Don’t get me wrong, apartment hunting in a foreign country was an exciting experience—in fact, it’s something we’d always fantasized about on our travels. Unfortunately, however, it marked the end of our blissfully minimalist, hotel life.
It had been my long-time dream to live in hotels, with nothing more than a single suitcase; and I was fortunate enough to realize it, for six weeks, while we moved from the US to the UK (see My Minimalist Story, Part 3: My Life in a Duffel Bag).
For minimalists with deep pockets, it’s a great way to live. But for those of us with more limited budgets, it can’t go on forever. The weekly rate at our last hotel was just shy of what we’d pay for a month’s rent in an apartment.
Our challenge then, was to continue living as minimally as possible in a place of our own.
First, we had to decide whether to look for a furnished or unfurnished flat. We were surprised to find that furnished flats are more prevalent than unfurnished ones here in the UK (the opposite of our experience in the US). The concept was tempting: we’d have all the stuff we’d need, without actually having to own it.
The problem: our minimalist aesthetics. Most of the apartments seemed over-furnished, with more chairs, dressers, tables, etc. than we’d ever really need (or want). While such a life might technically be minimalist, it certainly wouldn’t look (or feel) that way.
Plus, we wanted to explore living life with just the bare minimum. Starting with an empty slate seemed necessary to truly determine the essentials.
So the day our lease started, we moved our duffel bags into our empty flat—and promptly realized we were going to need some of those things we’d taken for granted in the hotels! We made an emergency trip to Tesco (the UK equivalent of a Target or Walmart), and came back with towels, pillows, sheets, and a kettle—the very first possessions of our new life.
That night, we once again slept on the floor, just as we had the night before our closing. But this time, we were at the end of the ultra-minimalist part of our journey. From here on out, we’d be acquiring rather than purging, buying rather than selling, getting rather than giving. I dreaded the idea of having to re-purchase so many of the things we’d just gotten rid of.
At the same time, however, I was thrilled to have been given a “do-over.” I regarded this new beginning as a chance to determine, and acquire, only those things that met our needs—and nothing more. Finally, I had the opportunity to discover that elusive point of just enough.