From 3000 to 365

Are you kidding me? There is no way this is ever going to be possible.  This was the only thought constantly going through my head while trying to pack up our 3000 square foot home.  How in the hell was I ever going to be able to downsize our entire home to fit into a 365 square foot RV?

A storage unit would with out a doubt be used for items that couldn’t come with us for obvious reasons; couches, dressers, tables, lamps, our brand-new-never-opened wedding china, etc.  But what about everything else?

Downsizing the number our material possessions was not one of the topics of discussion when we decided to embark on this gypsy adventure.  Sure, J.O. had been traveling full time in the RV for 2 years, living on the minimum, but he still always came home to a closet full of other clothes, countless cooking utensils, various outdoor tools.  He only had to have the essentials because he could come back to a fully furnished house.  Now, we are both going to be sleeping in a room that was the same size as old closet. This was going to be a challenge.

It was scary and I’ll admit, hard at first.  I even had, if I dare to call it, packing remorse.  ‘Why or why did I not pack that white tee-shirt with the small pocket?! I don’t want to wear THIS white tee-shirt that has no pocket at all!  I used to have both…sigh, but I couldn’t pack both because we had to downsize.’  Yes, I would find myself getting upset that I didn’t have multiples of basically the same thing. Ridiculous, really.

I knew that this whole “downsizing” thing was a necessity.  Not only for our living situation, but for my overall attitude.  I was very blessed growing up.  I was given many luxuries and advantages and although I always thought I was NOT high maintenance, I obviously needed some work.  I mean come on, I was upset because I couldn’t take my all of my serving dishes on the road (did I actually think we would be throwing huge parties out of our RV?).   I was going to work on my attitude, outlook and get rid of the clutter.

Need vs Want. Prioritize. Reuse. One item in, one item out

When we started to pack, the piles for each room were basically separated into a “need” and a “want” pile.  As you can imagine, at first the ‘Need’ pile was just a large as the ‘Want’.  Sure, I wanted all of my vases, I love to have fresh flowers whenever I can.  Alas, I couldn’t take all of them. I had to decide what to do. Which, if any to take and what to leave behind.  After thinking about it and prioritizing my storage space, I didn’t pack one.  Not a one!  I still display the flowers that J.O. brings home for me, but now I improvise.  I use what I have available to me.  Whether it be a tall bar glass with shells in the bottom or a carved out pumpkin I bought at the market, I’m able to keep my possessions at more of a minimum and get creative in the end.

DIY tablecloth and vaseBar Glass Vase

 

In the past few years J.O. and I have both become more aware of what we need and what we want: Owning more that two cheese cutters was something we had because we wanted them, but we didn’t need them both.  We prioritize items that work best for our lifestyle:  I loved all of my shoes (even if half of them were various styles of black sling backs) but how often did I wear each pair? We have become creative on reusing things for more than one task and when it comes to purchasing new items, if something is bought than something else is donated.

Clearing out all of the extra stuff took time and effort, but I never thought it would feel this liberating.  Living without all the “stuff” has made me feel better about myself.  I still love to go shopping, but now when a purchase is made, I never have remorse. It’s for the most part been thought through.  We both have become more conscious consumers.  More research is done before the purchase and we now buy with a purpose, knowing it’s something that won’t sit in its packaging for weeks on end.  Buying for overall quality and not just because it’s a good deal is important (Buy local. Buy USA).  Appreciation has also become more apparent when we are given something that was ‘wanted’ and not just ‘needed’.   Plus, a major bonus is that we have more in the bank because it’s easier to stick to a budget.

The storage unit still remains full, but with each passing month that I send them a check so that the “wanted” items can continue to collect dust, I wonder more often , ‘why are we keeping so much?  I’ve lived without it this long, will I need it when buy another home?’.

I encourage you to try downsizing your home, your possessions.  Start with one room and go from there.  Let me know what you think or any ticks you have!

smaller living space!

from a walk in closet to lack there of a closet

Below are some suggestions on getting started.

  • Remember to think about if you want it or if you need it.
  • How many times have you used/worn it?  If is been 6 months, donate it.  Chances are it’s something you can either borrow if needed or there is another item that can be improvised for the task.
  • Prioritize your space. Don’t let a drawer fill up with junk just because it’s empty.  Making good use of and dedicating space for certain things will make you stick to a limited amount.
  • Get rid of the clutter.  Do you really need three spatulas? How many coffee mugs do you have? Keep what you use.
  • Condense.  We have a massive DVD collection.  I mean huge.  Instead of having all of them in their original cases, we have them all organized into a multi-case (and yes, I have them organized by genre).
  • One item it, one item out.  Simple as that.  Buy one, donate one.
  • When out shopping, don’t touch it.  Statistics show that just by physically handling an item, you’re more likely to purchase it.
  • Get creative on gift giving.  J.O. and I rarely buy each other physical items anymore because of the lack of storage space. Cards and day trips or together gifts have become more our style! Buy a new serving dish for that special treat you’re bringing to a dinner party and let the host keep the dish-hostess gift checked off and you’re not storing unused multiples.
  • Reuse items. Get creative!  While that suitcase is sitting there waiting to go on vacation, fill it with your extra bed linens or your guest towels.
  • Keep on it.  J.O. and I clean out our closets every three months, whether he likes it or not :) Every time we weed out more and it just keeps getting easier.  Then we either donate the items or reuse them.  I use cut up shirts for wash rags and even made a scarf out of one!

