Are we doing minimalism wrong?

  
I’ve written before about mortgages and minimalism, and the reason we won’t be selling our house as part of our paring back. 

We love where we live, we know that we’ll always want to have a base in London (and it makes financial sense to do so) but I have been feeling lately that even though our financial plans run parallel with our minimalist plan, the former is also holding back the latter. 

Let me explain. 

Our long term goal is to pay off our mortgage, rent our house out and travel the world. We want to own less stuff because we don’t want to move it around the world and selling it all has provided us with money we have used to finish our property and pay down the mortgage. 

This nomadic, minimalist lifestyle has been a dream for a long time and I’m really proud of us for organising our lives to achieve it.

However, and here comes the rub, part of minimalism is supposed to be about arranging your life to live for the now, to become an ‘experientialist’, to live your live unencumbered now. Minimalists out there will tell you they work three day weeks because that’s all the money they need, that they go on sabbaticals from work, and have generally simplified their lives in order to do something exciting. 

I feel that our new exciting, minimalist life is somewhat on hold for the next five years. We are both working hard to earn more to pay down the mortgage. We are busy finishing our house so we can get a lodger and maybe AirBnB a room to make extra money to pay down the mortgage. 

Working harder and squirrelling money away rather than spending on experiences weirdly doesn’t feel very minimalist. 

There are people out there who have sold the house and are living their travelling dream now. But is this a short-sighted plan because the money will one day run out? We’re thinking longer term and working hard for a few years so that we can use rental income from our house to fund our travelling lifestyle indefinitely. 

Are we right? What would you do?

M

33 thoughts on “Are we doing minimalism wrong?

  1. Oh man! I have a mortgage and HATE it but love MY HOME AND LOCATION so much at the same time lol sign…..It’s a lot of work transitioning to minimalism as I’m trying to do it now as well. So, I can’t tell you what to do because I’m in the same boat πŸ™‚ If its only 5 years and your heart truly is paying of the mortgage I say do the hard work. 5 years passes and in the meantime still enjoy minimalist freedom!

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    1. Thanks Hippyish! Good to hear it’s not just me that’s conflicted. My head says wait it out and have an asset that can find the life we want but my heart jumps between that plan and running away travelling now! M

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      1. Mine, too! The mortgage payment is SO high compared to what I want to pay, but I love my location so I weigh the options in paying more to live there…sigh…I’m still trying to talk my hubs into getting a piece of land and downsizing though hehehe

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  2. Hi, if you rented your house out now, would it cover the mortgage and give you a bit of income to travel? If so, you wouldn’t have to put your dreams on hold for 5 years. You could get on with living them and let the rent pay off the mortgage.

    We had a rental property in London and it covered our mortgage, plus gave us a little over for our trouble, as we managed it ourselves. We were extremely lucky in that we had super tenants who left the place virtually in better condition than before we rented it out. It’s a bit tricky with regard to any maintenance or other problems cropping up if you’re out of the country. Depends if you could afford for it to be managed in your absence.

    Just an idea if it is plausible. Depends really on whether you want to pay it off yourselves first or not.

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    1. It is something we’ve considered Ann. The only problem is it wouldn’t leave us much to play with after the mortgage was paid – maybe a few hundred quid which would mean we’d have to keep working. I’m freelance so I could do my road on the road but Frank couldn’t. M

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  3. Hey, that’s exactly what I was thinking today. After listening to many podcasts and reading blogs about minimalism and simple living, it seems that most minimalists are against mortgages and owning houses. I would love to live mortgage free, but having my own house gives me security. I like the idea of paying this debt off ASAP and then enjoy more travelling, etc. and know that I always have a place of my own when I can go back to. Everyone has their own definition of free life. I don’t think choosing this path is doing minimalism the wrong way.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I agree – our property gives us security too. Once the mortgage is paid then we could rent it out and live off the rental income. I’m just very impatient and wishing away my life to a time I’m mortgage free. Think I need to look at ways to make extra cash rather than changing the plan. M

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  4. Hi, I think you have the right idea. You are young and have a lot of life ahead of you – I think it foolish to just live for now as some minimalists advocate but then not have security in the future when the wanderlust is satisfied. Patience is a virtue and I think the sense of satisfaction of having cleared your mortgage and secured your future will make the time you spend travelling all the sweeter. Best wishes with your plans, it is exactly what I would do – however I am known for being very sensible so not very rock n roll!

