small house movement.
I have lived in one of these 5 times in my life with and with out my 5 children, a cat and a hamster… ( well you know how that turned out with the hamster) We were in Alaska in the winter when we lost the hamster.
Anyway,we are in the process of downsizing again to a 8 x 36 foot long fifth wheel. 288 sq. ft. Its a fancy camper, complete with fireplace, surround sound, built in vac, computer desk and stack washer dryer, even a King sized bed and cedar lined closets.
I admit it has more than we need, the fireplace and the surround sound are a bit over the top, but it came with the unit.
what I love best about it.. is if you get bored with the scenery, the weather or the neighbors or your job changes it is easy to move! No realtor. just hook up and go!
This “home” has plenty of room to store everything we actually need. I wish they built storage in homes the way they do thse things. I think that may be why I keep going back to them is the wonderful unique storage.
Oh yes then there is the : No lawn care, no electric, sewer, water, garbage bills. That is all in the cost of the “recreational vehicle” RV camping Park lot rent. The only bill is propane for cooking and when it is cold for heating. Of course the cost of the unit, Plates and insurance.

You can rent aRV camping lot by the night, week or month. This works for familys as well. There are 2 bedroom camping trailers with built in bunks for the kids.. no need to buy furniture, it is all built in or with the unit when you purchase.
We have a pickup truck to move ours and go wherever we wish. You can also hire someone to move it for you across town or the country.
There are all kinds of price ranges and sizes and options.
It has taken me a year to declutter, donate, give away and sell things we have accumulated the last 8 years, since we last lived in a RV and moved into a way to big house. I Hate living in a house that doesnt move and has to much area to keep clean, heat and cool. I THINK IT IS BECAUSE i LIKE THINGS CLEAN AND NEAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS BIG PLACES STRESS ME OUT….Space that is never used only to put unused stuff in.
Everything we are putting into our RV we will actually need and use. and I dont have to walk 120 and back again to find it!!! Everything has its place. We have lots of time to read, hobbys, walk the dogs, visit with friends, family and the new neighbors That just pulled in next to us.
It has been a long process getting the decluttering and downsizing done.
I have NEVER missed anything I have ever gotten rid of over the years of moving into campers and back into house other than the “CAMPER:!!!! I cried when we sold our last one. The freedom was always a joy. Not having useless baggage and clutter. Time to relax and actually enjoy the view without thinking about cleaning the rest of the big “land locked” house, yard to mow again etc. By early spring we will be on the road and I am done decluttering and were not going back ………Ahh…. Life is light and good..

17 tarcy December 29, 2010

I was just curious as to how you find rv rental lots.

18 Josh Tremblay March 10, 2010

Tammy,

Thank you for sharing your story. I’m curious to know, as you and your husband started the decluttering process, was one of you more enthusiastic than the other? Was the mental/ emotional shift more difficult for one of you more so than the other? If so how did you two go about the process of getting mutual clarity?

Thanks again for your story. It is an inspiration.

Cheers,

Josh

19 Tammy March 11, 2010

@John – that is such a great question! I think I’ll write a blog post in response. :) In the meantime check out these posts. They give more background on our downsizing process.

A Young Couple Find Freedom in Simple Living

How Small Can You Go – If you flip through the magazine, you’ll find our story.

Let me know if you have more questions and stay tuned for a more detailed blog post on this topic. :)

20 bankruptcy ben June 24, 2010

Agreed you need to write an ebook on this!!! or at least I need to buy your ebook on this.

21 Jennifer March 21, 2010

Inspiring article! My husband and I have been simplifying our lives for about a year. In anticipation for some big changes at the end of this year (2010) including moving, we have been focused on getting rid of as much stuff as we can part with. Our home is 2100 + sq. ft. and there are just 3 of us.

I am filled with a growing passion to help people around me simplify their lives and create order. So many people are overwhelmed with stress and clutter and need inspiration and direction to break free from complicated living.

Keep sharing and inspiring!

-Jenn

22 teevee March 28, 2010

Awesome story! I read the headline and expected to read about you being the victim of downsizing. What a pleasant surprise.

I am a single father that lives alone, but have 2 daughters that I have over every other weekend. I have been wanting to get a new place and wondering what I should pursue: a house with at least 3 bedrooms or 1-2 bedrooms.

I have really been fighting in my mind over this and have considered the small one since I have been actively getting rid of things and implementing the Minimalist philosophy.

After reading your story here I think I now have the answer and feel good about it. My daughters have been a part fo my journey to get rid of stuff and just yesterday told me that we need to get rid of toys because we have too many. :) Hehe. I think just got easier than I expected.

Thank you for sharing and inspiring.
ps
I bought your ebook on going carfree, but at the moment isn’t something I can do. However, I can definitely minimize as much as possible to the point I hardly drive. That is a genius idea! YES! :)

23 Tammy March 28, 2010

@teevee – Thank you! I really appreciate your support. :) I’m glad to hear that you went for the smaller house. I think you’d really enjoy this book: Little House on a Small Planet. The author profiles a number of families that live in super small spaces. Their stories are so inspiring. The parents talk about how living in a smaller household brought their family closer together. Pretty cool stuff!

It’s super cute that your daughters are on board with downsizing. Thanks for sharing your story! I appreciate it. :)

24 Kelly Martin April 15, 2010

I am so inspired by all that I have read today. My husband and I are just beginning our journey of downsizing our life. We have been together fore 15 years and and have fallen into the world of “STUFF”. We have recentley put our house on the market. This forced us to declutter to the max. It has felt so good. The more I get rid, of the more I want to get rid of. I know this will take some time but I can already feel the rewards.

Kelly

25 Arron April 27, 2010

Hello! I’ve been browsing your blog for a while now, along with Leo’s minimalist and zenhabits blogs, and I have begun the process of paring down my life into what is important. I have a question about renting vs. owning. I currently own a home that, in 5 years (when my both of my kids will be out of high school), I intend to sell it and move. All I hear from people I know is “renting is throwing money away”, but I don’t want that mortgage/debt hanging over my head. My question is: How did you get over that “rental hump?” How do I deprogram myself to stop thinking of renting as an insane, money-wasting debacle (as I’ve heard it described by my friends) and see it as a means to save money, time and sanity?

Keep up the great blog!

26 Tammy April 28, 2010

@Arron – Remember just because other people do things a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to. I would ask the opposite questions: Is owning really worth the cost? Do you truly save money? And do you know how much your home has actually cost you, the purchase price plus interest, maintenance, property tax, etc?

Personally, I think home-ownership is a waste of money. By the time you’re done paying for the home, plus all the interest, you end up spending 2-3 times the purchase price. I know home ownership is a great choice for many people. Just not for me. I don’t want to spend the extra money or be tied down to one location. I don’t see renting as a waste. It gives me a great deal of freedom and extra cash.

I guess the point is to continually question yourself and what society tells us what we should do with out lives.

Also think about what your future will look like after your kids are out of high school. Do you want to travel? Or move to another part of the country? What are you long-term goals. I’ve found mind-mapping to be really helpful. :)

If you have a chance read this article: The Renters Manifesto: http://www.mint.com/blog/goals/rent-vs-buy/

27 Arron April 28, 2010

Tammy, thank you for the reply. I agree that owning a home entails all sorts of expenses that are either ignored or talked about in hushed whispers, simply to push the “ownership mentality” that is so prevalent in American society. Why must we own something to enjoy it? I am constantly second-guessing what society says we “have” to do to indicate success or what we “have” to own to be “complete”. I don’t intend on keeping a full-time job until I am 67, just to own things. I do intend to move after my children are grown and I am seriouslyy considering the Pacific Northwest ( I grew up in California and I miss the area, but I’ve always wanted to visit Washington and Oregon as they both look beautiful…at least in the pictures I’ve seen, haha), due to the very non-Iowa weather and the more socially progressive attitude. The Midwest is a little too old-fashioned for me and my partner. Time will tell. Again, thanks for the reply and for making me think (or re-think, rather).

28 jeff July 14, 2010

teevee,
I think you are making some moves you will never regret. I, too, am a single father with a son and daughter who stay with me in short bursts. I live in a 1000 sq ft solar-heated well-insulated cabin that I built myself, and it works just fine. Less maintenance, lower utilities, and less to clean. It is on 10 acres of wooded property, so there is no yard work and I never feel cramped. I have an unheated shed to keep the canoes, kayaks, bicycles, tools, etc., in so the house is quite roomy and opened, and it doesn’t cost me anything in utilities. If you want your girls to realize how little they really need, take them backpacking or bicycle camping. They will have less on the second trip than they wanted to carry on the first trip, I promise. I, too, still have a car, but I don’t use it much. Keep up the minimalist good work.

29 Rona August 10, 2010

I used to be ashamed that we were not homeowners. Can you believe that I let society, family and friends comments cause such emotions?

When the economy turned in Southern California the only friends that were able to move and start over were the renters.

We are now live in Las Vegas and still rent but either get our rent free or reduced since my husband is in property management. It gives us alot of freedom such as allowing me to finally focus on securing a fulltime work at home job.

