The Shoebox Chronicles: How living in 300 square feet has given me the freedom to live more

If you asked me five years ago when I got my first apartment if I could ever see myself living in a space that was 2.5x smaller I would’ve said “no way!” Coming off the heels of living in my family’s expansive 3,000 square foot home I thought my measly 730 sq ft of space was small, but livable. My next apartment was 850 sq ft. The apartment after that was 1,200.

 

It’s almost expected in this society to keep “moving up.” You keep striving for the higher paying job, the nicer car, the bigger house—but what ends up happening is that we eventually plateau. Suddenly there are no more higher paying jobs within our reach, we have the nicest car we can afford, we have a house that is far bigger than we need. What happens then?

 

The idea of a minimalist lifestyle first appealed to me when I moved to Maine last year taking only what could fit in my car with me. Not knowing how long my Maine experience was going to be I didn’t see the point in getting another spacious one-bedroom apartment when I hadn’t even procured a bed yet.

 

 

My first Maine apartment was 500 square feet. It had enough room for my bed, a nightstand, a chair, a bookshelf, and still plenty of room to do yoga and get around. The best part of my new space was being able to vacuum my whole apartment without changing outlets. I know this is a small, seemingly insignificant thing, but I just thought it was cool! I was doing so well in this small space that when I was looking for my next apartment I thought, “Just how small can I go?”

 

I’m currently living in 300 square feet, and I love it. I like that it only takes me 15 minutes to clean my entire apartment, and yes, that includes a single-outlet run with the vacuum. I like that all my things fit just so. It doesn’t feel like the space is jam-packed full of stuff. There’s also plenty of room for yoga and getting around.

 

What I love most about my little shoebox apartment is the freedom it has given me. This is by far the most inexpensive apartment I’ve ever had, and I’m finally living below my means instead of being a good head above it. With that I’ve been able to travel and have more adventures which was the whole point of this Maine experience anyway.

 

I used to feel so guilty whenever I spent too much time away from my other apartments. I figured since I spent so much money every month just “having” the space I should be there as much as possible. And because I was spending so much money every month on living expenses, there wasn’t a lot of extra money to go out and do things. I knew I had to get out of that vicious cycle, and I’m so glad I did because I have so much more freedom now.

 

Freedom

 

I don’t hesitate to sign up for the dance class I really want to take. I don’t think twice when booking a weekend getaway, or a week-long visit back home. I have the freedom to do those things now. I am able to balance spending money now, and saving for later—something that was severely out of balance before.

 

Even when I’m staying local, I’ve noticed that I spend far more time out and about than I used to. Again since my expenses are so much lower I no longer feel that guilt to always be in my apartment. I take walks after work, go out to dinner, hit up the library, or whatever else I feel like doing that day sometimes not returning to my apartment until later in the evening.

 

Living in a small space isn’t for everyone. Some people are of the mind that more space equal more happiness, and that’s okay. That might be true for them, but this is what works best for me. To me living smaller is not limiting, but actually makes me feel limitless.

 

4 Comments

  1. I have a friend who calls it “right sizing” instead of “down sizing.” I just finished reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s made me want to do what you’ve done. I truly believe that purging the clutter from our homes helps purge the clutter from our minds. 🙂

    • I like that! Right sizing is a great way to describe it. You should definitely start small with the purging and soon it’ll become second nature. It really does free up your mind when there are less things around you to think about. 🙂

Comment