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Voluntary Simplicity

 
pollinator
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I met a fellow gardener/permaculturist who's local to me, and we struck up a yearlong discussion about permaculture, suburban homesteading, and other topics. She and I are both bloggers, and I turned our discussion into a 3-part series.

About her: Claire Schosser writes Living Low in the Lou, a blog chronicling her and her husband Mike's journey of reduced energy consumption and self-sufficiency. She opted for early retirement back in the mid-1990s (with Mike following in 2001) by reducing their expenses through living simply, growing much of their own food, and forgoing many of the shiny new conveniences that the rest of us take as givens. For those outside the area, "the Lou" is a popular nickname for St. Louis, Missouri. The Schosser/Gaillard homestead is located on a one-acre plot in suburban St. Louis and includes many mature, productive nut and fruit trees, an extensive annual garden, an herb garden, and a glassed-in front porch that functions as a greenhouse.

Claire and I discussed their lifestyle and garden over the course of two in-person visits and many back-and-forth email conversations between spring 2020 and spring 2021. The three-part Q&A series covers the topics voluntary simplicity, suburban homesteading, and getting the most food for the time and space in your garden.



The first part is on the topic "Voluntary Simplicity," which I thought would be a great one to post here to take the conversation Claire and I began and expand it to the wider permie community. Here's the original post at Cat in the Flock: A Life of 'Voluntary Simplicity' - Q&A with Living Low in the Lou's Claire Schosser

Some of the examples we explore:

- Retiring early through secure investments and simplified lifestyle choices - or "living low" if you take Claire's blog title as a cue
- Washing dishes by hand
- Buying fewer items of better quality that will last
- Spend less money and increase your skill base
- Grow, store, prepare, and preserve your own food
- Restore old furniture
- Reuse as much as possible



What are your thoughts and examples of the like?

 
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We gave up as much as we could in order to attain freedom. We have visitors exclaim how they could never go without _____, but they moan about how broke or unhappy they are. It's frustrating to know how easily they could shed a few unnecessary "luxuries" and live a happier life. This topic is so important and I'm glad to see it promoted.
 
Lisa Brunette
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Michael Helmersson wrote:We gave up as much as we could in order to attain freedom. We have visitors exclaim how they could never go without _____, but they moan about how broke or unhappy they are. It's frustrating to know how easily they could shed a few unnecessary "luxuries" and live a happier life. This topic is so important and I'm glad to see it promoted.



Thanks, Michael! I appreciate that. I'd be interested in what you gave up vs. what your visitors say they could never go without. In my own experience, I can share two things we gave up that we have no qualms whatsoever about missing: 1) Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and 2) a dishwasher. We don't miss the social media at all and have gained back valuable hours (plus saner platforms like this Permies community provide a much better kind of online interaction). And we find we enjoy doing our own dishes, and they come out cleaner.
 
Michael Helmersson
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Lisa Brunette wrote:

Michael Helmersson wrote:We gave up as much as we could in order to attain freedom. We have visitors exclaim how they could never go without _____, but they moan about how broke or unhappy they are. It's frustrating to know how easily they could shed a few unnecessary "luxuries" and live a happier life. This topic is so important and I'm glad to see it promoted.



Thanks, Michael! I appreciate that. I'd be interested in what you gave up vs. what your visitors say they could never go without. In my own experience, I can share two things we gave up that we have no qualms whatsoever about missing: 1) Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and 2) a dishwasher. We don't miss the social media at all and have gained back valuable hours (plus saner platforms like this Permies community provide a much better kind of online interaction). And we find we enjoy doing our own dishes, and they come out cleaner.



We gave up:

-car and truck (we are a 5min walk to town)
-grid utilities (we have a small solar array)
-running water (except for a 12v shower pump)
-telephone and interwebs (we have a work-related web connection)
-a plowed road (our private road is ours to maintain)
-but most important of all--the expense of all the above.

Visitors have exclaimed how "cool it is", what we're doing, but......... they couldn't live without their hair dryer, endless hot showers, car, thermostatically controlled indoor climate, limitless electricity and other reasons I can't remember. The saddest though, are people that feel they're too old to do this and wish they had.
 
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Interesting topic! I'll be curious to read what others here have "given up".

