Ten Things I Learned by Downsizing My Life

10 things i have learned by downsizing my life

My friend Crystal from Money Saving Mom wrote a post yesterday about the concept of downsizing your house. She mentions our decision to live and travel full-time in a 5th wheel, and asks her readers if they would ever want to simplify their lives by living small. It started a lively discussion in the comment section with a mixed bag of those who are excited about the idea, and those who would never consider it unless they had to.

It got me thinking.

If I could tell the naysayers what downsizing has done for me, what would I want them to know? I thought this would be a good time to share our point of view.

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1. It Is Possible to Entertain in Small Spaces
Folks are always wondering how we manage to have company in such a tiny home!  Having friends and family over can definitely be done with small dwellings, if you’re willing to get creative! Some of the most fun memories I have from before our fulltime RV days are from times when things were cramped and challenging. Like when the power goes out, or construction projects require us to find creative living solutions. These are the things memories are made of. If you have a small house but you want to be hospitable, you can make it work just like you have in other less-than-ideal situations. We have a comfy sofa and cot in our 5th wheel, or we can use community spaces in the RV park for larger crowds. In the future when we build our tiny house, our guests can stay in our unoccupied RV. The point is, where there’s a will, there’s a way. It can be done! In fact, I’ve found that people are happy to participate in something a little different from what they’re use to.

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2. Alone Time Is Important (and do-able!)
As an introvert, it is absolutely essential for me to have time to step away and reflect.  When we first started traveling, one of my biggest concerns was whether I was going to be able to find a way to get away!  But it turned out to be easier than I thought.  Since it was such a priority to me, I was able to adapt myself pretty quickly to my new environment, and find a way to get my much needed quiet time. Each morning I get up hours before everyone else to read, exercise, blog and reflect on the upcoming day. Then later in the afternoon when homeschooling is over, I retreat to my room for an hour to regroup before the rush of dinnertime. In the evening, hubby and I usually sit outside and talk for an hour or so, or occasionally take a dip in the pool. The moral of the story is, your need for solace can be met in small spaces just as it is in big spaces!

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3. Small House Equals Close Family
It seems like common sense now, but I honestly never realized it. Living in close quarters causes you to have closer relationships! It’s true! In our old house, everyone had their own rooms and their own gadgets to occupy them, which meant our together time was pretty much limited to meals. But now we share so much more! Moving into a 5th wheel, the mood went from “every man for himself” to “we’re all in this together” almost immediately.  It was amazing to see sibling rivalries disintegrate, and strong friendships form between family members.

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4. Freedom Is Worth More Than I Ever Knew
I’ll be honest. The adventure part of this trip appealed to me in a big way. I wanted to see things, experience things and wake up with a day filled with newness and excitement. But I really didn’t understand how heavy a burden my old life was to me until I was out from under it. It’s like a thousand pound weight has been lifted off me. I no longer feel a slave to the typical American dream. I don’t need a big house with a shiny car and fancy clothes. I don’t need to impress people who really don’t impress me. I don’t need to weigh myself down with a long list of expectations I need to fulfill in order to have purpose and value. My purpose is to wake up, step outside my door and show the world to my kids. To marvel at it, and give praise to God for all he has created.

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5. Fear Is Not The Boss Of Me
I am a fear-controlled, anxiety-ridden person. Just ask my husband. I am afraid of things most people don’t even think about. But through this trip, I have realized that even while I am battling my fear, I don’t have to be controlled by it. I can feel the fear, and not let it control my actions. I mean, I walked across a suspension bridge! I drove through the mountains with my kids and my house behind me! I felt all that fear, and I still did it. How wonderfully freeing to know that kind of courage is deep down in me somewhere!  And the only way I could’ve discovered it was to be in a position to need it!

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6. Determination Is A Powerful Thing

We are just average folks. In fact, we have more than our share of failures and regrets. We didn’t have a big fat savings account or exceptional mentors in our lives.  And yet, we wanted this so badly we were able to make it happen! This is what has been missing in my life all this time. The BIG DREAM! I already had all the information and know-how I needed.  I didn’t need another motivational book, or inspiring speaker.  I needed to find my own audacious goal that was so important to me, I would be willing to sacrifice and commit and push through the challenging stuff to get it. If I had one take-away lesson I wanted to share with the world, this is it. Find your BIG DREAM and knock down doors to get it! It will awaken you and inspire you and motivate you like nothing else.

