Just a few weeks ago, my husband Will and I moved to New York City. Though we live relatively simply and our twin house in Philadelphia was not huge (about 1700 square feet), we had to downsize even more in order to move into our two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
There’s nothing like moving to make you painfully aware of what possessions you actually own. It’s incredibly easy to have forgotten things shoved into closet corners or at the bottom kitchen drawers. Though we live as minimalists, we still found some random things that we thought we had gotten rid of long ago!
Anyone who has moved knows that there’s a point of the moving process in which you just want to set fire to everything and start over (a terrible thought, honestly, since I have friends who have actually lost everything in a fire).
But once the downsizing process is done, let me tell you–it is so worth it. Now that we are moved in and settled, it is so freeing to have downsized. Here are some benefits of downsizing that we’ve already experienced in just a few weeks:
Less stuff to keep track of
Because we donated and got rid of even more of our possessions before the big move (including some furniture!), we have a lot less stuff in our new apartment. This means that we are much less likely to have forgotten things in corners or drawers that aren’t actually used.
Having fewer possessions means that we don’t have to use valuable brainpower to remember where things are– we can just open a drawer or closet and see everything we have in there right away. This sounds like a small adjustment, but it can make a huge difference in our lives. My stress level is so much lower because I can access everything I need in our apartment quickly and easily.
Downsizing and having fewer possessions also means less clutter. Because our New York apartment is much smaller, we have to put things away as soon as we are done with them so that we can continue to use the space to live. So owning fewer possessions and having to deliberately put things away quickly turns into less clutter as a whole.
In living with less clutter, I quickly discovered how clutter takes up not only physical space, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual space. It’s a relief to come home every day to a non-cluttered apartment. We can live our lives free of encroaching clutter in our houses, minds, and hearts.
Living in a New York City apartment also means that we have to be even more intentional with what we buy and bring into our living space. We were already living as Christian minimalists, but in Manhattan, minimalist living is taken to a whole different level. Having less physical space means that if we bring something else in, we have to take something out. Period.
Less time and energy cleaning
I hate cleaning. I’ve always hated cleaning. I love having a clean place, but the act of cleaning makes me want to rip my hair out. I’d rather get a root canal than clean my house.
When we lived in previous houses, I really had to gear myself up for cleaning by listening to podcasts or fun music– otherwise, I would just get angrier as I cleaned because I wished I was doing literally anything else.
Though we’ve only been here a few weeks so far, we have already seen the benefits of having less space to clean. I still don’t like cleaning. But because cleaning our apartment takes so much less time and energy than it previously did, I don’t dread it like I used to. I know that we can clean the apartment in less than an hour, and that’s enough to change my attitude towards cleaning our living space.
More time, energy, and resources for what’s most important
Perhaps the best thing we’ve experienced from downsizing is that we have more time, energy, and resources for what’s most important:
Less time and energy cleaning means more time and energy for quality time with each other and with friends and loved ones.
Less time spent shopping and spending money on unneeded things means more time and money for experiences and passion projects.
And less time, energy, and resources spent in upkeeping possessions means more time, energy, and resources to spend with God and in generosity.
[Jesus said:] Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
When we put God first in our lives, we are better able to trust God. We are also more able to be generous and help those who are in need.
We need so much less than we think we do. How is God calling you to simplify and live more intentionally with your time, energy, and resources?
Did you like this post? Check out the Christian Minimalism book!