30 Bankruptcy Ben June 9, 2010

I’ve just started to read this stuff. I’m an irregular cycle commuter but there was a 2 year period of my life when I was a regular commuter (ended about 8 months ago). I’ve been putting going back to it off something always seems to come up, but f%&k it time to start

31 Sharon June 17, 2010

Great site and great path you are following. After 4 relocations in 12 years and many years of both of us living the professional corporate lifestyle, we made a major change in our lives: cashed out, so to speak. Sold the beautiful home in a large metro area, successfully negotiated a transition to part-time work for our former company (remotely, via computer and phone), moved to a very small town in the country (close to family) and because we are renovating an old farmhouse have lived for months with very little – since everything is packed away somewhere! Amazing how little you actually need when you get right down to it. It’s a continuing process (my husband is a car buff and has several) but it’s the best decision we’ve made since deciding to get married – :) Such a feeling of freedom and lightness comes with stepping out of that driven and frenetic lifestyle. Guess you could say we bought our freedom with what we gave up (income) – but in then, time is the most precious commodity and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Money can’t buy that back . . .

32 boohoo August 9, 2010

You must have very specific skills that are in very high demand. I have never been able to negotiate part-time professional work or telecommuting from any of my employers. Consider yourself lucky that you have skills that allow you to make demands upon an employer. Many Americans white collar workers do not have this luxury and must take whatever job they can get that offers health insurance (if they even get that).

33 Public Education ROCKS August 9, 2010

I don’t think that was the point. I can’t work from home, either, but I still get the point of the article. The focus isn’t on type of employment, it’s on the happiness you get from spending the money in more frugal (and fruitful) ways that are good to the Earth.

34 Sharon August 11, 2010

Hi, boohoo,
Please know that I do consider myself lucky (or blessed, however you look at it!) even though I worked 30+ years to get to the point where I had those in demand skills. Plus, what I do is very portable (consulting, lived on the road for many years) and I can do it from pretty much anywhere, as long as I have a phone and laptop. The more important point here though is that we would have made this decision to relocate/downsize/change our life even without the telecommuting option – since our former life was just not working for us anymore. I am convinced that every step in this direction (living more simply, free of debt and “baggage”) is a good step – even small ones! I wish you the best in whatever you are contemplating along this path!

35 Aylin June 17, 2010

Hi Tammy,

Lovely blog. Very relieving to see that some Americans are finally looking into a more frugal and less wasteful lifestyle. Most European families live in flats under 1,000 square feet, and prefer to rent rather than take big loans and live beyond their means and end up slaves to the bank for the next 20 years! My husband and I live in a 650 square feet flat, share a car, and go on foot whenever we can. We wouldn’t even start to dream about driving an SUV in a world where wars are fought over petrol. We don’t even turn the air-con on whenever we can so we don’t waste the world’s resources. We do all of these not because we can’t afford to live otherwise, but because we care about the environment and other people and our impact on both. I thus enjoyed your blog very much and hope that you can get the word spread as much as possible. Ciao!

36 Mandi June 17, 2010

Great story! My husband and I and our two children moved about 6 months ago from 2700 square foot home to a townhome that is under 1000 square feet. We had two massive garage sales, gave trailer loads of stuff away to friends and freecycle, got rid of one of our 3 vehicles and prioritized our “stuff”. We were moving cross country and we decided that whatever didn’t fit in our tiny uhual trailer wasn’t going. It was hard at first since we could only take our basic needs. Our home had two massive family rooms, 4 bedrooms and even a library. I cried when I had to go through a room full of books and select only a few boxes to keep. 6 months later we r seeing the benefits of living smaller and with less. We are so much happier now and fiancially better too. We are currently renting but plan to save up enough to build a tiny house for our family to live in…. Debt free of course. :-)

37 Taysa July 15, 2010

Wow, I am so happy to have found this blog. My life (and heart!) have been moving in this direction for the last two and a half years, when I got rid of most of my possesions to move to San Francisco and be with my love. Even when I have pangs of sadness (I mean, I really did love that red leather couch I had) I have never actually regretted my decision, and am constantly looking for more ways to simplify. As I pay down my debt, I look forward to less and less stress and more and more freedom that living simply provides. I look forward to reading all the entries to come!

38 howard July 20, 2010

Well, I came across this website through a cluttering article — so you can see my mindset. Although I doubt I’ll go the full minimalist route, I have been downsizing a tad, esp since I plan to live overseas for 3-5 years, starting in about 2014.

One lesson that I have learned: when I moved 64 (SIXTY-FOUR) boxes of books…with the help of friends, I said no more. What stuck with me was what my father said to me at the time: “You know, Howard, I also have a very large collection of books. I even have a staff that maintains it…storage costs me nothing…and it’s climate controlled!” He leaned over a little, and stage whispered, “It’s called a library!”

And he’s soooo right. So I’m looking to nursing homes, where folks can NOT get around to libraries easily (or perhaps even a school or two) for my books.

But as some wag once said, “You can’t take it with you! (when u die)”

39 Anonymous July 21, 2010

Howard, loved your comment re: the books – and what your father said – priceless! This too is my most difficult thing to do – I’ve moved boxes of books all over the US – they have always been like old friends to me – it’s just so hard to let them go! But, I have – here and there – a bit at a time. There’s still some that I am keeping, but I have started using a library again (cheers to your Dad) and donate the books to a Salvation Army thrift shop (my favorite charity). Have to say that once you start downsizing and getting rid of years of “stuff” accumulation, it is a wonderful feeling – and this is a great site for hearing what people have to say about that-

40 howard July 21, 2010

PLACES TO DONATE:

By the way, the SALVATION ARMY is the way to go. My uncle told me that during WWII, the S/A actually paid for troops in his unit, that needed a train ticket home, to visit their families before shipping overseas…another older bud told me that when he left for Vietnam, they were on the train platform with a toiletries kit when he left from Scranton to get ready to go into the Army>

And we all know what they do for those truly down and out and on the streets.

Versus the Amer Red Cross, whose new president apologized last year for charging troops during WWII for coffee & donuts.

Yeah, I’m sure Good Will also does a great job: but when it comes to handling money…really helping people, esp. the down-and-out, the alcoholics & druggies living on the street…I’m giving my things to the SA.

Just my 3 cents (inflation)

41 Jade July 25, 2010

It’s great reading this post but also saddens me as I’ve had to upgrade instead of downsizing due to my family moving in with me and they have a LOT of stuff. Went from a one bedroom to a 7 bedroom house plus kitchen, den/library, dining room, play room, garage etc. So much stress maintaining this place. I simple hate this new house. I miss my old one bedroom cottage. :(

42 shanna July 29, 2010

i love this! i often look for stories similar to my own–downsizing is creative and exciting. living tiny allows one to live big in the world. my recent article for All Things Girl has a related theme (I write on minimalism often):
The Psychic Weight of Stuff http://bit.ly/b09HDI

You blog is lovely and useful–keep up the great work :)

43 Tammy July 30, 2010

Thanks Shanna! :) Living small has given me so many opportunities. For example, I was finally able to start my own tiny business. It’s such a relief not to have debt or stuff weighing me down.

I’ll be sure to check out your article and blog today. Thanks for reading. :)

44 April August 8, 2010

I found your via the NY Times article on your downsizing. As the owner of a tiny house, I am glad to see this movement get all the press it can! I work PT (Mon-Wed) and my husband is self-employed doing odd jobs around (our very small) town. We moved here and started building our tiny house with the idea of “semi-retirement”–meaning we wouldn’t work to live. It’s just not worth it!

45 Bay Area native August 8, 2010

Like many others, I found your site after reading the NY Times article. Congratulations on your change! I just recently graduated from college and have been thinking about how to live within my means. I have already decided prior that I don’t need a TV–my laptop and the internet is already enough of a distraction and enough to help me feel like I’m in touch with the real world–but your drastic move has made me think about how I can push it further. Apart from the obvious value of living within one’s own means, I’ve also been thinking what this means in the context of the environment. Thank you, Tammy.

46 Michel Neray August 8, 2010

Love it.

47 Sam Crow August 8, 2010

Two comments in as many minutes? This is not like me. I do want to say that I am impressed with your story and I – being a law student with 3 children in a two bedroom apartment – am inspired by the idea of re-evaluating ones’ goals in life. I and my wife have long been dreaming of the day we can show our family and friends our big house and nice cars, living like a well-to-do attorney. However as of late I feel that the less I have the simpler my life is, the happier I am. Thanks for your example and story.

48 Tammy August 9, 2010

Hi Sam,

Thanks for reading. We have found that since we have downsized people appreciate us more for who we are than for what we own. Plus, with our expenses cut, we can spend more time helping family and friends. This always impresses folks far more than shiny objects. ;) Good luck with school!

49 June August 9, 2010

I wonder if there is a correlation between getting rid of the TV and buying less. Without a TV, you are no longer subject to commercials and false images of what you “should” have in your home. So even people who are not into downsizing should give getting rid of the TV a try.

50 Amber August 9, 2010

I agree. I am familiar with a family that does not have television in their home and they believe their is a direct correlation between their kids “wants” and advertising. They have a finite amount of toy tubs and periodically rotate them in and out of use. The kids love the “new” toys that come out and never feel they are missing the toy or fad of the moment. The children are also homeschooled.

51 Peter August 9, 2010

This is a great blog! One thing I particularly admire is that it is not overly earnest; indeed, there really ought to be a winsome side to downsizing. As I just moved to a small apartment here in Austin, where for the first time I can actually see all the “stuff” I own (much had been in storage this past year), I am in a better place to evaluate what I can sell/donate. Admittedly, being something of an academic, getting rid of reference texts can be tough! At the same time, I have not owned a car for over four years, two of which were up in Canada, where I rode my faithful bicycle through two Canadian winters. Quite a few years ago, out in Minnesota (where I also did not own a car), I learned that one can in fact purchase chains for a bicycle. They are worthless on ice, but good even in hard-pack conditions. The coldest morning I rode in was about 25 below zero, but even then I warmed up in a few minutes. However, the grease in the bike’s rear derailleur froze, so eventually the drive train had a missing essential piece; the gears would not engage at all. (I had to lock the bike to a lamp post, hop a bus, and pick it up later that afternoon, first taking it inside a repair garage where I allowed it to thaw enough to ride again.) Yes, living without a car, and thus a bit more simply, does have its adventuresome side! Finally, to add something of a demographic slant to this, I am, by some measures, a conservative Republican, so the desire to live simply is not at all limited to any one political leaning. In fact, for me it really finds its roots in Christian notions of stewardship, charity and a desire to work to live, rather than live to work, as well as the inherited notion of the centrality of the Sabbath.

