Didn’t we already do this in reverse a few years ago?
When we first began downsizing in 2008 to make this dream lifestyle of travel come true, it was a gradual process. We didn’t get rid of everything overnight or cut out the cable on day one. We took our time, taking small actions every day, getting used to the idea of this new normal.
Fast forward to the present, and we’ve made the decision to buy a house in Spain. In just a few weeks, we went from two travelers living out of backpacks to homeowners. The transition has been almost instant, and we’re a little dizzy from adjusting to this new reality.
This week I was gathering my things in a bedroom of our rental house to make room for a friend’s visit. In addition to my usual clothes, I also had a stack of things we’ve bought for the house: a bathroom rug, a set of sheets, a blanket. It’s not much, but it is too much to fit in my backpack. It stopped me in my tracks when I realized it.
For the first time since 2010 I own more than I can carry, and it’s a bigger mental adjustment than I thought it would be.
Still, all those years of discipline over our spending and accumulation, and enjoying the rewards of freedom and experience that come with it, have given us a unique perspective on “filling up” our new home.
Stocking Up – Your Questions Answered
It would be easy to go overboard filling and decorating this new house. It’s a lovely home in a quaint village – plus we’ve discovered this little thing called Pinterest. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
But we’ve lived with so little for so long, we’ve learned to make use of what we have before we add to it. We’re taking that same attitude to our new home.
Now for a lightning round of answering the main questions we’ve gotten so far:
Q: I want to know how you are prioritizing your buying. And are you spreading out the experience or trying to do it all at once? Oh and do you feel panicky to have ‘stuff’ again?
A: We’re working from the list we made at the start, which we broke down into “need right away” and “nice to have.” We’ve decided to take a minimal approach and live there for a bit before adding to it. We’ve done the declutter thing, and we don’t want to have to do it again!
We’ve bought a couch, a chair, 3 small tables, and some rugs. As soon as the house is ready, we’ll order mattresses. And the dining room table is already there from the previous owners. The only other thing we’ll get at this point are some chairs and a table for the upstairs terrace so we can enjoy the sunshine.
There is no reason for us to spread it out from a financial perspective because we budgeted for this, but from a minimalist perspective we don’t want to add to our house unless it is something we will use. Living in it for a while will help us decide what, if anything, needs to be added.
And yes, it is a bit panicky to have “stuff” again. We’re storing our new yellow couch in the place we’re renting right now, and every time I walk by it I think, “we own that!” No longer can we just walk away into the sunset with just our backpacks. This is both comforting and alarming.
Q: How are you avoiding the traps of consumerism? Not feeding the “fill every void with stuff” monster? Evaluating needs versus wants?
The list helps us determine needs versus wants, and it makes every shopping trip productive and focused. Buying secondhand is also a great way to avoid consumerism. Our goal is to not step into an Ikea or other department store for shopping. Without the overwhelming choice, we will be less tempted by consumerism, and from a values standpoint it fits our goal of making use of what’s already out there instead of creating demand for more new things.
Our lifestyle for the past several years helps with the “fill every void” mentality. We’ve mostly lived in small places with no choice over furnishing or setup, and we appreciate space. I think we’ll tend to err more on the side of not enough stuff than too much. The other thing working for us is that Spanish homes, at least in this area, do not come with a lot of storage space. Most everything is out in the open, and that will keep us honest.
Q: How much stuff are you guys looking to acquire? Just basic necessities or also luxuries?
A: Just the basics…plus one big luxury. We thought of what we’d need to live in the house, which is a bed, a place to eat/work, and a place to relax. Cover those needs, and you’re good.
The previous homeowners left dishes and cookware. We’ll likely buy a couple of good pans and knives for Warren to cook.
We live on a budget, but we aren’t cheap. The better term is frugal, because we do look for the best value, not necessarily the lowest price.
But the big luxury we’re indulging in – besides the abundant sun, great food, nice people, and local olive oil in this area – is a new mattress and pillows. After all these years sleeping in other people’s beds (which is not as racy as it sounds), it will be a delight to have our own. And knowing how important it is to have a good bed in a holiday rental, we’re considering this luxury a necessity.
This time next week we’ll be sleeping in our new bed, making coffee in the kitchen, and watching the sunrise from the terrace.
We’ll also be sweating out the final days of writing the book and getting ready for a speech in Norway…where we’ll be using our first round-trip plane tickets since 2010.
To come back home to Spain.
Do you want to know what we learned about letting go of our junk and getting on with our lives? Check out the online course we made for you at Declutter Clinic. All our best info on how to make room in your life for more living…and the strategies we’re still using to keep from getting cluttered all over again.