I want to simplify my life and maybe you do too but it can be hard when everything around us pushing us to get bigger and “better” and buy more more more! Do you sometimes feel like it is impossible to enjoy simple living in America because of the American mindset? It’s not impossible but if you want to know how to live a simple life in America you are going to have to change your thinking a bit.
First, let me encourage you. It is absolutely possible to enjoy simple living in America! The choice rests in your hands.
The most important step you need to take to succeed is to get some perspective on how the rest of the world lives. When you see that people all over the world are enjoying simple living it becomes easier to simplify yourself. After all, you are not alone in this!
How to Live a Simple Life in America in 5 Steps
- Consider staying or downsizing to a smaller home.
- Declutter your closet and buy less clothing.
- Reexamine the number of vehicles and recreation vehicles you own.
- Stop paying for storage and declutter your garage, attic, and basement.
- Reduce your consumption. Buy less. Eat proper portions. Use water & electricity responsibly.
The First Time I Thought Having a Simple Life In America Might Not Be So Bad…
When I was a newlywed I moved into a 400-square-foot apartment. Naturally, I knew I couldn’t buy a lot of stuff because of space limitations but, to be honest with you, I wasn’t really thinking about the simple life yet. I was thinking about when I could get a bigger place and more stuff. I didn’t want to know how to live a simple life in America, yet.
But that all changed when we went to do some volunteering in the Dominican Republic. I had the opportunity to visit a lot of people in their homes and a lot of their homes were no bigger than mine. And they didn’t always have all the cool stuff like electricity, warm water, and internet either. There weren’t just two people living in those small homes. There were whole families in them. But those houses were clean and the people were generous and smiling. Their life was simple.
That experience shifted my viewpoint. I knew that those conditions weren’t ideal but they were okay. When I looked at my home I knew that even though it was a small studio apartment it was more than ok. I stopped thinking about needing more and started thinking about how much I already had.
Do you want to shift your perspective too? Let’s look at some of the ways that life in America compares to what people in other countries think is normal. Then we will talk about how to live a simple life in America.
How To Live A Simple Life In America Even If You Have a Humongous House…
How large is your house or apartment? Did you know that the average American home is 2,168 square feet? That sounds a little large but not abnormal until you look at what people in other parts of the world consider a normal house size. Here are a few examples of average square footage around the world:
- Denmark 1,474
- Greece 1,356
- France 1,205
- Spain 1,309
- Italy 877
- United Kingdom 818
These numbers are for developed nations and as you can see houses around the world tend to be much smaller than they are in the United States. The only country that has bigger houses than the United States is Australia with an average square footage of 2,303!
How Can I Simplify My Life in America?
So how can you start living simply in America if your house is humongous? Simply put, think about downsizing. If you can’t downsize think about simplifying what is in your home and perhaps limiting how many rooms you use.
If you don’t have a huge house you can still simplify life in America. How? By realizing how much you already have and not striving for bigger and better. You can appreciate that your home is probably more than sufficient and not fill it with junk.
One thing I loved about my little apartment was that it took no time at all to clean. When you are looking at housing options remember that you will have to clean every square foot and you will have higher utilities and taxes too!
But I’m Wondering How to Have a Simple Life in America With My Overflowing Closet…
Many Americans are addicted to fast fashion. With “Target runs”, Amazon essentials, and weekends at the mall being the norm it is easy to buy cheap clothes on a whim.
Did you know the average American spends $161 a month or $1,932 a year on clothing? I bet you didn’t think you were buying $161 dollars worth of “GREAT DEALS” each month.
How do Americans compare to other parts of the world?
The Italians are considered the spendiest fashion lovers in all of Europe and they normally spend about 1,248 US Dollars a year on clothing. The Germans spend about 1,006 dollars per year on clothing.
How much do you think the ultra-chic French spend? This may surprise you. The average French person will only spend around $786 US dollars on clothing each year! Yes! The classy french are spending $1,146 less per year on clothing than the average American!
What Can You Do?
You may not think you spend a lot on clothes but most Americans have way too many clothes in their closet. Clothes that don’t fit, they don’t wear, and that were cheap in the first place.
Here are a few ways you can simplify your closet:
- Get rid of anything that is worn out, doesn’t fit, or you don’t like anymore.
- Let go of duplicate or triplicate items that are very similar.
- Organize your closet by season.
- Whenever you buy something get rid of 1 or 2 old items!
- Avoid fast fashion impulse buys.
- Look for pieces that match at least 3 things you already own.
- Try to not buy any new clothes for a month, six months, or even a whole year!
You will find that when you stop impulse buying fast fashion you will end up being able to afford slightly nicer pieces once in a while. Maybe you will be surprised to find out that you don’t really need a lot of clothes that you don’t wear. You need a few things that work in your life and that you love to wear!
How to Have a Simple Live in America When You Have a Lot of Many Vehicles!