52 Mohammad August 9, 2010

I wanted to congratulate the two of you on such an achievement. I’m truly inspired. We’re a couple living in a two bedroom apartment and actually looking for a bigger place. But now I’m thinking that it’s not about the size of the space, but rather how you utilize that space. And with a baby on the way, I can imagine it to be even more important to be efficient.

I work for a green company, and this is along my goal of reducing my carbon footprint. I just needed to kick start it, and I’m hoping to have just received the motivational push :). Thanks again.

53 Art Rubin August 9, 2010

I went to a Voluntary Simplicity workshop back in 1996. We started by going around the room introducing ourselves and saying why we were there. Everyone’s story was basically the same: they were tired of all the clutter and waste in their lives, and of feeling like they were living on a treadmill of work-and-consume. They disliked the idea that they and all their neighbors each needed one of everything, when they could share with each other. They hated not having enough time to LIVE. They all summed up these reasons with an emphatic, “I’m here because I want a SIMPLER life!”

When my turn came I said, “I’m here because I want a LUXURIOUS life.” And then I explained that, to me, all the experiences I’m allowed when I live less materially are incredible luxuries: time for exercising, writing poetry, being with friends (without looking at the clock), trusting and being trusted because I’m not saying, doing and being things always with an eye on the “bottom line.” I suggested that all of them stop framing their feelings in line with our culture’s story–that if they’re living on less money, they must be living “simply.” Truly luxurious living means health, happiness, love and trust. And as we’ve all discovered, having lots of money doesn’t confer these on us. In fact, more often than not, it does just the opposite.

Thanks for yours and Logan’s great website and your example. Every good wish.

54 Sharon August 10, 2010

Just commenting on Art’s post re: living the luxurious life, as defined by time and energy to be able to do the things you love. I so agree with that – time is the ultimate luxury and the scarcest resource . . .

55 Kelly August 9, 2010

My family thinks I’m weird because for the past 8 years or so I’ve been trying to emphasize “experiences” instead of stuff. Plz don’t buy me another sweater – take me to the movies!

I admit I do have a TV (17″ color but not flat panel) but I haven’t had cable in 3 years – and don’t miss it ($60 a month in savings)! I have more time to read (finally got through that stack of books next to my bed!). I will use NetFlix once or twice a week (instead of going to the movies). I believe in home ownership but I don’t have a large house. What really helped me – the move! I boxed everything up and placed it in a spare room. I only unpacked the “essentials” – linens, frying pan, soap etc. After 6 months – anything not unpacked I either sold at auction or gave away to GoodWill or Freecycle. What a huge relief – it was stuff I forgot I even had (much less used)! And less “stuff” to dust! I feel sorry for people who can’t park their cars in their garages because of the huge piles of crap in there; you KNOW they don’t use any of it!

My problem – getting my family to recognize my minimalist lifestyle. I’ve tried to politely / diplomatically steer them away from buying me trinkets but they continue. Any tips on that?

56 amy August 10, 2010

what about sending a mass preemptive postcard before your bday or christmas thanking people for their generosity in years past, quickly recapping your life mission to downsize, and giving them fair warning that anything you recieve will be lovingly redistributed to someone in need. You could also suggest that if they really want to give (because giving makes people feel good too!) to consider making a donation in your name to such-and-such charity. for example, I donated money in my mom’s name for mother’s day to World Vision, and they sent her a beautiful silk shawl and nice note telling her that a family had received warm blankets for winter in honor of her. Or for $50 you can give a family a goat in someone’s name. You get the idea. They have tons of categories, helping women/children who were sold to slavery, kids who need shoes so that worms can’t infest their feet, a pair of chickens or rabbits that a family can begin to sustainably breed, etc. Good luck, i am trying to get people to stop buying me things too!

57 Charlotte Hutson-Wrenn August 9, 2010

I just did the same thing, and now live my dream, on a tiny island, in a 27 ft Rv named Rosy, who has blossomed lately with her name. The freedom of following your dream is unimaginably satisfying. I eat from my garden, bath in my tiny tub, hang my clothes to dry, depend on my neighbors, bake in a toaster oven, and portable cooktop, but outside I live on the most beautiful undeveloped island on earth, Edisto Island, just south of historic Charleston, South Carolina. Visit my blog, Charleston through an Artist’s Eye, at http://www.CharlestonArtHistory to read my story, “Coming Up Roses,” also inspired by the Small House Movement. Sustainable, daring, scary, and oh so wonderful. DO it.

58 Melissi August 9, 2010

Charlotte, you are so lucky. My family & I recently returned from Daufuskie Island and found out that we could get by on very little. There wasn’t any fancy attractions, just beautiful natural beaches, no lights at night to block the stars and much to my 19yr olds dismay, limited cell service! We actually spent the days together talking, playing games and sitting down to meals together. My husband & I are now making the effort to clean & de-clutter the “stuff” in our lives.

Tammy is says a lot about the impact of your site when people are still responding a year later to your posting! Thank you for wonderful info & inspiring others.

59 Dana Frost August 9, 2010

Tammy, I love this post! In our BIG family way we try to live a down-sized life. More, Big and cupboards stocked for a grand scale catastrophe is not necessarily better. I buy toilet paper and essentials when I need them, not for a year down the road. Our house looks big but the living space is actually quite containable…every space and thing we own used or tossed. That’s one of the ways I try to live a down sized life in this big sized family.
Thanks for sending this message out into the world.
BTW I love your logo and tagline. Brilliant.
Dana

60 Maria Almaguer August 9, 2010

I love your blog! We, too, are interested in downsizing and our first step was a much smaller place to live. We now live in a tiny rowhouse in Pittsburgh and, while I still feel out of it in my new city (we’re from Detroit), I am excited about living more simply. Thanks for your inspiration & motivation!

61 Sharon August 10, 2010

Marie,
You’ll love Pittsburgh – it’s a great city – really has a renaissance in progress. And, they have a great airport! :) (fly in and out of there frequently)

62 Paula/Memoirista August 9, 2010

I live in a 735 sq foot one bedroom with my husband and daughter. People are constantly asking us when we’re going to move. It’s like people can’t believe that we aren’t miserable! We would like more space, mainly so that we can have more privacy – but we’ll get it when we can afford it. I’m honestly tired of trying to convince people that we aren’t suffering horribly in our small space. And hello, it’s NYC, it’s NOT THAT SMALL!!!

63 Linda Li August 9, 2010

Thanks so much for sharing your story online :) I recently read about you and your husband’s story in the NY Times article, “But Will It Make You Happy?” and found great inspiration from it. I’m a recent college grad about to head off to graduate school for my Master’s and I’m terrified of not being able to handle the college debt that I will have after I leave school because of the cost of owning a home, starting a family, paying car insurance, etc. But your story gives me hope that it’s probably better for me not to live beyond my means after I leave graduate school anyway and through wise financial decisions about marriage and starting a family and a choice to live simply in more community-focused, less expensive places, I can follow my dreams and be debt-free in no time so I have very little to fear in regards to the future. Thanks so much for your practical, inspirational story!

P.S: I love the title of this blog!

64 Maria August 9, 2010

Tammy, thank you for what you are doing for the planet! I have sold my house and moved to a five room duplex with my son over the weekend, and was freaking out. I did it not so much because I could not afford where I was, but because I want to create a life where I am free! I unpacked one wardrobe box yesterday which filled my closet. I have three other such boxes in storage and told myself that ALL of my clothes have to fit in this closet. I decided to give them away, as well as most of the stuff we have in storage. Then today I received your blog and watched The Story of Stuff at work because I’m preparing for LEED certification. I love the synchronicity of this: I have instinctively known that I was surrendering my power to my stuff and to the expectations that others have of me, and had already started the process of change. I am on fire and so excited!! Thank you thank you thank you!

65 Michelle in Denver August 9, 2010

Hello! I scaled-down to a 600 sq. foot house and I couldn’t be happier. Moving in here forced me to begin the process of clearing the clutter away. In the 2.5 years I’ve lived here, I’ve gotten rid of so much and am still doing so. A couple weeks ago, I went to my parents’ house and the three of us went through their basement, getting rid of yet more stuff. We were able to fill two pickups to the brim with stuff to donate to Goodwill. I haven’t ditched the truck…am scared to with all my critters (can’t take them to the vet on the bike) but maybe someday. Just try to walk/bike more. Thanks for all the comments and inspiration.

