I’ve moved cross country three times.
Each time it’s gotten easier.
When I talk about moving, people often say, “wow, that must be really stressful.”
Not really. At this point it’s an adventure. I’m excited about where I’m going, and the life I’ll have there.
It isn’t stressful is because I have a system.
I’ve been using this system since I graduated college, but only recently discovered a name for it – lifestyle minimalism.
What Is Minimalism
Minimalism is the idea that experiences are more important that stuff.
To practice minimalism simply ask the question of all your possessions – do I really need this?
Moving is the ideal time to begin practicing minimalism because you’re already going to have to go through your possession to pack them. Each item you keep comes with an cost in packing space and transportation.
Some minimalists actually downsize by packing for a pretend move, just to figure out what they don’t need.
Sell As Much As Possible
If you know you’re going to move, get online and start selling anything you know you can’t buy there and don’t have a personal attachment to or real need for.
If you live in a college town, this is relatively easy. People are always moving and need of new stuff. Furniture, kitchen supplies, lamps, old clothes – easy to sell.
Just get it down to what you actually use.
Keyword: you. My physical life needs beyond food and shelter are books, clothes, computer/film stuff, and kitchen stuff. What you need may be different.
Books used to be the biggest item. I’ve got boxes and boxes of books. Dozens new each year. Since I switched to kindle, I’ve compressed that down to one item. If I was to move again, I could pack even less.
Be Honest About What You Need
You’ll also notice there’s a juicer in the back of my car. Is that an necessity? No, of course not. But I like having it.
You probably have a few items like that aren’t necessities, but you use regular. That’s okay. The point of doing this process is to get rid of things that aren’t serving you. If you’re using something regularly and it makes you happy, keep it.
The items you don’t need, you turn into something far more useful – cash.
That leads to the second part of this process:
Buy What You Need When You Get There
If you’ve done a good job selling, you can actually buy everything you need in your new location without losing much money – and even make money in some cases.
Rather then paying movers, renting a truck, and creating a headache, just sell your furniture and get what you need when you get there.
Now admittedly – I don’t have expensive tastes. I’m also a bachelor. Adjust this advice to your situation. But odds are, the question “do I really use this?” will reveal something you can let go of.
As a rule of thumb – if you haven’t used it in a year, you probably won’t. And yes – having too much stuff is a first-world high quality problem.
Minimalism to Vagabonding
I first heard about this idea of selling all you don’t need and buying what you need when you get there from the book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts.
Vagabonding describes the art of traveling the world with little more then a backpack. I’m not sure I’ll ever be down to a single bag (though friends of mine are, by choice), but every move I make, I pack less.
The point of the minimalist philosophy isn’t the amount of possessions you have. It’s to live a life free of clutter and with only on what adds value to your life.
This philosophy can extend to other areas of life. For documentary work, I have all my gear down to one bag. That means, when I have a shoot, I don’t have to think, “do I have it all?” I grab my backpack and go.
If you get nothing else from this, just know that moving doesn’t have to be a headache. It can an adventure. Just let go of everything that isn’t serving you.
Read More: Kevin Bortolin’s Zen Stories & Teaching