Downsizing sounds so nice as an abstract concept.
You see articles and posts written on it everywhere you turn, it seems.
“How one woman downsized and moved to Paris for love”
“How we downsized into a tiny house”
“How we went from 3000 sq. ft. to a 35 ft sailboat”
Sounds amazing, right? Move into a smaller place, make some nice change from selling crap you don’t need on Craigslist, and voila! Instant happiness as you have 1,000,000 less sq ft to dust and clean.
Well let me tell you what.
For me, it meant moving into about 250 sq ft (the efficiency unit in my first rental property). I have one 12′ x 13′ main room, a bathroom, a kitchen, one closet, and some hallways. I had an entire wall of boxes. My kitchen was full of boxes. The hallway to my bathroom was stacked with boxes.
Thank god I had my attic to put some extra boxes in or else I’d still be picking the crap out of my fingers and face from the stress.
Downsizing means tripping over the same box 10 times in one day (and lots of swearing. Pretty sure my pinky toe was broken.)
Downsizing means throwing away a lot of precious memories. Ever seen someone ugly cry as they hear the clay pot they made in 7th grade shatter into a million pieces? It’s not pretty.
Downsizing means selling your favorite pieces of furniture to strangers on Craigslist who obviously will not love your table as much as you do. I mean, who paints a solid cherry dining room table? IT WAS BEAUTIFUL IN IT’S NATURAL STATE!!
I have a lot of positive memories associated with my furniture. Playing cards by candle light at the table when the power went out. Sleeping on my couch the summer of my internship because I didn’t have room for a bed. The feeling of ecstasy when my friend’s mom sold me her collection of shelves that I’d drooled over for years. Nothing but the memories and some pictures remain.
Of course.…. I also have a phat wad of cash in my pocket now so that helps alleviate some of the pain.
Downsizing means you have to get creative with your stuff. No longer can you shove all your extra stuff in a spare room or the basement, close the door, and forget about it. Nope. All your crap is everywhere for everyone who comes over to see. My bed is currently laying on the floor because I don’t have enough space to set up my bed frame. If I did, I would have about 24 inches left to slide into the bed. So, I will be building a loft for my queen sized mattress. After I get that done, I can set up a desk under it and finally have some room to breathe and work at home. Until then, all socializing will have to be done at friends’ houses or out at a bar somewhere.
See this picture? This picture is one of my proudest achievements. I moved that futon 10 whole feet by myself! That meant I had to clean off the floor space, which meant dumping a whole bunch of stuff on my bed. You can see it if you look closely enough. I did that on purpose for two reasons: one, I had literally nowhere else to put it and two, it’s effective for making me do something with it right then and there and not put it off. I wanted to sleep in my own bed, dammit.
Then I had to push and pull the futon around the boxes in the kitchen and through the narrow hallway. I tried it on end and it got stuck in between the doorways, so then I had to push it back out, lower it and shove it through that way while trying not to destroy the woodwork or walls.
After I got it into place the futon went on the frame, the boxes behind the frame and on the bed when on the futon and I pushed it back against the wall. It is staying there until I get the loft frame built. Phew!
I kind of wish I had taken a timelapse video and set it to Yakety Sax because I would have been very entertained watching that 10 years from now.
Finally, downsizing into such a small space requires you to be neat. So neat. All. the. time.
Because you simply don’t have the space to walk around piles of shoes or a heap of clothing. I’m usually a clean, but messy person. I subscribe to the “messy piles” camp of organization. I can have a pile of papers and tell you exactly where everything is in the pile. (I’ve been this way for ages. Just ask my sister who had to share a room with me at one point or other members of my family. Mom, stop laughing at me!) I can’t say the same about putting paperwork in files and putting that in a file drawer.
Unfortunately for me, I don’t have room for the messy piles any more. Clothes now get tossed in the hamper, dishes get washed and put away immediately, books get put back on the shelf when I’m done with it, and my coat gets hung up next to the door instead of tossed over the back of my chair.
Let me stress that none of these things detailed above are particularly a bad thing. It is just such a change from what I’m used to that I’m struggling to adapt to this new way of life. I suspect this would be a lot easier if I wasn’t also stressed out about the debt, being a landlord, and trying to get a handle on all the stuff around the house that needs to be fixed or updated.
I have no doubt in time I will get a system worked out and adapt to this new way of life. Until then, I shall continue to skirt around boxes and rummage through them for something I could’ve sworn was in that box!
Readers, have you downsized? What did you struggle the most with?