Downsizing Like a Rock Star

Years ago I read an article about a couple who, after the kids had grown and moved out, downsized from the large family home in the suburbs to a one bedroom apartment in the city. They gave away or sold nearly everything they owned, including their car. When they wanted to travel, they took a taxi to the airport.

I remember feeling so envious of the unknown couple and deep inside, my desire to downsize like this took root. When the opportunity came for us to move to Guatemala and embrace the expat life, it didn’t take long to say YES!

We had our cookie business to sell, which actually happened quite naturally and quickly once I put the word out. Our other business — WiDo Publishing–Β  is managed online, so where we live no longer matters for our employment. Any phone calls can be handled through Skype or Google. Wireless is everywhere, making such a move entirely feasible in our situation.

We can live there for a third of what it costs to live here. We can stay in touch with family through the Internet. Several of them have already made plans to come to Guatemala this year to visit.

When we made the decision, my greatest concern was: “What to do with all our stuff?!!!?” Well, little by little it is disappearing. I don’t miss, grieve for, or barely remember the accumulation of a lifetime as it makes its way out of my environment. As it all goes away, I feel so much freer. Lighter. Happier.

Possessions are nice when needed. And used. But when their time is up, they become a burden to store, clean, move, sort– a burden even to think about.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m ready to rock on.


25 thoughts on “Downsizing Like a Rock Star

    1. karenjonesgowen Post author

      Mirka, My mom did the same. She was determined not to unload decades of accumulated stuff on her daughters when she passed, for us to have the work of sorting and eliminating. I feel like that, too. I’m giving it to my kids now, at least what they want– the rest is being sold or given to charity. I’ve seen couples who move to bigger houses when their kids leave home, giving them more room to add stuff to their lives. I don’t get it.

  1. robbear13

    I understand the feeling. We moved into an apartment, and downsized. More recently, we have moved into a house. Everything we have fits, but it still feels like we have too much β€” mostly I have too much (in the way of books and papers). Sigh!

    Happy downsizing! Rock on, Karen!

    Blessings and Bear hugs, too!

    1. karenjonesgowen Post author

      Rob, We recently moved to this house 3 years ago and reduced our belongings by about half. I thought I’d downsized very well, until it comes time to put basically everything we own in a few suitcases LOL.

  2. Karen Walker

    I downsized my parents when my mom died and I’m starting to think of letting go of possessions now as well. What a wonderful reason you are doing this for. Hugs and prayers, Karen, on your new adventure

    1. karenjonesgowen Post author

      Karen, I highly recommend it! It was hard at first to make the decisions, what to let go and what to store in our son’s basement for later, and what to keep/take with us. All the furniture and household goods went. (With the exception of a few specialty kitchen tools I’m taking with me.) We are only keeping the clothes that look good on us and that we really love. The most time-consuming task was sorting through boxes of family and personal history and photos and deciding what to do with it. Much was duplicated, the rest was organized for scanning later. I’m dividing the scanning tasks among my kids πŸ™‚

    1. karenjonesgowen Post author

      Maria, Yes, that’s always been my problem. When my husband sold his beloved tractor/mower/snow shoveler it turned a corner. When he gave up his massive oak desk I took a picture of it being carried out, it was so momentous. Next week we’ll sell our van– hope he survives!

    1. karenjonesgowen Post author

      Christauna, Hahaha πŸ™‚ Your time will come, and it will be all too soon. There’s been a lot of mixed feelings, I can’t deny that, but they are feelings beginning when the oldest children started leaving home. I’ve had to deal with the whole empty nest syndrome for awhile.

      I had a few rough weeks before my youngest got home from his mission and I realized I wouldn’t be here for his post-mission life of college, dating, singles ward, engagement and all that. But we’ve had a few good months with him at home, he’s now happily moved into his own place and working and going to school. He will survive, I guess I will too.

  3. Hilary

    Hi Karen .. well done – I’m so pleased it all seems to be going so positively – and what a great way of downsizing .. moving to a different country, but where one of your children resides with their family (tells you I can’t remember son/daughter!) and their new business .. at least small will be relevant out there .. as you’ll be outside a great deal I expect … and have new interests … as well as that link to WiDo …

    Enjoy … life is always ups and downs .. but they’ll mostly be ups .. especially as it looks like you’ll have a rash of Jones-Gowen visitors!!! Happy 2014 – and good luck with selling the house and the van .. Hilary

  4. Donna OShaughnessy

    BRAVO! We too are doing the same although our move is just 20 miles away. LOVE giving so much stuff away as we go from a 5 BR farmhouse to a 1 BR earth covered home. Which we still have to build. Details…details.. Also moving into a new career…writer. Life is so fun at this age. It really is. Can’t wait to hear more Karen!

  5. Dee Ready

    Dear Karen, congratulations on your decision to embrace change and risk and the letting go of things that you now see are no longer necessary. I look forward to reading your postings from your new home. Peace.

  6. Susan Gourley

    We’re starting the slow process of getting ready to downsize from our big six bedroom country home. I love living in the country but my husband longs to move back into town. I’m not a collector and right now my biggest thing to move would be my books. How can I part with them?

  7. stephie5741

    You go! Our house flooded in 2010 and we had to remove everything, toss much of it out, and rebuild. It sucked, but it made me realize that we really don’t need much to survive each day. An outfit or two, a pair of shoes, a seat to sit on, a bed to sleep in, and a kitchen for meals. It’s easy to forget that feeling now, surrounded by stuff!


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