We are preparing to set sail and that means downsizing and minimizing and otherwise cutting the ties we have here in Singapore.
Most people we speak to are very puzzled by our plan to sell everything. For the most part, expats change countries accompanied by container-loads of stuff. We plan to change countries with as little as possible for two main reasons — we’re paying for this relocation ourselves and we only intend to stay in Chiang Mai for six months, then move on again. It seems like a waste of money and effort to drag “stuff” around with us.
And so we have spent several evenings hunched over our laptops uploading photographs of our stuff.
I was the art director from hell. Darling Man took photographs of things while I was at work and I came home to tell him we couldn’t use the photo of our bamboo cabinet piled high with junk or the photo of our unmade bed with a pile of folding in the background.
I told him that we are selling an ideal, the concept of beautiful uncluttered living. As sellers we have to appear organised and unhurried, not messy and in a desperate hurry to leave the country. And so, to take uncluttered pictures, we have to move our clutter out of shot. Mounds of stuff have been moved to the table, the couch and the floor.
It’s this mounded stuff that is going to prove the most difficult to get rid of. It’s stuff that we’ve put up high, out of the baby’s reach. And once it’s within reach, she’s into it.
As Darling Man and I frown at furniture and discuss lighting and angles and backgrounds, the dreaded toddler dives into the forbidden. We find her drinking sunscreen, putting coins in her mouth, smearing body lotion into the couch, ripping bills in half, rubbing lip balm into her ear and marching around with a business card tucked under her arm, a ballpoint pen in her fist and a devilish gleam in her eye. Oh, and somehow we’ve acquired a small pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces in our fridge.
We are selling everything we bought 15 months ago to furnish our unfurnished house in Singapore, as well as the stuff we brought with us from Vietnam and the stuff we accumulated over the last 15 months. There’s quite a lot of it.
I’m getting better at unloading. Much better than when I left Australia in 2007, unsure whether I was leaving for three months or a year. I have a container load of furniture, white goods and momentos mouldering back in Canberra and I have no idea when I’ll ever unload it. Darling Man tells me frequently that I should have sold it. And he’s right. But it was too hard to do at the time.
Now we are fielding queries about dimensions, prices, viewing times, collection times and directions to our house. We discuss what we could give away – baby stuff to my pregnant friend, pantry items to our neighbours, a bike seat to the lady down the road with a nine-month-old. But what to do with half-bottles of body lotion, much-loved books and the baby’s toys?
We’re planning to stay in a furnished place in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand for six months. After Chiang Mai we’re heading to France and Holland to take up our home exchange options and do a spot of bicycle touring. Then, the plan is to head back to Vietnam so the baby and I can learn some more of the language. We won’t need much stuff for a while. (And I am secretly hoping that after our Chiang Mai and European adventures, Darling Man might be tempted to just to keep going.)
So, the logistics of selling and moving are front-of-mind. Every so often it occurs to me that I’m a reformed hoarder and that there are memories attached to some of our Singapore stuff — the beautiful wooden TV consule the baby pushed off from to take her first steps and the couch she demands to sleep on when she wakes in the night. But the process of minimising is made easier by the fact that we always planned to do this. We told ourselves we’d living in Singapore for two years and then we’d move on. We bought everything aware that we’d be selling it later. We bought beautiful pieces that would survive family life and fetch good resale prices.
We are aiming to pare things down to a couple of suitcases, a couple of boxes of kitchen things and our paintings and canvas prints.
But still, people are perplexed. We are selling everything, shedding our security blanket. Neither of has a job to go to, neither of us has been to Chiang Mai before. We are setting off on a big adventure, unencumbered by stuff.
Over the next year or so we will be busy collecting memories rather than stuff. We will live life without being anchored down. And I’m pretty sure we’ll have a fabulous time.
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This post is part of a group writing project by family bloggers. Check out what other “families on the move” have posted on living with less:
Getting Rid Of Stuff by Worldschool Adventures
Enjoying Life With Less by Family on Bikes
Live With less – Lessons Learned From Downsizing by Break Out of Bushwick
Living With Less And 5 Kids? Isn’t That An Oxymoron? by Family Travel Bucket List
1 Truck, 2 Continents, 7 People – How We Live With Only 321 Things by Discover Share Inspire
Living With Less by Around the World in Easy Ways
Does Having All Our Gear Again Really Make Us Happier? by Our Travel Lifestyle
Living With Less by Carried on the Wind
Four Kids and Almost No Toys by Livin On The Road
Living With Less Stuff by New Life on the Road
5 years ago