66 Robin Hart August 9, 2010

Tammy,
I read your story on Yahoo that they featured from the New York Times. My husband, three kids, and I live in the Monterey Bay area in California. We are on the never ending cycle of never having enough to keep up with all of the things that I thought would make us, and our kids happy. I guess until reading your story, I never realized if we continue to stay in this cycle, our children will never be truly happy, and neither will we. Our kids like many others want something else the minute we get them the last thing they thought they “couldn’t live without”, and after we finally are able to get it for them, within a matter of days, it is on the floor, or cannot be found. The happiness it brought was gone as quick as the money was. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you have opened my eyes to something that has been right in front of me all along. I want to say thank you so much for that, and to tell you that you have truly made me want to change my life, and my husband, and children’s lives for the better, and to know real happiness. I look forward to following your blog, and wish you the best, and all the happiness you ever could imagine. :)

67 Tammy August 10, 2010

@Robin Hart

Thank so much for your kind words Robin. You really made my day! Stephanie Rosenbloom did a wonderful job on the article and I’m so glad that our story could help inspire folks to improve their lives through voluntary simplicity. Let me know if we can help answer any questions in your pursuit of happiness. We could also recommend a few blogs regarding simple living and parenting (since we don’t have kids ourselves). We are a little swamped with media attention right now but soon we should be able to catch up with all our new readers. :) Wishing you the best! Cheers!

68 Angie August 9, 2010

Thank you, Tammy, for the web site. I started to realize the power of living simple and keeping my freedom a few years ago, when I had 3 jobs and saved money for my future. I was exhausted, unhappy, got sick very often. I better choose my freedom than slave to the banks and credit cards my whole life! Unfortunately my husband thinks the opposite and I am not sure if one day it won’t separate us….but I would still choose my freedom rather than eternal over-working for things I do not need – with or without my husband! Thanks for your site, you give us all strength!

69 Jen August 9, 2010

I’m so glad I found this blog tonight. I’m sitting up — suffering from insomnia from the realities of my job — and looking around my cramped, but small apartment. I spend a great deal of itme talking about how I don’t have enough space for all that I have…and that I need a bigger place, but reading your blog has me thinking: Maybe I need less stuff. How much time do I spend stressing about laundry for clothes that I rarely wear or hunting matches for shoes that look just like the pair I wore 3 days ago. I think it is definitely time for me to downsize…or maybe it’s right-sizing.

I think the biggest gift I can give myself through this process is that of time — to really work on who I am — not what I have.

70 Tommy August 10, 2010

Nice post!

71 annemarie scott August 10, 2010

We did that for four years, sold the cars and rode only our bikes, except once a year we would rent a car for trips. We were so healthy then! Still ride my bike to work 6 months out of the year but we are now looking into having a farm, want to grow the majority of our own food, even though I love hearing how people are beginning to go back to raising chickens for eggs and having a garden in the city.

72 jan August 10, 2010

I love the idea of downsizing. As a child I grew up in a several small apartments in the
city of Chicago and my parents never complained. They just saved money and saved money
for us to go to college. They invested wisely and passed down a comfortable inheritance.
I live in a 3200 sq. ft home that I can’t wait to get rid of. I realized that all of this space is a
total waste of space!!!. I went on a crusie with my husband when I came to the realization
that we were happy in just 200 sq.ft.!!!! I am now confinced that we must all get back to
the basics for now and for the future.

73 Tommy August 10, 2010

Hi there, I enjoyed reading your story. I’m also going through this process. My change though is instead of renting a small apartment I’m buying a boat and living aboard. I’ve been planning this for years and I’ll get the benefits of being a homeowner but with solar panels and wind generators, I’ll drop my “footprint” on our earth as well while downsizing.

I also enjoyed reading many of the comments here, many people had some great insights and helped motivate me more! Thanks everyone!

74 Patrice August 10, 2010

Tammy,
I just read an article about happiness in the New York Times and you were the”heroine.” I am 53 years old living in a modest ranch house (i.e. 2100 square fee) in a very expensive suburb in New Jersey. I have always lived my life frugally but my husband and I have plans to sell the house in a few years, retire and find an apartment in a less expensive but equally beautiful part of the United States. Of course, I have to be connected with the outdoors so I really need a terrace or patio. If you or any of your readers have any suggestions of nice places to move to with lower housing, taxes, etc. I would love to hear about it.

75 Steve Williams August 11, 2010

Patrice,

I live in Montgomery, AL and love it because it gives us warmth year round and VERY low property taxes and home prices and able to be close to my parents. BUT……..

Three really great places to live are:
1) Chattanooga, TN……why, beautiful scenic city with mountains, river, incredibly renovated downtown, low costs, and close to so many great places…..95 miles from Atlanta, 110 miles from Knoxville, 140 miles from Gatlinburg, 130 miles Nashville, 145 miles from Birmingham, 40 miles from great river rafting on the Ocoee River…….it has a great University , UTC-Univ. of Tenn. at Chattanooga, many miles of walking trails along and across the river .
2) Brevard, NC……beautiful little town in the Pisgah National Forest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just 30 miles south of Ashville, NC and 25 north of Greenville, SC, this great town has wonderful Brevard College, over 250 beautiful waterfalls, and the 100ft-plus long Natural Sliding Rock, great climate, and did I mention the mountains. ;)
3) Huntsville/Madison, AL…. is the rocket city, at the base of the Appalachian Mountains, on the Tennessee River, just an hours drive from wonderful Lake Gunterville, 135 miles from Nashville, 120 miles from Birmingham, 125 miles from Chattanooga, and world class Robert Trent Jones Golf courses 1hr to 2hrs away, and did I mention, low property taxes and home prices! :)

76 Jennifer August 10, 2010

Hi!
It’s so refreshing to connect with like-minded people. I am often amused (yet try to be patient, understanding, and respectful) by the responses I get from relatives when I bring up one of our goals, plans, or desires to simplify and scale-down.

For instance, we currently have a low, monthly house payment, but we plan to sell soon and never have debt again (it helps that we have about 50% equity in our home-and it’s our only debt). When I told a close relative about my anxious-ness to sell, she said, “Why would you want to sell just to end up with a much higher house payment! You’re probably going to regret getting rid of such a low payment!” My response was, “Um, actually, that’s why we want to sell, so we can get out from under a mortgage and get creative with the money we will have to buy/build something small and simple. There are so many options.” :) What’s amusing is that she saw no possible way to do anything different from her stated scenario. I like to think and live outside of the box.

They also have a hard time understanding that we really don’t want a lot of toys and “stuff” coming into our home. They’re so used to living that way (buying, buying, buying) while simultaneously feeling buried beneath it that they can’t really “hear” and remember what we say. That skeptical and seemingly rational mindset (more stuff is better and compared to “this or that”, what you have is such a good deal) seems distantly familiar as I thought much the same way just a few years ago.

77 Joney August 10, 2010

Hello Tammy, I saw an article about your living style on Yahoo, and got that aha! moment. When my fiance and I moved in together a year ago I learned a whole lot about down sizing… he doesn’t keep his clothes when he has no use for them anymore! I was baffled I am 28 years old and about 6 sizes different then I was in high school but kept the clothes!! Sure I didn’t wear them but who knew when they would be back in style right?? Then Jason woke me up he didn’t try to change me it came to me by watching him. I realized I do this with everything. I am a well behaved pack rat so I felt if as long as I had the space, I could have all of it right?? But I was buying more space for more stuff. So for the last year I have gone down to about half of what I previously owned but it’s still not enough for me anymore I realize I still see clutter.
Reading your article about 100 items, WOW that blew my mind. But as I am always up for a challenge I have challenged myself and Jason (my fiance) to 100 each by October. I think I am up for it, this excites me as I write to you now. I already have the small apartment and walk to work. We actually both do it’s fabulous and since we live in Brooklyn we have mass transit for the long trips. So wish me luck and thanks for the inspiration I think your story is great!!
Joney

78 Kate August 10, 2010

Hi Tammy! Finally I found you! You are the exact example I needed in my life. I started my “downsizing” earlier this year more because of necessity brought on by my husband leaving me and our son. I have been thinking a lot about the interpretation and meaning of the American dream and I’ve had it all wrong! It is NOT having a house a couple cars and acquiring stuff, it is just about everything else. I’d rather watch my 4yr old be silly and paint with him rather than take him to DisneyWorld every six months and to every other touristy/expensive attraction. I have become an avid freecycler and have given a LOT of perfectly wonderful usable stuff to complete strangers, something my family considers complete lunacy. I LOVE freecycling, along with beginning to shed my old life, freecycling has allowed me to feel more liberated than I have EVER felt before. I have a long way to go in paring down my existence, but I can’t wait and am so glad to have found you and more people who seem to “get me” and I “get them”. THANK YOU for this forum!

79 Alexis August 10, 2010

It’s so great to see stories like yours gaining traction in the press. When i was in high school, I did a senior project on Voluntary Simplicty where i took an inventory of everything i owned. Even at only 18 years old, you accumulate a ton of stuff!

What is also funny is that I JUST watched “The Story of Stuff” today, and left feeling so depressed. How fortuitous to see that these ideas that rampant consumerism are leaving us feeling empty are not just being written about–people really respond to this! This is the second most emailed article on the NYTimes right now!

Thanks for your wonderful example and for fighting the good fight. It’s so great to see that we are slowly all coming to our senses, and will hopefully all take small, then large, steps to save the earth, AND OURSLVES!

80 ChefKar August 10, 2010

Well done Tammy!

Today I received an e-mail from a very special friend (okay, my therapist) pointing me to the NY Times article. She thought I might appreciate and identify with it. Just yesterday when we were talking (yeah, when I was stretched out on her couch) I was lamenting about how I wished to return to Italy, because of the blatant consumerism I live amongst and have returned to in my town of Sarasota, Florida.

