After only five months of dating, my partner and I decided it made sense for her to move in with me. As if the intensity and fast pace of the relationship wasn’t enough, we decided to move into my 230-square-foot apartment, which already seemed too small for me.
Even after breaking her lease, we still would save money as a couple. Once all was said and done, we are paying $300 per month each to live in one of the best neighborhoods of Austin, Texas, across the street from family. The decision was practical from a financial perspective, but we did not realize how many additional benefits we would find.
By moving into 230 square feet together, my partner learned to let go of material possessions at an incredible rate. She learned how much less anxiety she felt without boxes of items. We had an opportunity to focus constantly on the essentials, be grateful and set our sights on bigger things.
Now I realize how significant this experience will be in each of our lives. Our relationship is stronger and so is each of our perspectives.
As a man, my possessions already were relatively minimal. I always have had an essentialist approach to my living situation. My twin bed was on the ground, my clean clothes in a grocery bag and, until she started visiting my house frequently, this was how I lived.
For her, the experience was the opposite. While she didn’t have as much as some people, I distinctly can remember two dozen pairs of shoes, stacks of clothing and various knickknacks with sentimental value.
Over the course of the past three months, she has learned to shed these material possessions, but not from a place of sadness. Instead, she continually feels more free after ridding herself of possessions.
More and more, her default response is to throw away things rather than ponder their future usefulness. Even better, she has made $2,984.59 over the past three months just selling clothing she doesn’t wear, furniture she doesn’t use and other miscellaneous items. She’s living much lighter now except for her wallet. Imagine what you could do with an extra three thousand bucks!
If you are feeling the itch to replicate the same process, try using a few clothing apps for women, such as Mercari and Poshmark. She also sold quite a bit on eBay. So don’t be afraid to sell there either!
Focus on the Big Picture
Selling these possessions hasn’t come free from turmoil. Many of her friends question her habits and worry about her sudden change in priorities, but they can’t see the big picture.
We live together, so we shop together. We save money by planning the meals we will eat for the entire week. We shop at Whole Foods and buy the highest quality ingredients. But with a little bit of planning and focusing on the basics (meat, vegetables), you easily can live on a budget of $700 per month in groceries for two people.
What other people consider living too frugally or minimally, we choose to see as focusing on the bigger picture. We are an outdoors-loving couple and this means big travel plans. Next month we are headed for a two-week camping road trip in Iceland. We are going on a three-month road trip later this year and then to Europe after that.
By focusing on the things we truly want to accomplish in our lives, we find it easy to sacrifice and save in the short-term.
Only the Essentials
Even if she wasn’t making an extra $3K and we weren’t saving for traveling around the world, an essentialist lifestyle actually is more appealing than a consumerist one. Like the ancient stoic philosopher Seneca, we practice living on only the essentials to see what it is like and build gratitude and happiness.
I get to know my partner for who she truly is, stripped of all the possessions and glamor. As humans, we really only need a few things: a roof over our head, a space to follow purpose and achieve whatever is meaningful in life and deep connections with other humans. From that perspective, I’ve got all I need in my 230 square feet and so can you.
What about you? Would you like to live in a tiny home?
Mansal Denton is a health enthusiast and writer. He is the co-founder of Nootropedia, and has a personal blog with essentialist writings and essays.
Interested in simplifying your own life? The Fearless Minimalist Guide can help you get your life back!
P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide
Our place is 520 square feet, not counting the shared laundry room downstairs. Our previous place was around 900 square feet, and we walked a mile to the laundromat. We feel like we could live in a smaller space if we needed to, but this is a nice size for us.
We love having less stuff. I do keep accumulating books, but then I let them go pretty quickly, because there’s just nowhere to put them without making a mess. One nice thing, though, about having a tiny apartment is that even though it gets messy pretty quickly, it also gets clean really quickly.
$700 per month!?! How is this considered living frugally???
I believe it is when they are eating organic. The long term picture is one of health — no doctor’s bills G-D willing.
Hey $300/mo for Austin ain’t half bad! But yeah, sharing an efficiency isn’t for everyone. But if you can both handle it, it’s worth it. I wish I could have paid $300/mo for any apartment; the lowest I ever had was $650 (I’m also in Texas).
People will question you any time you make a big lifestyle change, especially when you move in with a partner after dating for 5 months. But you just gotta do what’s best for you. :)