Home Self Development Right here’s What Different Nations Taught Me About Minimalism

Right here’s What Different Nations Taught Me About Minimalism

Right here’s What Different Nations Taught Me About Minimalism


Editor’s Notice: It is a visitor put up from Julie B. Rose of Juliedevivre.

“So Julie—I see you stop your job, however what makes you a minimalist?” 

Sarah, my host in Munich, had seen my nomadic way of life weblog during which I speak about journey, minimalism, budgeting, and love. Final August, we sat on her balcony consuming recent bread and cheese and consuming beer, staples of the German food plan. 

“Properly, I don’t personal quite a bit,” I mentioned. “Just about the whole lot I personal can slot in my automotive. I bought my home and removed 98% of my belongings and furnishings two years in the past. I don’t care about or acquire materials issues, and I’d fairly my cash go in the direction of experiences versus possessions.”

She chuckled, and gestured across the easy two bed room, one toilet flat she shared together with her girlfriend, Lena. 

“I imply, that’s not so uncommon. Perhaps it’s in America, however that’s fairly regular for us.”

Whether or not she meant “us Germans,” “us frequent vacationers,” or “myself and Lena,” I wasn’t optimistic, however she may’ve simply meant all three. As a result of if there was one factor I had come to note spending most of 2022 overseas… it was that NOBODY had as a lot attachment to their belongings as People, whereas concurrently having the mindset that the whole lot is disposable. 

Exterior of America, “substitute” is just not the primary impulse

I spent the primary six months of 2022 in Mexico and one of many issues I got here to note about Mexicans was that alternative was a final resort. 

A part of that outlook might be because of the prevalence of poverty in Mexico, however I feel it’s additionally the cultural pondering that the whole lot has a use. Damaged, torn, broken, depleted? Repair it, glue it, sew it, buff it, fill it—Mexicans are useful, and whereas no matter it’s won’t be made good, it’s usable

The U.S. is a rustic the place something might be ordered up and delivered in mere minutes or hours, and many individuals don’t usually bat an eye fixed on the premium they pay for comfort, ease, and glossy newness. Whereas People are lucky to have such infrastructure and enterprise ingenuity, there’s a lot waste.

I keep in mind all of the Amazon purchases I so carelessly and thoughtlessly ordered, each approaching a truck, by itself journey, in its personal field… resold for pennies on the greenback on the storage sale I held once I grew to become a nomad in 2020. How the whole lot we purchase is available in layers of plastic, which we then put in one other plastic bag and stroll out the door. (In Mexico and far of Europe, retailers don’t provide plastic luggage. You deliver your individual, or purchase a reusable tote.)

Prior to now, if one thing I loved was damaged, torn, sluggish, outdated, or broken, I’d’ve tossed it within the trash (or in a kitchen drawer to cope with later) and gone about changing or upgrading it. Now, I glue, sew, repair, resole, DIY, and trade-in, as a lot as I’m able to, and breathe new life into previous issues

I used to be in Greece over a lot of September. In Athens, I obtained a haircut and left my jacket within the salon. Later that day, I flew to the Greek island of Corfu. Upset at my forgetfulness, I advised some American pals how I misplaced the one jacket I had in Europe. 

“Simply purchase one other jacket!” they exclaimed, incredulous that it was even a difficulty. And certainly, there’s at all times an H&M. However I didn’t need a new jacket—my jacket, bought 5 years earlier at Goal for $27, was not particular in any approach, but it surely labored simply positive. In truth, I discovered a approach for my Greek pal Vasilis to retrieve it, who was on one other island however would later come to go to me in Croatia. The American response? Simply purchase one other; there isn’t a restrict to what cash should purchase. I’ve come to withstand that as typically as I can. 

The pursuit of larger, higher, and extra is an American invention

After I was 22 and I obtained my first skilled job making $33,000 a 12 months in Minneapolis, the very first thing I did was go to the Toyota dealership and purchase a model new $22,000 automotive, debt that basically matched my take-home pay for the 12 months and saddled me with a 5-year mortgage. 

So ingrained in our tradition is the idea to mark private success with exterior indicators, that I needed to get a second part-time job and work 55 hours every week simply to pay all my payments and eat, with my $750/month lease and my $450/month auto mortgage cost, plus insurance coverage. 

Advertisers and Hollywood have advised this mislead People our total lives: greater is healthier, extra is healthier, and higher is healthier—that we willingly entice ourselves in an limitless work-spend-collect cycle for our total lives. 

