How an international move affected my minimalistic lifestyle.
Moving to Sweden last October brought a ton of changes. I have the opportunity to travel within Europe easily, I am learning a new language, and have become a more humble person (being wrong about everything from pronunciation to cultural customs to basic laws is quite humbling). But moving abroad has really impacted my minimalistic lifestyle. Here’s how:
- I have so. much. less. stuff. now. While Nick and I were packing up all of our belongings in Bend, OR, USA, we really had to ask ourselves if X was worth bringing, and if we couldn’t bring both X and Y, which was more important to us. Basically, we KonMaried the sh!t out of our belongings. I now have just 20 shirts – including work blouses, around-the-house t-shirts, and seasonal tank tops. This doesn’t include my seven workout tops (one for each day of the week) and five bottoms (running shorts and yoga pants). I also have four sweaters, three pairs of slacks, four skirts, three jeans, and five dresses. Then jackets (8), blazers (2), and shoes (10). And it honestly, doesn’t look or feel like much. But I love each piece in my closet and feel great and comfortable in them. Packing all of my clothing into just one or two suitcases really forced me to re-evaluate my belongings and swim in the deeper end of minimalism.
- No duplicates. Over our lifetimes, and since moving in together, Nick and I found that we had a ton of duplicate items. Especially in the kitchen. While it was convenient to have four spatchulas and three wooden spoons, was it worth the cost of shipping to Europe? This has been a great test in learning to live with less and we have redefined our threshold for comfort.
- Small budget. The cost of living is so different in the EU. Healthcare, retirement, education, unemployment, childrearing…it is covered way more here than it is in the US. Even a cell phone is way cheaper (think $20 a month). But as you have to pay less to live here, you earn less. We’ve found the salaries in our fields to be about half of what you earn for a similar position in the US, but the bonus and raise structure is also lesser. As Nick and I have student loans and need to save heavily for a retirement if we settle long-term in the US, we’ve been really conscious with our money spending. For us, clothing and household goods and furniture were the best places to cut back, and are embracing the needed minimalism our situation has imposed on us.
While I have been dabbling in a minimalistic lifestyle for some years now, moving internationally really pushed me. It has been a fun and rewarding challenge, and as I look to maintain a mobile life over the coming years, I am excited to see where minimalism can take me.
Would you ever try living with less than 50 items in your closet? Let us know below.