Some people move from the city to the country in search of a simpler lifestyle. We moved from the country to the city, never imagining what a perspective we’d gain on living with less.

When Gabriel and I moved to Ireland last fall, we came with two 50 lb. suitcases each and set up housekeeping in this tiny two-room flat that we now call home. By the time the sea container brought our seventeen boxes that we’d shipped from America, we wondered why we’d felt the need for so much stuff. While I have done more than my share of complaining about our cramped quarters and the need to scale down so much of my comfortable farm-country North American lifestyle, I am coming to see that there are advantages to this way of life.

1) Less laundry. I do laundry once a week or so. We don’t get our clothes very dirty and typically wear them twice or more before they go into the hamper. When Gabriel was in Wales, he had to live out of a suitcase as a farmhand for ten days, and he learned to wash regularly and wear some clothes more than once, even on a farm. Coming home to a closetful of clothes suddenly seemed like excess. This from the man who brought around 100 button-down shirts to our marriage. (It wasn’t his fault; being the smallest of the four Jantzi brothers means you get all the hand-me-downs. I actually had fun sorting, selling and donating. Even now he has shirts in storage waiting to be pulled out when he needs a new one.) I pared down my wardrobe a lot too, both when I moved to Canada and when we moved overseas. Old or disliked clothing hanging at the back of my closet does no one any good.

2) Less food waste. Oh, I don’t like having only an under-the-counter fridge with no freezer space, but one thing it forces me to do is USE what’s in there. Not having extra storage space means I make better use of the space available, which means the food moves faster and I don’t let it spoil so often. (I do still dream of a deep freezer, though.)

3) Simpler eating habits. I do all my grocery shopping on foot, and let me tell you, when you have to carry every single bit of your purchases, you think twice before buying that heavy 2-liter bottle of pop. We’re learning that we don’t need meat every day, either. (Although I should add that we’re both looking forward to that freezerful of meat we left back in Canada–the reunion when we go home this spring promises to be sweet.)

What’s probably influenced us the most has been the European lifestyle and our slim budget. Europeans tend to conserve space, energy and resources more efficiently than Americans in more ways than I can list in this post. Living expenses in Europe, Dublin in particular, are sky-high, which has forced us to be much more careful with the ol’ pocketbook. Not a bad thing, although again–I’ve done enough complaining about it. What I’m trying to say is that I’m glad for what we’ve been forced to learn, and I hope we’re able to keep up the simpler lifestyle choices if/when we ever do live somewhere else.

How have you chosen to live more simply? I’d love to hear it!