Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Best Move Ever (Part 2)

In Part 1, I talked about the financial benefits of simplifying my living situation. Today, I'll talk about the other benefits.

Less stuff generally translates into more time. With less clutter, there's less time spent cleaning, rearranging, and searching for stuff. Shopping is streamlined --I know I don't have space for anything but the necessities, so I don't waste time window shopping for things I can't have. I try to do one major shopping trip per month (mainly for groceries) and stay out of the stores as much as possible the rest of the month. I'll still need milk and eggs, cat food and a few other incidentals, but I keep those trips quick and to the point. I also don't waste time with maintenance issues since I rent. There have been very few of those anyway, but at least when they do happen, I'm not the one to waste time arranging for contractors or shopping for parts.

I enjoy a slower pace of life here. It's like I've stepped back in time a generation or two. I love the fact that I can let my son run around and enjoy purely unstructured play time here. And the innocence of play is refreshing. In the past weeks it's been Fun With Vegetables. Most everyone here has a garden, so the kids have been entertaining themselves in creative ways with veggies (and fruits). One night it was eating a watermelon they had just picked in the one yard and making a game of chucking the rinds. Another day they carved a jack-o-lantern. A woman down the street gave them a round melon or winter squash that had split open and they were kicking it around and tossing it. My son created a pulley in the back yard and was hoisting and then smashing over-ripe zucchinis (great fun, let me tell you!) which broke them up into better sizes for composting. He came home with a cute gourd that someone else had given him.... I could go on, just talking about vegetables but you get the point. Families don't seem to be so over-scheduled and harried in my town. There's a lot of just families being families and kids being kids. I love that.

And that reminds me of another benefit. There seems to be more neighborliness here than in the suburbs. When I first moved in, I can't tell you the number of people who stopped by to introduce themselves to me. I had never had anything like that happen anywhere else I've lived. People still wave to you on the roads as they pass, whether they know you or not. Such a civil gesture. In the cities, you're likely to see hand gestures but of a much different variety.

There are fewer distractions and annoying interruptions. I've had two door-to-door sales people since I've been here, maybe five or six brochures (mostly the Schwan's guy, who never stops by when I'm home so I can't put an end to it), and two or three visits from the Jehovah's Witnesses. Not too bad after nearly three-and-a-half years in this place. Since I don't buy much anymore and never order from catalogs, I'm not on any mailing lists either. My mailbox is gloriously empty most of the time (it helps that we only have P.O. boxes here --I don't think bulk mailers send as much junk to them as they do to street addresses).

A smaller house also means a smaller environmental footprint and that feels really good. It takes less carbon to heat and light a smaller house and fewer materials to furnish and maintain it. And the actual footprint (square footage-wise) of the house means that less impermeable surface area has been created, leaving more land to absorb rainfall and replenish the water table instead of running off into storm drains and out to sea.

And finally, a simpler lifestyle has brought me much greater satisfaction. I'm satisfied with what I have and where I am and how I'm living. I have all I need--really far more than I need--and I feel incredibly blessed.

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