Real Life Minimalists: Alisa Moore

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details. (Note: the schedule is now full through mid-December — but if you don’t mind waiting, feel free to send me your submission!)

Today, it’s my pleasure to present Alisa Moore’s story. I think her minimalist lifestyle on Bainbridge Island sounds wonderful, and I hope you find it as inspiring as I do!

Alisa writes:


Alisa Moore

I come from a family of minimalists, so it’s not surprising that I feel best living in a small space, owning few possessions, no major electronics, and working from home most of the time, allowing me time to garden, read, hang out with my teenager and his friends, sew, cook, and just think!

After 24 hectic years in the San Francisco Bay Area, I returned to my childhood home, Bainbridge Island, where I lived aboard a 34’ sailboat with my parents and my brother in the early 70’s. After living here for 4 years, my parents divorced in 1972, and I followed my dad, his new wife, her three kids, and Lhasa Apsho to a huge house in Omaha, Nebraska. We lived in an affluent neighborhood (for the schools) and lived your typical American family life, which nearly killed my dad and step-mom with resentment and frustration. Flash forward 12 more years….I’m driving across the country on college graduation day, to move onto a historic wooden sailboat in Sausalito, neighboring my parents’ new 50’ sailboat. One by one, we kids all followed them to the Bay Area.

When you live on a sailboat, you shop for fresh food daily, you store very little food or other belongings (they’ll all mold anyway!), and your world becomes nature, visiting with your neighbors, and observing the subtle and ever-changing landscape of your surroundings. You enjoy the sounds of the blue herons splashing in the water as they dive for fish, watching ducks and seals bobbing by, and following the moon as it sinks over the horizon from the cockpit each night. Soon however, I moved to the city and got caught up in home-ownership, car payments and the rest of mainstream consumer culture.

About 5 years ago, I made the decision to return to Bainbridge Island. I had grown weary of the traffic, the competition for survival, the high cost of housing, and while I worked full time at the Oakland Unified School District, my son was being harassed each afternoon following school. I honestly didn’t know if he’d make it home from school each day, while I was stuck in an office earning enough money to pay our huge mortgage and shop mostly for recreational purposes on the weekends.

My son and I now live in a tiny, beautifully gardened, trailer park, which I dubbed, “The Artist Colony”. I spend a lot of time sitting on my cozy front porch, visiting with our neighbors, and tending to my potted peppers, peas, eggplant, tomatoes and abundant flowers. Because we live one block from town, and just a few blocks from the Seattle Ferry, my son is free to come and go with his friends, as I did as a child. It’s a sweet life for this social worker, artist, gardener, mom, writer, and dreamer. Although I still work full time, I work mostly from home, and set my own hours, so I’m free when he needs me or just wants to talk.

I’ve chosen recently to eat a mostly raw and vegan diet, further simplifying our lives. My son walks to school, he has abandoned the mall in favor of fishing and exploring the local beaches and woods, and I get my weekly veggies from a local CSA ( I get most of my books from our excellent library. I’m developing my own business ( I belong to a close-knit Buddhist group, and most of my social activities are centered around spirituality or sharing meals with friends and loved ones.

Even if I live in a city again, I don’t think I’ll ever own a large house again, and I’d be hard pressed to buy much “new”…I love finding clothing and household bargains at the Ballard Goodwill store (and the myriad of other consignment, discount, and used stores around the Puget Sound). I consider this minimalist living to be a great adventure, and the more independent I am from consumer culture, the freer I feel. Next, we’re turning off the cable and consolidating the cell phones…

Alisa's summer porch

Alisa's front porch

{If you’d like to read more about minimalist living, please consider buying my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

22 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Alisa Moore

  • Heather

    This is lovely and I love your style. We are considering moving into a small trailer with some land in Texas. As much as I would love a house, we can’t seem to find the right one with the right vibe— most feel too big, keep up with the Jone’s feeling- but a trailer or as I call it “bliss” in my book, sounds wonderful. : ) Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Heather

    Oh..and I checked out your blog. You are beautiful as is your life. : )

  • Mei

    What is it about city life that makes it so conducive to materialism? I always wonder if there are some cities in the world that are less consumer driven. Cities often offer many free activities and a cultural environment and it seems shame to have to sacrifice a convenient (and often car-free) location in order to carve out a simple life.
    Thank you, Alisa, for sharing your story. It sounds like your son is having a lovely childhood.