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7. My Stuff Was Weighing Me Down
I had it all neatly packed in matching Rubbermaid Boxes, and labeled with my fancy labelmaker. So I told myself it was all normal and necessary. The extra kitchen gadgets the outgrown clothing, the forgotten toys. The half-done craft projects, the unread books. But if you put a gun to my head today, and asked me to recall what was in those boxes and the back corners of the closets, and in the garage and under the beds, I would be hard pressed to list even half of it. And now that it’s gone, I feel lighter, smarter, and less scattered on the inside. It’s as if this stuff occupied some long-forgotten part of my brain that can now be used for important stuff.

8. My Stuff Was Getting In My Way
When we were done selling, donating, recycling and trashing 90% of our belongings, I felt a certain freedom that I didn’t expect to feel. There was less to maintain, less to organize, less to store, less to apologize for. I felt like less of a glutton. There is something spiritual that happens when you free yourself from stuff. I don’t know if I can explain it, other than to say it makes you feel like you have stepped into a new life with new opportunities. It makes you lighter.

9. My Stuff Was Distracting Me From What Is Truly Important
There was this voice in the back of my mind that was forever saying, “Lori, you really should be knitting that scarf/organizing that closet/reading that book…” and the thought of all of it would overwhelm me. So I would retreat into some mindless activity, like television or the internet so I could avoid dealing with the guilt of my stuff. I was scared of it a little, I think because it represented such a time commitment. And when it was gone, so was my obligation to it. I was free.

10. I Didn’t Really Like Or Need Most Of It
I can remember having a whole garage full of stuff left after we had sold, donated and recycled everything we could. This stuff was the bottom-of-the-barrel crap-ola that had been overused, broken or needed some attention. In our community we had a “dump day” twice a year where you could get big garbage hauled away. When it finally rolled around, I remember the embarrassingly huge pile of junk sitting on display on the edge of my yard waiting for the garbage man to arrive.  I didn’t leave my house for the entire day because I didn’t want to face my neighbors. I am still red-faced just thinking about it.  That experience was my final lesson in the value of a simplified life. I would NEVER own something I didn’t absolutely love, or use frequently ever again. And whenever I think about buying something, I try to picture that pile of junk in my head!

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The overall lesson for me through this life-changing process is to trust myself more. So often I wait for everything to be 100% certain and perfect before moving forward. But the good stuff in life is found down the less traveled roads, so I can’t possibly be certain until I step out and take a chance. My heart and my gut already knew where I belonged. I just had to take a risk and follow it. My sincere hope is that everyone reading this would be inspired to look for their BIG DREAM and chase after it with wild abandon so that they can squeeze every bit of juice out of life every day. I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to chase mine!

PS: If you’re on Instagram, you can follow us on our cross-country adventure HERE!

Comments

  1. says

    We just downsized from about 1300 square feet to I don’t know how small- two tiny bedrooms and one bathroom. We don’t have a family room or a kitchen (share the kitchen with in-laws and use all their things). But I still think we have too much STUFF.
    How do you get rid of things (mostly baby stuff) when you know you’re going to need most of the baby stuff again?

    • Lori says

      Hi Trisha – We got rid of it all and put the money in a jar to use for when/if the next baby came. With my first babies, I would save the clothes/toys and then when the next one came along I found I was only able to use a fraction of them anyway (sometimes because of gender, and sometimes because they were seasonally wrong). We sold it at garage sales, on ebay, and some of it went to consignment stores. I generally buy the stuff at least 50% off anyway, so getting consignment prices for them meant I was recouping much of my investment. I do still have my boys first pair of shoes and my daughters first outfit for sentimental reasons!

    • Sam says

      Hey Trisha-

      What we did was find someone else who was expecting, and loan it to them. By the time they’re done with all of the baby stuff and ready to declutter it back to us, it might be just about time for us to use it, too.

      -Sam

  2. says

    We recently downsized in preparation for a move and I cannot believe how many years we spent tied to our STUFF! The feeling of living clutter/junk free is amazing! Thanks for sharing Lori!

  3. stephanie says

    Love this idea!!
    I am curious do you have a savings that allows this or do you find worm here and there. This king we would love to do this when our baby graduates
    In 2 years.

    • Lori says

      Hi Stephanie – My blog income helps to support us, and my husband finds work wherever we go. He is a patio cover installer, and he started an instagram page to feature his work across the country so when he arrives in a new area, potential employers can see what he can do. With some prayer and luck, it’s been going great.

