A Moving Philosophy

Did you know we're moving twice this year?

Next month we leave Maine and go to my parent's place in Nova Scotia where we will spend the summer. We're not moving to a job and because we'll be earning a living from home it doesn't matter where we live. But for the first little part of this grand adventure where we live has to be cheap (actually we're looking at that for a lifelong housing philosophy but that is a whole different post in the works).

Enter wonderfully supportive parents who are letting us spend the summer on their property. Home for us will either be the 30 foot trailer they lived in last summer. Or we'll actually get to "camp out" (ie: set up beds) in their brand new home that my Dad built .

The goal of spending the summer in Nova Scota is to start earning a somewhat reliable income, while keeping our costs low, before venturing on to our actual destination - the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec.

Of course the opportunity to spend all that time with parents and grandparents on a beautiful piece of property along a river that leads to the ocean with woods for a backyard simply sweetens the deal.

What this means though is that we're moving twice. First to Nova Scotia and then again in the fall to Quebec.

The logistics of renting a moving truck, going across the border, unloading, returning the rental truck to the United States, storing our household possessions all summer, packing it up again in a truck, driving it to Quebec and unloading once more was a discouraging idea to say the least.

Instead we opted to buy a trailer that we will pull with a truck my Dad is able to borrow on our behalf. What would we do without parents?

The trailer, like all moving vehicles, has a fixed volume. To determine what size to buy we used U-Haul's estimate for a 3-4 bedroom house and then scaled down a bit. We want to downsize in this move because we honestly intend that this house we are leaving is the largest house we will ever live in as a family of five.

I am not good at visualizing cubic feet and I honestly have no idea how our stuff will or won't all fit in our trailer. Which, by the way, "is the shiniest, newest thing we've ever owned" according to the kids and as far as vehicles go, they're right.

But I trust Damien's research and measurements, he's good at that kind of thing. And when it comes right down to it what we can't fit we don't take.

Doesn't that sound liberating?

This sketch is Laurent's way of graphically explaining the work going on as we sort through stuff.  I'd be embarrassed for you to see my front porch which pretty much looks like a multiplying heap of Goodwill and freebie donations.

And that folks is our moving philosophy.

Big trailer. Thumbs down.

Smaller trailer. Thumbs up.

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  • Chris Wallace

    Chris Wallace on April 4, 2011, 11:34 a.m.

    This is great stuff. When Robin and I bought our house in Asheville, we opted to mostly start over. While not entirely cost effective, we furnished our new home from local sources. The majority of those are antiques from dealers within a few miles of the house. Outside of clothing, sporting goods, pet items, and some decorations we opted not to move much, and have managed to avoid renting a truck or pulling a trailer. It would seem one of the fastest ways to simplify your life is to downsize. It forces us to determine what is truly necessary for our daily needs.


  • Hendrik

    Hendrik on April 4, 2011, 11:44 a.m.

    I hate moving. As I moved three years ago for five months to Spain before searching a new home town in Finland, I was surprised by how much rubbish I had collected over five years of studying and working, even after selling off 90% of my furniture. Once the stuff arrived in storage at the parents in law, we set out sorting out the stuff which to keep and which could go to the Redcross 2nd Hand Centre.

    Now I regularly put stuff I don't need anymore up on Netcycler either for swapping or giving it away for free, which is a nice and efficient way to minimize the clutter before the next move.

    Have fun with your move ;)


  • Karen

    Karen on April 4, 2011, 12:27 p.m.

    We are very excited about having you come stay with us. I'm already stocking up on staples like laundry soap and GF brown rice pasta :) and looking forward to young gardener-helpers with my seedlings and going hiking at Gaff Point and swimming at Beck's Lake and....


  • Emily

    Emily on April 4, 2011, 2:36 p.m.

    This mimimizing and downsizing you are going through must be so freeing, so liberating, Renee. The "stuff" we collect and hold onto can really burden us. Sorting, sifting, and keeping only those things that we truly need must be a challenge. We then appreciate and love what's left so much more. We find that RELATIONSHIPS are so much more important than things. As I thought about your comment about books and our library, and how you are more minimal, it made me think. (Actually, it's been on my mind for some time now.) When we first started homeschooling, I thought that I needed to have that stuff (a lot of it purchased second hand and was very helpful to our big family)to homeschool well. Now, I've grown away from that need and feel such a burden with it all. I want to PURGE and simplify. I'm just getting so tired of all the stuff. I'm feeling more satisfaction when I can only bring into my home things I truly NEED or can borrow from the library, make do or create on my own. I'm learning a lot from you, my friend.


    • renee

      renee on April 4, 2011, 8:50 p.m.

      So freeing, liberating - yes. A whole lot of work - double yes. There is a very good reason few people downsize or even declutter this way, it's a lot of work.

      If anything this is showing me why I don't want to collect this amount of goods for the future. All this organizing and sorting is painful. I'd much rather spend that time outdoors, or writing, or gardening, or walking, or reading... paying the price now so hopefully we'll have time for more of that in the future.