We don't have:

1. Microwave.
2. Laundry Dryer. For a while, we didn't even have a washing machine. I used a wringer. Someone gifted us with a washing machine, which hubbie re-plumbed to drain out onto some fruit trees.
3. Hair Dryer.
4. Cable TV.
5. Dishwasher. (I often joke that I actually have two dishwashers, then wave my two hands in the air.)
6. Landline. I have an old "dumb" phone, hubbie does have a smartphone.
7. Many small kitchen appliances like: food processor, stand mixer, electric pressure cooker, toaster, toaster oven, etc. I do have a crockpot, blender, coffee grinder, and coffee maker.
8. Deep freezer. Whatever doesn't fit in the freezer above my fridge gets canned, dried, etc.
9. A TV in the bedroom.

But honestly, it's taken me several minutes of brainstorming to compile this list. I don't think of the things we don't have very often. I just don't miss them. For instance, I've been without a hair dryer for long, I didn't even think to list it until a previous poster did.

If anyone is interested in weaning out of the rat race in a semi-manageable pace, try not replacing stuff as it breaks. For us, it started with the dishwasher. Then the hair dryer, then the deep freeze, etc. Going off grid cold-turkey would be too difficult, I think. But just learning to make do without the stuff once it breaks has been an easy task for us. We're certainly not off grid by any means, but the "stuff" most Americans think of as necessary are actually easy to live without if you just don't need to.
 
Michael Helmersson
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Stacie Kim wrote:

But honestly, it's taken me several minutes of brainstorming to compile this list. I don't think of the things we don't have very often. I just don't miss them. For instance, I've been without a hair dryer for long, I didn't even think to list it until a previous poster did.



This is what happens once you get used to not having things that you had to get used to having in the first place. Lots of people think their habits and routines are necessities.
 
Lisa Brunette
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Visitors have exclaimed how "cool it is", what we're doing, but......... they couldn't live without their hair dryer, endless hot showers, car, thermostatically controlled indoor climate, limitless electricity and other reasons I can't remember. The saddest though, are people that feel they're too old to do this and wish they had.



I have to laugh at the hair dryer - I haven't used one since the 80s and would definitely put that in the 'first to go' column!
 
Lisa Brunette
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Stacie Kim wrote:

1. Microwave.
2. Laundry Dryer. For a while, we didn't even have a washing machine. I used a wringer. Someone gifted us with a washing machine, which hubbie re-plumbed to drain out onto some fruit trees.
3. Hair Dryer.
4. Cable TV.
5. Dishwasher. (I often joke that I actually have two dishwashers, then wave my two hands in the air.)
6. Landline. I have an old "dumb" phone, hubbie does have a smartphone.
7. Many small kitchen appliances like: food processor, stand mixer, electric pressure cooker, toaster, toaster oven, etc. I do have a crockpot, blender, coffee grinder, and coffee maker.
8. Deep freezer. Whatever doesn't fit in the freezer above my fridge gets canned, dried, etc.
9. A TV in the bedroom.



Great list, Stacie! I'm with you on the hair dryer - first to go. Ditto a TV in the bedroom, which is a really bad habit for so many Americans, in my opinion. I've never had a TV in that room and now haven't had a TV anywhere since 2005. I'd be sad to part with the big freezer, though! Love the idea to elect to not replace as things break. Great suggestion.
 
pollinator
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We still have material things such as TV, DVD players and VCRs but my hubby repairs them and most of the ones we keep either have a cosmetic issue or a mechanical issue (DVD player has a tray that won't always close on its own.  However all are functional and were either free or low cost to us.  We ditched satellite TV probably fifteen years ago though I do keep an Amazon Prime subscription for my daughter and for the free shipping perk and books.

90% of our clothing is thrifted as the only things we buy new are underclothes and shoes for hubby and I as we both have large, wide feet and often can't find anything second hand.  My daughter occasionally gets a new outfit or toy but most is also thrifted.  I also recycle clothing that is too far gone to be donated into rags, quilts, tomato ties and sometimes even a new outfit for my daughter.