“Less is More” became my motto for the 9 months I lived in Milan. My simple and unencumbered life led me to such rich adventures and priceless lessons ~ some of them very difficult. For example, I spent days isolating and boo-hoo-hooing about not having the money to do “things”, rather than getting my lazy ass outdoors and exploring. I also found myself overdosing on technology ~ to the point that I forced myself to go cold turkey to avoid becoming one with my keyboard. That being said, living in less than 300 square feet, not having a TV and only a small amount of money at my disposal, I learned the most important lesson of all ~ what a manageable life looks like and how to live it with a pretty kick ass woman … myself ~ someone I learned to not only like, but love during my months abroad.

Now that I have returned to my hometown, I have quickly gotten caught up with work to live and live to work and am trying to find my center amidst all of it. Your article came at a critical point as I delve into what makes my heart sing and what will give me the time, energy and focus to devote to it. Thank you, thank you again. You have inspired a renewed commitment by me to downsize my US life and bring it back to manageable and enjoyable. What a gift.

Kindly,

Karis
http://www.chefkar.blogspot.com

81 Ginger August 10, 2010

I read you have 100 objects. Do you have anything stored at your parent’s house? What should I do with grandmother’s rocking chair, mom’s china, dad’s painting, father-in-law’s painting, mother in law’s needlepoint pillows and hand made quilts, the radio from age 12, the circus lamp from age 2, great grandmom’s christening dress. etc.???

82 Logan August 10, 2010

@Ginger

I have a few things stored at my parent’s house but Tammy does not. Those are very difficult questions. Its very hard to cut emotional ties to some objects. One of our blogging buddies Naomi @simplerliving has written extensively on this topic and she has methods on her blog for working through the process of de-cluttering family heirlooms. You may want to check out her blog to answer your question more completely than we can. Cheers!

83 Jennifer August 10, 2010

As far as helping family and friends with good intentions to give in a way that would support our simple lifestyle, I have been mentally cultivating an idea:

I am going to write a page on my simple living website dedicated to unique gift ideas that any of my readers can benefit from. This page will also (secretly) serve as a direct portal for my own loved ones to choose gifts from as they so desire. This way, everyone is satisfied.

And, as for letting loved ones know whether or not I already have a certain listed item, I can make a note to my readers that “I have this myself and I love it!” or “My daughter received this as a gift and she really enjoys it!” or something similar. My goal is to appeal to my readers while being detailed and informative for my family.

What do y’all think about my idea?

84 Mark Flythe August 10, 2010

I just read about you in the Times and wanted to say I think you’re on the cutting edge of a broader trend that’s going to become more prevalent in the coming years as the harsh realities of the new economy unfold. I just moved to Los Angeles, CA after 15 years living in New York City running on the treadmill of being a slave to live in a small Manhattan apt with NO light.

I’m a “creative” (a SAG actor and a writer) and was laid off from a dead-end mundane corporate job in June, 2009 and began to spend more time in my apartment doing what I love: writing and reading. Gave up the $90/month cable and got Netflix instead. I got a subscription to Dwell magazine and began reading about people around the world who’re interested in doing more architecturally with less space in ways that are environmentally healthier. It opened my eyes to a different, simpler way of living.

I was raised in the suburbs of Bethesda, MD and we had the 4-BR, 3 bath house complete with the living room we rarely even used, the dining room we rarely ate in and an attic/basement full of “stuff” and 3 cars. Dwell magazine made me start thinking about all the crap I’d been lugging around for years and in March I came out to California to visit a friend and decided to come out here to focus on screenwriting and acting; both of which I have a true passion for.

I found a cheap sublet in LA in March, flew home on St. Patrick’s Day and just got “Zen” with all the stuff in my 2-BR NYC apt. I gave away EVERYTHING I didn’t actually need; a VCR, a DVD player, end tables, lamps, a couch, a new queen-size bed, shelves, ironing boards, books, 2 AC window units, a kitchen appliance rack, storage baskets (for ‘stuff’) dishes, pots/pans, a toaster oven, a microwave, silverware, my old Mac, 3 chairs and a carpet. I spent two weeks shredding files of paper I’d kept for YEARS – I spent days carting stuff to the Salvation Army or just left it on the corner and ran away.

I packed up my books, papers/files, my computer, my guitar, the clothes I didn’t throw out and mailed them in boxes via USPS (much of it Media Rate) to my new apt in LA. Me and my cat Shelby flew out here on July 12th and here I am at age 41, ready for a fresh start in life in a city I have to “learn” with no car and I am loving life.

I feel so LIBERATED getting rid of all the ‘stuff’ that filled my apartment and my life in New York; in retrospect it was like an anchor. Tammy, I haven’t missed any of it! Moving helped me to realize how little ‘stuff’ we actually need; I think the media advertising machine programs us to think we need ‘stuff’.

I feel like a new person, really. I write more, read more, listen to more music, I’m a cinema buff and love my Netlflix but I watch very little TV as commercials just give me headaches; and who needs to pay 80 to 100 bucks a month for cable? I walk two miles to my grocery store everyday for exercise and try and cook as much as possible and am 800 dollars away from eradicating my credit card debt (which was in the 5-figure range 3 years ago). I feel free and more connected to life – I am looking for a cost-efficient used car (I will need one here in LA) but am in no rush at the moment.

My goal, once I get settled is to find a small 1 BR place in a safe-cool area and simplify my life even more; and at some point, find an interesting woman who’s into the same liberating approach. ANYONE can simplify their life, you’d be surprised at what it is that you really NEED.
You don’t have to move cross-country; just start by clearing out a closet and go from there – or make a list of stuff you don’t use. Hint: if you haven’t worn it in a year – chuck it! Try it!
I look forward to reading more on your blog and becoming part of this online community.
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Mark

85 tan August 11, 2010

hey tammy this what i did too…. I had everything in my life i wanted in material except happiness. I decided to walk out of the life i had and started shaping a new simple life. And to tell the truth i am so happy than i ever was and enjoy my life in a healthy spiritual simplistic way. love to keep in touch with your work and follow you.

86 Steve & Nicole Williams August 11, 2010

Tammy & Logan,

We enjoyed reading about you and your husband.
My wife and I have been married almost 7 years(11/8/03). We have always been on ,”the less is more train”. We have lived in much smaller homes(1180 sq ft and 1490 sq ft now), with very small, easy to maintain homes and yards. Most of our neighbors move after 1.5 to 3 years because the want something better and bigger. We have more than enough room and have never understood why they move. We intend to live here forever, unless something happens to one of us, God forbid.

We do have two cars, one to two years old, that we pay cash for when we buy. We keep our cars well maintained and for up 8 to 12 years. We have been debt free, except for our house for over 4 years. We will have our house paid for in 10 years or less. We have over $27,000.00 saved up in our emergency fund and growing. We max out both our Roth IRA’s and I max out my work 401K.
We give regularly to our church and other organizations throughout the year. We also decided 6 years ago to forgo Christmas presents to each other and to family members, and give that money to a needy family in our community. We have never missed the presents and feel like we are helping someone with needs, much greater than ours. The good Lord has guided us to want for nothing and need very little.

We splurge at times, but nothing extravagant. This buy, buy, buy motto that has our nation entangled is crazy. Simple is better. I am 47 yrs old and still have 2 pairs of shoes that I got when I was 17(wing tips) in Dec. 1980 and when I was 24( tassle loafers) in May 1987. Why, because they are good quality and it is cheaper to re-sole them than buy new style shoes.
My wife Nicole is very good at saving also and has never been a big spender. She is thrilled and more excited when she finds a bargain. She will see a shirt, track it and then buy it, only when it is within her budget(reg price-$30, usually she gets it for $10 or less).

We de-clutter our home about once, sometimes twice a year. It is a slow, tedious process, but a helpful one. The space and room we achieve is rewarding and costs nothing, and hopefully helps someone in need. We only throw away items that are broken, unusable, the rest we give to charitable organizations.

Most ideas like yours and your husbands, is just common sense. Sadly, we all seem to lose those brain cells at one time or another, lol. Thanks for the articles and all the best to you and your husband.

Simple Is Good,

Steve & Nicole Williams

87 Vivi August 11, 2010

Hey Tammy,
My husband and I have been on the downsizing path for a few years now. When our son was finishing high school, we moved from a large suburban house where we never used 1/2 the space to a small downtown condo. In the process, we (I) gave away lots of furniture, etc.; my son called it “purge-atory” (hah!). Now that he’s in college, though, he’s learning to cull through his own stuff; at first he grabbed everything he could from home (I think he was a little panicky cause I had truly taken away lots of stuff from his environment), but two years later, he’s already culled through and recycled/donated lots of what he thought he needed. He actually does this on a regular basis. I’m so tickled!
As for my husband and I, we’ve been renting in a little, old historic Spanish-style apartment on the coast of Florida with a gorgeous courtyard complete with mango tree and tropical flowers. We have one car (paid for, with 110,000 miles on it). My husband does well at work (he telecommutes, so geography is not an issue for us), but my family clearly thinks we’re struggling and losers who can’t afford anything else. Though I’d love to set them straight — we have no debt, save over 1/2 of our income and are paying cash up front for our son’s excellent public college education, all on one income — we keep quiet. We really don’t have much stuff — for instance, I own one pair of jeans, but they fit well! We have few plates/dishes (less to clean!). Our next step is a place to own, simply so that we can make our lives a bit more comfortable (our current kitchen & bath are not very functional, and we have no control over that). We’re eying some tiny but fabulous Miami Beach art deco condos that are going for a steal…we’ve figured we can pay one off within a few years and be mortage free. Living in a place that has lots of living to offer, whether it be in Portland or Miami or elsewhere, depending on your interests/comfort levels, is an important issue when you downsize; after all, the larger environment becomes an increasingly more important part of your living area.
I think there are lots of scams out there that people have bought into over the years — for instance, that fancy private schools are worth the money/loans (these schools have HUGE endownments and presidents with HUGE salaries and seats on corporate boards!!!), that big space is comfortable (what’s comfortable about cleaning 3,000 square feet after working all day to pay for it?), that each person in a couple needs a car, that kids needs paid lessons in everything (I’ve taught enough kids to know that this just stresses most of them out big time), etc.
There are also social benefits to downsizing, like you’ve mentioned. This year, I used my teaching experience to volunteer daily at high-poverty middle school, and it was enormously satisfying. The other volunteers were awesome people, and the kids were so appreciative of what we did for them. If everyone could feel this, there would be so many more people who would join the larger fabric of society. In addition, we’ve had time for our family that we critically needed when our son unexpectedly had to have major spine surgery in the middle of his freshman year (doing great now!). The expenses and time involved did not add to our stress because our lifestyle supports unexpected emergencies. If this had happend 10 years ago, I’m not sure how that would have played out. Also, living more frugally/simply allowed me to quit teaching — I’d been in several extremely dangerous situations, and the stress was really damaging my health.
Anyway, I loved reading the article in the NYT and hope that there will be more of the same to come.

