Why is it that in western society, our biggest hurdle is stuff? And probably more so in the US than anywhere on earth?

We’re a nation of spenders, having to buy something for just about everything we do. Head to a kitchen store and you’ll find a gadget for anything you can think of (any many things you have no idea what they are.) Want to start a new sport … biking, for instance? You can’t just buy a bike, you have to buy the bike, a bike rack for your car, the latest clothes, special shoes.

We buy bigger houses to have more room for our stuff. We even rent self storage units when our “stuff” becomes bigger than our homes!

The US self storage industry has over 52,500 storage facilities in the US, and has enough space for every man, woman and child across the nation to have 21 square feet of storage. One in 10 households has a storage unit.

We didn’t want to be a part of those statistics, so we started making a change a couple of years ago when we sold our home.

At that time, we downsized from a 3300 square foot home to a 1200 square foot apartment with a one car garage. Our intention was to have a storage unit as well, but at the last minute we decided against it, and moved everything into the garage. If it didn’t fit, it was out – that was our theory.

Our Biggest Hurdle To Gap Year … Stuff

It worked, and everything fit. We kept downsizing with a new goal – to get one of our cars into the garage too. And or course, after the first couple of snowstorms, we reduced enough and the car fit. Barely.

With boxes piled to the ceiling on one side, the car had to be driven in at the perfect angle to avoid the boxes, yet have enough room for the door to open. It worked – why change success?

Until we decided to go on our Gap Year. When we finalized our decision, and decided to live in one new location for a year instead of hopping around to many different locations, we chatted about either storing all of our stuff, or bringing some of it with us. We decided on bringing it after researching furnished homes and not really finding what we wanted for that long of a period.

Yet we still knew we wanted to get rid of more stuff.

So the downsizing began once again.

And we did a pretty good job … yet that truck was filled to the brim! How could we still have so much stuff?

Moving day. We’ve downsized once again. Our space is still about 1200 square feet, but we lost the garage. Which means our storage room has decreased considerably.

So for the moment, we’re living with boxes in the bedroom, boxes in the living room. I’m going through them one at a time, with most of it either being donated or thrown away. If it doesn’t fit, it’s out of here. And lets face it, if it sat in our home in a box for years, then moved to an apartment in a garage for a couple of years, and now to our new location, do we really need it?

The funny thing is the more I reduce, the more I want to reduce. I’m giving away even more than I anticipated, and I will probably keep doing it for the foreseeable future. After all, one year is going to go by very quickly, and then we may be off again. And if so, we may store our stuff, or bring it along once again. (Who knows at this point!)

Yet I do know how good I feel to be without stuff. The stuff that’s left, I enjoy. I use. I appreciate. I can live with that.