We downsized to one vehicle when the pandemic hit and we gave up our store to strictly sell from home.  That vehicle was purchased used and is maintained regularly for a fraction of the cost of what something shiny and new would cost.  A cargo hauler that attaches to our hitch gives us a bit more room for hauling items that won't fit in the cargo area.  

Our home is paid for and unlike so many of our friends, we're not looking to purchase something bigger and fancier.  I personally have twenty plus years invested in improving this property and though I keep planting and making improvements, I'm perfectly happy to live here until my time on this earth is over.

I have increased my knowledge of edible wild plants and am constantly increasing my garden area to reduce our food costs.  I grew all of my vegetable plants from seed this year and only purchased a few annual flowers, most of which will be overwintered and used for cuttings to start new plants for next year.  At one time I used to use lots of coupons but very seldom do now unless it's on paper products, soaps or shampoos.  I buy very little premade food but lots of raw ingredients as most of our meals are from scratch which is far cheaper and healthier.  

I also strive to learn something new everyday and to put that knowledge to use.  One can read tons of books on a particular subject, but nothing can replace actually doing it.

Two things I can't give up are the landline as cell service is basically non-existent here and the hairdryer as my hair has a tendency to do its own thing without it, but then I only use it on the occasions when I actually leave the property.
 
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What I've noticed is how quick some people are to offer you something when you tell them you don't have one.  Smartphone, microwave... "I've got a spare/old one you can have!" they say.  As if you've somehow found yourself accidentally without one and must be in desperate need. Or, they try to get to the bottom of why you don't have one, so they can persuade you to get one. "WHY don't you take foreign holidays?  Is it the cost?  Prague is really cheap!  The length of time it takes to get there? That's why MY holiday starts as soon as I get to the airport!"

It's difficult to say what I've "given up" because I've never had most of these things.  Hairdryer, foreign holidays, microwave, tumble drier, dishwasher, going to the hairdresser, colouring my hair, smartphone, car finance, pressure washer, more than one television, TV subscription.

I do use facebook.  I have about 12 "friends", and a huge heap of friend requests from people I hardly know.

There are loads of things I could do without, but it's a matter of finding a balance.  There are things I value that folks who've achieved deeper simplicity don't miss.  Like going for walks or to museums and things like that.  I could just walk mindfully from my front door, and appreciate the tiny beauties of life.  But I do like to explore new places.  I could give up my car, and just explore places I can get to by public transport.  But even though that would give me more range, it overshadows my walk if I know I've GOT to get back to a certain place by a certain time or I'll miss the last bus or train, especially in rural areas.  So I have a car.  

I lie about not having a smartphone, actually.  I've got one on my desk right now that I bought my son a year or two ago, and then his dad got him a newer shinier one.  There was something I wanted to try that only came in an "app", so I capitulated and used this one.  But I hate peering and poking and being a slave to the tiny little screen that's apparently going to transform my life, like all the other zombies.  I have made my displeasure clear to the "app only" company, and it will only be a short experiment!
 
Lisa Brunette
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:What I've noticed is how quick some people are to offer you something when you tell them you don't have one.  Smartphone, microwave... "I've got a spare/old one you can have!" they say.  As if you've somehow found yourself accidentally without one and must be in desperate need. Or, they try to get to the bottom of why you don't have one, so they can persuade you to get one. "WHY don't you take foreign holidays?  Is it the cost?  Prague is really cheap!  The length of time it takes to get there? That's why MY holiday starts as soon as I get to the airport!"



I just laughed at this as so true and had to read it out loud to my husband. People are really weird about, for example, finding out you use your dishwasher for storage and hand wash instead, or that you don't actually have a Facebook account. I reached out to some gardeners in my neighborhood who formed a gardening group but was ignored because I'm not on Facebook! I was like, REALLY? We're neighbors. You live two blocks from me. What do we need Facebook for? Come on over and tour my garden, and let's talk in real life!
 
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That's funny Lisa,
2 blocks away and they can't communicate!  I can't believe how many people say, "It's great that you bike to so many places!" I always want to say, "You could too!" So many people say, I'd like to get out in nature, but I don't have the time.  Well, if you had a food forest in your backyard, you could.  Lots of people say, "Who has time to cook? I want to say, "I don't have enough money to pay for cancer, obesity and diabetes problems, let alone Liver disease. " I do have time to cook, because I don't play video games, binge watch, or look at social media very long.   There are so many things that we do and they become our lifestyle.  I do have the feeling that just by having sustainable lifestyles, we are influencing a lot more people than we think.  Many people tell me that they are inspired by what I do and they want to start in that direction.

