Downsizing to Flip-Flops (a simpler life)


“If you’re lucky enough to live at the beach, you’re lucky enough.” Unknown

Living in our 4,000-square-foot home was comfortable.

We bought the fixer-upper on meager salaries. Within months, my husband and I were offered better paying jobs and renovating the old place got a lot easier.

We sealed the nearly 100-year-old rambling house with caulk and foam, hung storm windows, tore things down and nailed them back up, gutted the kitchen and baths, and added rooms.

Best of all, we could afford to fill every square inch of the space with five couches and dozens of rugs and knick-knacks.

Commodes got cleaned, all four of them, five bedrooms were dusted and vacuumed regularly, and hardwood floors downstairs, upstairs and over the garage were polished.

Eight years after we purchased our dream home, the place was looming large and happily-ever-after grew tired. We called it “the Big House.”

The Big House

The Big House

“Wouldn’t it be nice to come home and have nothing to do?” we’d ask each other.

Before we knew it, our big house sold for a big price. My husband and I road through a neighborhood we knew we couldn’t afford, just in case we were wrong. That’s when I spotted a house sitting 700 feet from the ocean, with barely more than that amount in square footage.

We had to laugh because this was the little house.

The stucco-sided cottage was hidden behind vines and bushes twice the height of its porch. There were holes the size of hot tubs in the yard that were dug by the owner’s dog. We joked the house came with pools. I told my husband to turn around.

“You’re kidding me, right?” he said.

Since I’m the dreamer, not the mathematician, I ended up in tears over our downsizing. One evening during dinner, my husband wrote on his napkin:

4,000 square feet – 1,000 square feet = 3,000 square feet

“That’s the amount of space we just sold and did not buy back, 3,000 square feet. All our stuff isn’t going to fit,” he said.

I already knew that. What I didn’t know was I might not have a place to sleep since the king-size bed was so large. Space for the dresser and chest of drawers was out of the question. And I wasn’t sure there was a place for a table in the kitchen.

It’s been three years since our transition and we’re down from three storage buildings to one. There’s plenty of room for our bed and the kitchen table. We didn’t need drawers after all. It’s the beach so baskets are fine for almost everything.

the little house

the little house

In fact, with the ocean in my front yard, all I really need is a bathing suit and flip-flops.

Any plans for downsizing in your future?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – My flip flops and I are headed in the direction of simplifying life.


8 responses »

  1. Great story. Downsizing would also be a challenge for me as I find it difficult to part with the memories of my stuff, mostly. I’m sure I could get over it, with some serious training.

  2. I’m downsizing too, Kim. I inherited a ton of furniture and other stuff from my grandmother’s home, and it has completely overtaken our house. So I’m slowly saying goodbye to all the childhood memories, giving away or donating everything. I read a book recently that really helped me change my mindset about stuff. It’s called “The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide,” by Francine Jay. That kind little book has revolutionized my life.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Renee. We did the same thing and it turned out to be so much fun just to give the stuff away. I’m going to check out the book since I wouldn’t mind getting rid of even more. Good luck with your venture!

  3. Thanks for writing such a great article! Once you’ve made the downsizing move, it’s no longer about what you’ve lost, it’s what you’ve gained, isn’t it?
    Deciding to learn how to live well with less was the best decision my husband and I ever made. Downsizing means I know what I have and where it belongs. I love everything I have and have everything I need. Downsizing has brought us contentment.
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Thank you, Kate, for visiting and for your insightful comment. I love that you understand – I couldn’t have expressed it better! Before we downsized, I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had that I didn’t even like. Today, like you said, I love everything I have. If not, out it goes ’cause there’s no room to keep it “just in case.” Downsizing has been a wonderful lesson not only for our home, but also for my life and my work.

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