Simple Living, Revisited

///Simple Living, Revisited

Simple Living, Revisited

In honor of being featured on the list of “11 Up & Coming Minimalist Bloggers You Should Know About” at A Life Set Free, I’m reposting something I had originally posted on my other blog before I launched Nomadtopia.

If you’ve been following my adventures over the years, you may remember hearing me talk about the concept of voluntary simplicity, or simple living. I wrote a post about it in October 2007, The Satisfaction of Enough. At the time I felt it was one of the most important/meaningful posts I’d ever written, and I remember being a bit disappointed by the lack of response from my readers (all 10 or so of them)—though it did bring out of the woodwork a kindred spirit that I’m still in touch with, though we’ve never met in person (hi, Leigh!).

I gradually “forgot” about simplicity again after I wrote that post. Although I was reading blogs like Zen Habits and The Simple Dollar that were based on similar philosophies, I guess I figured, “I moved abroad with only two suitcases – how much simpler can one get?”

But somewhere along the way, while “simplicity” morphed into a whole new movement called “minimalism,” I bought an apartment and furnished/equipped it, mostly by filling those same two suitcases with more things every time I went back to the States. (Amazingly, the TSA agents hardly blinked an eye when they had to hand-search my carry-on because it contained a stainless-steel stockpot!)

After my fiancé, Roberto, moved in with me last July, I tried not to take it personally when people would sometimes ask him how it was going, and he’d say “Fine, but the apartment’s too small.” Around the same time I read an article in the New York Times about how buying things doesn’t make us happy (“Duh,” was my general reaction). The article led me to the blog of a woman mentioned in the article, and then to a whole slew of new minimalism-related blogs that had cropped up while I was busy filling my new apartment with stuff.

And I turned to Roberto one night and said, “The apartment’s not too small, we have too much stuff! (And haven’t figured out where to put anything.)” Intrigued, he agreed, and I started telling him more about this whole concept of simple living/minimalism. We now often talk about the choices we make regarding our spending, etc. in terms of minimalismo, and are slowly beginning to work on paring down our possessions as well as better organizing the ones we want to keep.

I’m hoping you’ll come along for the ride as Roberto and I begin our life together, motivated by minimalism, travel, and so much more—we have a lot of exciting plans in the works, and I hope that in some way we can inspire others just as we have been inspired. Stay tuned!

2017-04-10T11:59:44+00:00February 18, 2011|Minimalism, Nomad Life|13 Comments


  1. marianney | A Life Set Free February 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    And you say you aren’t a minimalist! Ha! You should see how much stuff I’VE got 😉 But it’s all a mindset. At least I know I have to start paring down and in some ways, I have. When we move abroad, that will definitely force us to get rid of almost everything and I am looking forward to the day!

    • Amy February 19, 2011 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Let’s not even talk about all the stuff I have stored at my parents’ place that I’m going to have to go through later this year before they move—it won’t be pretty!

      But you’re right, a big move is excellent motivation. If I hadn’t put everything in storage for ten months in 2004-2005, moved across the country in 2006, and moved to Buenos Aires in 2007, I’d be in MUCH worse shape than I am!

  2. Jenny @ exconsumer February 18, 2011 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Amy!

    I found you today on Marianne’s blog, A Life Set Free. It sounds like your life is quite the adventure and I can’t wait to hear more about it!

    Your comment about the apartment not being too small, but rather too full of stuff is superb. I just love it. What a great example of how so many of our wants in life are colored by our perceptions and mind set.

    • Amy February 19, 2011 at 11:31 am - Reply

      Thanks for visiting, Jenny! I love the name of your blog and I look forward to checking it out. I’m glad you liked that comment—it really was a mind shift for us and is a big help. By thinking about it that way, instead of thinking we just need a bigger place (which we would then fill with more stuff!), it helps us appreciate where we are and recognize how much we have that we don’t need or want—instead of always wanting more. It goes back to my earlier post about the concept of “enough.” As long as we don’t fill it with crap, this apartment is just right for us—we already have enough.