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    1. Hello Teresa, thanks for stopping by and for the encouragement. Your wise words are definitely what I needed to hear – we do have plenty of time ahead if us and I should stop being so impatient! I do often wonder what the stories of some minimalists will look like 10 years down the line but it’s not for me to judge. M

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  5. I would definitely do what you are doing. I’m more of a ‘moderate family minimalist’ (and you’d never know I was a minimalist from looking inside my house…I run a business from home and have kids!) and I want to have a house, a base, somewhere to settle. I love my community and at this stage of life reducing our expenses and having less stuff to manage is more about having money to pay for orthodontist bills, cricket uniforms and the dog (who has plenty of expenses!). Minimalism changes with the seasons of your life, and in the future you will be glad you worked at paying off the mortgage for a few years, because that home base will always be yours, no matter what season you are living in. At this season of life we’re all about family road trips, days out to the botanic gardens with the dog, and looking after and spending time with our elderly family members. Though having less stuff and fewer commitments has lead to me starting a new business from home, one I love and that I wouldn’t have had the time or energy to pursue without having jettisoned a large percentage of our stuff, while still teaching 3 days a week. You really never know where Minimalism is going to lead you πŸ™‚ Right, essay over πŸ˜‰

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    1. Congratulations on the job Clare! It sounds like you have made peace with how you want your life to be and how your life is. I’m not sure why I’m so up in the air about it all – it’s a bit of impatience and partly because I like to day dream about all the things I can do. Your life sounds lovely; I think I need to find more of a balance between minimalism and working my backside off to pay off the mortgage – maybe that’s where I’m going wrong. It might not be that the plan is wrong, it’s just I’m feeling a bit deflated about how the plan is working out day to day. My essay over now – thanks Clare, I think you’ve given me the beginning of a lightbulb moment. M x

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  6. We are die hard world travelers but also own a home. We have 6 more years until we retire at 56. In the meantime, we have thrown money at our mortgage and will pay it off in 2 1/2 years. That gives us a few additional years to save. We intend to rent our home to fund our travel, but will still be able to draw on our pension for living expenses. It has been well worth the time and investment in our future plans. We are complete minimalists as well. This has been an evolving process, as you know yourselves. Paring down and refining systems and goals has taken time and allowed us to focus on our mortgage and travel, preparing us for the future. From one minimalist to another, I think you are doing great! Minimalism looks different to different people. Do what works for your family’s dreams and goals πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks so much for this comment Tracey – it’s like my future self talking to me! I’m glad that the plan we have in our heads works. Well done on getting that mortgage knocked down and following your dream of travelling. I hope to follow In your footsteps. M

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  7. We paid off our mortgage earlier this year (aged 45) – we still have 4 school aged children (eldest 17, youngest 6) so still have need for a reasonable amount of space for them (larger than normal age range means we almost have 2 lots of 2 children – to the extent that I have been asked before if they are the result of two relationships! The 17 year old and 15 year old need quiet study spaces – the smaller two need space for creative play) so downsizing isn’t yet an option. We haven’t really felt any financial benefit from the lack of monthly mortgage payment yet as we have been paying for expensive work on the house (our boiler literally went bang, we replaced all the draughty windows and doors and our kitchen is being remodelled (but relatively on the cheap as we are keeping all of our solid wooden cupboard doors – but the carcasses all need replacing and the floor needs redoing (bad job originally))
    However, along the way we have been getting rid of ‘things’ and – in doing so – this frees up more time and money to do things/ spend time together. As our eldest will be at uni this time next year we are also looking at a longer than normal (for us) family holiday next Summer and going to the US – an expensive trip, but – realistically- it will be our last big family holiday together where it is just the 6 of us so it is a justifiable expense to make a wealth of memories from it πŸ™‚
    I’m beginning to ramble here, but really agree with the poster above who said minimalism changes with the seasons of your life. Right now, your plans sound just fine to me – short term pain for the longer term gain of being MF and the freedom that will give you for future plans πŸ™‚
    x

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    1. Thanks Mrs G and brilliant work on getting rid of that mortgage! The renovations sound like fun (!) – I feel that pain. You definitely sound like you’re on too of what you need to do re the house, money, priorities. The trip to the US will be brilliant – where are you planning on going? M

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  8. I can so relate to this, but in different ways. Many of the minimalists I know are childless/childfree where we are busy building our family and focusing more on minimising toys and clutter rather than living in a tiny house or even living debt free (one day!). It’s all about priorities and there is no one right way to live life – and equally, no one right way to ‘do’ minimalism. What’s most important is knowing what you WANT and learning to swim in the right direction πŸ™‚

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  9. We are actually currently in the position where we can rent our house out and use the extra income to fund our travels. It’s taken over 5 years to get to this position. Whilst we could sell our house and use the money to travel for a year, then what? I don’t think that a 5 year plan is the most long term, it’s more medium term and it’s setting your life up for the life you want. Everything takes time.