88 nico August 11, 2010

how did you part with books? I have over 300 books, and i love them! I now have a kindle, but nothing beats an old copy of a tale of two cities.. what do you have like one book?
i love the idea and commend you and your husband, i have tons of student loan debt, and have stopped buying so much crap, and am finally no longer living pay check to paycheck!
very exciting! anyways, what (if any) books to you own?

89 Logan August 11, 2010

@Nico

Tammy is a big reader and has been reading about a book a week. When we were downsizing we figured our books were just sitting unused after we read them and we wanted to share them. We only kept about a half dozen reference books once we downsized and the rest we donated to the local libraries. If we want a new book and the library waiting list is too long we recognize the need, buy the book at Powell’s and then donate it after we finish. If we ever wanted to re-read them we could go back to the library and check them out again. We use WorldCat to find the closest library that has the books we want. ;)

Cheers!

90 Beatriz August 11, 2010

@Logan and nico: About books….your method only works for recently published books –I’m a librarian who has worked in both academic and public libraries, and I hate to tell you this, but libraries have to de-clutter, too! Increasingly they are moving away from the role of book depositories and, in the case of public libraries, are trying to keep many copies of high-demand items for patrons, not to mention make space for computers and other media; they just don’t have room for books that don’t circulate–so any books that are too old (and aren’t commonly school-read classics) tend to become hard to find for love or money, even on the internet. Academic libraries may hang on to items a bit longer, but they
are also running out of space as libraries become more of a combination coffee-house/laptop lounge/meeting place for students.

I know, because I’ve tried to retrieve beloved books from my youth that I either gave away, much to my regret, or never bought and I wasn’t able to find them again because they were never reprinted. Some used ex-library copies may be available but at ridiculous prices. Maybe now that ebooks are on the rise, reprinting older books will become more common but sometimes the demand just isn’t there.
So for now I’m hanging on to my favorites, just in case! Same thing goes for favorite old films that have never made it dvd and maybe never will.

@Mark Flythe–love your blog!

91 Logan August 12, 2010

Hi Beatriz,

Thanks for the insight and for pointing out the caveat that I missed. I do still have a few out-of-print books on the shelf too. :) Tammy has just started down the path of e-books. It works for minimalism and its fantastic for self-publishing/distribution, but I’d hate to see libraries go away. e-books are so dependent on batteries and grid power that as we have learned from bike camping its hard to depend on them long term. A good ol’ fashion low tech book is still around long after tech hardware upgrades, battery failures and after a few weeks camping. ;) Cheers!

92 Michelle August 14, 2010

Baseball! My favorite sport helped me start with a small place when I bought a house in 1999, and I’ve kept it up ever since (and still live in the same house). I worked at a law firm in DC and lived in an apartment there, when through a series of personal decisions I decided to return to school to get a masters in education. At the same time, a relationship with my long-time boyfriend was ending.

I knew I couldn’t afford to pay rent in DC once I became a teacher, so I started looking for places to buy. I found less expensive neighborhoods near Camden Yards in Baltimore, and ended up buying a 12-foot wide rowhouse in Federal Hill for less than $100K. Perfect! I could walk to ball games, restaurants, bars. The commuter train to DC left from Camden Yards, as well, which I could use both to get to the law firm as long as I was still there, and to College Park where I was getting my masters. I currently have an eight-year-old car (purchased new) that has only 56,000 miles on it; hopefully I can keep it for 12 more years.

My husband and I married two years ago. He is a rare book collector and also has a fairly large research library for his writing and lectures. He had a large apartment in Arlington, VA before moving in with me. That move was indeed a challenge! He donated 70 (yes, 70) boxes of books to his local library before moving; those were the books that were not part of his collection or research, but simply standard paperbacks, novels, etc. In order to find a place for the remaining books, we had bookcases custom-built for specific spaces within the house, and are planning on doing two built-ins next year.

The thing about living simply, though, is that we can afford to do that. With a very low mortgage payment, no car payment, no other debt, we can spend money on things that matter to us. Beautiful, custom-built bookshelves that exactly meet my husband’s needs. Baseball games whenever we want to walk over there (half-price Orioles tickets have been VERY easy to come by in the past few years!) I teach in an inner-city school three miles from my house and I love my job. I admit to driving to work, because it’s just too dangerous to bus or bike through one of neighborhoods I have to pass. I don’t have to work in the summers because we budget carefully throughout the rest of the year, and my husband has a year-round “regular” job. We have a dog and a cat that we love. We’re very happy with our lives, and don’t feel at all like we’re missing out by not having a new car or 2000 sq. ft. of living space.

93 Susan August 18, 2010

You are an inspiration! I’ll keep up on your blog as I start his process.

94 Steve August 18, 2010

Inspiring posts. Thank you both.

I am wondering how have you handled medical emergencies for yourselves and your cats being carfree?

95 Logan August 18, 2010

Hi Steve,

We worried about that when we first made the decision, however in our circumstance we have several vet clinics and hospitals within only a one mile radius of our home. Luckily we haven’t really had any medical emergencies yet. However, we realized that in a real health emergency it would be better to call EMTs in an ambulance than try to lift someone into a car and get stuck in traffic on the way to the ER. Our next goal is to renew our red cross CPR certification so we can have more confidence in our ability to handle a crisis. Cheers.

96 Michelle Brixius-Kasich August 20, 2010

Saw your article on Yahoo and had to join your site! I started my desire to downsize a couple of years ago. I knew I had to stay in our home in Toms River, NJ until my daughter turned 18 so she could finish high school. It was so hard, you cant imagine. We don’t make tons of money, my husband and I, and we would be in bad shape all winter, with our gas bills being up to $400 a month sometimes. We couldn’t pay on the things we already owed, couldn’t keep down the new bills, I just wanted to end it all some days. Then, I too, found the tiny house movement….
It took some time to convince my husband, he wanted an extra room for when his kids came down on the weekend, he liked having lots of room, but then he started to see the toll it was taking on us financially. Was it worth laying out an extra $1000 a month to live for the 4 days we would see his kids? Did it really matter so much to them? We had to get a roommate anyway, because we couldn’t afford it!!! They were sleeping on the couch!!
We are on our way to moving into a new 260 square foot condo. It’s like a lite at the end of the tunnel… GO TO THE LIGHT! GO TO THE LIGHT! I just can’t wait…

97 Lisa Mac August 20, 2010

So happy the NY Times profiled you (through years of thinking/trying/falling short/trying again…I will always maintain my paper subscription to the Sun. Times :)) , and that I got another reminder of where I really want to go and who I want to be. Have regretfully complicated things by buying a townhouse 2 yrs ago, but I believe and hope that reading and connecting w/ folks on this site and others will help me back in the direction I feel brings peace. THANKS for sharing your story.

98 Logan August 20, 2010

Thanks Lisa for your comment! It really made our day. We are glad that opening our doors inspired a few folks. It makes all the effort worth while! :) Hope you enjoy reading around on the site. :) Cheers!

99 Adriana August 23, 2010

Hi, greetings from Colombia!

I love your blog, spent like 3 days in a row reading it! We’re a family of 4 with two young children (3 years old girl and 8 months old boy) hitting the road of simplifying our lives. Just wanted to thank you for your inspiring stories and for the idea of not only decluttering your material stuff but every other aspect of your life (I’m very prone to lose my limited working hours online and found the digital sabbatical to be a blessing for me and my children, as I work more efficiently and have more time to spend with them).

So, just wanted to add my two cents: some can think that simplifying your life with young children is impossible and I found out that it’s the opposite thing: my daugther was beyond excited when we decided to give away a lot of her toys and clothes. We were trying so hard to move to a larger appartment to have a room for each kid (actually we already signed a contract, so we’ll have a year living in a big space) and when I told my daughter she answered me that she preferred to keep sharing room with the baby, that way she doesn’t feel so lonely at night, she doesn’t even care when he wakes up crying! My message is that we don’t have to wait until children grow up because if we raise them to be hoarders, it will be very hard to become simple in the future. I think children have a natural ability to live simple, we’re trying now to don’t let them loose it! I also bought the ebook you suggested, the 7 sept towards a simple life, and loved it!

Sorry about the length and my bad english! I’ll be here reading all of your updates (when out of my digital sabbatical, of course :)

100 Adriana August 23, 2010

Hi, greetings from Colombia!

