In November of 2015, my boyfriend Casey and I moved into our 1995 Ford Sportsmobile campervan full time. We went from a very large four bedroom home that we were renting with friends to a shared 80 square feet. Neither of us owned too much to start with, but the process of downsizing definitely took some time and planning. Here are a few tips on how to purge your life and get down to the bare necessities.
1. Furniture is easy and the first to go. If you plan on living in your tiny home for awhile, or forever, you won’t need furniture. Unless it’s your grandmother’s armoire or an important family heirloom, sell that shit. Check with friends, post on Craigslist, have a garage sale (my favorite!), donate it all, etc. Large pieces of furniture are irrelevant to the lifestyle you are about to dive into.
2. Make a plan for storage. Even without owning much to start with, we still didn’t whittle it down to fitting everything into the van right away. For example, I have a huge book collection, many of which I have acquired over a decade or more and don’t have the heart to part with. That and my 1950’s La Marzocco brass and copper espresso machine. Or all of Casey’s snowboarding gear he wouldn’t need chasing warm weather, but would be silly to sell it all. Get a storage unit, ask your parents or friends about their basement space, or in our case, use the other van you own as a free storage unit and park it on your old employer’s property.
3. Plan ahead when going through clothes, kitchenware and other household items. If you start early, you can consign most of this stuff and get money for it before you take off. Remember, you only need one or two of something, not 15. If you can resell it, do it. It’s easy money right back into your pocket.
4. Get creative with the space you have available. Can you add a roof rack or cargo box? Can you build or buy drawers or shelves anywhere to add storage space? Utilize your small space wisely. Create a “home” for everything you need. The more organized things are, the easier everyday life will be.
5. Let that shit go! After a year and a half in the van, we have left Colorado, returned, left, and returned again. Everytime we come back we get rid of more stuff we were holding onto. It’s not always easy to release that “but we might need this at some point” feeling, but I promise, if you haven’t used it in a month you probably don’t need it. And if it turns out you do, you can always get a new one.
6. Before you move in, start going through your day as usual, but imagine you’re in your tiny home. Play out daily scenarios in your head. How will this go down in the van? What will you need? What won’t you need? Take notes, make lists and piles of “yes” and “no.” Understand that you won’t need every size of pot and pan or 10 different pairs of shoes. Start planning daily activities around minimalism.
7. Get stoked! You’re about to make a lifestyle shift that will change your perceptions of comfort and convenience. This is a good thing! You may not be able to get rid of everything at once, and that’s okay! Just start purging and slowly the process will get easier. Oh yea and all that stuff you end up putting storage? If you end up living in your tiny home for awhile you’ll gradually start forgetting it all and probably get rid of it next time you go through it.
8. Say goodbye to walls and counterspace and hit the road. Adventures await, and they’re sure as hell not in that pile of clothes you left behind.