Home is a feeling of warmth and safety. We gather at home with those we love. It is a private, peaceful place of retreat. Home is the relief we feel when returning from a long trip or a hectic day at work. I want any home in which I live to be open, welcoming, comfortable and light.
My home is a place where I can be free and real, a place I laze around when I’m sick or weary. It’s where I safely keep my important stuff. It has a comfortable chair in which I sit to drink my morning coffee, and a familiar kitchen where my love and I prepare special meals while enjoying a glass of wine.
None of my thoughts about home are related to the square footage, the quality of countertops or appliances, or the number of bed and bathrooms. They all center on the feelings of love and belonging. Home is as much a feeling as it is a place.
I have spent a great deal of time over the past few years examining, prioritizing and decluttering my living space. I am engaged in the ongoing process of releasing things and emotions that are no longer useful. I’ve experienced major transitions in my personal life and several moves and resettlements. Minimalism has helped me tremendously, and I embrace it. I have learned to identify my needs and prioritize those things in life that I value.
The Empty Nest: Downsizing for Two
My love and I recently moved into our first home together. Our children are entering young adulthood and living more independently, so we needed less space.
We downsized from a 2000 plus square foot home with four bedrooms and a yard, to a two-bedroom townhome, where we can live more efficiently and actually make full use of the space. Our previous home had a dining room we rarely used, and a guest bedroom, that for the majority of the time, simply collected dust.
Our new home will serve as a home base as we are becoming more able to travel; a place that is easy to care for and leave for extended periods. We purchased an inexpensive smaller home equipped with what we need so that we can spend our money on the experiences we value. We also want to be prepared to help our children as they establish themselves.
Applying minimalism to the home is a simple, logical process. Owning fewer belonging leads to the need for less space. A smaller, more functional living space will take less time to clean and maintain, resulting in more unstructured time and a more peaceful home. Thinking of all the ways to spend the unstructured time is rather exciting, and the anticipation of such freedom, exhilarating!
Here are a few tips on how to prepare to downsize your home.
1. Clear out the clutter.
As you sort through your belongings, ask what meaning or practical use each item offers. These questions apply to any item in your home: clothing, kitchen items, furniture, art or mementos. The answers can help you to decide what and how much to keep, and what to sell or donate.
Amazingly, even after decluttering a year ago when I moved into his home, we identified quite a collection of furniture, kitchen items, books, and other household items with which we chose to part. We offered family pieces back to our families. We held two very successful garage sales, and then donated the few items that remained. We were in good shape to follow our desire to move into a smaller home because we took with us only what we truly need and value.
2. Identify your needs.
When we began our search, we identified our needs for our future home. While I admire those who can live happily in a tiny house, I need open space. It calms me.
We needed comfortable space for our children when they visit. A small patio or porch where we can relax outside was essential. We needed a laundry room and a garage. We explored a very small city living option that was initially charming and exciting. When we took a second look, reality set in. We agreed that having no laundry, one tiny bathroom, no closets, a tiny guest room and one parking space, was too minimalist a proposition for us at this stage. Our townhome, including a two-car garage is perfect!
3. Make purposeful use of your funds.
Bankers and real estate agents will tell you how much you can borrow. Be ready to tell them how much you are willing to spend. A smaller home will cost less, not just the purchase price but also lower utility payments, insurance and taxes.
By thoughtfully reducing living expenses, you can change your lifestyle, have the freedom to pursue a new career direction, or be prepared to stop working for money at a younger age and travel for longer periods.
I look forward to living in all of the space our new home offers. We have an opportunity to fleece our empty nest and make it a perfect home for us.