Last week we moved back to Chicago after spending the last three years living near Toronto. We'd previously lived in Chicago for about four years, and I never thought we'd return. Things change, situations change and new opportunities arrive - lots of them as it turns out. As luck and opportunity would have it, we ended up with about a month to pack up and set out on our next adventure. An international move, with two kids, two dogs, and two working adults was not easy - but we did it.
Living and growing up in Canada, I grew up in a suburb about 30 minutes from Toronto, so it was close enough to get a dose of the city when we wanted it. The rest of our time was spent in a house, two feet from our neighbors, driving to strip malls, big box stores, and shopping malls. So much of our time was spent in the car. Life in the burbs feels pretty relaxed – as long as you're home, and not driving around with the other eight million SUVs and minivans late for soccer practice.
We just downsized from a 3-bedroom, 1,700 square foot townhome to a 2-bedroom, 1,100 square foot condo in the city and so far it fits – it feels really good. We were proud that the worldly possessions of two adults and two children were able to be packed into a 17-foot truck. We decided if we ever need a truck bigger than this to move, then we have more than we need.
Before we moved, we trashed, donated, and sold absolutely everything we wouldn't use at least several times a year. This resulted in a very successful garage sale and some happy friends and family that came for a visit and left with bags full of free shit.
Even after we moved in, if things didn't fit into the closets or kitchen cabinets, they were tossed. I'm not going to pay a monthly fee to house my stuff in a storage unit. Imagine the cost of a unit at $80 a month for just a year. That is $960. Is the stuff worth that much? Could you get rid of it and re-purchase it when and if you ever needed it again?
As I unpacked, I realized I hadn’t downsized quite enough and let go of a lot more things. But having cupboards and closets that don't explode when you open them, is deeply satisfying.
The kids are also now sharing a bedroom. They're 1 and 4, so we have a few more years before room-sharing gets weird. They've adjusted amazingly and I'm pretty sure they love having the company.
Here are some of our unexpected perks of downsizing and moving to the city:
- the kids are happily sharing a room
- the kids are playing together and independently even better than before
- the dogs are more relaxed and making more 4-legged friends
- everyone is outside at least a few hours a day
- we're walking at least 3 miles on an average day, much more on days with outings
- I have no idea how much gas costs because I haven't had to buy it
- great city parks
- walking to work
- meeting friends and family for lunch
- lots of smiling faces
- more conversations with strangers
- people watching
- wine at the grocery store
PS - less is more: lessons in downsizing and less space = less stuff = more life