“They’ve got a little test they give you; it’s a balloon, and if you can get inside of it, they know… you’re small. And they can’t put you in a regular cell either, because you walk right out.” — Steve Martin
We lived very minimally compared to most families, but still had a house in Nashville filled with things that we didn’t need or use. The first step was to get rid of everything that would not fit into a small PODS container for our move to NYC. This size restriction gave us limits which was good, and it also kept the moving costs to a minimum.
We sold our things at a tag sale, figuring we could re-buy them, but only if absolutely neccessary, when we got to New York. Many smaller items were just given to GoodWill or recycled. The plan was to use less furniture, sit and sleep on the floor, encouraging mobility and flexibility — there is nothing like sitting and sleeping on the floor with a small amount of padding or cushion to make you realize how inflexible your body has become!
The process of eliminating unneeded things was helped by a rule I have followed for many years:
If I haven’t touched or used something in over a year, I sell it or give it away.
A simple rule that has served me well, but I do make exceptions for very sentimental items, mementos from my childhood or parents, but only things that I truly love, things that evoke a powerful memory that helps me remember important people and events.
One very powerful motivation for moving to NYC was to not own a car, so I also sold my beloved Honda Fit, and we then had just one car that we planned on driving to NY. Once there, we gave it back to a family member and were carless for the first time in many years. This was a moment of freedom, a great escape from the costs and unintended consequences of car ownership.
Being carless is also directly in line with most current advice regarding climate change: living without cars (or mostly without cars), sharing rides and taking public transportation is a must if we are all going to live together, breathe fresh air and have livable communites without the endless expansion of roads and highways. If you don’t live in a city with subways, you might be able to take a bus or walk to work or the store. If no buses, maybe you can get a bike or share rides with other people. There is always a way to live smaller, you just have to want it.