Right here’s What Different International locations Taught Me About Minimalism

Editor’s Notice: It is a visitor submit from Julie B. Rose of Juliedevivre.

“So Julie—I see you stop your job, however what makes you a minimalist?” 

Sarah, my host in Munich, had seen my nomadic life-style weblog during which I discuss journey, minimalism, budgeting, and love. Final August, we sat on her balcony consuming recent bread and cheese and ingesting beer, staples of the German food regimen. 

“Properly, I don’t personal loads,” I stated. “Just about every thing I personal can slot in my automotive. I offered my home and removed 98% of my belongings and furnishings two years in the past. I don’t care about or gather materials issues, and I’d quite my cash go in direction of experiences versus possessions.”

She chuckled, and gestured across the easy two bed room, one rest room flat she shared together with her girlfriend, Lena. 

“I imply, that’s not so uncommon. Perhaps it’s in America, however that’s fairly regular for us.”

Whether or not she meant “us Germans,” “us frequent vacationers,” or “myself and Lena,” I wasn’t constructive, however she may’ve simply meant all three. As a result of if there was one factor I had come to note spending most of 2022 overseas… it was that NOBODY had as a lot attachment to their belongings as Individuals, whereas concurrently having the mindset that every thing is disposable. 

Outdoors of America, “exchange” is just not the primary impulse

I spent the primary six months of 2022 in Mexico and one of many issues I got here to note about Mexicans was that alternative was a final resort. 

A part of that outlook might be as a result of prevalence of poverty in Mexico, however I feel it’s additionally the cultural considering that every thing has a use. Damaged, torn, broken, depleted? Repair it, glue it, sew it, buff it, fill it—Mexicans are useful, and whereas no matter it’s won’t be made good, it’s usable

The U.S. is a rustic the place something will be ordered up and delivered in mere minutes or hours, and many individuals don’t sometimes bat a watch on the premium they pay for comfort, ease, and glossy newness. Whereas Individuals are lucky to have such infrastructure and enterprise ingenuity, there’s a lot waste.

I bear in mind all of the Amazon purchases I so carelessly and thoughtlessly ordered, each approaching a truck, by itself journey, in its personal field… resold for pennies on the greenback on the storage sale I held after I grew to become a nomad in 2020. How every thing we purchase is available in layers of plastic, which we then put in one other plastic bag and stroll out the door. (In Mexico and far of Europe, retailers don’t provide plastic baggage. You carry your individual, or purchase a reusable tote.)

Prior to now, if one thing I loved was damaged, torn, sluggish, outdated, or broken, I might’ve tossed it within the trash (or in a kitchen drawer to cope with later) and gone about changing or upgrading it. Now, I glue, sew, repair, resole, DIY, and trade-in, as a lot as I’m able to, and breathe new life into previous issues

I used to be in Greece over a lot of September. In Athens, I acquired a haircut and left my jacket within the salon. Later that day, I flew to the Greek island of Corfu. Upset at my forgetfulness, I advised some American mates how I misplaced the one jacket I had in Europe. 

“Simply purchase one other jacket!” they exclaimed, incredulous that it was even a difficulty. And certainly, there’s at all times an H&M. However I didn’t desire a new jacket—my jacket, bought 5 years earlier at Goal for $27, was not particular in any manner, but it surely labored simply wonderful. Actually, I discovered a manner for my Greek pal Vasilis to retrieve it, who was on one other island however would later come to go to me in Croatia. The American response? Simply purchase one other; there isn’t a restrict to what cash can purchase. I’ve come to withstand that as typically as I can. 

The pursuit of larger, higher, and extra is an American invention

Once I was 22 and I acquired my first skilled job making $33,000 a 12 months in Minneapolis, the very first thing I did was go to the Toyota dealership and purchase a model new $22,000 automotive, debt that basically matched my take-home pay for the 12 months and saddled me with a 5-year mortgage. 

So ingrained in our tradition is the idea to mark private success with exterior indicators, that I needed to get a second part-time job and work 55 hours per week simply to pay all my payments and eat, with my $750/month lease and my $450/month auto mortgage cost, plus insurance coverage. 

Advertisers and Hollywood have advised this deceive Individuals our total lives: larger is healthier, extra is healthier, and higher is healthier—that we willingly entice ourselves in an infinite work-spend-collect cycle for our total lives. 