I love your blog, spent like 3 days in a row reading it! We’re a family of 4 with two young children (3 years old girl and 8 months old boy) hitting the road of simplifying our lives. Just wanted to thank you for your inspiring stories and for the idea of not only decluttering your material stuff but every other aspect of your life (I’m very prone to lose my limited working hours online and found the digital sabbatical to be a blessing for me and my children, as I work more efficiently and have more time to spend with them).

So, just wanted to add my two cents: some people can think that simplifying your life with young children is impossible as they need a lot of stuff, but I found out that it’s actually the opposite: my daugther was beyond excited when we decided to give away a lot of her toys and clothes. We were trying so hard to move to a larger appartment to have a room for each kid (actually we already signed a contract, so we’ll have a year living in a big space) and when I told my daughter she answered me that she preferred to keep sharing rooms with the baby, that way she doesn’t feel so lonely at night, she doesn’t even care when he wakes up crying! My message is that we don’t have to wait until children grow up because if we raise them to be hoarders, it will be very hard to become simple in the future. I think children have a natural ability to live simple, we’re trying now to don’t let them lose it! I also bought the ebook you suggested, the 7 steps towards a simple life, and loved it!

Sorry about the length and my bad english! I’ll be here reading all of your updates (when out of my digital sabbatical, of course :)

101 Tammy August 23, 2010

@Adriana – thanks for reading and sharing you story! It’s great to hear. :) Best of luck to you!

102 Michelle Brixius-Kasich August 23, 2010

I think I need to start specializing in small homes in my real estate business, Hummmmmm

103 Debbie August 24, 2010

Hi Tammy,

A friend just sent me a link to your blog – by chance. And…I love it. We too live a very simple life. We live in a 900 sq ft. – 114 year old house – my husband and I and our 4 year old son. We have a large-ish backyard where we grow much of our own food during the growing season. (People keep asking us when we are going to move to a bigger house…but we’ve always known that this would never happen. We like our cozy home.) We do have one car…but have considered going car free when this one bites the dust. (It’s 12 years old…so this could be any time now.)

There is something about living a simple life that is so rewarding. It allows us so many opportunities. For example – because we live within our means I am able to stay home with my son and as of this fall, we officially start our unschooling (a form of homeschooling) journey. I truly love my life. We still have a lot of stuff to get rid of – but we are working on it. I really dislike clutter and it just atracts more clutter. I need to take a deep breath and get rid of it all – the books, the music, all the extra dishes, the stuff in boxes that haven’t been opened in the five years we’ve lived here. You get the picture. But – I feel good with where we are at. It’s so hard to see people struggling in their lives with the multiple cars and the house that is too big and then they spend their life working to pay for it all. That’s not a life to me.

Thanks for this lovely blog. I will be following along.
Kind Regards,
Debbie

104 Crystal September 1, 2010

Hi, Tammy,
Lucky me!
I was reading a chinese news report subjected to Downsizing the Life and they mentioned you as a example, then i tracked to your blog address. I’d like to say thank you because i enjoyed your blog so much and it inspires me a lot.
i’ve start trying to keep my life as simple as possible since last year.It is working quit well in some cases, such as mail checking times were cut down, TV is not any more attractive(i even do not have a TV now, i got a radio instead), say no to the work dinner,etc. By return, i earned more time to read and invest on on friend ship and family.
Still, there are many things to improve and unfortunatly i still have to live in a crowed big city because my career is here and i couldn’t say goodbay to it yet. so i’m trying to find the best balance between enjoying life and work. ….long long way to go….
I have to say i do admire your decisions because i know it’s not easy to start and even harder to keeping on…
Thanks again for sharing and i’ll follow up….AND apologies for my Chinglish.(chinese english)..

greeting from China / CRYSTAL HUANG

105 guoqian September 1, 2010

hi crystal huang
i read the news as you did in a chinese blog. i also admired tammy’s lifestyle. maybe we can be conected by an american’s blog. isnt it amazing world? i hope you can contact me. my qq:181717155.

106 Martin September 10, 2010

What a wonderful story. I live in the UK and have been wrestling with this issue for several years. I have gone some way to start declutter my life, but the pull of what is considered normal is so strong. Plus I have a wife and kids ( all of whom I love to bits) who do like thier stuff and “security”. Although they also have strong values and know that people not things are what matter most. We also know that happiness is a state of mind. Stuff cannot make you happy but they give the illusion that they can. The reality is that the more stuff you own, the more it owns you.
I really admire your courage and dedication, and will be reading your blog in future for ideas. Thank you.

107 brooke September 19, 2010

I love your story! I’m trying to downsize now, looking for a city to move too that is more bike and transit friendly. I’m living in a city now with no transit at all with a SUV I’d like to sale. The hardest part I have found in city searching is I want a more small or medium size city and I find most good transit is in the larger cities not something I’m interested or use to. Great books!

108 Joulseykoala October 1, 2010

Dear Tammy and Logan ,
Both of you are a WOW factor in this Internet age! Thank you for your ideas and blog for decluttering, freecycling and most importantly, challenging what “normal” means! I am about to buy a BIG house, but now I am rethinking about having a smaller one, and all THANKS to YOU! XOXOX Peace.

109 Tammy October 1, 2010

@Joulseykoala – Thank you so much for the kind words. Best of luck to you! :)

110 Ailsa October 20, 2010

Hi there,
My younger sister sent me your link because I have been giving away five things per day. Some small, some large, some with history, some for fun, some to delight, some to return, some simply to ease the burden. I have no actual end in sight, but I know I feel lighter each day.
May you continue to feel freed and content. And delighted.
I enjoy your exploration…

111 Steph January 19, 2011

This is a great story. Downsizing can be stressful but some people need to go through this process in order to relieve themselves from other financial stresses that they are dealing with. Coming from my grandparents, downsizing is very important when it comes to retirement. A lot of people have these great retirement fantasies, which are too high-priced. Some people might need to retire to another state where the price of living is cheaper. While money is important, planning for retirement isn’t all about money. I personally think is a great idea to get a certified retirement financial advisor if you need help planning for your future. Life after retirement should be very enjoyable. No one should spend time worrying about finances, but rather do things that they enjoy and now have time to do. I hope your life is stress free and you live happily with your husband!

112 GutsyWriter February 1, 2011

I love Chris and from what I see here, I also like you. Our family with 3 sons, (2 teenagers and one 10-year-old) moved from Orange County, CA to Belize in order to teach our kids a new value system. I can totally relate to your decision and look forward to meeting you in Portland in June.

113 Hammer44 February 12, 2011

I’ll keep it short and sweet, but I stumbled upon this wonderful website, and I wish I would have a couple of years ago. To make a long story short, I am trying to convince my wife (I mean, it really may actually come between us, but I need peace and less stress, I’m 47 and ready to start enjoying life) that downsizing is in our best interest. We live in Central Illinois, and make together about 100k. The cost of living here is very low….but still, we struggle due to my business going under 2 years ago, and using credit cards to make up for lost income. I figure that we’ve paid over 100k in interest on credit cards the last 6-8 years. and I’m sick of it. Our debt is about paid off (25k in CC) and we have excellent equity in out house….(75k) and I want to move to Pensacola, or really anywhere in Florida, and just chill for a change. I think we could live in a 2 bdrm apt……have just one car….and downsize so much, like our clothes, and our 150.00 cable bill, and 200.00 cell phone bill…..etc. In Florida, I’d like to try to live aboard a boat maybe. You can buy a nice boat, as big as a small apt. for maybe 40k to100k…..and then just have 300-500 a month in Marina fees, and no property taxes, a small utility bill….etc. and live on the water, like a ocean front house, that you can just cast off your lines and go for a cruise….

I can’t wait to show this link to my wife and hope that she reads all the awesome testimonies…..Thanks everyone for offering your insights…..

114 Jennifer February 16, 2011

Hello all,

I’m 27, my husband’s 30, and we homeschool our 5 year-old daughter. We have lived in a 2100+ sq. ft. home for 4 years and are so ready to downsize and start enjoying life. We may be young, but we have been married for 10 years, worked hard, and have been through our fair share of stress and living in a rut. We have worked out, and continue to work out, conflict in our marriage and family (just the usual stuff) and have come to this point in our lives where we know just what we want to do to refresh and rekindle the passion in our hearts for each other and for living. I think many of you know just what I’m talking about.

We have been living in TX for almost 6 years and (except for family being here) we feel really out of place and like eagles in a chicken coop; we want to soar and be free!). We miss Idaho, the wilderness, the outdoors, snow, and simple, slower-paced living. We can’t go back to the past (we lived in Idaho for 5 years) and we really DON’T want to. We just need a fresh start and are ready for new adventures.

Well, I’m super happy to say that we are busting out! :) We are selling our home, majorly decluttering, and are going to live in a fifth wheel for… as long as we want. Who says only older or retired people can do it? We believe that NOW is the time. We will do it debt-free and will have enough to be able to go months without working. What a tremendous and wonderful gift for our family to be able to spend each day together; with Daddy and Hubby at home all the time.

We have sought the Lord through our marriage and have always tried to follow Jesus and we are stepping out in faith and not letting mere fear of the unknown or the unconventional hinder us. We are becoming more and more unconventional and we are used to standing out from the culture in many areas of our lifestyle. We are realizing that we don’t want to be one of the majority who follows the crowd and spends their whole life dreaming (if they even dare to dream) but never seriously pursuing those dreams.

115 Maria February 25, 2011

Hi Tammy ~

I have been following you blog for a little while now, and I have come to realize that perhaps on an uncoscious level we have been downsizing for a few years now. We live is a small apartment three blocks from the elementary school and four blocks from my office, so riding our bikes is a daily occurrance.
If we could only teach people to be more gente with bike riders ti would be great.
Thank you for all your positive input.

