After living in a hotel for a month, we found a gorgeous flat on the docklands with the most amazing view of the dock. We walked through the door with my large suitcase and James’ considerably smaller selection of stuff. We went out and got the basics – beddings, towels, groceries and cleaning stuff. We spent about £200 in total for the minimum range of things we needed to live comfortably in our new place.
More bags arrived from our respective old homes a few days later. I had a car boot of stuff, which I very quickly sorted through and donated most of (I’m still not quite sure why I brought so much to the flat in the first place). We went through James’ box of kitchen stuff and weeded out things that were very unlikely to be used (we didn’t need eight mugs between the two of us). We kept two bowls, two large plates, two small plates, three glasses, four mugs and two of each cutlery. We kept four mugs so that we could provide drinks to guests, and a extra glass for when James’ brother stays over.
After a couple of days of unpacking, we were quite surprised that most of the storage space in the flat were taken up by our stuff. Weren’t we being minimalists? Didn’t we only buy what we needed? Didn’t we just donate a whole load of our stuff? The wardrobes and kitchen cupboards were by no means full to the brim, but there certainly were no empty drawers or shelves. We knew we had to get serious if we wanted to live with our needs rather than wants.
First thing to crack down on was the mounting pile of paperwork we both had. I own a super handy scanner called scansnap by Fujitsu, which is very compact but can scan double sided items very quickly. We both scanned and recycled those documents that we wanted to keep record of, but knew we didn’t need to keep the physical paper for any official reasons (such as utility bills and old university correspondence). What paperwork we did keep were much better organised in files so that it was easier to keep on top of.
Since moving in, I’ve been working on streamlining my clothes. Those that piled have been thrown away, and those that doesn’t fit right or doesn’t make me feel good have been donated. Unfortunately, I still have three times as much clothes as James has, which is quite depressing I can assure you! I am hampered by the fact that I get cold easily. I need special thick winter coats and snug jumpers to keep me warm through the long cold winter seasons, whereas James lives in T-shirts and jeans all year round.
We have now moved all our things (except for kitchen stuff) out of the wardrobes and into crates. This is so that we can get a good overview of exactly how much stuff we have altogether. We have nine crates between us, although the actual score is two crates to James, two that we share and FIVE to me. I clearly have a long way to go yet… We have just bought two 71 litre cases and we are hoping that by the time we move to Edinburgh in January 2012, everything can fit into them.
So why minimalism? Why were we yearning for it so much? In a word, liberation. We are both driven by change and rising to new challenges. We both instinctively knew that our possessions were nesting us into a situation which would never allow us the freedom to move or travel. That gave us the drive to reduce our stuff. For us, the minimalism part is about managing what we now have so that we can keep the freedom we’re working towards. Whatever motivations you have for being minimalist, we hope our experiences can make your journey a little easier, as those of others have done for us.