  • Shannon

    Shannon on April 4, 2011, 3:41 p.m.

    It's amazing to me to see how parallel our paths are right now. We bought an RV for our move and temporary living situation last year, but now my husband has decided to try to sell it to see if we can just rent a very small trailer (maybe the 2nd smallest on uhaul.com) and pull that behind our mini van. That would take everything we own that we actually need. I am excited about this because, as you said, it will force us to make some tough decisions and get rid of A LOT. And part of why we are moving is to break free of the industrial mindset, part of which is thinking that we need all that we already have.

    Thanks so much for sharing!


  • kyndale

    kyndale on April 4, 2011, 11:13 p.m.

    When I moved last time, I thought I downsized. It was seriously not the case. By the time the truck was full, we still had a fair amount to figure out what to do with. We ended up renting another van, ugh. If I could do it all over again I would have downsized and downsized. There were so many things I could have done without.


  • debra

    debra on April 4, 2011, 11:15 p.m.

    you are really in my thoughts this spring! we've moved 5 times in the last 5 years, and i am embarrassed by how much we still have...which tells you how much we USED to have. i am such a sentimentalist that i still have papers from college, letters from childhood, etc., and items from my family that didn't have a home after my parents' divorce. we are looking at another move in the next two years, and i am already looking around for what i can purge (starting with whatever is in the tubs in the basement that we haven't looked for even once in the 2 years we've been here...).

    thanks for sharing this process, and i am wishing you so much goodness with this move!


  • Hikingmama

    Hikingmama on April 4, 2011, 11:35 p.m.

    Thanks so much for sharing this process. Though we have purged a goodly amount over the past couple of years, we have more to go. Fortunately we adopted the 'one in, one out' rule quite a while back which really forces us to take a hard look at something we might want or think one of our girls might 'need' before accepting or purchasing. This philosophy has definitely helped to clear a good bit of the clutter of our lives in general and helped us focus on experiences rather than things. My husband and I are headed down all 280 miles of the Colorado River this summer and are able to afford to do so largely because we made the 'experiences and relationships' of our lives the highest priority.

    That being said, I must admit to coveting a new couch....our 15 year old cracked and filthy leather one just begs for replacement..... ;-)

    Thanks again for taking us on this very worthwhile and uplifting journey with you. It's beyond inspiring.


  • Rana

    Rana on April 5, 2011, 12:32 a.m.

    You've got your work cut out for you. That is kind of how I have been looking through our home as I clear things out, with the thinking if we ever have to move again what could we part with?


  • Naomi

    Naomi on April 5, 2011, 3:35 a.m.

    Attention friends of Renee! I have no idea how to do this really, but is anyone interested in having a going-away party for Damien and Renee? I live about an hour from them, but if someone closer to them would like to figure out a place to host it, my husband and I would like to help put together a little gathering to give this lovely family a hearty send-off! If you're interested, feel free to send me an email at kilbrethfamily@yahoo.com Thanks!


  • Laura White-Ritchie

    Laura White-Ritchie on April 7, 2011, 10:48 p.m.

    Renee! I love that we're going on such similar journeys! We're also moving...and not for a job since we earn our living online too.

    This month, we're moving into a smaller, less expensive house across town to save money in preparation for the BIG move this fall.

    We're driving from Alaska to Tennessee with 4 year old twins and a 1 year old dog in a crew cab truck, with a cab-over camper pulling a trailer of all our stuff. We don't have parents or grandparents in the state, so our first step is to save $700 a month by moving into a much smaller place that's much closer to town.

    We're doing the downsizing in two steps. First, we'll get rid of about 1/2 our furniture and general crap this month. Then, when we load up the trailer to leave...what doesn't fit, doesn't go. Hopefully, the mini move (that's SO NOT mini) will make the BIG move go a little smoother.

    I know how excited we are about all of this...so I can imagine how excited you are too!

    Best of luck on your Step 1 move!!

    BTW, I'm totally jealous of your beautiful trailer! I hope we find one that nice!!


  • Nola

    Nola on April 14, 2011, 12:47 p.m.

    Wow I can't even imagine...

    I find that most of our clutter at the moment is kid's stuff that we have to hold onto since we're not using it currently (therefore it has to be stored) but we will be using it again soon. I'm talking maternity clothes, baby clothes, bigger sizes of clothes my kids will fit into...I do try to keep it to just what we do need but its senseless in my mind to go to all the work of finding good frugal clothes for my oldest and then having to do it all over again for my next child and future (hopefully) children. So far its worked that I have the storage room to do it...for my youngest I have bought hardly anything at all I just get her sister's hand me downs out. However it really adds up to a lot of clutter in some ways too. Good second hand clothes are very hard to find where I live so maybe that is also why I hold onto them. Its easier for me to store it then try to find it again and its also way more frugal for me and therefore allowing us to live how we want and need to...however it's a lot of STUFF.

    A basement flood helped me sort out some things...even some things I didn't want to get rid of but now they are gone its not so bad...I'm so sentimental its hard but often times I never look at it again anyways! So its better gone to make room for the here and now memories.


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