I’ve lived in a house for over 30 years. From Albuquerque, NM to Windsor, CA to Goldsboro, NC. I am no longer a home owner. I am unattached to a mortgage, homeowners’ insurance, exterminator bills and landscaping fees. I am unencumbered. I now live in a 3-bedroom apartment with no garage, no yard and no lake view. In the process of moving I have discovered that, while I thought I had many mandatory requirements in the place I lived, I really can live without.
Here are the things I can live without:
Every garage I have ever had has always been full of stuff. Stuff that I don’t need any longer or, perhaps, ever needed. Things like extra brooms, fly swatters, buckets, boxes, tile, storm doors, screens, rakes, mops, dust pans, kayaks, weights, life jackets, plungers, shovels, hammers, rope, garbage bags, cleaning solutions, and insecticide. Some items sat in the garage in a box for their entire life cycle; either not being found when needed or just never being needed again. I have taken on the idea often posited by The Minimalists:
Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location. Thus far, this hypothesis has become a theory that has held true 100% of the time. Although we’ve rarely had to replace a just-in-case item (fewer than five times for the two of us combined), we’ve never had to pay more than $20 or go more than 20 minutes out of our way to replace the item. This theory likely works 99% of the time for 99% of all items and 99% of all people—including you.
So far, so good. I don’t have a garden that requires insecticide or shovels. At this point, the only thing in my storage closet is my mountain bike and a bird feeder. I have donated or given away everything else.
When I finally started moving into my apartment, it had a classic refrigerator with a freezer on top and no ice maker. I immediately decided I would purchase a new refrigerator until I went to Lowe’s and realized that the cost would be close to $2,000. Why exactly did I want a new refrigerator? I wanted an ice maker and an indoor water dispenser. I started calculating the cost of a new refrigerator (for just little ole me) and how much ice and filter water I could purchase instead of buying a whole new refrigerator that I would have to lug with me for the foreseeable future. I remember my sweetheart Roy coming over to look at the apartment before I was completely moved and he grabbed a cup and took a taste of the water out of the faucet, saying: “Tastes just fine.” I took a taste – it was just fine. I just saved myself $2,000 and purchased ice cube trays which, to date, I have not used the ice from. I don’t need a new refrigerator with all the bells and whistles.
Washer and Dryer
Yes. I did draw the line at going to a laundromat to wash clothes. Mostly because of the time saved doing it at home rather than sitting in a laundromat for 3 hours. But in the same trip to Lowe’s looking for a refrigerator, I looked at washer and dryer sets. $1,200. Again, do I really want to lug a super-duper washer and dryer set for the next ten years? No. I found a guy on Facebook Marketplace that sold rehabbed washer and dryer sets and he was willing to provide a 3-month warranty and install them. It’s a pretty old set and there’s no cute sound when the stuff is done but I have clean clothes and they were a third of the price.
I am a great cook. I love a gas range. I’ve either purchased a gas range for every home I’ve lived in or it already had a gas range. I knew when I went apartment hunting that the odds of finding a place with a gas range was going to be slim pickings. The truth is, now that I have been living with an electric range for two months and it’s not that bad. I just needed to adjust to not have a visual on the flame. Heat is heat. Heat cooks. I can still cook on an electric range.
I went from about 12 feet of counter space to 2 feet of counter space. This, above all other things, has been the most difficult to adjust to. Everything must be put away. I cannot leave anything on the counter like a coffee maker or a toaster oven. Even a cutting board must be moved to the sink and washed before moving on to the next step in the cooking process. It has forced me to conserve space and steps in the cooking process. My stove top doubles as a cooling rack and holding space. It’s helped me be more creative.
My apartment complex does not allow anything to be attached to the outside of the building. There is no way to let my beloved, almost 13-year-old dog Baci run free in the yard. It also means I cannot attach a bird feeder to the overhang of the roof. It means that if it’s forty degrees outside at 3 AM and Baci wants to go out, I must suit up in my jacket and shoes and stay attached to my dog as she hunts for squirrels and rabbits or does her business. I admit it’s a real drag for me but I think Baci has suffered more from the lack of freedom to roam. It has brought us even closer and even as I sit here now writing, she is two feet from me sleeping on the floor.
I think back to my college years, where moving every 6 to 12 months was the norm. I never owned anything more than what could fit in a car or perhaps 6 boxes. It’s been cathartic to let go of so many things that have weighed me down for decades like used books, unused clothes, memorabilia and artifacts from failed relationships. I am boiling down to my essence. The things that really matter and it has been freeing.