John S
PDX OR
 
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I like this topic. It vibes with me a lot.

We decided to live without a home of our own and opt to stay with my wife's family. I think that was the single most significant choice we made. One day our circumstances might change and we find that we have to move, but for now it is wonderful not having to pay rent or a mortgage and sharing chores and expenses with more people.

We also decided to only have one car for ourselves. I also only buy and drive small used cars and drive them into the ground. The embodied energy in a car is immense, even if the maintenance costs for older cars is higher, it's still cheaper than buying new. They depreciate incredibly fast. I would go without a car, but the economics don't work out for me right now. It gives me access to highly valuable income I wouldn't be able to get without the car.

As a rule I do everything myself instead of hiring it out. The exception is vehicular maintenance. I used to do that myself in the USA, but the rules here are strict enough for me to not want to mess with it. Also the mechanics here are amazingly honest in my experience. It takes a huge chunk of my time to do the maintenance tasks and upkeep of everything, but I've been gaining many skills in the process which I enjoy.

I see the future as a gradual shift towards less. My wife and I lean towards minimalism, without actually aspiring to be true minimalists. I enjoy simplicity and a minimal, slow life.
 
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I live on an 10 acre farm with a perfect little 200 sqfoot house.

No electricity. My father bought me an aggregator when he saw me carrying endless buckets of water from my river. The aggregator is for the water pump only.

No running water. I have a well, the river and a water post.

Outhouse instead if a toilet

Sauna instead of a bathroom. Wood heated.

No car. I bike to the closest town (3 miles)

Rowboat for fishing.

Wood stove for heat, hot water, oven and stove.

A bucket for washing dishes.

Oil lamps, many different kinds, but no electricity...

A bed with luxurious down blankets, wool throws, hot water bottles for cold Scandinavian winterrs.

A wasboard, laundry daisy and bucket for washing clothes.

My life is very timeless. Things don't break down and require a plumber or electrician.
 
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Kaarina Kreus wrote:I live on an 10 acre farm with a perfect little 200 sqfoot house.

No electricity. My father bought me an aggregator when he saw me carrying endless buckets of water from my river. The aggregator is for the water pump only.

No running water. I have a well, the river and a water post.

Outhouse instead if a toilet

Sauna instead of a bathroom. Wood heated.

No car. I bike to the closest town (3 miles)

Rowboat for fishing.

Wood stove for heat, hot water, oven and stove.

A bucket for washing dishes.

Oil lamps, many different kinds, but no electricity...

A bed with luxurious down blankets, wool throws, hot water bottles for cold Scandinavian winterrs.

A wasboard, laundry daisy and bucket for washing clothes.

My life is very timeless. Things don't break down and require a plumber or electrician.



You are my favorite person today.
 
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I am a firm believer in voluntary simplicity.

I feel it really only works for a single lifestyle.

Or for two people who are truly committed to that lifestyle.

I don't think it works for a family unless they started before the kids were born and taught those principles to their kids.

I live as simply as I can with a spouse that cannot give up tv and I spend a lot of time on the internet.

I refuse to let a cell phone rule my life and it is hard to explain that to people who want to send me text and want me to sign stuff over the cell phone.
 
Michael Helmersson
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Kaarina Kreus wrote:
My life is very timeless. Things don't break down and require a plumber or electrician.



Your lifestyle sounds a lot like mine except for the small solar array that gives us power. It's very difficult to resist the urge to introduce little luxuries, but every little luxury brings baggage in the form of maintenance and repairs. Most people look at our lifestyle and marvel at what they see as minimalism, but I feel like we need to trim a little here and there in order to preserve our freedom and fend off the technology monster. I never yearn for more, but I often yearn for less.  
 
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I’ve always said there is nothing simple about the simple life!  I’m a mile wide and a bit more than an inch deep. We garden, raise livestock, hunt, fish, cook, food process, cut timber, vet, engine repair, home renovate (electrical, plumbing, roofing, etc), raise kids, volunteer, the list goes on.  