The school debt to get the great diploma, the great job, and the great wage. The auto debt to get the liberty of the open street and to be trendy and protected on the identical time. The mortgage debt to have the large home and the storage and the yard and the rooms and closets to carry all of the issues we’ll quickly purchase to fill all of it up. 

In lots of different nations, even the rich understate their wealth. They work to dwell, not dwell to work. When persons are much less obsessive about creating wealth and amassing materials issues, they prioritize relaxation, leisure, time with household, take their holidays, and retire with “sufficient” as an alternative of working till they’re lifeless.

Non-People are much less connected to their residing house and their belongings

As I gallivanted throughout Europe, posting concerning the sights, sounds, and tastes from Slovenia to Hungary to Turkey to Montenegro, a follower on Instagram commented: “What’s your funds for this journey?? You should be spending $300 a day on motels, taxis, and eating places!!!”

I wasn’t. In 2022, I spent a median of $74 a day, on the whole lot—that features lodging, meals, medical health insurance, private care, and transportation. 

And within the 16 weeks I spent touring Europe final fall and late summer time, I stayed with pals, pals of pals, or full strangers almost half of the time. The extent of hospitality and welcome I used to be met with was completely unparalleled.

I didn’t know Sarah earlier than I stayed together with her. She was a pal of a pal I had stayed with in Salzburg, Austria, and at that pal’s request, Sarah had graciously agreed to host me in Munich. Sarah and Lena had been additionally going out of city just a few days later, and he or she supplied that I keep and water their vegetation whereas they had been gone. 

“We’ve completed loads of touring,” she famous. “We perceive how it’s.”

“How it’s,” is making an attempt to make every greenback final so a traveler can observe the “experiences over possessions” mantra as lengthy as doable. Summer time backpacking journeys, hole years, and sabbaticals are a long-time custom of Europeans of their 20s, 30s, and past—so each host has possible been a touring visitor in some unspecified time in the future in time. Understanding that lodging might be one of the crucial costly features of touring—I met many Europeans who opened their dwelling to a wayward traveler reminiscent of me with no second thought. 

Within the 15 months I spent touring america in 2020 and 2021, I used to be met with far much less hospitality. Pals and acquaintances throughout the states requested to seize dinner and catch up whereas I used to be touring, however far fewer invited me to remain. I assumed again on the occasions some years in the past once I rented out my home on Airbnb, and the judgment my American pals shared about strangers sleeping in my mattress and cooking in my kitchen.

“Who cares?” I laughed it off. “Similar mattress, completely different sheets. And it’s not like I take my cookware with me once I die.” Years later, most of my cookware would be bought or given away.

I can’t pinpoint precisely why fewer People had been prone to let an acquaintance keep—but it surely may need to do with the truth that fewer People are worldwide vacationers (thus not having been on the opposite facet of the coin)—or that we’re so accustomed to comfort, {that a} traveler in our house and amongst our issues is an inconvenience.


Is this text an indictment of the American approach and our common Western decisions? I don’t imply it to be. However we might be blind to not see we’re a society that over-consumes: commercialism and materialism, meals and alcohol addictions, self-importance and appearances, and a bunch of different lethal sins. I could also be a nomad residing on $74 a day, with solely the issues that slot in my SUV… however I’ve sufficient—sufficient belongings to be snug, and sufficient to outlive and thrive.

A giant home invitations extra stuff, and if one thing isn’t “good,” it’s simple to simply purchase one other… however we commerce hours of life for the issues that we purchase. Due to this fact, we are able to additionally commerce the hours we work and the issues we don’t purchase for our time again: time with household, time away from the rat race, and time for private endeavors. 

I hope that as a nation we be taught to be extra aware of our buy choices, and cut back our tendency to waste and disrespect. It’s good for the atmosphere, and it’s good for ourselves.  

And as an alternative of measuring internet price, {dollars}, sq. footage, and model names, how about we rely the years… and measure “wealth” in freedom: freedom from debt, freedom from an indulgence of fabric issues, freedom from a time- and psychological energy-sucking job, and the liberty to spend our time on this earth doing what we wish, with whom we wish. 


Julie B. Rose is a full-time nomad and minimalist who travels the world together with her canine Penny. She shares her experiences at juliedevivre.com, the place she goals to encourage and empower optimistic way of life change. You can too discover her on Instagram or choose up her eBook, Cash and Mindset: Tips on how to Take a Sabbatical.



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