      PS: we do have a savings of 3 months income in case of emergency!

  4. Jen G says

    WOW, thanks for this article! It reconfirms my own thoughts and feelings!! You literally got right inside my head and took all my thoughts and put them into the most perfect words. I am glad I am NOT alone in wanting to experience this kind of living. I have felt like this for so long. My hope is to one day convince my husband to do the same. LESS IS DEFINITELY MORE <3

  5. Heather says

    as one of the original naysayers – “This is NOT for me” – on Crystal’s blog, thanks for writing this. I still think “this is not for me” and definitely don’t feel like the issues you mentioned are things that I find issue with in my own life, but I do see how it can be good for some people. 🙂 I do understand how it is possible to entertain in a small space, but for some of us, we have larger groups over for things like Bible studies, parties, or family in town. I’m still not convinced that those types of gatherings are possible in tiny houses and they are a huge part of our life. 🙂 But, more space does not have to = lots of stuff either.

    • says

      I just posted about our very temporary small house living arrangement on my blog yesterday, after reading your article on Crystal’s site. I love what you wrote today, though; I think I may print it out as a reminder. Thank you!

    • Linda Sand says

      It depends a lot on the layout of the RV you buy. In our 35-foot motorhome, we could seat ten people comfortably in the living area; more if some sat on the floor. If the group was larger than that we moved outside; sitting around a campfire is something most people enjoy. If we get really large we might use a campground’s gathering space. Our daughter got married in a state park so we reserved two shelters for that party but everyone chose to crowd into just one shelter because that was more fun.

    • Queen Mary says

      Heather, Thanks for your comments here. I came here from Joshua Becker’s blog. My husband and I were part of the simplification movement before it was “cool,” and I find these blogs often helpful, interesting, and just as often made up of new converts and I take Augustine’s warnings about converts to heart. It is a growing process. One thing I wish those such as Lori, reveling in their new found simplicity would take to heart is that this is, indeed their journey and remember to use “I” language rather than “you” language.
      Not everyone will have a spiritual experience when they get rid of stuff, not all crafters craft half-heartedly, not everyone retains ill-fitting clothing. As Heather points out, lots of people have multiple communities to accommodate and different needs that require different space, not necessarily different goods. We grew up with less and so did our children, we never knew we were “poor,” and our kids never knew they lacked anything — except of course the Xbox and games and we only had one TV seldom watched. But we had a party for every holiday — on Valentine’s Day my mom would fill a paper cupcake liner with candy and put it at our place at the dinner table and we were thrilled! We made the best snowflakes with a pair of scissors — shared among the 6 of us — and a piece of paper — simple pleasures really do delight children in my experience, 30+ years of it.

  6. Daron says

    Great article! We are downsizing from a 2700 sq ft house to a cute little 1300 sq ft house on about 75 acres. We are not hooking up cable, which terrifies our 3 children.. but I am excited to see how close our family grows. Thank you for your great ideas! Look forward to following you!

    • Lori says

      That’s awesome! Our next big dream is to build a small homestead and be as self-sufficient as possible, so we are looking at land as we travel. Best of luck in your new home!

  7. Allie says

    This is how I feel but my husband and daughter find it so difficult to let go of things. How did you convince your kids? Also, how do you travel between locations with 4 kids in a pickup? I know most states do not allow passengers to ride in a travel trailer, especially children, while on the road.

    • Lori says

      Hi Allie – We started by putting a big map of the US on the wall and pinning the places we’d like to visit. That piqued their interest. Then it was a nearly 2-year process to save up and find a camper, so they had plenty of time to settle it in their minds. Also they were all part of the RV renovation process, so it was kind of a family project from the beginning. My teen girl was not on board at first, but we knew it would be best for the family and hoped she would come around later on, and she did!

      • Allie says

        Thanks, great idea! I wondered about the truck because we would sometimes have 3 extra people traveling with our family of three. I guess there are options for us. My daughter loves to travel so maybe she will give up some stuff to do more of it. I am definitely working on changing the mindset in my family.