If I wanted simple, I’d probably live in a midsized city, let someone else prepare a meal or two a day for me, take long walks, play some games, go listen to some music and hang out with friends.  Maybe someday…
 
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Michael Helmersson wrote: I never yearn for more, but I often yearn for less.  


That is a very beautiful phrase.

People are often surprised to learn we do all our cleaning, repair, and yard stuff ourselves (where we live everyone has help, even the maid has a maid. I come from a culture where if you can't take care of what you have you don't deserve to have it, so I'm the weirdo here).
They're even more surprised to learn not only do I cook all our food, I grow a lot of the food too. I work full time, make time for the gym every day, mentor people in my field, and I have a lot of time-consuming hobbies (reading, knitting, painting).

When they ask how I find the time to do all this, I always say I don't watch TV or have facebook/instagram. I don't think people would be as shocked if I said I have a small conjoined twin that lives in my abdomen who I pull out to do my chores. It's remarkable that the idea of taking back several hours of my day is so unthinkable.
 
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When I first had my phone/internet shut off (including netflix, etc.) it was so weird for many weeks.  The impulse to look something up or check something was so strong.  And trying to find things to fill up my time.   Fast forward a year and I NEVER even think about it when I'm home.  I have several projects and other things going on around the home/property.   Until I read before bedtime,  I almost never sit down.   I get SO MUCH DONE now,  even when I'm putting and pacing myself well (ain't none of us getting younger).    It's not so much about how much time you have,  but what you fill it with.  
 
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We are weaning as we go.  Retired early last year after pairing down to one vehicle.  Never had a dishwasher (because I always had a hubby 😁) or central AC.  He is quite useful for keeping all the maintenance type people away too.  If there is plumbing, however, the dog and I must leave too...it is too scary for her.  The microwave just fritzed out a month ago and we both looked at one another and said, "We aren't buying another."  I do wish we had a rocket mass heater.  We could technically live without the water and electric companies, but we are dependent on the gas company for a few months of the year.  
 
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I love this thread, because I finally feel like I'm not alone. About 20 years ago, I gave up TV in the living room. We lived in Germany at the time, in a row house, and I decided that television is not for kids, so I put the tv on the 3rd floor, so it wouldn't be easy for adults to watch, either. Now I have no tv at all, and no streaming services. If it ain't free, I don't need to watch it that badly. That was the beginning of a purge:

no disposable paper products, including toilet paper (I love telling people that one!)
no clothes dryer
no personal care products other than homemade
no car for many, many years. Now I have one that I drive maybe once per week, usually less often.
no dishwasher
no processed foods
no obscene piles of toys for my kids at Christmas and birthdays
very few purchased books--I use the library for free!
no paid tv
no crazy expensive cell phone contract-pay as you go


That's just off the top of my head. I also have fruit and nut trees, a huge garden, and I run a food buying club in my part of town, buying from local farmers and vendors in bulk and dividing it all up between group members. I charge a small fee so that most of my order is paid for. My now grown child said they do not want to take part in my 'voodoo' life anymore, but I notice small things like eating vegetables on top of the junk food, buying more healthy personal care products, thrift store clothing, no car. I'm hoping with maturity will come understanding and a return to the lifestyle they were raised with.

So happy to have found this community. I am learning a lot and adding to my list every day.
 
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What a fascinating thread she says as she types out this missive on her iPhone. I realize how my voluntary simplicity differs as I am in a house that came equipped with all new appliances and I’m learning how to be frugal with their use. As a single person of several decades I’m very self sufficient as far as gardening, minor repairs and maintenance, etc. But I’ve got 9 acres I’m reclaiming from autumn olive and honey suckle, setting up a pollinators area and herb garden by myself. I’m a writer so I am lucky that I can immerse myself in this land and that dishwasher and washing machine used sparingly give me more time and energy to create self sufficiency in other areas. I am fortunate that this house was gifted to me so no mortgage and my 10 year old car is paid off long ago. Bravo to all our efforts to tread lightly on Momma Gaia and experience joy in that as well.
 
