The entire simple living and minimalism movement is rewriting the “American Dream”.
So what does it mean to us and how do we relate?
I don’t believe at any point we immediately classified ourselves as minimalists per se, but we identify with the concept of minimalism with an altered meaning. In short, we enjoy all the modern comforts of life, but only those comforts that give value back to our lives. Things that provide us with more time to enjoy life by minimizing life’s already uncontrollable complexities. Merriam-Webster’s definition of Minimalism sums it up in one sentence. We wish to style our life around simplicity, not so much a spareness from all things, but an adjustment to finding value in the things we need and not things we want.
We quickly shifted our mindset when we realized that 2400 square feet was simply too much. Too much space, too much to clean and maintain, and too much ‘stuff’ just to fill space. Don’t get us wrong, we love our home. It’s something that represents both of us and what we ‘built’ together. In many ways, it wasn’t necessarily adding value to our lives other than the thought that we were “living the American Dream”. We used 3 rooms at most everyday. Our office, the bedroom, & the kitchen.
You see the trend? Work, Sleep, & Eat. Not much time for anything else. The weekend’s usually consisted of cleaning house, cutting grass, cooking, etc. Many times we would look at each other and say, “where did the weekend go”? It was an endless cycle. When did the American Dream become what feels like a prison sentence? Work consumes and dictates so much of our lives these days that Americans who are lucky enough to live to see and afford retirement usually are ‘lost’, out of shape, and don’t make healthy choices. But can you blame them? Who has that kind of time? Work, work, work just to live that 30 year mortgage and 30 working years retirement requirement American Dream.
Nope. Simply put, we downsized our space to 300 square feet to redefine what the American Dream should be. We want more time to do the things we enjoy. More experiences in life to travel, learn something new, meet new people, see new places, etc.
Did you know? According to Numbeo.com’s data, majority of Americans expenses are Rent and Groceries, with the highest being Rent at 34.1%. Groceries make up 31.2% of expenses for a total of 65.3%. The other categories including restaurants and transportation total 22.4% of expenses. So between eating out, groceries at home, and rent/mortgage costs, Americans are left with 12.3% in their budgets. Oh but wait, more than 5% of that goes towards utility costs. So now roughly 7% is left.
No wonder Americans work so much and never take vacations. Can’t afford it and don’t have the time. What kind of dream is that?
Ironically enough, we aren’t the only ones who think this way. According to RVLife.com, as on June 2018, more than 1 million people in the US are full-time RV’ers. 1 million!! This article goes on to mention that RV living was once strictly a post retirement activity for the older generations has now been adopted by younger generations between 35-54. We both turned 35 this past year. For the greater part of a year leading up to our decision to go tiny and live full time in our RV, we literally watched countless episodes of Tiny Living or Tiny House Hunters on HGTV. The fascination kept us watching more and asking ourselves, “why can’t we do this?” This question later changed to “why not?” and finally, “let’s do this!”
Minimizing our life didn’t come easy though.
We found ourselves struggling to part ways with ‘things’. Stuff given to us as gifts from family and friends, things we purchased together, or items that cemented themselves containing sentimental value. Anyone else think there’s no way they are a ‘pack-rat’? Take a look in a closet or 2 of yours see if you change your mind. My family consists of pack-rats. From old electronics to paperwork, it piled up. It’s all I knew, I thought it was a way of life. Nothing wrong with it necessarily, but do you ever notice how many storage unit facilities are within a few miles radius of each other? In 1973, the average American home was 1600 square feet. As of 2016, Americans are now living in an average size of 2600 square feet! Wow, that’s a ton of space to store things. What might be even more alarming is the number of Americans who live in that size of a home and still have the need for a storage unit!! Let me ask this question, is bigger always better? Bigger salary, bigger home, bigger yard, bigger car, etc? For us, bigger certainly didn’t mean better. It simply meant the opposite. It’s like McDonald’s Super-Sized menu, why get a large fry for $2.25 when you can have a super-sized fry for just $.25 cents more? After building up the courage to throw things away, donate, and sell others we felt like a weight had been lifted Felt good to start fresh.
Minimalism. What does it mean to you? For us it means,
Less stuff, less expense, less debt equals more time, more joy, more life experiences.