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Downsizing Your Life


Living and working in 70 square feet was not something I originally planned to do, it just worked out this way, and surprisingly, once I decided what I had to have in the house in order to work and live, it was relatively simple to fit everything that was truly necessary inside while the rest of my "stuff" was placed in storage until a small separate workshop building could be completed. My first act of rebellion against the accumulation of "stuff" started off long ago with what I dubbed "the Zen closet" as I required it to remain empty.

In preparation for my smaller accommodations, a much more radical approach was necessary: I moved out of most of the house I was living in, downsizing until everything could fit in one 280-square-foot room.

For people who are really serious about downsizing, I recommend you pick a room or closet in your house and move out of it, get rid of stuff you don't need, find better ways to store the things you want to keep. Visit boat and motor home shows, you will find lots of free ideas and examples of how to fit things into limited spaces (things which people were paid large sums of money to figure out!). Remember that things which are rarely used can be placed in areas which are harder to get to, since you won't be using them that often. Keep repeating the down-sizing process, picking another room or closet until you feel you've reached your limit. Live with these changes for a month or so, and you will find ways to improve the layout and make the space utilization even more efficient.  You will be surprised at how much more workable things become. After one or two months are up, try downsizing again.  Keep repeating this cycle until it becomes not just uncomfortable, but impossible to work with anymore, at each stage getting rid of what you don't need and finding better ways to make use of the limited space you have. Once you find it completely unworkable, live with it for a few more months, then upsize just a little (add a closet or part of a room), and you will likely find this space is far more comfortable and livable than you would ever have imagined was possible before you started.

You might also be interested in a new article Downsizing 2 - Take a Hike.


The articles on this site philosophically remind me of a book I read 35 years ago, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, although this has a modern twist to it, and Shannon seems more committed than Thoreau, since Thoreau only stuck with his experiment for 2 years.   After reading Walden, I made goals for how I was going to live simply and reduce consumption, which I failed to follow through on, basically making me a hypocrite.  Guilt aside, I think the current economic climate may force most of us to finally make dramatic lifestyle changes, and as much as I hate to see people live with the current economic stresses, maybe this is nature's way of coercing us into to doing more with less. It's funny how the economic fallout of over-consumption is getting our attention more effectively than the environmental damage of over-consumption. I will at least admit that living the life of a "consumer" has not brought me happiness and I am now making changes, finally.  Anyone else out there have similar thoughts?

After working several years at jobs I hated but stayed because the money was good, I finally and happily got laid off due to the economic downturn. It has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It forced me to put the brakes on and STOP! From a very young age we are brainwashed into thinking that  we measure our success and self worth by the things we can acquire (especially Americans). I was lacking spiritual success in a big way. I have now divorced my husband, sold my big house, studying Buddhism, and I am still jobless. This journey is showing me that I do not need the extra baggage to live happily. It is simplicity at its best. The most important thing to me now is more time to enjoy nature, animals and my family. You can't put a price on that! It is separating the NEED for things and the WANT for them and doing it without destroying the environment that we are all connected to. I am glad we are kindred spirits in our thinking!

Your kind of living is truly one great example of effective and efficient downsizing. Many may find a 70 square feet home very small but those people would surely be surprised with the kind of simple living you currently have. You are utterly inspiring. Andrew Kozlowski: downsizing your home