I find it an interesting thing that people are selling up to have a simple life. How it will be a wonderful thing, that changing their lives will be the most incredible thing and to live simply will be so easy. I do hope that anyone considering the simple life really examines what they expect and want or need in their new simple life.
What is the simple life really?
I do not believe it is the picture that is out there in many peoples minds. Yes moving and growing vegies, chooks and other animals, living off grid maybe, which seems to be the concept seen most as the ideal of a simple life is not my belief of what a simple life really is.
Living a simple life is to me learning what is really important in your life. Looking at all avenues, and for some people it may be just learning to stop. and just be, comfortable in the stillness and quiet for a few moments. It seems to me that a lot of people are just not comfortable with doing nothing for a few moments. That to me is beginning a journey towards what you want your simple life to be.
I did not choose the simple life, it chose me through circumstances.
My home is not a simple home. My partner built it, made out of timber and metal roof, simple building materials the architecture and inside is all his. It was built on a shoe string and he was environmentally aware and passionate about native wild life. So it is surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees and Blackwoods. All the windows are recycled as in second hand and are varied sizes and shapes. It shows its vintage being built over 32 years ago.
It has been my home for 20 years 10 without my partner who built it. It does not have any granite, marble tops or tiles. The bathroom today would be considered very basic. with its unmatched toilet and sink and bath colour. (different beige’s) It has a shower with a simple shower head. It has a bath, I would like to replace as it is a 3/4 bath and even I at 157cms /5’2″ am unable to fully immerse my body under the water. without my knees sticking up or my feet over the sides. I dream of a deep and longer length bath. (I cant afford to so I have a relaxing bath with my knees up out of the water or my feet. The house has the luxury of two toilets one upstairs and the other in the bathroom downstairs.
I do not use hot water upstairs as it wastes too much water to heat it. So my morning face wash is in cold water and in winter it is very refreshing. I think many people would find this really strange.
For people like me totally reliant on tank water (rain water collected into large water tanks 9300Litres/2100 gallons X3), you get used to be really aware of how much water you use in all aspects of you home life and garden. As in wastage for hot water to get to tap upstairs, and only flushing the toilet when necessary..there is a saying here ‘If its yellow let it mellow if its brown flush it down’ . Even though I do have the water saving half flush toilets. This saves a heap of water, and most people who have visited have been fine with it.
I have a electric pump to have water pressure into the house. One important thing when putting in water tanks is to have a tap fitted on it, as if you have blackouts the electric pump wont work and you can get water from the tanks still to flush the loo (toilet), make a cuppa, and have water to drink.
My Kitchen is simple and was very cheap in comparison to commercially built or kits. Built out of solid timber by my partner with solid timber tops. Considered luxurious today. Shelves instead of cupboards above.
Bottled Gas is used for cooking and instant hot water. Grey water is removed onto my land via French Drains. Black water is treated on my property via septic system. I use wood heater for heating, and fans for cooling. I have electricity, I once looked at the cost of solar, it was just too expensive for me as my quarterly electricity bill is generally very low. September to December was $165. I use approx 3.200 kwh a day.
My home has three bedrooms, and a storage room laundry that is huge. Two bedrooms I very rarely use, and the storage room and office/workshop apart from using the washing machine and my freezer not used much. I could happily live without them.
I live in a rural setting, but you can certainly have a simple life in a city or town, with a garden or without.
All our furniture is second hand, bought from tip shops. Our lounge suite an old one of my fathers who did not want to sit on our tip shop lounges covered in fabric and very comfortable was not to his liking. He was coming to stay and a few days before we had a knock on the door, it was a moving van? With a three piece lounge suite (two recliners) from my father in NSW. (even though it is over 15 years ago that it was delivered the cost must have been big to have it delivered to us in Tasmania) It was his old lounge a leather one not one I would have chosen; hey, but its comfy and cost us nothing and he was very happy with his very generous gift. We were able to gift our tip shop furniture to some other folk. My white goods are all old the newest would be 12 years old. I have a TV smaller than most peoples computer screens. My mobile phone is four years old as is my laptop and that is because I got a great last tax return when I was unable to work due to my mental illness. We could afford to buy brand new everything. WHY if there was no reason too. Everything was working, well comfortable and we were content. I continue to be content with what I have.
My partner used to say if someone broke in to rob us they would feel so sorry for us they would leave us stuff.
For me the simple life is not to be confused with minimalism or frugality. I am certainly not a minimalist. I realise that I am most certainly frugal. BUT not like a lot of the frugal Facebook communities and Youtube channels, where its all about how cheap you can shop? Frugal to me is not about how cheap something is but NEED. If I NEED it I will see how much it is and work out the cheapest way to get it.
I have holes in my jumper. I don’t NEED another jumper, I can repair this one by darning it. Or patching it.
I am not a fashion or trend setter. The beauty of where I live is that you can wear almost anything and you will hardly get a second look well at least by many locals tourist may just be here to view the community. I am sure there are locals who look and judge, that is their thing to bear.