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I do not have a smart phone, or any other kind of portable phone. It is inconvenient at times, but worth it to not be addicted and anxious.
I arrived at the momentous decision to never own such a device at the LA Opera.
Pavarotti was singing La Traviata (Verdi) and I had paid an outlandish amount for a once in a lifetime experience or witnessing that from the Grand Circle, front row..... oh yes. Little New Zealand girl in a black lace opera dress.
In the orchestra pit, I noticed a violinist on her mobile phone as we waited for the performance to begin. I was surprised.
I was more surprised as to applause the conductor appeared, and she continued on her device, only setting it aside as he stepped onto the podium.
I decided then and there, that that was the epitome of the life I never wanted to have.
One day I am going to build a house with a total of three interior walls enclosing a bathroom.
I call it the Three Wall House.
Of course it has exterior walls too..... 4 of them in a simple rectangle.
There will be one piece of furniture in the Three Wall House, a bed. Though there will be a built in window seat to house sitting downing activities.  
The entire back wall of the house will be about a meter (to 1.2 m) deep of storage, accessed by sliding doors, similar to a Japanese house, but not likely to be paper. This is where things will live, including pantry stuff, writing desk and chair, sewing machine and all the other necessaries.
Thus there will be no extraneous objects in the house itself.
There will be a stone in the bathroom with a cake of soap on it, and a towel. The kitchen will have a few tools handy to the sink and another stone for dishy soap and a dishtowel.
I think that is about as simple as a dwelling experience can get.
The space itself will sing, because it's voice will be heard in the quietness created by No Clutter.
Yeah, that is the plan.
It will happen.
hugshugs from late spring New Zealand where many lavender and thyme plants found their way to the garden today. They seem pretty happy. I think they will make friends with all their plant neighbours and insect visitors. But hopefully not Mr Slug.
 
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I'm all for simplicity, and can "do without" a lot. I lived on a boat for a year, and have spent lots of holiday time on small boats with no amenities, which helps.

But ....

I live in my 1886 farmhouse/barn/garage plus 2000m2 in Germany, growing pretty much all my own veg, not on mains sewage with a well (not yet back in service). Say I got the well and pumps back online - costs money to do that. Ditto getting solar (neighbours system plus battery was 20k these are the prices now and supply of the components can be hard).

I could possibly ditch the car and go everywhere by bike - but if I need to go more than about 10km away it starts to be a real time and energy drain. Plus of course more bike maintenance. And not able to get heavy / large things or take my cat anywhere including vet...

So even then, I'd still have to pay

Other groceries and hygiene items
Cat food / vet bills
Land tax
Health insurance
Chimney inspection (annual)
Fuel and maintenance for the sewage pump
Ditto for mower tractor, hedge trimmers, chipper and rototiller (my body can't do much of those jobs by hand)
Tools, paint, lubricants, spare parts to fix stuff
Supplies for renovation (the house needs lots of work and CANNOT be knocked down and start again smaller)
Oil for the heating ... Or wood if I replace it or use the woodstoves I have. No I can't get rocket mass heaters this is Germany. All "fires" need approval and annual checks.
A standing charge to the electricity grid operators
Internet

.... That last because I work from home. Which I have to keep doing because there is no way I could "retire". I'm 51. Savings of about 20k, a boat that would need work to sell even for 5k and a city apartment that pays for itself and brings about 200€ per month profit (but needs some minor work done now).

I can't see how to get both the time and the money to do all the work of living here even mega frugally, doing everything myself. It's one or the other. I could gain a couple of years If I sold the apartment, super renovate this place .... And then STILL have the above inescapable costs.

And I'm luckier than most, I can't imagine how it might be for others. SO much harder and further away. I really don't think most of us can frugal our way to "freedom". Those that have were fortunate in place and time. Or are doing so as a community (wow, would that be awesome! But... people are often .... problematic...).


 
Cris Fellows
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Kirsty Pollock wrote:

And I'm luckier than most, I can't imagine how it might be for others. SO much harder and further away. I really don't think most of us can frugal our way to "freedom". Those that have were fortunate in place and time. Or are doing so as a community (wow, would that be awesome! But... people are often .... problematic...).




