One of the, perhaps not so surprising, benefits of moving into a smaller place — two persons and a small dog in a 34′ RV — is that the question is no longer whether we can afford to buy something. Thanks to the difference between living in a house and living here, we have $1000+ more each month.

However, now the question is, do we have space for this. This question guides most buying decisions out of necessity. If storage reaches critical mass, it simply becomes too much of a hassle to deal with “things” as they start falling out of the cupboard or the become either hard to find or hard to store. Often this means that something simply does not get bought. In particular, buying something unless it needed or absolutely replaces something else becomes paramount. In turn, this also saves a lot of money. To wit, do I need an extra thingamajing? No, because I already have one, and there’s just not any room for it.

Compared to a house, where is has few space constraints and everything can be stuffed somewhere, a working RV philosophy is that everything needs to have a place and actually be in that specific place. If not, it becomes very difficult to get things. For instance, I still can not find my web cam which got stuffed in somewhere during the move under the old philosophy

I already mentioned the money saving side-effect.  This essentially means that money is now more abundant than before but that space is at a premium. The kitchen table is a major center of the RV. We have moved the rolls of paper towels to a holder above the table. That liberated maybe 16 sq inches. I have still to get some round-headed screws to put up a picture and install the wireless router and modem upside down under the cupboards.

You know how it is when you move. You think you really don’t have that much stuff, but once it gets taken out of the closets and cupboards, it expands into an amazingly large volume. Conversely, moving in somewhere, you see how it slowly sinks back into the walls. It is interesting how dwellings are constructed with the philosophy of storing things in the walls. Without all that storage space, it would be hard to live as a consumer.

So what can you do if you are so unfortunate to live in a place with plenty of closet space, extra bedrooms, and car-less garages. Such freedom requires responsibility. It requires some rules to live by. One interesting suggestion that I like a lot and that I have lived by with varying degrees of success over the past decade is living in a suitcase.  I am not quite at that point today, but on the other hand, if you told me that I could only bring a suitcase, it would not take me very long to pack and get rid of the rest of my stuff (one trip to the dumpster – it definitely does fit in a small car) and I would not feel too bad about it. Conversely, when I have been involved in moving for other people it always takes days and multiple trips, so I think that is more typical.

If you want an even tighter constraint, bring only what you can carry. You might find more inspiration here.

Originally posted 2008-10-25 10:12:07.