It is my pleasure to introduce you to Pauline, who has kindly offered to share some images of her home with us:
Hi! My name is Pauline, I am French and grew up in Paris. I then moved around for a few years before settling in sunny Guatemala. I have built my own house and lived there for the past five years.
I am a personal finance blogger and own five sites. My main one is Reach Financial Independence, where I talk about how money can buy you more freedom and choices. Minimalism has been a natural process in my quest for financial independence. I’d rather be free than work to pay for more stuff!
1. What square footage do you have in your home?
I have around 1,500 sqft, which is huge for me. I am based in Guatemala at the moment, and that was the bare minimum size I could build if I wanted to be able to resell the place one day. Guatemalan people are used to living large, with most houses more than double that size.
My place is a two bedroom, two bathroom, two level house with a big open space downstairs for the kitchen, dining and living room. I mostly live in my bedroom, the kitchen, and the dock on the water.
2. How many people live in your home? (And were they on board/participating in the change?)
I built the place by myself, and now live with my boyfriend, who is a fisherman and used to living on a boat. He didn’t get much of a say about my living quarters, but had no problem adapting to being remote, having no TV, etc.
3. What was your motivation for embracing simplicity in your life?
It came naturally, as I left home to travel the world for a year after college. Suddenly, my possessions for the year had to fit in a backpack. My first backpack was about 90L and 50lbs. Now I can travel for months on end with a carry-on.
So when time came to have a house again, I unpacked my bag and the few boxes of books and photo albums I still had stored at my mom’s, and wondered what else to put in such a big space! I had no idea. It is way more than I need. I have lived in several countries since I came back from that round the world trip, and with every move, I have decluttered and simplified my lifestyle.
4. How has minimizing your possessions made your life better?
Simplicity makes me happier, I don’t have to worry about a ton of things, and it is also much cheaper. Which allows you, in turn, to buy better quality items for the few things you do buy. I get greater enjoyment out of my few possessions. I love my guitar, my ukulele, cooking with my nice utensils and pans brings me pleasure, and I enjoy my high-quality mattress. Having more things around me wouldn’t make my life much better, so every time I buy something, I ask myself how much utility and value I would get out of having this item live with me.
5. What was your biggest challenge in the middle of decluttering?
I am very budget minded and try to spend as little money as possible when it comes to buying stuff. So getting rid of clothes that I might wear later, or other items that I hadn’t used in years, but may one day come handy, was pretty difficult. I later found out that I always wear the same things anyway, and throwing a warm t-shirt can be replaced by wearing double layers that one time you may have needed the old item. You make do without, or ask yourself again if purchasing something would be worth it.
6. What helped you get rid of the most? (Questions, thought process, etc.)
I guess moving places regularly really helped with questioning the use and purpose of each item in my home. I see many things in terms of my effort to get them. If you make $20 per hour and buy something worth $100, was it worth sacrificing five hours of your life? In reality, the math is even worse, since if you account for your commute time, your costs to go to work, daycare, etc. you make way less than you think you do. So I always wonder if buying something is worth my time. It rarely is.
7. What unexpected reactions did you get from friends or family seeing the change in your home?
People often freak out when they see such an empty space. Again, my place is pretty big so it looks pretty bare. People wonder how I can live without a TV, but aside from that, they can rarely pinpoint things that are missing in my home. My kitchen is well equipped, my beds are comfy, and it is pretty much all you need!
Would you like to participate?
When you are thinking about becoming minimalist, the whole point of it is to keep true to your authentic self. What is important to you, the things you enjoy and the life you want to live.
I’m excited to share some real-life examples of what minimalism looks like in different homes around the world.
If you would like to share a tour of YOUR home, please email me with “HOME TOUR” in the subject line.