How to Downsize
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June 2016 I went from a two bedroom apartment to a living space less than the size of queen size bed. Soooo, I really had to downsize. Since I started traveling OT I really detested having a lot of “things” simply for the fact that I hate packing/unpacking, which is one of the many reasons I decided to live in a van . Anyway, I was quite surprised when I realized how much stuff I actually had. The great purge-of-crap commenced May 2016. Here are some tips and things I learned to make downsizing a little easier.
The year and a half I lived in LA I had acquired a bed, dresser night stand and dining room table. I obviously couldn’t take these items with me in the van so it was my intention to sell them. My first strategy was word of mouth, I told my friends and coworkers that I was selling some furniture. This was successful for selling my bed but no other bites on any of the other pieces. My friend told me about the app 5 miles, which lead me to another great site/app offer up and the go-to craigslist.com. I sold big pieces of furniture on all three sites so I am glad I kept my options open. Everyone paid me a reasonable price and picked up the furniture without me having to deliver- a big plus for me.
After emptying my closet I realized I had more clothes than I thought. There were some rules that I came up with that helped me decide whether to keep or toss items. Have I worn it in the past year?Is there damage? How many of this type of clothing do I have? vs. How many do I NEED? Which ones do I like better? For work clothes I decided on three pairs of pants and 5 shirts. For the rest of my clothes I didn’t really have a number, so I prioritized. Priority one was work clothes, then hiking/athletic clothes, casual (pajama) clothes, and lastly nice/going out clothes.
As far as shoes, I have never been a big shoe person. Shoes take up a significant amount of room and they are difficult to squeeze into places compared to other clothing. I currently have 8 pairs and I feel like that’s too much for the van.
Any brand name clothing or nice lightly worn shoes I tried to sell on offer up or 5miles and I was successful with probably 50% of clothing items I tried to sell, the rest I just donated. As I mentioned in 5 things that happen when you live in a van , there are many things you realize you don’t need. I recently just went through my clothing and got rid of another bag of clothes that I haven’t worn in a year.
Side note: If you are a travel therapist these are the best scrub pants to have. They are super comfortable and in black they look like regular pants. I wore these during a hospital rotation as well as an outpatient rotation where scrubs were “not permitted”, no one even noticed. Check em out!
Odds and Ends
Traveling around as an OT lead me to collect little trinkets and such from different places I traveled. I decided to not get rid of most of these, since I am able to store some stuff at my permanent residence. I mailed about two boxes of trinkets home and found a place for the things I really like. Items that I deem important may seem unimportant to you, so you just have to decide what you want to keep. For example, there is an artist in LA, Mark Brunner, who I came across at a flea market and I just loved all of his paintings. So I found a space for one in my van. It’s small, but I am glad I kept it. Little things like that make Vanny feel even more homie.
Minimalism is very trendy right now and having to downsize is a big part of this lifestyle. Minimalism has become very popular recently, but why? For me this whole journey simply started with the motivation of having more money to pay off my student loan debt, but living more minimally has been an experience that is much more than that. Have you ever spoken to someone who is a “minimalist”? I noticed that they smile more, are more engaged with your conversation and just seem more content overall. Owning less stuff means less stuff owns you. Having less is such a simple change but it yields so many amazing things including less stress and an overall feeling of control in your life.
Are you interested in living a more minimal lifestyle but perhaps living in a van seems a little extreme ;)? I suggest starting by downsizing your belongings and take a break from adding to your collection of “things”. Getting rid of clothing, furniture and trinkets is an easy place to start. At first it feels kind of stressful but giving away feels good, plus getting some extra cash in your pocket feels good as well. It’s not easy but it’s not terribly hard either. I still feel like I have too much stuff, so it’s a continual work in progress for me.
Not quite ready to get rid of stuff? Try Project 333 and be more with less.
Or try this declutter 30 day challenge!
Do you have too much stuff? How do you declutter/downsize?