Friday, January 21, 2011

Moving On Down

Most newlywed couples plan ahead to when they can afford a bigger apartment, condo, or even a home. Our society views these items as status symbols and indicators of stability and prosperity. Gary (my husband) and I made the same sort of plans together, even before we were engaged. We dreamed about our ideal two bedroom apartment or condo with the balcony garden. Now, we're moving into a tiny 400 square foot 1 bedroom apartment with no parking.

When we got engaged, we moved out of my studio and his one bedroom and into the first affordable two bedroom we could find. It's in a great location, has two tiny balconies just big enough for our worm bin and some potted plants, off-street parking, and it houses all of our stuff really comfortably.

Many people seem confused about why we made the decision to downsize. Often when I tell people we're getting a smaller apartment, they ask me with concern if we're doing alright financially. The answer is yes. We're doing fine. But why not do better? Why not put more into savings or travel? Since I will be in school for a few years, paying a lower rent will allow us to add to our nest egg even with only one substantial income between us.

Besides the financial incentive to downsize, there is the ecological impact. A smaller space requires less lighting. Our climate in Southern California allows us to forgo heating and cooling costs. The tiny jr-sized fridge will be much more efficient. The lack of a parking space and the high walk-score of the neighborhood inspired me to finally let go of the car. The location two blocks from the food Co-Op will (hopefully) inspire us to shop more frequently and eat fresh foods instead of stocking the pantry with convenience food. The large window garden will let us grow our own salad greens and herbs. (as long as I don't kill them)

The thing I'm looking most forward to, and dreading at the same time, is the physical downsizing. While we don't have a huge amount of stuff, we managed to accumulate an entire closet full of art supplies and tools. We have 8 bicycles plus a bicycle built for two. A suitcase plus a shelf full of camping gear, and all manner of other odds and ends. A lot of this stuff will not fit into our tiny new place. We're in the process of making some very tough decisions about what will move with us and what will be donated to friends, Goodwill, and freecycle.

I have always enjoyed de-cluttering, but this will force me to step up my game. It will require us to really think about what is important to us and keep only objects that help us to shape our lives to meet those priorities. As we go through boxes, we have to think about the meaning we attach to objects and determine if it is the object, or the idea it represents that is what we cherish. I'm hoping our more streamlined lifestyle at the new apartment will help to reduce stress and encourage us to value each other even more than we already do.

Overall I'm very excited about the move. I'm making a game plan on how to get everything packed and moved and cleaned and donated. I'm trying to figure out how best to move the worm bin and where to put it once it is moved, and trying to pull together Craigslist posts for the bicycles we're selling. In 1 month, we'll be totally tucked into our new tiny home.

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