While I’ve always been a minimalist at heart, and we’ve worked on living with less for several years now, few things launch someone into a minimalist lifestyle like moving your family of 4 from a 3-level, 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse into a 1-bedroom, 1 bath basement.
About 6 months ago, we made a huge decision. We decided to move out of our house in order to rent it out. We bought our house 7 years ago, just before we got married, with the intention of selling it once we had children and needed a yard. That time came a few years ago, but unfortunately thanks to the market, we were (and still are) unable to sell. We stuck it out for a while trying to determine what choices we might have. Finally we spoke to an agent and realized that if we wanted to move any time soon, renting was our only choice.
So we began the process of selling or donating everything we didn’t need to take with us. Then we packed the rest and moved our family of 4 into my in-laws’ basement. Our agent advised us that if we could “crash” somewhere for a few months it would not only be easier to find renters for our house, but would also allow us to establish reliable rental income before taking on the cost of our own rental. We’ve been here for 4 months while working to get our house ready for rental (a much longer process than we had anticipated). Shortly after we got the ball rolling for this move, we also found out we were expecting baby #3. Originally we thought we would be looking for a rental of our own around March, but that turned out to be exactly when our new baby would be born. Instead of rushing out sooner, we decided to sit tight for a little while and look to move again in June.
So for now, here we are, living the minimalist dream. Okay, not really. The space in terms of square footage is totally fine. We have one big room that serves as the living room, playroom, and office. Then we have a bedroom and bathroom. Other than the obvious challenges of sharing a bedroom with your 4- and 1-year olds, it’s actually plenty. There are a few downsides though. We don’t have any storage. No closets, cabinets or shelves so it pretty much looks like nothing is ever put away (and that’s because it isn’t). As you can imagine this creates a lot of visual clutter – basically the antithesis of minimalism. It stresses me out, but there’s not a lot we can do and it’s super temporary, so I’m trying to just put it in perspective. We also don’t have a kitchen. We share the kitchen upstairs with my in-laws’ which in itself isn’t a problem, except that we keep and make our own food. So without a kitchen, where do you keep your food? Our non-refrigerated items are in a Rubbermaid bin, and thankfully there is an extra refrigerator down here in their storage room that we’ve been able to keep some refrigerated items in.
To say the least, we’ve had to get creative in our adjustment from living in our own home to sharing someone else’s. One definite advantage is that we’ve learned how to make the most of a small space and get by with bare essentials. While it will be nice to have some of our old stuff back when we move, I’m sure there will be plenty of things we’ll realize we just never needed in the first place. Score one for minimalism ;)
The other great advantage has been the major shift in our perspective of “home.” When we were leaving our townhouse, although I knew we had outgrown the space and the neighborhood, I felt sentimental about leaving the only home my children had ever known, and the home Josh and I had shared since the beginning of our marriage. However, after leaving, I now realize that it doesn’t really matter what physical space we’re in. Home is where we are together. Of course we want it to be functional and suit our family’s needs, but I feel much less attached to a physical space as being “our home” than I did before. Our next place, our rental, will be our home just the same, even though we won’t own it or be able to personalize it to our specific tastes. It will be filled with our family and it will be where we create new memories and share new moments together. That’s what will make it “our home.”