  8. Amanda says

    Love this article.
    I’d never be able to get my husband to travel so much but I’d love to downsize our stuff our house isn’t huge but it’s full to the gills with stuff. Got some good ideas with this but how do you deal with paper clutter? I’m standing in front of my large (8 people) dining table full of paperwork, kid stuff, etc and wonder how to just clear out. The paperwork always clogs me up. Bills, my Avon business, insurance junk, cards, manuals, magazines, receipts, letters, recipes and so much more. It’s overwhelming.
    I love how you mentioned retreating into television or the internet to escape dealing with the clutter, that is so how I feel right now.
    Thank you!!
    Amanda

    • Lori says

      Hi Amanda – Paper was an issue for me too. I use Evernote for most of my paperwork. You can scan or snap a pic of receipts, brochures, school paperwork and save it in a file. I don’t save anything unless I have to, and I deal with each thing immediately so it isn’t sitting around. It is sometimes still a challenge as I learn to live differently, but I am getting better!

  9. VB says

    So many times in the last couple years I have come to my husband saying how overwhelmed I feel, how I just want to slow down, hit the stop button…several conversations I have had in the last few weeks have been about all of this, homeschooling, travel, downsizing, minimizing, bare essentials….then I came across Crystal’s post…the idea bulb flashed-what if???
    What’s amazing is that everything in my life is actually perfect timing. I couldn’t wait to get home from work and toss this CRAZY idea at my husband….as the perfect match that we are, he is just crazy enough with me to consider…what if………I will be following your blog VERY closely as we contemplate and research, what if………………

    • says

      Ditto what VB said! Lori…your post is totally inspiring! So much so, that we are SERIOUSLY considering doing something very similar. I’m very interested in the time leading up to the trip. Can you talk more about that? Namely, how did you get through the two years of planning and waiting, when you knew what was to come! I just want to go today…it’s so hard to wait!

      • Lori says

        Hi Chrystelle – It was hard for us to wait, but also such a growing time! We had fun dreaming together, planning, learning and watching our tiny savings grow. Even on weeks when we didn’t meet our financial goals we would encourage each other and brainstorm ways to spend less next time. We would also spend some time on ebay, craigslist and rvtrader.com each week to see what was available for our budget, and to keep the fire lit on our dream. It really brought us together as a couple! Thanks for the question, and I am totally rooting for you to ditch the sticks-and-bricks and hit the road!

  10. Maureen says

    I am very intrigued by this lifestyle, and it terrifies me at the same time. I am not a hoarder or anything, but I readily admit I love my designer clothes, SUV, and travel mementos. At the same time, I take great pleasure in getting rid of the clutter in our lives we don’t need. I love to have rooms full of space and the things that matter. I have a question, I am not sure if was answered in the comments (or maybe I just missed it). How do you support yourself in your travels? I know you can live frugally, but there are costs to raising a family on the road.

    • Lori says

      Hi Maureen – My blog income helps to support us, along with an ebook I wrote that is available on Amazon. My husband finds work wherever we go as a patio cover installer. I know other folks do something called “workamping” where they find work at various campgrounds across the country.

  11. says

    I’m right there with you right down the line. I love it! I’m so thankful we did it! I’ll always live smaller now. It’s been a tremendous blessing in every way. We’re in our 4th year and have seen our way through many adjustments and have had many great victories. I love reading about others who live/think the way we do. It’s like I can take a long deep breath and NOT have to field questions or explain anything. 😉

  12. Melissa says

    My family bought a general store in the Nantahala National Forest and moved from 2300 square feet house to a 900 square foot apartment above the store in 2014. We are loving the area and adventure God has blessed us with. Our 13 year old daughter came with us and loves the smaller school in the area and all the things in nature to do like kayaking. Our oldest daughter stayed in Nashville and we have a lot of friends and family that think we are crazy., but that’s OK we have been blessed with people from all over the world, the Cherokee Indian community and the appreciation of the mountain life culture. Thank you ,Lord for helping us release our stuff and enjoy each day You show us.

  13. Alissa C says

    We did the exact thing and sold our 1300sqft home along with 95% of our belongings in order to move into a 12×32 cabin we hand built in order to get out of debt, live greener and be happier! It works! Our story is almost the same, our family is closer and I don’t for a minute miss all that “stuff” we got rid of in order for this lifestyle change. I know our footprint is much smaller now, we use less all around. We now grow huge gardens, poultry, pork, quail and rabbits to sustain our family and eat organic. My family is healthier and happier and Oh my so much less stress! Kudos gal!