There are always two sides to every coin.  Thanks for your perspective.   Even so, it hints loudly at the lack of excessive 'stuff'.  We made a few decisions early on that allowed me to retire at 62, not sure I could have done it sooner.  We are not minimalists, or uber frugal, but by many people's standards we are.  I like where we have fallen, hopefully you do as well.
 
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I completely agree with you re simplicity. My husband and myself are in our mid-70s and for 20years have been living simply as we can. This includes growing most of our food, using a spring as water supply, cycling and walking wherever possible to reduce fuel usage and my husband makes and builds everything to do with running the house. We’ve never had a dishwasher - but apparently the water usage is lower than hand washing? We don’t have to worry having - at the moment- an ever flowing spring. We’ve moved off wood as it’s become too difficult to heat and have DHW and consumes too much time- we have moved to renewables in the form of wood pellets- wind/solar and heat pumps don’t work efficiently in our location. Apart from underwear I buy second hand clothing. I always try to buy used items or swap. Re car- we live in an isolated property and at the bottom of a 1:3 gradient hill a mile long- so have an electric bike. The bus service barely exists and means walking a mile uphill to nearest bus-stop - good exercise but it can take half a day to go to local town 8miles away and get back. I don’t fly anywhere. We cut our own hair. I make our own medicines (herbal), soap and cleaning agents.
The one thing I won’t forgo is organic produce when I have to buy food…. the book Poison Spring by Vallianatos is a good analysis of use of pesticides. I live on the small island of Anglesey, off N West coast of Wales.
Best wishes to all permies. I love all the posts and ideas.
 
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I love this thread…
It gives me confidence and hope in living our lifestyle. We feel it in our bones that the simple, small, homesteading way is how we want to live.
At 55 we finished our tiny house dream and moved into our self built bus conversion. (Skoolie). This month marks 4 years of full time stationary living, moving 3 times so far to different homesteads. We offer work share/rent in exchange for parking, basic electric and clean water source. We have a small storage unit with the basics and sentimental valuables in the event we decide we hate it or one of is is left alone and wants to set up housekeeping somewhere else.
We had a party when we got to cancel Comcast and the electric bill, no microwave, DW, push button things for instant whatever, basic month to month cell plan with hot spotting for occasional entertainment (I’d rather be outside). We got so tired of watching so. Much. Money. Leave our bank accounts to pay for things we didn’t want or need! This lifestyle has been revolutionary to us!
Lots of things we gave up and I can’t say the adjustment was easy in the beginning, but as we get older and dream of retirement, it involves working together building and creating for a living to share with others. Doing what we love to make a little money. No desire to sit too still, but to be active and enjoy where creator has put us, until we go on to heaven.
Creating a little garden to grow some of our food and herbs for medicine and body care, more hunting and local sourcing, raising small animals for meat, among lots of other things are how we’ve lived while bus-living. Solar system parts are being collected slowly, wood for the wood stove and propane are what we want to expand on and maintain.
We have been dreaming lately of our own little patch of land to set up a shop/studio/greenhouse/chicken coop on… tired of moving around and starting over so often. But… this life has been good to us and we are blessed. Excited to see where God leads us.
We are in SE PA if anyone is near and wants to get in touch. We have strong desires for living in and among small community to share life with- or just exchange ideas with other folks over a meal! Sometimes we feel isolated and have a hard time finding other homesteaders etc.  
Thanks for sharing everyone!
 
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Probably I am just a 'simple person'. I see people give up things I never even had. Because I never had them, I never miss them.

The most important thing I never had is a car (including the driving lessons and the driver's licence). But of course it's easier to live without a car here in the Netherlands, where the bicycle paths are the best in the world.

Another 'thing' I know many people are spending their money at is 'going out' (to the pub / café / coffeeshop) at least once a week. That was never my habit and I don't think it will ever become. Now I have some more money (inherited), I think I'll have dinner in a restaurant once in a while (in holidays). But still most of my meals are home-cooked of fresh ingredients, some of those from my own garden, others right from the organic farm.

One thing I can not do without is the internet. I don't want to do without Permies!

 
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Not a conformist by any means but also I enjoy this thread. Like others it gives me confidence i am not the only one trying these things.

To start i gave up seeking finacial wealth, living in a city that sucked my income & energy/time. That was first. For some that cannot relate think about starting each month wifh a $4,000 bill and thats not even downtown owning.

