How to downsize your life to live a digital nomad lifestyle » The Daily Remote

How to downsize your life to live a digital nomad lifestyle

6 min read

Remember WHY you downsize

Before you can live a location independent lifestyle, you have to downsize your life.

When we made the decision to live in an RV and travel the United States, we knew what that would mean. Overall, we were choosing to live more simply and focus on experiences and people over things.

But before we could make it happen, we had some serious downsizing to do. My partner had household items she brought when she moved in with me, and I had accumulated my own when I first bought my apartment.

Together, we had enough stuff that filled an 800 square foot apartment as well as a garage I rented for the complex for ADDITIONAL storage.

Not only were we paying over $1,000 in rent for the apartment, we were paying for a garage to store more stuff we only occasionally used!

Enough was enough.

Change begins in your MIND

Before you can start downsizing and preparing yourself for a nomadic lifestyle, you have to reset your priorities.

This starts by changing your relationship with your STUFF. Prioritize these instead (in no particular order):

  • People
  • Experiences
  • Health
  • True wealth
  • Freedom
  • Simple living

As you start to make decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of, you are going to have moments where you second guess everything. This is completely normal.

I can tell you from experience that my partner and I had moments where we felt like we were crazy for getting rid of things like our furniture, kitchen appliances, and stuff you would normally require if you were living in a house or apartment.

What got us through this emotional process was remembering WHY we were doing this in the first place.

Start small

When you are just beginning to downsize, it’s helpful to start small.

Clothes

Your closet is probably the easiest place to start. You can easily go through your clothes and determine what doesn’t fit anymore, what you haven’t worn in awhile, or what you simply don’t like anymore.

Don’t keep anything you might fit into one day! You’ve probably had that article of clothing for awhile. If you can’t fit into now get rid of it! You can always get that new pair of jeans that fits just right later.

Try to keep clothes that are multi-functional (can be worn for dress or casual), and remove duplicates you may have.

Kitchen

In the kitchen, you likely have doubles of a few things. You only need 1 pan and 1 pot. For dishes and silverware, only get enough for your family. If you have guests over, you can purchase plasticware from the grocery store.

Bathroom

When I was living in the apartment, I had extra towels, shampoo, and other toiletries everywhere. You can probably downsize the bathroom fairly quickly if you have the right mindset.

You only need 1 of everything!

This goes for cleaning supplies too. Try to use multi-surface cleaners for everything except the toilet. Remember, that if you get rid of it before you start living tiny, you can always go to the store to get what you need!

How to decide what to get rid of and what to keep

This will likely be the hardest part of your downsizing journey. At least it was for us. There may be some things you simply cannot part with such as items that contain memories. This could be:

  • Photos
  • Souvenirs
  • Family heirlooms
  • Anything that holds sentimental value

You are going to have to ask yourself some tough questions: When did I last use this? What did I need it for? When would I need it again?

Be very critical and objective of yourself.

Remember that the items you have only have meaning attached to them based on the EXPERIENCE you had and aren’t intrinsically stored in the item itself.

How to downsize

When you have successfully separated and decided what stays and what goes, it’s time to do the work!

For most things, we gave donated to Goodwill. You can also do this with your local church or charity. For bigger items like our living room furniture, we tried to sold it on Craigslist. You can also sell items on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or do a garage sale.

Consider letting your family and friends in on the deal! Chances are someone you know is looking for exactly what you are giving away or selling.

For everything else that you cannot sell or giveaway, throw it away!

If you absolutely MUST store something, I do not recommend purchasing a storage unit. My partner and I toyed with this idea but we finally came to the conclusion that we would be paying monthly payments for things that are just sitting in a unit while we would be on the road potentially for YEARS.

Ultimately, it just didn’t make sense to us. But, there were items we wanted to store. We ended up relying on the generosity of our parents and we kept the items we stored to a minimum.

Remember that this is a lifestyle, not a one-time chore

You will continue you buy things as you need them, but remember the difference between needing and wanting.

As you buy new things, make it a habit to audit what you have and see if there is anything you can downsize to keep your possessions to a minimum. This is out of necessity more than anything but is good practice.

Always remember why you chose this lifestyle in the first place! You re-prioritized to focus on the people, experiences, health, true wealth, freedom, and simple living that this lifestyle offers.

Two types of liberty

In philosophy, there are two types of liberty mentioned according to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one’s life and realize one’s fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities.”

Essentially, positive liberty is the freedom to do something, whereas negative liberty is freedom from something.

When you are downsizing to opt for a life of full-time travel, you must go through the exercises of negative liberty in order to achieve positive liberty. You are freeing yourself of your possessions, old mindsets, and things generally keeping you from having the freedom to live, work, and travel anywhere in the world.

As a resource, I recommend checking out The Minimalists.

Leave a comment below and tell me what you think prevents you from pursuing a location independent lifestyle.

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