    • Lori says

      So thrilled to meet a kindred spirit! We are saving up while we travel to have a tiny homestead when we are done. I know NOTHING about animals so I have a lot to learn. Thanks for the encouragement!

  14. Londi says

    Three years ago we down sized from a 5000sqft home to a 1500sqft home, and needless to say we were drowning in stuff! This year we finally emptied our storage unit, and had a huge yard sale, and donated truck loads of boxes packed full of things we held onto. It felt great to rid our selves of this burden, but I am not finished with our purge! I love your story. The freedom you must feel is how I want to feel too! I hate spending my days cleaning and caring for stuff. Life is too short.

  15. says

    I love this post, especially the part about your family being closer. We live in a very small house and I’m convinced it’s the reason (along with homeschooling and having to be together!) that my kids are very close, even at 5 years age difference. I also agree about “stuff” taking over our lives. So refreshing to get rid of it!

  16. says

    I’ve been in the process of decluttering my life for a good year now. I want to be rid of all of the stuff weighing me down and interfering with my true purpose.

    I hope you continue having a marvelous adventure. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. Kim says

    Thanks for the inspiration! My family lives of 6 lives in 1100 sq ft ranch w a semi finished basement(good for playing). We have 4 kids 8-1yrs and may have one more. We would like a bigger main living area, kitchen, dinning room but don’t want a huge house to heat/maintain.
    Any thoughts on a good sq ft amount? We are thinking of build a 2 bedroom ranch w 1400 sq ft on the main floor and then save to finish out two bedrooms and a rec room in the basement. But w that finished it will be 2200 sq ft! We will be
    Building with cash but still don’t want too much house to suck our money! We want to give and live a legacy! Thanks

  18. Allison says

    Very cool! My life is not such that it would ever resemble yours, but I agree about all the STUFF. I’m not a minimalist – I’m an “enough-ist!” My mom is a “purger” as in, the opposite of a hoarder, so I take after her and get rid of anything we don’t need, want, like, or use. Stuff can take over and run your life if you let it! Everything is simpler when it comes to the weekends because cleanup is a snap – everything has a place and I don’t have to wonder what to do with the mess! And there’s less mess to begin with because there is less stuff!

  19. says

    Wow! I’m trying to think of a suitable (intelligent) response to your post but, I just keep thinking, “WOW!”. I am in awe of what you’ve achieved and the incredible effort it must have taken to get you there.

    You’re an inspiration and your family will benefit from your choice for the rest of their lives.

    Congratulations!

  20. Carole says

    Great article! Love that you are doing what you want! My husband and I have gone against what all of American society tells you to do. We live in a small home with our two teenagers. We are very close – I agree with your comment that the large homes don’t allow for closeness with family members. My husband’s dream is to buy a Tumbleweed home some day!

  21. pam says

    My husband has been collecting for 67 years I have been collecting for 58 years, We live in a 3000 sq foot house. I have been trying to talk my husband into selling everything and buying a travel trailer We have so much stuff we’re almost hoarders. We are overwhelmed every day. And I might add a little scared. We’re not getting any younger. I follow your site all the time and am amazed at your drive and passion. Where do we start?

    • Eunice B says

      What I am doing right now is each day just picking one drawer or shelf in the house. Have boxes set up somewhere for donate, “maybe” and sell (or whatever works for you). When the box is full give it away/sell. Just keep working on it. Another idea is to bring in someone neutral about your stuff (a friend?) to help you sort through your closet/other areas and help you see what is too much or crazy for you to keep. Pick someone who will tell you the truth and not give in every time you say, “I can’t get rid of that.” 🙂 It is tough doing that in my own house, but I think it would be fun to do it in someone else’s. 🙂 I hope it goes well.

    • says

      Sometimes if you just can’t start, you may have to bring in a professional organizer to be the tough yet kind third party to teach you the skills. If you can afford to collect, you can afford an organizer!

    • Peggy says

      Hi Pam,

      I love Loris’ post (and her adventurous lifestyle), even though I’m not sure I would ever want to do it…

      To start decluttering, you could read 365lessthings.com, written by Colleen in Australia. She has a great community of commenters from all over the world to support others on their journey to less… no matter what stage of “less” they are in…

      Once you start getting rid of stuff, it gets easier to let go. Start with the easy stuff… eventually the “hard” stuff gets easy too. Good luck!