Blessings, Maria

116 Michelle March 2, 2011

Downsizing is great. I just recently went through all of my clothes and kept only the things I need….or think I need. We are thinking about building a tiny house in the future once we find a lot to build it on.
How do you like Portland? Me and my husband lived there for about a year. I actually went to OHSU for my dietetic internship. OHSU is a great hospital….do they still give you money to ride your bike to work?

117 Shanti May 18, 2011

This is amazing! We have VERY similar stories and we even followed similar timelines. I got out of debt first (slowly over 3 years while blogging about it – antishay.com) while I simultaneously let go of heaps of materialistic obsessions and simplified my possessions (and went through 2 moves in the process). Then I lost weight, a new “project” which came about at the end of my debt repayment… one does really go in hand with the other! Over the next two years I lost 70 lbs and learned how to be healthy and natural in my food intake… and I also, again, blogged about it – only this time in VIDEOS and they really took off. After losing the weight in June, 2009, I’ve spent the last two years producing a documentary-style reality series on my YouTube channel about maintaining a healthy weight the natural way, living life to the fullest, and loving who you ARE :P. Now my boyfriend and I are moving to 50 untouched acres of forest in Texas this coming June to build a cabin (12×12!) and live off the land, slowly transitioning to fully off-the-grid in several years. Just today I announced this move and our plans for sustainable living and permaculture in a video, and a fan directed me to this site. I look forward to exploring all your content!! My boyfriend and I will be producing a new video series on my YouTube channel about our move, our choices, and how others can follow that example. Perhaps someday I will forward a video to you. Until then, take care and thanks!!

118 Tammy May 18, 2011

Shanti – WOW! Thank you for sharing your story. :) It’s so inspiring. Best of luck to you.

119 Elisa July 15, 2011

Hello!
We are a family of 6 and having a terrible time deciding whether to down size or not. Thus the reason I found this blog. I was trying to find inspiring stories of people doing the same crazy thing that we are thinking about doing. Currently we are living in a 2500 square ft house that we built 10 years ago. We have poured our guts, time and money into this place. Right now we still owe $120,000 on the mortgage. A few months ago, an acre of land just down our dirt road, came up for sale for $30,000. Suddenly our minds started thinking how we could sell this house eliminate the mortgage and buy the house outright. Be Debt/Mortgage FREE!!!! However, the house needs some serious repair. I struggle and wonder if it will be worth being debt free but having a crappy house…how it will affect my children…and will I miss my house which I will be able to see down the road. I guess I need inspiration……encouragement. This is so hard to make a decision.

120 Dana August 11, 2011

After reading this post, I realize how many downsizing opportunities I‘ve squandered. I live within walking distance of 2 drugstores and 2 organic supermarkets. If I went to the markets on foot, I could enjoy the scenery, get some exercise, save gas and not be tempted to buy unnecessary stuff as I would not want to carry it. I like my little truck and make great use of it helping friends move, taking road trips, etc. But I use it TOO MUCH during the week. This means time wasted looking for parking, get parking TICKETS, more maintenance, etc. There was a time I only used my vehicle on weekends and coordinated with my “car-less” friends to help them get their groceries home and run their errands. I had less “stuff”. I was in much better shape then, too. Go figure!

121 Melodie August 13, 2011

Reading this blog has given me just the encouragement I needed to continue the “purging” of our 1200 square foot house. With just me and Mr Husband, a dog and two cats, it is plenty big for us-he has an office, I have a spare bedroom/office/sewing room, and we have a generous yard, garage, workshop, etc. My problem? My mother and her insistence that we need a bigger house and bigger yard. She doesn’t get it, that I don’t WANT more to take care of, more stuff to worry over, more work, more expenses. I am SO happy to see other people feel the same way, and are making it just fine. We could certainly afford more house if we wanted, but I don’ t see larger as a status symbol. This is a comfortable, cute house in a good neighborhood, and we like it here. This is actually the largest house we have owned, and I’ve lived here longer than any other house (14 years), we fit just fine, its well organized and clean, so I guess I’ve grown some “roots.” Anyway, I constantly tell her, I don’t need more space, just less junk! Thanks for the great stories and great encouragement. Maybe I can get her to read your blog, and sell her 4500 square footer!

122 736hundred September 9, 2011

I am just staring this process, or should I say I have taken the first step, but still have massive amounts of
“stuff.” I am happy to have found you blog. So many thing that you have actually done are the things I talk about doing, think about doing, and dream about doing.
I am a creative person who struggles with focus, and that in of itself can be a huge problem. Ideas never stop coming to me, so I never finish anything. Anyway, that a little about me. I feel am serious about this change, so now I have to make it happen.

Thank you for sharing, and I hope to get closer to our goals sooner than later.

Peace.

123 mary lou September 28, 2011

Hello our friends to the south, I am writing to you from small town Canada about 45 minutes east of Toronto.
First of all I love your logo, it is one of the best I’ve seen. I have been following jeff shafers website for over a year now and have recently started to investigate the real possibility of building a Fencl and giving up all my financial and phyisical burdens that come with owning a 1600 sq foot bungalow. I was so happy to see your house building pictures and even more so the built in range that you are installing. It is one that I came across when looking into biofuel alternative appliances and heating. I would really appreciate hearing from you your impression of this stove since I love to cook and bake. I have to be very sure about what I would be putting in since the difficultly in changing later would be almost insurmountable. I was also impressed with the alteration you did to the loft area I think it involved changing the pitch to give you actual walls. I think this really goes a long way to relieving some of the claustophobic feeling of roof to floor and makes all the floor space usable.
Anyway sorry for rambling on. I look forward to seeing pics of the finished little house and hope you can spare me a minute about the stove. Mary Lou Bowmanville Ontario Canada

124 Tammy Strobel September 28, 2011

@Mary Lou – Thanks for the note. I haven’t used the stove yet. So I can’t give it a thumbs up or down. Once we get in the house and start using it, I’ll be sure to write an essay about it.

125 Barbara Wampler October 9, 2011

I would love to have an update of your journey to simplicity. My journey has begun in earnest, in the midst of my life falling spectacularly to pieces. My husband has Stage IV cancer, we just lost our home and I am facing astronomical financial challenges. I am learning some very harsh and humbling lessons, but I think ~ no, I EXPECT to be living a much simpler life on the other side of this and while, orginally, I was overwhelmed with a sense of failuer, I am now assuaged with the knowledge this journey is key to my spiritual, emotional and, finally, financial health and welfare. I am a long way from the kind of progress you have made, but I thank you for the inspiration.

126 Stephen Engel November 2, 2011

Thanks for sharing your journey. While looking at your pictures, I noticed your little ones were wearing a small silver bullet on their collars. Is there a small GPS device inside by any chance? I’m been think about this idea for my cats.

127 Tammy Strobel November 2, 2011

@Stephen – The little bullets are kind of like time capsules. They open up and you can put their address info inside. :)

128 Gail November 25, 2011

My husband and I retired 3 years ago. Our first retirement “project’ was to sort through all of his parents’ possessions of 50 years. That process is what opened my eyes to the weight of “things”. After spending several months each year at their house (they are both deceased; my husband was their only child), going through every item they owned and making decisions as to whether to keep it for ourselves, donate it, or sell it, I would return to our own home and feel an overwhelming urge to purge my own stuff. It’s now been 3 years since we started that project, and we still have some of their things to get rid of (antiques, mostly). Most of their possessions were of a very different style than ours. I’d never been fond of Victorian antiques, but still, in the beginning it was tempting to keep some items that really weren’t “me”. I would tell myself that although I never would have bought this item, perhaps I should take it and find a way to use it since it’s free. That was a trap that I fell into for a while. Eventually, I realized that I have enough of my own crap without adding to it with things that don’t even appeal to me. Of course, we have kept some furniture and other items that have special meaning or usefulness to us. Now, though, we want to downsize our own possessions and move to another state in the mountains. I have begun a more earnest purge, and although difficult to do at times, I KNOW that my life will be better without so much stuff. I look back on my life and regret that I wasted money on decorating and often redecorating our home. I was always striving for the perfect “look”. What a waste! These past 3 years have been a huge learning process for me and I’m glad to have been on this grueling journey. I’ve learned that I might have to go through a room or a closet 2 or 3 times to successfully purge it. One “go-round” is not enough, but I seem to need time to emotionally process what I’ve let go of. Months later, I will have a 2nd go-round through the same territory and find more items that I am able to purge. Perhaps it is not as traumatic to do it in stages like that. Anyway, that has worked well for me. My words of wisdom to young people starting out is to be careful not to let yourself buy, buy, buy. Even if you are making good money and can afford it, “things” are not what’s really important in life and they can become a true burden later on. Things are much harder to get rid of than to acquire. Good luck to all you who are becoming minimalists or just downsizing a bit. Stick with it!

129 Bobbi December 29, 2011

Hi!
I Love reading your experience. I am at that point in my life; I’ve decluttered, moved from a 3-bedroom to a 1 bedroom, and now that my daughter is on her own, I want to live in an even smaller space. Simple living is so attractive, no tv, no car, no material things to make me depressed. I found over the years I had “stuff” to make me feel better, however it has only made me more miserable! I have a canine and feline companion, and that’s basically all I need. My desk job’s contract is coming to a close at the end of March 2012, and I am now on a quest to find my true meaning in life, at 47!
Thanks again for making my life easier and simpler.
B