This post is part of a series on 8 ways moving helps the pursuit of a simple life. Click here to learn more.
A lot of people who are in the moving process aren’t traveling that far, but for those of you who are looking to go to a new state or country, the environment you move to is likely quite different from the one you left. And that change might give you the opportunity to minimize further based on the environment around your new home.
First, consider the physical environment you’re headed for. Before you leave, take a good look at the climate where you’re going—average temperatures, weather, and surrounding environs. I’ve written before that people naturally require more possessions if they live somewhere with four distinct seasons or enjoy gear-heavy hobbies. By doing your research beforehand, you may be able to offload some of those things in advance simply because they aren’t compatible with the new location. For example, you may find that you needn’t bother hauling some of your winter stuff to the South, mountaineering gear to Illinois or Florida, or suede shoes to Seattle or London. (Trust me on that last one.)
Even if you plan to travel in order to keep up with an old hobby, consider renting equipment in the relevant locale. Wouldn’t it be easier to rent a pair of skis instead of dragging around that heavy box and paying oversized luggage fees? And wouldn’t it be nice to have the extra space in your garage, rather than gingerly tiptoeing around your surfboard (when you live in Ohio) or your brewing equipment (when you live in Salt Lake City)?
But when researching your new home, don’t just look at the geography.
You should also think about the social environment at your destination. If you have family and friends in your new home, like we do, you may not need to pack all your single-use kitchen gadgets, lots of guest linens, a card table, lawn equipment, etc. Use this opportunity to reintroduce the values of sharing and community to your social circle, and borrow (and lend) specialty items as needed. Why keep a huge roasting pan in the cupboard when you only use it at Thanksgiving and your brother already has one he can lend you? (After all, I assume you’ve invited him.)
You may also find that some of the surrounding circumstances or popular local hobbies in your new hometown give you the opportunity to practice simplicity. Ultra-urban environments like NYC discourage the personal use of a car, so take the opportunity to slow down your pace (and decrease your carbon footprint) by walking to your destinations more often. Take up surfing in Georgia or hiking in Denver to spend time with nature and improve your health. Get involved in the locavore movement on the West Coast and refocus your diet around fresh, sustainably produced slow food. Choosing local lifestyle elements that encourage and reinforce your minimalist ideals and integrate you into the larger community—that’s a pretty good deal.
Finally, consider the financial environment in your new home. It’s just more expensive to live in some places, such as California and New England—not only for housing, but for food, entertainment, education, and services, too. In addition, there’s currently a trend toward moving back into cities. In case you’ve never watched House Hunters, I have bad news: your money doesn’t go nearly as far downtown as it does in the suburbs. The good news is that a minimalist lifestyle encourages forgoing material things in order to better take advantage of the food, entertainment, education, and services.
So, if you’re moving somewhere with a higher cost of living, embrace the challenges. Consider going down to one car—or none—if you’re in an environment that allows for that change. Get a small, affordable place and cull your possessions in order to live comfortably within the space confinements, rather than spending more for what’s essentially a big ol’ storage unit and not being able to afford to go out and live the lifestyle you always dreamed of. I don’t know about you, but season tickets to your favorite team seem like more fun than an extra bedroom to me. Basically, it comes down to this:
Live simply in your new home, so you can live passionately in your new hometown.
Part 6 comes out on Tuesday!
P.S. Hi guys! I appreciate your patience with my rather, um, flexible schedule in writing this series. There’s a lot going on right now, especially since it may turn out that our moving destination changes dramatically. I can’t tell you much about that right now, but it’s an exciting possibility and I’ll keep you updated. In the meantime, we’ve officially booked a trailer, sold off most of the furniture that we aren’t keeping, and are excitedly counting down!