I want to have an open and honest conversation.
Not about tiny houses or vintage trailers or living in a vehicle, though I think that those things are wonderful.
I want to talk about simple living, the power of elimination, saving for later and producerism, without setting any rules about what size home is "right" or "good" to live in.
Simple living looks different to different people. If you have a family, my way of living might seem absurd. I can’t imagine living in a small house with my family growing up - we would have murdered each other for sure. If you are older or disabled, a tiny house might not be a good fit for you, or it might be perfect. If you run your own business, like I do with my vintage clothing store, your needs might look different than someone who works for a company and leaves their work at the office.
I just want to shout out that the number of square feet you live in doesn’t matter. It doesn’t define you. It doesn’t make you smart or dumb. It really doesn’t mean much.
Remember this photo? "Square feet are overrated".
I honestly think this is true. Whether you’re hyped on tiny living or living in a big house, I think that worrying big-time about the number of square feet you occupy is a waste of time. It’s not a competition. It’s about finding the solution that fits your needs. And more importantly, it's about how you inhabit your space - whatever size that may be.
In the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-course, we have people from ALL walks of life. We have deep discussions about all sorts of topics, and I can’t tell you how enlightening it is to have the opinions of young single 20 somethings, next to the experience of seniors, and middle-aged couples. Some people are planning for their tiny home, on a trailer. Others are looking to downsize into a single-floor home because they are getting older and that makes a lot of sense. Others are getting ready to live on boats, in vans, or pop-up campers. And at the same time, many people are staying put in their current homes but making the space work better for them by simplifying + downsizing their "stuff".
What I mean is, “simple living” doesn’t take a single form. That’s what’s so cool about it.
I don’t know if I’ll live in less than 100 sq. ft. forever. Probably not. I’ve personally put many of my passions and interests on the back burner in order to live this way. In order to save money, be agile, travel more, and move freely, I’ve given up playing the drums, playing my electric guitar with my big amp, and regularly practicing the art of hand-drafting on my drafting table (doesn't fit in the Element, but can be pulled out when we're in the camper).
I have a small studio space where my little business's inventory, vintage clothing, is kept (even that is tiny, haha! Only about 200 sq. ft). I know that this particular activity, running a small online vintage shop, requires different needs than someone who doesn’t run their own business. It just takes up more space than someone who works outside of the home or purely digitally.
And maybe eventually I would want my vintage clothing business to be integrated or attached to my living space. Maybe I want a pet that wouldn’t do so well in a van (like a small dog). Maybe I want to move to an entirely new place, and stay there for more than a month.
I don’t really know, I’m just saying that simple living can be a hundred different things.
In a lot of ways, living in the heart of a city is more “sustainable” than living “off the land” on a permaculture farm in the middle of nowhere. The single reality that you don’t need a car in the city makes a huge impact. Living in a permaculture paradise sounds nice, but it’s not the only vision of a simple, ecologically responsible life.
I want you to know that I don’t think there is a single perfect way to live simply. I think there are a million different ways, and they are all awesome.
I want to try out more of them. I want to live in as many different, simple, new ways as I can before I decide. What is it like to live in a tiny apartment in a city with no car? What is it like to live on a boat? What is it like to live in Europe? Maybe I’ll find out the answer to some of my questions in 2015.
What does simple life look like to you? What makes you happy, regardless of how many sq. ft. it requires? Let’s start a discussion in the comments.