Reducing to Island Size

 I’m reluctant to blog too much about this island wonderland we are moving to – some see it as bragging and I don’t want anyone to feel that we are rubbing it in (much!!) I have however been asked by multiple people how we manage to move around so freely uprooting our lives at will – trust me, not as easy as it may seem but also not as difficult as people think either.  It’s not like we planned to turn into nomads but military backgrounds help – we were used to being shoved around the countryside like chess pieces from our younger years in uniform, but back then all our worldly possessions fitted into one room on a RAAF Base..which was a lot of fun when young and free and meant it was incredibly easy to pack up and leave – especially when the military footed the bill for you and then stuck you on a plane or bus to your next destination!

That is the key to the whole thing of course, minimising what you have to lug around with you – things changed dramatically when we returned from a very exciting year in Canada to settle into our own house in Brisbane.  Acreage and a pole home with an entire under house storage area turned us (almost) into hoarders – more space you have the more you fill it apparently. By the time we had to shift into a little defence home in the sunny town of Sale we were drowning in stuff.. house, shed, garden, pool, dog, kids, grown up people’s things… you name it.  So we had the garage sale to end all garage sales and still filled a four bedroom house with the garage so overflowing the cars were in our driveway…

There are plenty of others out there talking about how to downsize, minimise, do less with more etc etc I’m not really qualified – but I can talk about our journey and how it really isn’t a one off job, it’s an entire mind shift that can take years.  In a way our trip around Australia is where it started, there is nothing like having to pay for storage of all that stuff to motivate you to minimise – we thought we had minimised anyway, in reality it was a tiny start.  It did dramatically show us how you can live indefinitely in a tiny space with very few belongings, even if it’s only on holidays and camping, it was a great lesson.It has literally taken years to get where we are now, owning about 30% of what we had in Brisbane – multiple garage sales, giving away things through pay it forward pages, selling items on gum tree and slowly, slowly having less and less and moving into progressively smaller houses which sort of forces the issue. The last bastion has been personal items – easy to get rid of furniture, toys (well if you aren’t seven but the little people are slowly getting on board with this business) but when you are talking treasured magazines, photo albums, knick knacks, CD’s, collectibles… it gets harder.  Then you get to ask the difficult questions…

  • why am I hanging onto it?
  •  Is it really treasured or just an unnecessary reminder of something or someone you would never forget anyway?
  • Can I scan these photos, keep the digital image or just get rid of some of the hoard without missing them?
  • Do I love this thing or do I need it?

The more you answer those hard questions though and the more you put aside, the easier it gets – it’s like an addiction, you walk around the house looking for the next thing you can remove and everyone else in the family starts aggressively defending their possessions because if it’s not tied down it’s likely to go! It’s a feeling like nothing else though, knowing you don’t have drawers of stuff or cupboards overflowing – even if you open a door you see space and air and it’s freeing.

I know now when we move to that little place on Straddie (not talking myself up too much as we are building an extension out the back – but we even downsized that from the original plans!) that the pain of packing and unpacking will be minimal and we don’t need to allow for a tonne of storage space. The other bonus is it will be near on impossible for us to increase our belongings again, we just won’t have anywhere to put it and we will be living far from main stream shopping centres and temptation to buy.

So that’s part of the secret to a mobile life, don’t have things…. collect experiences instead and that’s what we are (still) working on….

Try it – you might like it 🙂

Michelle