    • Lori in Prescott says

      Pam, I just watched a movie on Netflix streaming about a very wealthy couple who had a house on Lake Tahoe. It was filled with beautiful things. Filled being the optimum word. The woman was having a hard time letting go. She even bought more baskets at the Farmer’s Market and her son said “Why do you buy more crap you don’t need and don’t have any place for?” Wow. Hit home to me. I have had friends who simply sold their house intact. Furnished inside and out, plus decor. The thrill of starting over with a whole new idea of furnishing a different house is appealing. A transplant to Arizona, from Michigan, I wish I had sold everything “Midwest” before I moved. So many do and then are able to decide what fits their new environment. I think it’s not physical state of plowing through decades of stuff, it’s the mental state of letting go. Think of it as an adventure even if you are not moving out of state. When I let go of Collections of Crap, I allowed myself 2 pieces. Eventually even those ended up in garage sales or donated. I tell myself that so many people in their 50’s and 60’s are doing this, I can too! My parents waited too long and I was left cleaning out their house when they went into a nursing home. What an inspiration to clean out my own!

  22. TJ says

    Doing this is a dream my hubby and I have had for many years. We live very simply as it is and are longing to just pack up, grab our kiddo and hit the road. We are working on building up an e-commerce business so we can do this. It is nice to see others who have done it already.

  23. Brianna says

    Do you have a blog about your journey living in an RV full time or how you did it? We are seriously considering doing the same.

  24. L says

    I applaud you for the choices you have made. I desire a similar circumstance for my own life, however, health issues get in the way, as well as needing to stay where I am due to having elderly parents. Some day I hope to be able to make such a choice that will work for my circumstances. The older I get the less I desire in life. I don’t want to get to the end of my life with a house full of junk. To those who do, well, everyone has a choice to live as they choose. I’m slowly trying to declutter, but it’s a challenge due to the health stuff. It’s not happening as fast as I would like. I’m going to keep persevering though! I hope you continue to enjoy your wonderful lifestyle with your family. Be happy and be well, God bless!

  25. Katie B. says

    Thank you for this article! BIG DREAM is what i took away. Our family’s goal is a family farm….for income and lifestyle. Over the last 4 years we have been traveling down the road to become debt free. And prayed a TON! Ended up moving from 2200sq ft to 1400sq ft and adopting another child (our niece, 4 kids in total). Our 1400sq ft is on 40 acres and although we don’t own (just rent), we couldn’t be happier. We raise chickens, grow food, and teach our children about living simply. The house isn’t perfect, but it works. My kids love living away from the burbs and we are blessed to have the kids in a local charter school for now. Exploring homeschool options for middle and high school. My husband and I are not “stuff” folks, but we do get wrapped up in “wanting things”, like a bigger house 🙂 This article reminded me to stay focused on our BIG DREAM and do what it takes to get there. Thanks for the reminder!

  26. says

    Incredible article!! My husband and I are talking about yours today! He would not mind to try this. So you are right about “Small House Equals Closet Family.” We wish that we should do something with my sons before. But, they are in High School. Anyway, thank you for sharing!

  27. Carlee says

    What did you do with photo albums/baby albums? We downsized from 3005 sq feet and moved from Southern CA to rural Wyoming in one small moving truck (!) and what I am stuck on are baby/photo albums and our homeschool stuff. I am slowly selling the HS stuff we don’t need, but the photo albums are still in boxes.

    • Lori says

      Hi Carlee – I kept all photos and albums. Spent some time organizing them and they are in boxes under our bed, along with our high school letter jackets and my wedding dress 🙂

  28. Sandie says

    Lori I’m so glad to know there’s somebody out there in this world that is going through the same as me. Due to my husband work we got a
    Fifth wheel gave away or donated everything started home schooling the kids and it all happened so fast and it was very overwhelming for me and to this day I’m fearful all the time we’ve only been doing this since October and all I keep thinking is are we doing the right thing for the kids and their future and sometimes I catch myself saying omg I live in a camper…. how do I get over this stage do I can me happy and enjoy this life adventure with my husband and kids? The bedroom has became my safe haven…….

    • Lori says

      Hi Sandie – bless your heart, I know all about fear and anxiety. I am working through this still, but my #1 help has been to stop asking myself how I feel about stuff. I don’t care how I feel -I might be scared, uncomfortable or overwhelmed but I can still put one foot in front of the other and do whatever my task is for the day. I am still physically able, so I (try to) do stuff no matter how I feel about it. Feelings don’t dictate my actions. Over time, as I give less audience to my fear, it has been easier, and more enjoyable to do things out of my comfort zone. I have my moments still, but I can feel the courage and joy building in me as I refuse to succumb to the negative emotions.