Made from an old tee-shirt

 

 

About admin

Home is where the heart is...and where ever our RV is parked! We travel the country in our 32 foot 5th wheel RV with our basset hound for my husbands job as a Journeyman Lineman. From our home state of Minnesota to Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Illinois, Nevada, California...well, you get the picture. Follow our journey as we follow the high line to the next job and our next home, where ever and when ever that may be!

Comments

From 3000 to 365 — 13 Comments

  1. Great post!
    My husband and I live in a small 745 square foot apartment. One bedroom is my studio/office. Recently I decided to go back to school, and got a new job, so it was time to do some major cleaning. Before I started the new job, I spent days cleaning out our closets, “junk drawers”, and each room. I donated about a dozen grocery bags of clothing (I can’t believe I had that many clothes!!) and donated just as many bags of art materials to a local art art store based on reuse items and donations. My studio went from not being able to walk in it, to sprawling out on the floor with a blanket and a book. The cat loves enjoying the new, clean space. Cleaning and organizing is addictive! I went through the bathroom and donated or tossed toiletries, and did the same in the kitchen. When I was all done, I vacuumed :)

    We love living simply, and plan to continue to do so once we buy a home. My husband grew up in rural North Dakota and had very little, and when I was growing up, money was spent on education but not material things. We both enjoy tossing items we no longer need, and try to be very careful about what we purchase. It feels great to let things go sometimes. We value what we do have, and are grateful to have the little space we call home.

    Thanks again for the great post, looking forward to more!

  2. This is so inspirational. I’m going to downsize this week. We have closets full of “maybe I’ll use that umbro bag again” type stuff. And love that you made a scarf from excess clothing.

    Thanks for the shout-out. I’m humbled. Love your site and will be eagerly awaiting the next post!!

  3. great post! love the blog and can’t wait to follow. what an adventure. i get such a high out of de-cluttering and donating or throwing stuff out! it is liberating to have less! anxious to learn more about you rife on the road! thanks for sharing. hope all is well!
    oh and btw – that necklace is awesome!

  4. Cool to read your reflections on the whole downsizing process. I went through the same thing a number of years ago, myself, although for less adventuresome reasons (going through a divorce).

    I’m something of a history buff and when I first confronted the whole downsizing process I remembered that when pioneer families decided to move west, they had to pack their whole world into a small covered wagon (maybe 60 sf, tops). They separated things into 3 piles: treasured mementos of the past, things they would need to make the journey, and things they would need to start their new life. As they ran into trouble making the journey, they would jettison the mementos first; if need be, the things they thought they would need in their new life went next (this is why the wagon trails were littered with dishes and odd pieces of furniture). I figured if they could do that, then I could certainly parse through my stuff.

    I ended up using the same scheme I use when I pack for a trip (my job had me travelling quite a bit and I became very adept at packing light). When some people pack for a trip, they think, “What will I possibly need?” That thinking leads to a very large stack of stuff to pack. I learned to think, “What can I possibly do without?” This thinking leads to a substantially smaller stack of stuff to pack. It was this “What can I possibly do without” mentality that I used to downsize. The small size of the resulting stack of stuff was actually liberating.

  5. Nicely written. My husband is an apprentice, and we are going to be heading out in his 28′ travel trailer as a family of 3, plus 2 dogs, when the next call comes in. You have inspired me to not only consider what we take with us, but to also consider what we leave at home. Our 1400 square foot home could use some more downsizing of ‘stuff’ to just necessities. -Thank you again!

  6. i just found your blog and man can i relate! i’ve been traveling with my apprentice for over a year now and its such a great experience… we upgraded our little trailer to our toy hauler when we found out i was pregnant last fall just so i could make the “garage” into our nursery. i suffers packing remorse uh every other day. i think i downsized too much in the beginning! :) look forward to reading more…

    • Glad you found us! We’ve have to talking of upgrading to a toy hauler as well for the day that babies come along! Hope we can continue to learn from each others experiences!

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    • Heather, what you[‘re looking at there is a makeshift table cloth I made for our wedding anniversary. I took various pieces of construction paper and on each one wrote a memory from the past year. I guess it was our anniversary when I took this photo! :) It’s a great way to personalize a celebration! I took the picture to remember it, but we no longer have it.

  9. we have a 5th wheel similar and love everything you did. What about light fixtures on
    ceiling. Did you paint them completely. I think our lights still have on the clop on covers.

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