  3. Jeff & Gena S February 19, 2011 at 7:55 am - Reply

    Really enjoyed this post and so tickled to have found you via A life set free! We really enjoy getting to know others interested in sharing about simpler living (we also blog about slow travel, something I think we might have in common with you) at any rate, we look forward to digging around your site and seeing what your up to!


    • Amy February 19, 2011 at 11:35 am - Reply

      Hi Jeff and Gena, welcome! Marianne had shared one of your posts with me a while back and I can tell we definitely do have things in common. 🙂 I’m glad you liked the post—as you said, it is wonderful to be able to connect with like-minded people to remind us that we’re not alone in our efforts to live a simpler life. And I suspect this lifestyle would be much easier if we weren’t living in the middle of a huge city—we might have to try the tropical island approach!

  4. Gena February 20, 2011 at 5:45 am - Reply


    It is easier in some ways, ok, a lot of ways. It’s hard to work up even a passing urge to shop when we have such natural beauty to enjoy. Most of our entertainment is free being outdoors/nature oriented and is getting us healthier all the time which we’re super grateful for. We enjoy city life too, we love visiting Seattle, Denver, San Diego etc. we’re just super glad to know where we’re coming home to as a home base. If you ever want island info let us know 🙂 Out of curiosity, is there a certain aspect to life where you live that you would change? We’d love to visit there someday….

    • Amy February 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      Gosh, that is a really good question! Actually I think that as far as big cities go, Buenos Aires has a pretty good vibe for allowing one to focus on spending time with family and friends, and there are lots of free cultural events and nearby parks to enjoy. But the traffic is crazy and I think there is a general lack of trust among strangers, and lack of accountability overall, both of which get tiring sometimes. Oh and the dirty streets, full of dog poop and garbage!

      We definitely want to spend more time closer to nature and in more mellow locations – smaller towns/more remote spots – but whenever I think about actually doing it I get worried that I might get bored. Will just have to try it and see!

  5. Paul Strobl February 25, 2011 at 10:47 am - Reply

    I’ve been paring down items as well over the last year. E has caught the bug, too (all except for shoes, that is–I have no expectation of this changing LOL). I’ve put extra kitchen things and some clothes “in PURGEatory” to see if I miss them. Looks like they’ll all be donated someplace soon 🙂

    Now that we use Cuevana, my TV is looking more and more worried of what I might do.



    • Amy March 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      PURGEatory is a great idea! I actually have done the same, with a few piles of clothes pushed back on the shelf that I’m trying not to touch, and a box of kitchen stuff that just didn’t fit in the cupboard anyway. Plenty more to do, though! Will be a great winter activity.

      I didn’t know about Cuevana, I’ll check it out! Roberto and I bonded early on over the fact that neither of us had a TV, and we have no plans to get one! We watch movies on the computer occasionally, but that’s enough for me. It is fascinating how ingrained TV is in society, though. When his sister-in-law asked about our not having a TV, I think she was pretty offended by the concept of not wanting to watch TV, which is a big part of her lifestyle. And when I first moved into my place and was trying to figure out where to put furniture, etc., almost everyone asked, “Where are you going to put the TV?” Another great reason not to have one, actually—there really would be no good place to put it!

  6. Jen Gresham June 8, 2011 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Definitely along for the ride! My family is about to head over to London and we are using that as our simplicity catalyst. We’d been working on the idea of minimalism for over a year with slow progress (my husband is delightfully sentimental).

    Now he’s on board. We got a 1200 sq ft flat and I’m determined to keep it neat (and simple). Look forward to reading more about your journey. I laughed when I read about the stockpot in your suitcase. We will literally be following in your footsteps!

    • Amy June 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Great, Jen, nice to hear from you! I didn’t know you were headed abroad; that’s fantastic. They often say one of the best ways to simplify is to pretend you’re moving abroad, but of course actually doing it is even more effective (and more fun!).

      Starting over is a great opportunity to identify what you really need and want, and only bring in things that are important to you (and yes, the stockpot was one of them, haha!).

  7. Amy Scott March 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Update: Someone recently told me that I should write an update to this post, to share how things have been going since I wrote this, and I told him that was a great idea! It’s in the works. 🙂

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