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You Don’t Have to Live Small to be a Minimalist

By Tara McKenna



Sell all your things, ditch the mortgage, move to a tiny home, and then, finally, you become a minimalist. Right? Wrong.


At least, it doesn’t have to be that way for you if you don’t want that version of minimalism.


Minimalism is what you make of the lifestyle. Maybe for you, minimalism is decluttering until you only have 100 items in your possession. Maybe for you, minimalism is living in a tiny home with no mortgage.


Tiny living with only a few items to your name isn’t for everyone. But just because you don’t want to live that version of the lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t be a minimalist.


Minimalism is about focusing on the things you value you most and removing everything else. It’s about removing the extraneous, as defined by you.


So, perhaps having a big home makes sense for you because you love to entertain and host a lot of people regularly, or maybe you have multiple generations living in your household. You shouldn’t have to fret about a owning a bigger home or having a mortgage if that’s your version of living a good life.


The more important question is, do you truly want a bigger home? Whatever you invest your energy and time into, it’s good to ask yourself, “Do I want this in my life?” That’s the real question.


If the answer is no, then let it go. Living with less is always the more eco-friendly option, simply choose which version of less works for you.


An issue I see in the discussions on minimalism and living a mortgage-free life in a tiny home is that it misses other opportunities that people not otherwise consider. Let me share my personal story on this.


My husband and I are real estate investors, so we have multiple properties with multiple mortgages. We rent out our properties (including a basement apartment in our own home) and we do this because it’s giving us the opportunity to build wealth to have more freedom and options in life. For us, that’s the good life!


That certainly doesn’t appeal to everyone; not everyone wants to manage multiple mortgages, properties, and tenants. I get that. However, what people see as “debt” – our mortgages – are actually income producing assets (cue the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki).


We don’t like debt and because of that, we don’t have consumer debt. The issue of whether mortgage debt is good debt or bad debt is up for debate, but for us, we use mortgages as a tool for building wealth. That’s not everyone, but it is for us.


So, getting back to the point here. If I followed the common ideals of the minimalist lifestyle, it might point me away from the direction of real estate investing because having multiple properties and mortgages and tenants and all the things that come with that responsibility isn’t “minimalist”.


For me, minimalism is about other things. I don’t like clutter. I like buying less but better-quality products. I don’t like unnecessary duplicates. I do like to simplify my life. I love spending time with family more than shopping (it's what I value more, so I spend more energy where it counts).


I get to decide, and so do you, what minimalism looks like for ourselves. And it certainly doesn't have to be perfect.


In the words of Mark Manson, we have to decide what kind of sh*t sandwich we want to eat. What are you willing to tolerate? And again, let go of the rest.


For us, we want to build a real estate investing portfolio. That’s, perhaps, our “sh*t sandwich” – lol. What’s yours?


Define minimalism for yourself. It may be a tiny home, it may not be. It may require a mortgage, it may not. You may have less than 100 items to your name, or maybe you don’t.


You don’t have to live tiny to be a minimalist. Define minimalism for yourself, and make it work for your life! And have fun with it.


Living with less, whatever that looks like for you, is always the more eco-friendly choice.