Three years ago we were fortunate to be able to leave our jobs for a few months and live in another country. That experience, and the fresh perspective it gave us, was the spark that ignited our efforts to live better with less.
Now we are once again living outside the country, this time for a school year. It’s a dream that was only possible because we’d freed up time (for planning and preparation, for extra hours at work), reduced our living expenses, and reduced the amount of stuff we needed to put into storage during our absence.
It’s been interesting to keep working toward our goals while living in a totally different context. There are many things we just don’t have to think about. For example, before our move we went from two cars to zero, which automatically reduces our carbon footprint and our monthly expenses, and ensures that we get outdoor exercise every day. The higher cost of energy where we’re living is helping us be more mindful of how we use electricity and oil. And we’re figuring out how we can buy locally grown and organic food products in our new city. We’re also willfully unemployed, which for us means an exchange of job-related stress for ample sleep, exercise, community education classes, and volunteering. Like I said, it’s a dream.
Although our return to the U.S. is still a ways off, we’ve started talking about what else we can change once we’re back. A priority will be choosing a place to live (renting again) where we can use public transportation and our feet to get around so that we only need one car. I’ll also be looking for a job where I can prioritize my mental and physical health. My hope is that we can offset a lower salary (assuming that will be a compromise) by reducing expenses in ways that connect back to our goals, for example by cooking more at home and having only one car.
What goals—daily or long-term—are you trying to achieve by simplifying?