      It also helps me to deliberately fill my mind with positive stuff to drown out the fear. Positive messages, books on tape, music, etc. Sounds hokey, but it has helped a lot!

      I can tell you some other stuff that has helped me come out of my shell if you’re interested, I’d love to chat via email: momsbyheart@gmail.com.

  29. says

    I find this just fascinating! While I do not think I could do it, there is so much that appeals to me.

    Family closeness. You and your children will have amazing and unique memories!

    Stuff weighing you down & distraction? Yes, I’m right there.

  30. barbara dougherty says

    This post just made me cry. It is everything I am. #’s 7, 8 &9. But especially #9. I can not tell you how many ‘things’ I want to do and just get overwhelmed. So me. Thanks for the inspiration! Just subscribed and following on Instagram too! Glad I found you.

  31. Karen Thomason says

    In the last year, I have moved five times. Each time I got rid of things, and then paid for a storage unit. I recently moved back into my home, a 4bd, 2 bath and den. With 1700 sf, I still only used one bedroom, one bath, kitchen and my chair in the den. I decided to sell the house and move into a 700 sf senior apt. I don’t need the maintenance, surprise expenses, etc, I don’t have the extra money for upkeep, yard work etc on Social Security. Now, I can just call the maintenance man!

  32. says

    I found this post via Becoming Minimalist Weekend Reads, and I am so happy I did! I found myself nodding along with every point you made. Even though my family and I are still in the early days of downsizing to follow our dreams, I find such inspiration from people like you who have made it happen already. Looking forward to reading more about your journey!

  33. says

    I love this. I have de-cluttered and live with very little, and that has been brilliant. But, the appeal of having a home on wheels is steadily growing in me. I hope I can find someone to join me in that dream one day.

  34. says

    I have been working towards a more downsized life for just a bit now. I love the process…it is very freeing. Some constraints from moving forward are very real and will take some focused and intentional time to work through…one being sizable debt and the second is a partner who does not share the same downsizing passion.
    Has anyone encountered either constraint/roadblock and how did you approach it?

    • Peggy says

      Hi Eileen,

      What can work is to start slowly decluttering your own things… and as you go, talk about why you are doing it and how it is helping you (less time to maintain, etc)… Make sure that you are not “recluttering” by bringing more in! Then you can begin to talk about how all this is saving you money by being more intentional about purchases, etc. And the money you are saving can help with debt. It takes time, but it can bring along a “reluctant declutterer” eventually 🙂 Good luck!

  35. Debbie says

    Very inspiring! I am still amazed you can do this living with anxiety. I have panic disorder and this gives me more hope and I thank you!! Congratulations on your living the life you want!!

  36. says

    Thank you for this! Last year my family (of three) travelled for three months, throughout the winter. Decided not to this year and BOY are we regretting it! We are in the process of further simplifying our lives to do it again next year, perhaps for longer than 3 months next time. Glad to know we’re not the only crazy family around. 🙂 Crazy NOT to do this!

  37. Jan says

    My husband and I are on our way to living in a 5th wheel also. We had planned doing this when we retired. However, this past year we had gone through many changes, health issues, family matters, losing our two longtime dogs, etc., we decided, why not just do it now! Preparing for this I have gone through many emotions. The worst being the memories that I had attached with the material stuff. I realized many were more painful because it was the past. With that being said, I realized I wanted more than ever to live in the present and make more memories. I took pictures of the stuff I had. We are well on our way and I have resolved all the “what if’s” and “what about”, family gatherings/visits, special memorable, negative projections from many, etc… I feel so much better losing the load of the things that keep us from really living a full rich life, material burdens and maintenence and negative people non acceptance of having more freedom! What others think doesn’t matter anymore. For those of you who worry about your children…children are resilient! If more people would be more honest…you can have the perfect home, job, life, etc., that does not guarantee your childs happiness of life or you. Live. Just be.

  38. CIndy says

    Thank you Lori. I, and my sister and a friend, have embarked upon a year of no spending. Your article came in January at the start of our journey and has given us added impetus. I can forsee a time when we too will downsize. This year is just the beginning! All the best on your life journey.

