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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Living in 10% of our space

House -> Apartment -> Extended Stay -> Boat

When we started this in 2007, one of the very first steps was moving from our house to an apartment. We went from 3000 sq feet to 1200 sq feet, 4 bedrooms, living room, dinning room, 2 baths, large kitchen with an island and breakfast nook, 2 car garage to 2 bedrooms 2 baths, living room, small kitchen, and a 1 car garage. This month we are moving out of the 1 car garage.

In this processes, we off loaded years of accumulations … paintings, cars, TVs, computers, toys, clothes, and more. What has been interesting is that since getting rid of stuff, there hasn’t been one single item that I’ve regretted not keeping. Sure, at first when I let go of I’m always wondering if it was the right choice, but a week later, I’ve forgotten I even had the item.

The next stage of our down sizing will be to move into an extended stay hotel. These are the hotels with all the furnishings provided. We won’t need the dinner table, or our couch, or desks, bookcases, and the like. We are whittling down our material possessions as I write this to accommodate living in such a place. They typically run in the 500 – 700 sq foot range. Our target move in will be in November. Everyday another item marches out of our life. Most turn into cash to help fund the trip.

The final stage, of course, is moving on the boat. The boats we are looking at tend to be in the 35 – 38 foot range, and have a beam of between 12 and 20 feet. Assuming you could use all of the boat area, and you really can’t, and ignoring the fact that a boat isn’t perfectly square, you have square footage of 420 – 760. Adjusting for the curves of a boat, we expect to find ourselves living in 300-600 of sq foot space.

3000 to potentially 300. 10%! 3 years ago, if someone had challenged my family to move into 10% of the space we had, I would have said they were crazy. Now that we are halfway through the process, I can quite easily see how it is done. Consider an RV. The larger ones are around 38 feet, and run 8 or so feet wide. That gives you 304 sq feet. Can you live in an RV? Sure, there are many family’s traveling the USA full time doing this. The trick is space utilization. RVs maximize they space they have and so do long distance voyaging boats, the type we are buying.

Why would anyone want to live in less space? It isn’t that we want to. However, we are trading off a land locked life with a fixed back yard to one of an ever-changing landscape. We are willing to live in the small space for the opportunity to see the world!

The need to live in a larger space, as we have learned, is driven by consumerism. Consumerism drives us to acquire more stuff, so we need more space to put those things in. We are no longer in the currents of consumerism; we are now in the currents of nomads. Nomads pack light, not acquiring stuff, but acquiring memories.

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