Get rid of your stuff and start a minimalist lifestyle
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and leave. Well, if you’re gonna leave, you need to pack light. Two bits of luggage is too much, btw. Sure, you can rent a storage or just leave your apartment as it is, and lease it out through airbnb.com. You might even be able to finance your travels this way. But for many, those are not viable options. So, to get you started on your minimalist lifestyle, you need to downsize. Downsizing is not a process so much as a mindset.
Stuff is just stuff. It can be replaced. You can not.
3 months is plenty of time to empty an apartment completely. Here’s a quick roadmap for the operation:
- Go through your home. You’ll notice things that are immediately important to you. Some books, photos, letters, items, memoirs. My CD-collection was something I was NOT going to throw away. Make a note of all of this.
- Now, go through again and make a note of tables, sofas, drawers, shelves, chairs and other furniture, kitchen utensils and dishes, instruments, computers, TVs, appliances, clothes you haven’t worn for the last two months, carpets etc. Take photos and make everything ready to go for sale. Because that’s what you’re gonna do – sell them! You’ll need nothing of this stuff on the road.
- Next step is going through the items you deemed sale-worthy. Empty them of trash. Trust me, there’s going to be a LOT of trash. Take this time to wipe the items of dust or dirt. Look through the drawers, empty tables, even go through hard drives. Everything useless has to go. It’ll be hard at first, but when you’ve taken a few bags of junk out to the bin, you’ll feel lighter already.
- Flood your local craigslist with sales posts of your furniture you can live without. A good picture plus basic info will do. Now you might not think someone wants your old drawer. But if it’s intact and made with some quality, there WILL be a buyer for it. Especially brand stuff like IKEA sells like hot cakes. Oh and do be careful if you own antique furniture, they might be surprisingly valuable. So if you’re unsure, take it to an expert for a look.
- In any case, if an item seems to linger without any chance of selling, just give it away in exchange for them picking it up. Some Red Cross-type organizations also will come and pick them up free of charge.
- Next you’ll need to start emptying the appliances and whatever electronics you use. These, along with your bed, will most likely be in daily use. So it’ll be a bit tricky to time the sale to go along with your date of departure. But if you can arrange a backup bed or do laundry somewhere else, it’ll help a bunch with the logistics. Again – craigslist with good picture plus basic info.
If at any time you stumble upon an item that you aren’t sure what to do with, ask yourself these questions:
- Why did I buy this?
- What could I have used that money for instead?
- Do I really need this?
- What would happen if I didn’t have this anymore?
- Could I replace this if I really needed to?
- Can someone else use this more than I can?
.. and the answer should be clear.
Congratulations! You’ve emptied a mountain of junk from your tiny apartment! What? You still have a mountain of junk left to empty? Well, you got the easy stuff out of the way. That should’ve taken you about a month. Let’s see about the rest.
- Clothes – Collect all the clothes you haven’t used for the last 2 weeks. Your local clothes bin will take the clothes in good condition. Your local junk bin will take the clothes in bad condition. Repeat until you have enough clothes to last you at most a week. Now here’s the kicker. You need one (1) jumper that breathes easily, is light and warm, and resists water somewhat. Wool is a magnificent material. I’d encourage spending some money on this one, so your local outdoor shop might be a good place to look for it. Also, excellent quality socks and underwear are paramount. I hope you’re still gonna fit into one suitcase!
- Memorabilia and personal stuff. If you can store these at a friend or family’s, that’s brilliant. If not, well. Photos are easily digitized. Letters become photos easily. But that still leaves items with sentimental value. I’d grab a tiny part of the item and chuck the rest, or just give it away. These are the hardest parts of your journey towards minimalism. Personally, I would get a safety box and store the most precious memories. You can not take these items along. But you also shouldn’t erase your past.
Rinse and repeat. As many times as you need to get down to that 1 suitcase full. Or as many suitcases as you’d like, but they really get heavy and unwieldy in a crowded public transport, let me tell you. There are many better guides to filling that suitcase properly, but from the money you made selling your stuff, you should have no problem completing the project properly.
Good luck on your minimalist journey!