Editor’s Note: This is a post in the new series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.
I started following Be More with Less and became friends with Courtney (though we’ve never met) soon after she started the blog. In 2010, I gladly shared with her and her readers the simplicity I found when I moved to a small island off the coast of Honduras, Central America. A lot has changed since then, but my quest to continue to live a full and uncluttered life was challenged when I moved back to my hometown in Ontario, Canada—typical North American city, after living five years on the island of Roatan—laid back, nary a shopping mall to be found way-of-life, I feared I would fall back into a “consumerism lifestyle”.
After all, I couldn’t just string a hammock between two palm trees and call it my bedroom; I had no housewares: dishes, pots, pans, cutlery, linens or furniture—not even a broom to sweep a floor with; my wardrobe needed to include more than: two pairs of flip-flops, shorts, t-shirts and a bathing suit—it snows here. I could stay with family and/or friends for a while, but now that I’m not just visiting (on vacation from a tropical island—I know… pretty sure you’re shaking your head in disbelief that I moved away from that) I had to find a place to call home.
There they stood, oversized, look—don’t walk on the grass—perfectly landscaped, in a neat row, double driveway, concrete curbed subdivisions; not in my budget, besides, not my idea of home. Condo—a box in the air; at least there’s a balcony, wouldn’t even look at the units that didn’t have one. Ah, no! Walk in closets (I don’t own enough stuff to fill one), granite counter tops—who cares, laminate or hardwood floors—too cold in the winter here, air-conditioning—doesn’t get warm enough here (even during a heat-wave) for that.
I was feeling rather discouraged, and then—I found home. A trailer, actually, a Park Model mobile home, in a RV Park on the edge of the city. Now, you’re saying to yourself, she’s really gone off the deep end!
It couldn’t be more perfect for me—I’m in a community of every day is a holiday way of living with like-minded, fellow campers. The place I bought (cost less than a new car, even an economy car) has more than enough room for me, even a spare bedroom, a big front porch and a yard that I allow walking on the grass, a flower garden—hummingbirds and butterflies visit regularly given my proximity to a Conservation Area.
Inside, each room is clean and comfortable, decorated with simple things that mean something to me or bring a smile to my face when I look at them; I don’t have to worry about spending money on the latest trends or “must have to keep up with the Jones’” objects-de-art—it’s a trailer, come on, that would just be silly. The closest I come to objects with monetary value is the set of fine china my aunt contributed when she heard I didn’t have any dishes; she had them packed away for the past 20 years after inheriting them from her mother (my grandma), who had them packed away for 20 years prior to that after inheriting them from her mother (my great-grandma.) I use the dishes every day as my everyday dishes—adds a certain touch of elegance to the, in perfect condition, all-wood table and chairs I got at a yard sale for real cheap.
My living expenses are very low; no mortgage, no property taxes, and all those other things that come with owning a home on credit. I’m within my budget, without having to resort to devoting all my time to a high pressured job. I have time to write and enjoy my surroundings and I am relieved to know I can avoid a “consumerism lifestyle” now that I’ve returned to Canada— where the real estate newspapers and the stack of flyers that jam up my mailbox each day clearly state: I must buy more if I truly want to be happy.
P.S. The winners of the happiness book giveaway are Kathy & Sarah P. Thanks to everyone for sharing what makes you happy.