life in a trailer with

Doing More With Less – Like, 2500 Square Feet Less!

As you know we like to share stories of others who decided to sell all their stuff (or most of it) in order to live life a little differently. So to not buck the trend, here’s another guest post about a couple who did just that. This one is from Emily Rohrer of ownlessdomore. And just to spice things up I’ve sprinkled a few dashes of *Editor’s Notes* within Emily’s recipe. Bon apetit!

How doing more with less has worked out for us

Tim and Emily of ownmoredoless.
Tim and Emily. Or Timily if they were a celebrity couple.

In the autumn of 2015, we downsized from a 4-bedroom, 2900-sf house in suburban San Antonio to a 38-foot fifth wheel (nicknamed “The Toad”), and have been living in it full time ever since. We sold the house and everything in it!

Why’d we do it?

My husband, Tim, and I knew when our youngest left the nest that we didn’t want to continue living in that big house with all that stuff.

What we didn’t know — and still don’t — was where we wanted to live, or even what that home might look like.*

What we did know — and still do — was that we were willing to ditch almost all of our possessions in order to streamline our lives, hit the road, and start fresh when we found the right spot.

*Editor’s Note: Welcome to the club. We’ve been bouncing around for a few years now and we STILL don’t know – but it’s fun to just go with the flow for a change!

How’d we do it?

Because we knew we’d be starting over someday, and because our sons aren’t yet in living situations that allow them to have all their stuff, we rented a 10′ x 15′ storage unit for the duration. In it we’ve stashed all the sentimental/irreplaceable stuff we wanted to keep (photo albums, baby mementos, etc.), all of Tim’s garage/workshop tools and equipment, and four pieces of furniture. *

*Editor’s Note: I kept my tools as well, they just don’t keep their value, but they still have WAY more value to store than having to go out and buy all new tools. And your local neighborhood Tools will low-ball you for your tools at yard sales, so it’s best to keep your tools away from those Tools!

As for everything else? We sold it using the usual methods; online, yard sales, consignment shops, and donating to charity. One of those charities was our younger son’s college apartment, which we outfitted right down to hand towels and waste baskets. He didn’t have to buy a thing. If you know the price of tuition and books these days, you know that’s a huge help!

We also digitized all of our important paperwork*. And we threw away or recycled items that didn’t stand a chance at a second life.

*Editor’s Note: Cloud storage – YES – THANK YOU! People are starting to get it.

Emily's pile of stuff
That’s a lot of stuff!

What stuff do we wish we’d kept — or not?

Overall, I’d say we did a fine job predicting what we’d need for living in 355 square feet.

That said, I’ve kicked myself for not hanging on to a few things:

  1. Cooling racks. You know, like for letting breads, pies, and cakes cool on the countertop? We have a gas stove, and I thought the burner grate would be sufficient. But then I made cookies. And I had nowhere to let them cool other than on the pan I’d baked them on, which I needed to use again for the next dozen, because RV ovens are tiny.
  2. Large mixing bowl. I didn’t think I’d need one to cook for just the two of us, but it turns out RV parks are very fond of potluck suppers. And sometimes one of our kids stays with us. Anyway, I ended up buying a new one because the medium-sized one I kept isn’t big enough.
  3. Blender or food processor. I thought a stick blender would be adequate. I cannot make hummus or margaritas with a stick blender, and these are important food groups!
  4. Bathrobes. Sometimes we take advantage of park showers and/or hot tubs. Schlepping back to the RV wearing nothing but a towel is not advisable — for anyone involved. *
  5. Medium-sized cooler. We kept a small soft-sided one for packing lunches, and a giant insulated plastic one for tent camping trips. If a third person or another couple joins us for an outing, our meal either gets smooshed in the small cooler, or swims in the giant one. We’ve used that big blue one only once since we started this adventure, so I think I see a solution…

*Editor’s Note: Yep! I had a nice soft fleece robe (which my wife wore more often than I) and it was cozy and warm and felt like good times! And yes, I do miss it. 

And then there’s also some stuff we kept on board that we haven’t used often enough to justify keeping.

  1. Board games. We didn’t play them that often as a family, but thought we might when we had more leisure time, so we kept a few. Nope! The games cabinet in here is rarely opened, just like when we had a house.
  2. Tackle box.Someone thought he’d be going fishing. He hasn’t.
  3. Kite. Someone thought he’d be flying one. He hasn’t.*
  4. Books. We kept a small selection, but it turns out that we do most of our reading on our various electronic devices.

*Editor’s Note: Okay, but if someone ever tells you to “go fly a kite”, at least you’re prepared!

What stuff do we miss most?

  1. A bath tub. Yeah, I know that’s more of a structural feature than a material possession, but we really, REALLY miss having one! *
  2. The photo albums that are in our storage unit. Sometimes I want to reminisce, or post an older picture on social media, but with few exceptions I’m limited to a digital photo library that goes back only to 1999. I feel like part of our history is missing.

*Editor’s Note: We discovered floating, which is like a bath, only AWESOMER! We highly recommend it.  

For us, downsizing to nearly nothing was almost too easy, and I admit that I got so into gleefully pitching our stuff that I may have gone a bit overboard. But not by much!*

*Editor’s Note: Yes, it almost becomes addictive minimizing your load, and we too have a few regrets, but at least we won’t have any regrets about doing something completely different in life.

Timily and The Toad…wow, that has an insanely nice ring to it!

For more on Emily and Tim’s adventures, you can check out their social networks here:

Now go sell all your stuff and start doing more with less!


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