humor, tiny living

11 BIG LESSONS from tiny living

11 Big Lessons from tiny living Go Jules Go v2It’s been a little over six months since I downsized from a 1,200 square foot duplex to a 350 square foot apartment. Before that, I lived in a 4-bedroom house on over two acres. I even had a barn, for crying out loud. While I was so excited to walk the talk in living more minimally (shout out to Mother Earth, ya’ll!), not to mention saving a boatload of money, I was also, um, er, what’s the word(s)? Oh, right.

Scared sh*tless.

Third floor walk-up? No yard? No parking? No laundry? No oven?? What was I thinking???

Was this going to be like the time I put ketchup in my hair?

From my summer-long search I learned that studio apartments in this area, close to a major train line bringing well-dressed commuters into New York City, were in high demand. When I stumbled upon this one after two months of scouring the internet, I knew I had to pounce.

Within an hour of seeing the ad on Craigslist, I met with the landlord, beating out over thirty other interested callers in that first day. (It may have helped that I came equipped with my credit report, five references, my three most recent pay stubs, my dog’s vet records, an irresistible photo of said dog, and my current Masters degree transcript. This project manager don’t play.)

When the landlord confessed she was a dog lover, Uncle Jesse and I had no choice but to sign the deposit check right then and there.

Finding a pet friendly rental in New Jersey is like finding a full bottle of champagne in my fridge.

Make no mistake about it, this decision wasn’t easy. The down-sizing itself was a down-right pain in the chipmunk tail. I got it in my head that the best way to sell my stuff was to turn my entire apartment into an Amazon warehouse and hold an “estate” sale.

I also thought it made sense to spend hours of time, and $14.00 on glass knobs I just had to have, to makeover old furniture that I’d inherited for free before trying to sell it on Craigslist.

We won’t even talk about the box spring that somehow got into my old apartment, but met an untimely demise trying to come out of the very same apartment.

Here lies Box Spring. 2006-2017. Rest in peace. (Get it? “Lies”? “Rest” in peace?)

To make things even more exciting, the move coincided with the week I was supposed to cycle up a mountain in Arizona with, um, inadequate training.

And it was no small (heh) feat to turn 350 square feet of this:


Into this:


So by now you must be thinking:

Was it worth it?”

Let’s find out, shall we?

11 Big Lessons from tiny living Go Jules Go v2

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

1. I Don’t Miss Any of the Stuff I Got Rid Of

To be fair, there’s still a mountain molehill of boxes and pieces of my dining room table in my parents’ basement, but those 87,000 picture frames? GOOD RIDDANCE.

Don’t worry. I kept the important things.

2. Now I Wish I Had Even Less Stuff

Do I really need two giant Tupperware containers of gift wrapping supplies? I don’t even give gifts. I just show up and take things from people.

Like the good old days when I took all of your photos of your pets wearing slap bracelets.

3. I Feel (Almost) As Free as a Bird Flying Chipmunk

Whenever I move again, I’m excited to see how fast I can pack up. Could I ever live out of a duffle bag?

This guy does it. Photo credit

4. Climbing Two Flights Only Sucks if You’re Carrying a Case of Wine #worthit

I wound up finding an old laptop backpack as I went through all of my crap before moving, and have devised a nearly hands-free strategy for getting my work supplies, coffee, water bottle, lunch and dog down the stairs and around the corner holding only a leash. I can park in a reserved spot right by my door on nights and weekends, so I plan my grocery trips around that.

Not paying for that parking spot during the day? = $1,200/year extra to spend on wine. (I’m not making this up. Twelve. Hundred. Dollars!)


5. It’s Totally Cool to Wear Those Pants Twice in a Row

I fear this strategy has only worked well because it’s been winter.

I’m sorry if I’m oversharing. Just kidding. That’s what I do here.

6. You Can Cook an Entire (Vegan) Thanksgiving Dinner with Two Electric Burners, an InstaPot and a Toaster Oven

This might be my proudest accomplishment since running that marathon peeing on that cottage in Maine.

7. People Honk…A LOT

I live on a busy street now, near the center of town, and I can’t believe how often people lay on their horns with the determination of a gaggle of hipsters waiting in line for boozy brunch. I have to shut the windows if I want to ensure I hear every word of John Mulaney’s new Netflix special (OMG WATCH IT).

On the flip side, it means the train, great restaurants, coffee, and Trader Joe’s are all just a few steps away.

Half of my remaining possessions: Trader Joe’s bags.

8. Living Next Door to a Catholic Church Will Not Make You More Godly

Speaking of unexpected noises, my nearby nuns are still messing with me at all hours, despite the anonymous letter I may or may not have sent a month ago.


9. “Need” and “Want” Are Two Very Different Things

When you don’t have any space to put anything, you’ve gotta decide pretty quickly if it’s a “need” or a “want.” For example, I need to bathe once a month, but I probably just want those pug slippers.

Photo credit

10. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…Like Cut My Own Hair

I mean, how hard can it be?

I recently found out that watching six minutes of a YouTube instructional video and then cutting your hair in a mirror using scissors meant for a righty that you found in the back of your dresser was more bold than wise. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my ‘stache, it’s that hair grows back. Often more quickly than you’d like.

11. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…No, Really

Much like those who are bringing water to impoverished communities and winning Olympic gold medals, I too have learned that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it. Hang on. That came out wrong. I know this move wasn’t a missionary trip or a heroic act of strength, but taking this leap into the unknown has really galvanized my belief that most of our limitations are set only by our thoughts. So what if you don’t know what path will appear when you take that first next step? You’ve just got to have faith that the universe has your back.

Huh. Maybe that church is rubbing off.

I always knew this photo would get a lot of mileage.


What lifestyle changes have you made that surprised you (for better or worse)?


36 thoughts on “11 BIG LESSONS from tiny living”

  1. This looks like a perfect home. Congrats on the new digs and you’ve done a great job of making it your own. I too think downsizing is a spectacular idea. Less stuff, less worry about keeping up with all of it. And, walking to everything. Awesome.

    1. Thanks so much, Brigitte! I definitely feel ready to design my own THOW. (Now I’m just showing off the acronym it took me 8 months to figure out: Tiny House On Wheels.)

  2. That’s a big step and yes, in life we have to be strong to take such decisions. I am also going to decide one important thing , crossing my fingers, praying to God to get it right and show me the path.

  3. I told myself that I would refrain from commenting on your blog, if only because I don’t want to appear like a blog groupie. Don’t worry, I won’t toss my bra on your blog stage.

    I too downsized last year, although I went from a 1500 sq ft house to a 1024 sq ft condo (the extra 24 COUNT). Unlike you, I purged by renting a Winnebago sized dumpster, which I filled to overflowing. The scads of other stuff that survived the purge were victims of the FREE STUFF category on Craigslist. I even had one guy answer the ad and asked if I had more stuff before he drove away.

    Congrats. Let me say that your choice of wall colors is impeccable. It makes a difference when living tiny.

    1. Hang on. That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard. I mean the not commenting on my blog part. Surely you know we don’t “play things cool” around these parts. Don’t let the kibble-eating, Darren Criss PowerPoint presentation-making, chipmunk-loving goings-on fool you.

      I had one woman come back to my “estate” sale THREE TIMES. She took stuff I didn’t even know I had! (YES, ma’am, you can have the flower pots scattered around the backyard!)

      And THANK YOU! The blue turned out to be a lot more “Teletubby” and a lot less “Wedgwood china” than I had intended, but we’ve grown fond of each other.

      1. La La

        OK, I will comment and promise to keep my under things to myself. After all, I am no Chip or Dale dancer ( I know… boo hiss).

        Three times would scare me. That woman was stalking you. The next visit would be to kill you and take EVERYTHING. I also just started leaving things at the curb, foregoing the “Take Me, I Am Free” sign lest my neighbors get the wrong idea.

          1. I left my couch on the curb, went to go buy garbage stickers to have it picked up, got a citation while I was at the store buying the garbage stickers. A storm blew the stickers off, so the garbage men wouldn’t pick it up, so I got a call from the lawyer who represented the people who bought my house — asking for $50 to have the couch thrown away.

            I have no wax burns on my face though…

  4. So, I clicked on some of the affiliate links and I’m glad to see that the Catholic church is one of them and is paying you a commission. I think that’s fair of them for waking you up at the oddest times.

    1. Oh, how I wish I could post videos here… I just captured Uncle Jesse howling AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS as we talked by our “favorite” neighborhood church. Everybody’s a critic.

    1. Thank you, woman!! At this point I’m pretty sure I could get by with my wallet, my laptop and Uncle Jesse. Well. And clothes. I’m wondering if I should just Steve Jobs it and wear the same thing every day.

  5. You have done wonders with that space! LOVE IT! Also agree that the paint colors are perfect. So I’m thinking you should really write a book, maybe a “how-to” type thing…you could include vegan recipes, downsizing, tiny houses, tiny pug slippers, etc. I would buy it!

    Funny, I’ve always secretly wanted to become a monk. All I would need is a robe, a wooden spoon, a bowl and that is it. (okay, maybe some nice comfy flip flops…) I used to have literally nothing when I was in college out west. (At one point I was homeless and slept on people’s couches)

    I finally got a tiny hole in the wall apartment and lived there alone for a good year with hardly any furniture. I had a futon bed, no couch, no TV, and only a tiny table in my tiny kitchen. I used to stack all my books and things in piles. And guess what? I was probably the happiest I’d ever been and I still look back at those days fondly. I only had things I needed and loved — books, my stereo, my keyboard, food. It was all I needed. Damn, I wish I could do that again! I’m slowly purging my life of crap I don’t need and it is so freeing. GOOD FOR YOU, JULSEY!! You are an inspiration.

  6. My husband and I are trying to downsize, albeit less drastically. For thirty years, someone else paid to move us, so we just continued to accumulate.

    I learned a brilliant technique, though. I’m keeping all of my stuff, and pitching John’s. Because I really do need that Bill Clinton draft dodger for the new bedroom door.

  7. You have said it best – that much of our limitations (in fact, all) come from our thoughts about them. Law of Attraction – Pam Grout on WordPress talks about this all the time.
    Read a couple when you have 5-6 minutes.

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