  39. cpt707 says

    ….you are travelling so light your feet an’t touching the ground……as you have no bags no baggage to slow you down…” Freedom Rules…

  40. vicki says

    Your story is so ininspirational. My husband and I will soon be empty nesters and would love to figure out a way to travel full time or even downsize to a tiny house. Our only problem is our only income come from our group home day care. At this point we are trying to find income resources that can support our lifestyle. Your story inspires me to continue on my search and to remember “where there’s a well there’s a way”.

  41. Deb says

    Wonderful, inspiring article–thank you! Your comment about smaller homes bringing the family closer together is so true. I found out (too late) when we moved from our sweet 1300 square foot home to the 4,000 square foot home I thought we “needed” to home school our three children in. They all wanted to hang out together in one bedroom instead of the three we had for them, and I missed hearing the sounds of our happy family in the central rooms of our old home. Blessings–enjoy the adventure!

  42. Laura says

    I came across this article and spent a good portion of my morning researching fulltime families and roadschooling. What I’m not finding is how these people earn money? I understand that living like this can be significantly cheaper than all the bills that come with a house, but there still has to be an income, right?

  43. Marie says

    Thank you so much for writing this article! My husband and I are working to downsize from 3000 square feet to about 1300 square feet. It was his grandparents home and it is on about 10 acres of land out in the country. We just can’t wait to get out there and improve our quality of life with less stuff (and less bills!), but 2 out of 3 kids aren’t completely on board. They are my teens and just don’t want to give up the space they are accustomed to. Any advice?

    • Lori says

      Hi Marie – Well that’s a hard one. Our teen was not on board at first and it took her a while to come around (but she did!). It did help a little to give her something to look forward to…something she would be able to do/see/have when we travel. In your future home, is there an outdoor activity or a pet they can have that isn’t available at the current one? If so, I would focus on that. A book on hunting, treehouse building, 4-wheeling, mountain biking or whatever piques their interest might help them have some positive thoughts about the move. Ultimately, what our teen needed was to experience the move and see that everything was okay in order to be good with it.

  44. MommaMel says

    I am a single mom working full time and homeschooling twin 12 year old boys. I am planning on taking us on the road for a year or two (maybe more if we fall in love) in 2017. Everything we do going forward is to prepare, save and make it happen. The kids are super excited about it.

    I am terrified of doing this all on my own but know, deep down, we need to do this. If I do not, we will regret it forever.

    I commend you for making this change and congratulate you for doing it so well. Maybe we will meet you on the road one day!

    • Lori says

      I would love that! I know I have heard of other single moms taking their kids roadschooling, but can’t remember who offhand. I love that you are doing this – so brave!

  45. Rebeka Heames says

    I absolutely love this. You have said everything that is is in my head. We are in the midst of getting ready to live on the road and have gone through the process of downsizing. I am continually getting rid of stuff even now. It is amazing when you change your way of thinking about stuff how you just don’t want it around anymore. We have sold the house and are temporarily living in a small cabin until we take off for our Adventure in June. Very excited for the journey and love seeing stories like this where it is a positive experience.

  46. Bekah says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, a thousand times! My family is in the process of ‘cleaning house’ in order to sell everything and hit the road in a 5th wheel. We are hoping to sell our house and have our 5th wheel by the end of summer. I’m so excited for this adventure for all of the reasons you have stated but at times it’s really good to be reassured that this is actually a good idea and we aren’t ‘that crazy family’. 😉
    ~Bekah

  47. Aron Galvan says

    We have 3 small children and have trying to find the “small” mobile home that would accommodate us. It appears that you have 3 children as well. What are you living in and what are the sleeping arrangements? Everything I see might work for a while but I don’t see how the kids could grow and still fit. Thanks for any tips!!
    Cheers
    Looking over the ledge and thinking about jumping. . .:)

    • Lori says

      Hi Aron – I don’t know anything about mobile homes, but our RV works out great. You can search google and youtube to find more large families who roadschool (there are quite a few) and who give tours of the inside of their RV.

      If you plan to hit the road, you can find some models with a “bunkhouse” (back room with two bunk beds) or sometimes folks will modify a toyhauler (which is an RV with a garage in the back) to create bunks. Some models have lofts for additional sleeping space as well. It is helpful to attend an RV show or go to several dealerships, even if you don’t plan to buy new – just so you can get a feel for the layouts. We also spent a lot of time looking at them on Ebay and Craigslist.