The school debt to get the great diploma, the great job, and the great wage. The auto debt to get the liberty of the open highway and to be fashionable and secure on the similar time. The mortgage debt to have the large home and the storage and the yard and the rooms and closets to carry all of the issues we’ll quickly purchase to fill all of it up. 

In lots of different international locations, even the rich understate their wealth. They work to stay, not stay to work. When persons are much less obsessive about getting cash and amassing materials issues, they prioritize relaxation, leisure, time with household, take their holidays, and retire with “sufficient” as a substitute of working till they’re useless.

Non-Individuals are much less hooked up to their dwelling area and their belongings

As I gallivanted throughout Europe, posting in regards to the sights, sounds, and tastes from Slovenia to Hungary to Turkey to Montenegro, a follower on Instagram commented: “What’s your price range for this journey?? You should be spending $300 a day on inns, taxis, and eating places!!!”

I wasn’t. In 2022, I spent a median of $74 a day, on every thing—that features lodging, meals, medical health insurance, private care, and transportation. 

And within the 16 weeks I spent touring Europe final fall and late summer time, I stayed with mates, mates of mates, or full strangers almost half of the time. The extent of hospitality and welcome I used to be met with was completely unparalleled.

I didn’t know Sarah earlier than I stayed together with her. She was a pal of a pal I had stayed with in Salzburg, Austria, and at that pal’s request, Sarah had graciously agreed to host me in Munich. Sarah and Lena had been additionally going out of city a couple of days later, and she or he supplied that I keep and water their vegetation whereas they had been gone. 

“We’ve finished numerous touring,” she famous. “We perceive how it’s.”

“How it’s,” is making an attempt to make every greenback final so a traveler can apply the “experiences over possessions” mantra as lengthy as attainable. Summer season backpacking journeys, hole years, and sabbaticals are a long-time custom of Europeans of their 20s, 30s, and past—so each host has doubtless been a touring visitor in some unspecified time in the future in time. Understanding that lodging will be one of the vital costly points of touring—I met many Europeans who opened their residence to a wayward traveler equivalent to me and not using a second thought. 

Within the 15 months I spent touring the US in 2020 and 2021, I used to be met with far much less hospitality. Buddies and acquaintances throughout the states requested to seize dinner and catch up whereas I used to be touring, however far fewer invited me to remain. I assumed again on the occasions some years in the past after I rented out my home on Airbnb, and the judgment my American mates shared about strangers sleeping in my mattress and cooking in my kitchen.

“Who cares?” I laughed it off. “Identical mattress, totally different sheets. And it’s not like I take my cookware with me after I die.” Years later, most of my cookware would be offered or given away.

I can’t pinpoint precisely why fewer Individuals had been more likely to let an acquaintance keep—but it surely may must do with the truth that fewer Individuals are worldwide vacationers (thus not having been on the opposite aspect of the coin)—or that we’re so accustomed to comfort, {that a} traveler in our area and amongst our issues is an inconvenience.


Is this text an indictment of the American manner and our widespread Western decisions? I don’t imply it to be. However we’d be blind to not see we’re a society that over-consumes: commercialism and materialism, meals and alcohol addictions, self-importance and appearances, and a number of different lethal sins. I could also be a nomad dwelling on $74 a day, with solely the issues that slot in my SUV… however I’ve sufficient—sufficient belongings to be snug, and sufficient to outlive and thrive.

An enormous home invitations extra stuff, and if one thing isn’t “good,” it’s straightforward to simply purchase one other… however we commerce hours of life for the issues that we purchase. Subsequently, we will additionally commerce the hours we work and the issues we don’t purchase for our time again: time with household, time away from the rat race, and time for private endeavors. 

I hope that as a nation we study to be extra aware of our buy choices, and cut back our tendency to waste and disrespect. It’s good for the atmosphere, and it’s good for ourselves.  

And as a substitute of measuring internet price, {dollars}, sq. footage, and model names, how about we depend the years… and measure “wealth” in freedom: freedom from debt, freedom from an indulgence of fabric issues, freedom from a time- and psychological energy-sucking job, and the liberty to spend our time on this earth doing what we wish, with whom we wish. 


Julie B. Rose is a full-time nomad and minimalist who travels the world together with her canine Penny. She shares her experiences at juliedevivre.com, the place she goals to encourage and empower constructive life-style change. You may also discover her on Instagram or decide up her eBook, Cash and Mindset: Easy methods to Take a Sabbatical.

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