Next was new,doesnt matter what just new. Years i had the thing before anyone, did it matter? Not really it mostly broke fast and became art. So buy used very reliable whatevers.

Growing food. This will be a hard pill to swallow but move to a real agriculture community. Your outsider skills will probably be a real asset to the community and well veggies will be left atyour front porch guaranteed FOC. Not everyone is a farmer but everyone is part of the community.

Giving up things is different to most. Just do not give up.


 
Lisa Brunette
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John Suavecito wrote:Many people tell me that they are inspired by what I do and they want to start in that direction.

John S
PDX OR



Well, that's awesome!
 
Lisa Brunette
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Am Pohlacker wrote:I love this thread, because I finally feel like I'm not alone.



Am, this comment gave me chills. So wonderful.
 
Lisa Brunette
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Kirsty Pollock wrote:
Ditto for mower tractor, hedge trimmers, chipper and rototiller (my body can't do much of those jobs by hand)



I hear you, Kirsty, for sure... You raise some good points.

BUT, if you poke around here at Permies, you might find some baby steps you can take toward greater independence from the hamster wheel. For example, you can convert your lawn away from grass, so you don't need a mower. And there are tons of alternatives here for no-till gardening. Start there and see where it takes you!

I wish you the best.
 
Lisa Brunette
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Carol Horne wrote: We’ve never had a dishwasher - but apparently the water usage is lower than hand washing?



Carol, the studies claiming that were LIKELY paid for by dishwasher manufacturers. Paul Wheaton has a counter vid here:
 
Lisa Brunette
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H Schweitzer wrote:I love this thread…
It gives me confidence and hope in living our lifestyle. We feel it in our bones that the simple, small, homesteading way is how we want to live.



AWESOME. Just wonderful. I'm not in your area, but I love your story and hope you find community.
 
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Carol Horne wrote: We’ve never had a dishwasher - but apparently the water usage is lower than hand washing?



That's because most use an absurd number of dishes, and as the other poster said, the dishwasher illuminati. I grew up with a dishwasher and since moving out have always hand-washed. My finding is that hand-washing is easier and instills an ethic to keep up on them. I really can't think of any reason somebody'd want one... same reason they substitute real cooking for tv-dinners I think.
 
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i bought an acre with sm house that needs work(no money to fix,but livable and definitely better than a tent!)  for 40k cash,(was stay at home mom then worked last 10yrs and saved for this day) at the other end of the country so i wouldnt end up under a bridge(moved from BC to NB) .I grow veg,planted fruit and berry bushes and trees-permaculturishly.I do every thing by hand. Heat with wood. I have a 26yr old vehicle. I clean rooms part time at local motel, enough to pay the few bills.I barter/sell veg,maple syrup,bokashi,plants. I make under 12k/yr,so am considered poor, but feel like i am living the life. I do have hydro and a well. I have 2 of every thing, chairs, beds, plates,cups, in case i have company. Old stove,fridge and washer that came with house. I have a stick blender, crockpot and tv/dvd that were castoffs from others.I live a life i dont need a vacation from,although it is work,i love it. No need for gym,sleep or mental health meds. I also use library for computer, books and dvds. Walk,snowshoe,birdwatch, wild harvest and learning new things are my free entertainment. Every thing I own is from thrift store,given or found free.I think people would be surprised to know how little a person actually needs,especially if you are willing to wait.
 
Lisa Brunette
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andrea elliott wrote:I think people would be surprised to know how little a person actually needs,especially if you are willing to wait.



Amen to that.
 
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Gray Henon wrote:I’ve always said there is nothing simple about the simple life!  I’m a mile wide and a bit more than an inch deep. We garden, raise livestock, hunt, fish, cook, food process, cut timber, vet, engine repair, home renovate (electrical, plumbing, roofing, etc), raise kids, volunteer, the list goes on…



Amen to that! I always want to simplify. The more I do, the thinner I stretch as my chore list (splitting wood, gardening, preserving, washing dishes) becomes longer and longer.
That is why I still have a washing machine and dishwasher. With all the other jobs in and out of the house, I just don’t have the energy.
 
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