Most Americans consider their cars an absolute necessity. And that is the truth. Most of us have jobs and busy schedules that take our families in different directions during the day. Not all American cities are pedestrian or bike-friendly. Our cars are very important.
But we don’t just have several cars per household, we also have vehicles for recreation and cars to show off on the weekend! In America, there are 816 cars per 1,000 people.
So if you want to know how to live a simple life in America, it may take a change in perspective. How does the rest of the world treat car ownership?
The only people that have more cars than Americans are people in very affluent countries like San Merino and Monaco and people in very rural countries like Iceland and New Zealand. Here is how some other countries compare:
- Canada 685 Vehicles per 1,000 people
- Italy 663
- Japan 649
- Spain 519
- Greece 504
- France 482
- United Kingdom 473
- Ireland 454
- China 207
- India 70
So as you see, even though everyone has to work, many developed nations live with fewer cars. Obviously, countries like Italy and France have a lot of cities that are built closely together making walking or biking easier and more practical but still, they have far fewer vehicles than Americans.
What Can You Do?
If you want to live a simple life in America, taking a second look at your vehicle ownership matters. It is important to examine whether you need all the vehicles you own because your payments and insurance on those vehicles may eat up a good portion of your monthly budget.
If you have more cars than you drive could you sell the ones you do not drive?
Or if you do not have more cars than you drive, do you have recreational vehicles you do not use regularly or could do without?
Maybe you do not have too many cars or recreational vehicles but you live in a city or near your work could you consider walking, biking, or using public transport more? Would a simple schedule tweak allow you to share cars with your spouse?
For many of us, it will be impossible to live with fewer cars than we own but it is worth investigating if you want to simplify your life because our vehicles eat up a lot of the money that we work hard for.
I Have No Idea How to Live a Simple Life in America With SO MUCH STUFF!
Americans are professional consumers. We have made consumerism into a fine art in which every event, good or bad, is a reason to go shopping and we have to keep EVERYTHING just in case. But if you want to know how to live the simple life in America the key lies in changing the way you view your stuff.
Many of our garages, attics, and closets are bursting at the seams so we rent storage sheds.
Did you know that as of 2014 there were 48,500 self-storage facilities in the country? These storage sheds are being used by people in small apartments or in between moves right? Wrong! 67% of self-storage renters have a garage in their home, 47% have an attic, and 33% have a basement.
Let me ask you, if this stuff doesn’t fit in your house how could you possibly need or even remember you have it?
By comparison, there were only 4,831 self-storage units across Europe in 2020. That means Americans have at least 10X the storage needs of Europeans. Apparently, Europeans, with their much smaller houses do not accumulate near as much stuff as Americans.
What can you do?
If you have an attic, garage, or basement and you are still renting self-storage it may be time to seriously examine both your shopping habits and your keeping tendencies.
It is time to declutter in a big way! If you feel overwhelmed by all the clutter that you have accumulated check out the Fearless Decluttering E-Book! In it, I have created a unique process to help you declutter your home in three phases so that you can avoid overwhelm while decluttering your home completely!
Simple Living in America Is Difficult Because Everything We Do Is Bigger and “Better”?
It is really hard to know how to live a simple life in America because the whole country is geared to think that bigger is better and more is MORE!
Did you know that Americans are just 5% of the world’s population but we consume 24% of the world’s energy?
The average American will use 159 gallons of water a day while more than half the world’s population lives on just 25 gallons a day.
Did you know that Americans eat 200 billion more calories than we need which is enough to feed 80 million people, or that we throw out 200,000 tons of edible food daily?
I bet you would be surprised to find out that there are more shopping malls than high schools.
What Can You Do?
I’m not here to attack Americans. I am one too. And I eat more and drink more and buy more than I need to also.
But what can we do if we want to know how to live a simple life in America? We can get some perspective and try our best to reduce our consumption.
When we strive to enjoy “simple living” in America we are actually striving to get closer to what is normal for the rest of the world.
When we work at simplifying life, we will not only benefit ourselves, we will benefit the world! And when we start asking how to live a simple life in America we start making a meaningful change in our life.
Simple Living In America -You Can Do It!
If you want to live a simple life in America you are going to be swimming upstream, but it won’t be impossible. Simple living is a choice that is well worth the effort for all the benefits you will enjoy!
By making consistent choices to simplify your life by buying less and appreciating what you have, your life will become simpler. The benefits of simple living will help you enjoy a richer and more meaningful life.
Need Minimalist Tips for Normal People?
There is really no reason not to start enjoying simple living in America or wherever you are! Now is the time to try the minimalist lifestyle! It is good for your mental health and relationships, it can transform your finances, and help you have more energy and time for the things that matter! But what if simplifying your life sounds like an overwhelming task?
If you want to simplify your life but the big bad word MINIMALISM scares you let me help! I wrote Doable Simplicity (Minimalism For Normal People) to help you get the inspiration you need to simplify your life and then take solid steps that make simple living doable for you!
Want to learn more about minimalism? READ: Why Live a Minimalist Lifestyle?
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