  • Kim

    Great story – thanks for sharing with us.

    We started on the road to minimalism 15 years ago by leaving jobs we hated in a town we didn’t like, selling our big house and all our big house stuff, and moving into a trailer in a town we love. 10 years ago we moved to a small house (same town) but I often look back on that trailer as the best home we ever owned. Your front porch photo reminds me of those days. The serenity of your space is captured beautifully.

  • Alisa your life sounds wonderful! I am in the process of recreating my life and your account gives me inspiration. I also checked out your blog and will be visiting frequently. Thank you!

  • Jessica

    Your life sounds very beautiful! I am so glad you found your own version of happiness through living simply. Wonderful post : )

  • eema

    pretty post, pretty life. living for porch talks and shared meals, now thats a good life!

  • Your story moves me, Alisa. I love your blog and am delighted to find Miss Minimalist as well. Minimalists are the imaginal cells ( biology of caterpillar transformation ) for rebirthing the art of conviviality and nourishing face to face relationships…a huge metamorphosis for our culture. Yeeeeeehaw. i honor your decisions though I’m not quite ready to give up my cable since I’ve only experienced living with it for a year…I’m kind of hooked on several shows I’ve never watched before…Congratulations on all of this…

  • I eat all raw vegan & am always thinking about how it’s the ideal minimalist diet, not to mention fun! No pots, pans, pot holders, toasters, microwaves, time consuming meals (unless you choose to), just pure, delicious food. Plus all the health & spiritual benefits. :)

  • Jackie

    Your porch is beautiful! I was on Bainbridge Island briefly this past May and just fell in love with it.

  • That sounds so, so, lovely! So happy for you that you managed to escape the rat race =).

    We live in Minneapolis and are lucky enough to have a small affordable house in a non-pretentious neighborhood and still get to take advantage of the city perks… but I do dream of getting away some day and travelling around in an RV for awhile or something like that!

  • Trude Lisagor

    I’m so proud of you, Alisa. You are truly an inspiration to all of us on Bainbridge Island.

  • What a wonderful story! It sounds like your choices have made a big difference in the quality of your life and your child’s. Now you have a lifestyle that many would envy (I do!) I’m so glad you included a photo of your porch; I was trying to imagine it! It looks even more nice and cosy than I envisoned it. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story.

  • What a pleasurable read! Thank you for sharing so much. I’ve only lived in a mobile home once and it is one of my fondest memories. I had no idea how much I would love it.

  • I’m so glad you finally found what works for you. It’s amazing how wrapped up we get in material possessions.

  • Hello everyone! I was talking with my honey the other night about my “ideal life” and you know what? It’s what I have now, except I’d turn this funky old (stained & moldy) mobile-home into a two-story modular with lots of windows…this led me to thinking I’d love to start a “mod-park” with modular housing only…co-housing in a small space, but with modulars instead of trailers or townhouses, or’s a thought!

  • metta

    I have been looking for more minimalists here on the island. They can be difficult to find when they choose to eliminate computers and internet. I am a nurse on the island and really enjoy being around other like minds to inspire this peaceful lifestyle.:)
    Thank you so much for your post!

  • Louise

    You look soo chilled out Alisa. Wonderful that you live like this. I’m trying to decluutter too, shifted bags of stuff.

  • Tina

    Another post I’ve never read. Going smaller by living in a mobile home is something my husband and I thought about years ago. We are still buying very little new, and getting rid of a lot of things we don’t need. My friends all have status purses and are very high maintenance, I have offered to help them clean their crowded closets.

  • I love that while on the boat you and your family watched nature through the seasons. Congratulations on simplifying your life so much. Bainbridge is a gorgeous place.

  • I read in the paper that stores are closing because people are shopping less. Good for you.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>