From Material to Minimal:  Could You Do It?

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Funny, that in a world that has spent the last decades accumulating and building larger homes to hold everything,  some of the most popular sites on Pinterest and elsewhere are tiny homes and minimalism or simple living.

Could it mean a turnaround?  Is it common sense or driven by the economy?  As the routine jobs have grown harder to find, people are learning to need less.  That is one influence.  It is a natural adjustment to having less income.  But I believe more people are choosing to do without the struggle for a higher income to have a fuller, happier life.

Could it be we have just reached capacity?  Over time, I believe many are making it a choice. Many have found they would like to escape that upward spiral. The more they make to have more, means the more they have to work to maintain it all.

What is The Measure of “Enough?”

There is a vast difference between need and want.  More than many of us in the United States realize. It’s surprising how little we really need.  Go camping or rent an RV for an example of what is necessary.  Can we even imagine what it would feel like to be satisfied and content with what we have?    How much of that  “want “ is based on keeping up appearances,  looking the part?

More and more people are realizing how much trouble it can be.  They are making the choice to have more free time to enjoy life by maintaining less “stuff.”  It does require an attitude adjustment.  For some it may mean moving even.  Imagine how it feels to look at the latest gadget and feel at peace, knowing it isn’t something you need or want.

There is a saying I’ve appreciated for years that goes like this: “Contentment is not in having more but in needing less.”   I don’t know who first said it, or if it is paraphrased.  There nearest I came, was the quote from Epictetus, “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”  That says it well.   Think about it for a few minutes to consider what it would mean to you and your family?  It’s true, isn’t it?

The less you need, the more you are able to find contentment where you are. easier you are to satisfy for one thing.  There is less struggle to constantly earn more income, which means less stress. If you can let go of concern for how others see you, the weight of feeling less worthy disappears.

The Multiple Bonuses of Needing Less

Anything over your need becomes a bonus.  If you can maintain the goal of needing less, you will be setting yourself for a better retirement too.

Instead of the mansions and huge homes, we now see the popularity of tiny homes.  They are irresistible to look out.  Seeing how much can be included in a small space.  Of course travel trailers, campers and motor homes have been doing it for decades, but it is still refreshing to see the smallness.

Think how your time frees up with less to dust, to clean, to mow, to paint.  Living in a small space how much more time would you choose to spend outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and the beauty of nature?

It is exponential too.  The smaller the home (in the average area), the lower the mortgage or rent.  The lower your utilities will run.  Lower insurance costs, lower repair costs, lower property taxes, all contribute to the savings that can grow along with the free time. The lower those expenses, the more you have to set aside or use for other things.  Traveling? Retirement? Rainy days? Working less?


What About You?

Could you do it?  Are you already?  Have you looked around the 3,000 square foot house to see you are really using a third of it?  Have you had the feeling when you dust all the books and knick knacks, that it takes all your free time to take care of your space?

It seems to me that our entire world would be more manageable if we each tried to lighten our footprint, and live with what we need.   I wonder what the percentage would get rid of if we cut the things we don’t really need.  Thirty percent?  Fifty percent?  That’s a little scary to think about.

The interesting thing about it is that you needn’t give up anything you love or really want. Instead you may find you are using everything you have and appreciating it more without the burden of excess.

Simple living means something different to each of us.  To some it is thinning out closets, clearing the garage, to others it means off the grid, generating your own power and water, or you might be part of the Tiny House generation.  You can find books here to suit every level.   I think anything we can do is a good start.

Since the little homes are so irresistible, you might enjoy this clever book.  Designs, interiors, and ideas, all done on a small scale.


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

Author: Merry Citarella

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  1. For the last four years or so we’ve lived in an apartment that is about 420 square feet. That’s smaller than many trailer homes! We love it and I’m pretty sure that we could live in an even smaller area – maybe a boat or an RV. That would be wonderful.

    What’s more, for three of those years we both worked from home (I still do) so our apartment was our office as well as our home.

    As you say Merry, cleaning a small area takes hardly any time at all and our power bills are very low. Unlike Kathryn, I would be happy to embrace the outdoor life — but that’s easy in Florida 🙂

    • It is wonderful that you have embraced the smaller space. I know you have written many articles on small space living that have been so helpful. To me, it’s becoming a fun challenge to see what I can give away next. So much stuff accumulates.

  2. Merry, if I had the home in that picture, I’d be more than content. It’s bigger than our apartment! But we have been thinking seriously about investing in a tiny home in the next few years. I’m not sure I could live in a 10×12 room, as some do, but perhaps twice that size would work for us. Nor am I one who can go the outdoor, sun-warmed shower-in-a-bladder route, but I could do with less stuff, especially as I age. Thank you for this article. Enjoyed it!

    • Same here, Kathryn, isn’t it beautiful? Tiny may be too small, but a compromise would work too! Thank you for your comments.

  3. I have thought about this a lot Merry. I keep going through rooms, weeding out and more stuff and I rarely miss it when it’s gone. What takes even more work for me is not buying more stuff – more out of habit than need. I would love to downsize my home… maybe a next step?

    • That is perhaps the harder goal to achieve, Monica. It is often hard to resist shiny new things. I’ve found the more I get rid of the more I want to keep doing it. Hopefully I will reach the day when I can go by a store and say I don’t need or want anything! Good you are aware though, that is a good start.

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