Me? Well I am all about comfort, and simplicity. I am aiming to have more natural fibres in my clothing. (mainly as I can compost them). I can knit and I can sew. My PTSDC at times means I can’t concentrate or complete things which for the time being makes both of these things too difficult. I am working on that . I do without nothing and desire very little. I am working out how to save to fix my kitchen tap I broke, its been a while but I am managing without it working properly. The beauty of not having a credit card is I can only live within my means.
I have been in the past caught up with buying cheap clothes. Yet I have clothes that I paid maybe three times as much for that are still going strong twenty years later. Made out of pure cotton or linen that I picked up on sale; I never buy new clothes at full price. (except maybe undies as they are never on sale when I NEED them) .
Yet you don’t have to be growing vegetables, or what ever to live a simple life. You don’t have to move into a tiny home, or down size unless that is what you desire. You don’t have to move to acreage. Or to a rural area a country town. Cooking from scratch, or baking your own bread.
Living simply to me is about not getting rid of all your stuff just because that is how it seems. If you cant sell it, gift it, or donate it; it goes into the rubbish. If you have uses for it now keep it. Just don’t acquire more things. If you love fashion be more selective, buy things that will last and don’t get caught up on the latest trends.
In fact for many people who decide to live simply suddenly are buying dehydrators, bread makers, slow cookers, crock pots, preserving equipment, chicken houses and other things to make their lives simple.
That is hard work guys..to live the simple life in that manner especially if you still have to work to pay for your new lifestyle. I have an acre of land I dream of more, in reality right now it is perfect. Yet I have a neighbour who is working full time has five acres and all she seems to do on the weekend is mow her 5 acres. This may bring her untold delight, I am just trying to show that a simple life on land is hard work. With livestock its expensive. I am not the best vegie grower, but I give it my best shot.
That is another thing that many folk undertake to live simply is to leave the area they have lived for a long time. Moving is a huge thing let alone changing your entire life style. It is not always easy to make friends especially if you are out of town.
Your passions should determine how you want to simplify your life. It is a time thing. Be comfortable with what you have as you slowly move towards your goal.
For me the main thing about my simple life is using cash or a debit card. Not having a credit card! I can only spend my own money that I have now. I am debt free and own my home. Living simply for me is having a well stocked pantry. Buying in bulk when it works out way cheaper. Buying more items I know I use and will NEED when on sale. for example butter was $6.50 500gms It was on special for $4.50 500gms I bought as many as I could afford (6) and froze them. Crop swapping with others in the community, and using my library for books. It is also for me with my PTSDC being at home, and knowing for me being at home with my dogs is the best of living simply. The garden and nature. Staying at home simplifies my life so much.
I go to my local crop swap community gathering monthly, and I go to my local market every so often when I need something I know I can get. In staying home, I spend heaps less on petrol the wear and tear on my car which cost me $1000 and is 14 years old. I try to save seeds from my vegies and take cuttings from plants I like to help fill my garden in a frugal way.
In living a simple life I have also learnt to be honest with people about my finances. That I would love to buy their product as in raspberries today at the market but they were not in my budget and there will be raspberries for a while and I will get some in the next few weeks. If I miss out that is OK too. That is how I look at it. I don’t need raspberries, I would like to eat some, but right now I can not afford them. I also will have plenty of free blackberries soon available.
I do understand that especially in Australia the cost of renting and buying houses has gone through the roof. That so many people are in debt or have high mortgages or rent and in my mind you can live a simple life by looking at how to reduce your debt. I recall working out how much I was spending a week on coffee when I was working full time, back then coffee was $3.50 I would have two a day, so $7 x 5 days =$35 X 48 weeks(4 weeks annual leave) $1680 a year on coffee alone! That would have been 10 weeks rent!
I do know that I am so very well off in comparison to so many people out there, even living on my very small benefit. Which, I am so fortunate to live in a country that I am supported in a financial way. I do not know how anyone living in cities paying rent or mortgage could manage on the benefit I am on and I know that many people are not without a lot of help or becoming homeless or living in cars or couch surfing.
The more I thought about it I realised that for some living the simple life is a wealthy persons choice. You have something that enables you to change lifestyles. A property that has increased in value enabling you to sell and move to a cheaper area. For most people employment is not possible in cheaper areas, which is why they are often cheaper to buy into. For renters the cost of moving and setting up again is expensive. So I reckon if you are looking enviously at all the bloggers and instagramers Youtubers, who seem to have it all, just stop and think of the work, time, and money it has taken to get them there. If you are on benefits, and not in my situation (don’t get me wrong I have financial stress at times.) simply living is the most important thing. Is it simple living if you on the street living? or in Your car? Not likely.
For me living a simple life is normal, has been for a couple of decades. At one time it meant eating out more and socialising more, until I realised most of what I was doing was sort of ok, but I was not really enjoying it. The people I was doing it with are no longer in my life, even though we were friends. That is okay it is life, and life changes. All in all I enjoy my life now far more, because for me the simple life is about what is best for me in my situation. Not what anyone else thinks or feels you should be. It is interesting I am living now in a green semi self sufficient home a simple life am I finally part of a trend setting group?