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      1. We will be living in France until March, then we are trying to find a way we can live in Bali for a few months. If we can’t make that work we will go back to Australia and start working towards our careers again and hopefully towards our goal of buying some land near the beach. We both have careers that do not allow for a lot of traveling so this is a rare year off we are having at the moment. I have spent the last 4 years being a stay at home mum, so once I get back into the work force I really have to stay for awhile. Ultimately I would love us to find a way where we can work anywhere, but I don’t know how feasible that is in the next 5 years. We are kind of in a place in-between living the life we have spent the last 5 years working towards and deciding whether we want to commit to a further 5 years to get to that next stage. It’s all exciting though

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      2. That sounds absolutely fantastic! How exciting. All your plans for the future sound great too. It’s nice to be able to get on with life without the worry of mortgage payments hanging over you. Such an inspiration and look forward to following your journey. M

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  10. It sounds like you’re definitely on the right track. While living a nomadic minimalist existence is sort of the “gold standard”, I also feel like it’s important to use it to appreciate your current position. Having goals is absolutely important but if you don’t know how to be content in your current circumstances, it will not make a difference if everything you own is in a backpack. Set your goals but don’t fall into the trap of “things will be better when…” Enjoy your life now, learn to appreciate where you are, and work for your dreams. Just don’t discount the pleasure of the life you have now. ☺️

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  11. This is all so true. Remember, tomorrow may not come – be a Buddhist. So speaks the woman who all her working life was focused on the life she was going to have when she retired.. and guess what it did come true. But the travelling came as part of the job or holidays and now we live in London and live the London experience. Travelling is not often as good as the dream when you get there – places can disappoint. So try them out before you are too committed.. And try to live light now and with the light now.

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    1. Wise words! It has to be balance between living life now and setting yourself up for the future. I think I can get slightly carried away with the future at times and not think about the present. I have to make a real effort to slow down and concentrate on the now. Thanks for stopping by. M

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  12. I think your approach sounds very balanced. It’s the people who say “I’ll go travelling when I retire…by which I mean never,” whom I worry about. If you’re just looking at a few years, staying put and doing stuff you like doing, working jobs you like working, before travelling, the whole thing sounds good.

    I’m in the “work 3 days a week and nomad around” category, but that’s made sense to me because I’ve never been in a financial position to consider either a mortgage or mainstream renting without having to spend so much time working I’d never get to enjoy being home.

    I guess the people who sell their house to go travelling are more likely those who would otherwise have to wait decades to do it any other way. I agree that life’s too short for that.

    With the 1 year spending ban now on, it sounds as though you have some important life’s work to do right where you are, so now may not be the time to travel yet anyway. I guess there’s a subtle difference between putting off ones dreams and working steadily towards them, and it seems like you’re both doing the latter.

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    1. That’s a good assessment Kimwei. This year is definitely focused on the challenge but still plugging away at the mortgage. Had to be a balance between fun and work while working towards a bigger goal I think. Your 3 day working week nomadic life does sound great though. M

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  13. Hmmmm interesting one and quite close to mine , we are about to go traveling ,as my services at work are no longer required … not that that’s a problem as my desire to commute 4 hours a day has also vanished… fortunately we don’t have a mortgage so could chose to rent out the house to fund travels BUT I don’t want to as its still our home and at the moment and not just a house , maybe that will change but having something you can come back to is a nice feeling, and I have the extra ” we don’t want you anymore cash ” to spend in an irresponsible manner ;D So guess that makes life easier , however having had the Big C 4 years ago at the age of 41 focuses your mind on doing things sooner rather than later, so I now never take the sensible option as if my shadow ever catches up with me again at least I wont have the regrets, and the could have / should have thoughts ,properly an extreme view but we need to remember we are here for a blip of time, and as long as that blip is filled with stuff that makes your heart smile then that’s fine , whatever it is.

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    1. Hello! I’m just catching up on loads of comments so apologies for the late reply. Did you go travelling, what did you decide to do? Would love to know.

      Can imagine that illness really focuses the mind. In the end I think it boils down to what will make you happy and there’s never a right answer. Although 4 months of travelling would be lots of people’s ‘right answer’ I’m guessing! M

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