Less stuff, more life

by Marilia Di Cesare on November 21, 2011

We don´t have to own much to enjoy a walk through these trees to get to the beach.

It´s been a while since I have been living with less of what I used to have when I lived in a big city. I´ve been living way more frugally and with less stuff for 8 years now.

This is part of a group writing project. Check at the end of this post what the other families on the move have to say on this topic.

Having less is a choice on minimalism for me. In everything that I can find to go minimal, I do it. I find that having less stuff makes me live more. I don´t I have to worry or work to maintain some things, I can use that time doing things I love instead, and that don´t require stuff or money to do, like hanging out with friends.

Even though I was living with less already, traveling with a backpack really limits the stuff you own. I´ll be practical. Since I left my home in Brazil, 10 months ago:

I don´t have internet at home. Every morning I go to a friend´s hotel and use the internet there, while I´m there at the reception if she needs me. Besides saving money (the biggest reason), I like to have my internet hours controlled like this. I can´t get too addicted and check on it at home, while with my daughter and I have to be more productive in my available hours.

I don´t have a car. I sold my surfmobile 6 months prior to our trip to Costa Rica. I wanted to spend less and have the money to buy the airplane tickets, but the main reason was really to not depend on the car and instead to bike more.

I hardly consume any goods, so I´m not contributing too much to the endless cycle of consumption and waste that goes on in our society. I have only one pair of flip flops that I change when I need.  I bought a few clothes for me and Luísa (replacements) during this year, and besides a few home supplies, I don´t buy much.

I live in a tiny studio (I love how this word in English makes my place so sophisticated), while back home I was in a 3 bedroom house. Living in a small house is probably the biggest reason why we are out and in the nature so much of the time. Sure, the reason to live like this is to save money, but I also got the benefit of spending little to no time cleaning and caring for a house, it´s simply freeing.

My daughter has way less toys. Back home we had already downsized her toys to a big box plus a couple of teddy bears, but in a trip, starting of a backpack and moving homes a few times a year we are keeping the minimum. She plays more imaginatively than ever. The imaginary friends are gone (I miss Tiago), she has plenty of real friends to hang out every day and they love playing with sticks, rocks, and anything they find on their way.

We both have a lot less clothes and stuff. This was dictated by our backpack, but I love it. I don´t miss any clothing (in fact, I don´t even remember what I left home), and my daughter doesn´t get overwhelmed when it´s time to choose what to put on.

Less electronics in my routine. I had a pretty nice lap top and I like editing videos. But I chose to travel with a cheap and light net book instead. I just want to have less to be steeled from, so I don´t worry about my values (but so far, so good, I´ve only had some money and my credit card stolen from my bag during a trip). I can buy another cheap net book if I have to, but I can´t buy another Vaio…

Back home, I had acoustic boxes, I watched videos and listened to music. I do this way less now. I liked these things, but it´s ok to be without. And I surely miss the washing machine.

We have paradise to ourselves. I might not have a fully equipped house and wardrobe, but I live 1 minute away from stunning Caribbean beaches. We live in the jungle and get to see sloths and howler monkeys very often, besides the red dart frog and the black and green dart frog in our street. Do I have to own anything?

Having less of what´s actually existing around me and that I can use (paying for it or not like internet connection and a washing machine) makes me think of how we could be using everything more efficiently and intelligently.

It´s so blatantly obvious that we don´t need to own everything of what is nice to use.

Think of all the cars stopped at parking lots from 9 to 5 that could be used by people with a different work schedule. Think of anything else and how we could have less clutter in the world and giving access to things we find important and useful to everyone. Surely the costs of maintenance would be split, and so the benefits.

But I´ll spare you my words on how the world sucks and how I how I believe in the end of the monetary system and in The Venus Project.

The truth about living with less stuff is that you end up going for more experiences. To have fun, you go out in the nature and you meet with people, for instance.

And what is living with less when I think of people that don´t have the minimum (clean air, water, shelter, food and a relevant education)? I have all the essentials and way more than that. I really wish all the people could have what I consider less in my life.

Here´s what the other families on the move have to say on living with less:

1 dad, 1kid, 1 crazy adventure: Living Better With Less

Living Outisde of the Box: Living without

A King’s Life: Living with Less & Spoiling Ourselves

12 year old Miro’s: Living Without the Norm

Family on Bikes: Living with less: What can you ditch?

A Minor Diversion: What We´ve Learned to Live Without

With 2 kids in tow:  After 10 Months of Living With Less 

Globetrotting Mama: Living Without the Stuff

Bohemian Travelers: More Experiences Are Easier to Collect

The Nomadic Family: The Ying Yang of Living Without

Living on The Road: Living Without

New Life On The Road: Living The Simple Lifestyle, But Still Would Love One Thing

Carried on the Wind: Living Without

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebeca November 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Sounds like a very worthwhile tradeoff!


Lisa Wood November 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Hi Marilia,

Sounds like a perfect way to live…less stuff, but more experiences! I love that you have looked at what is important in your life! I love how you live in the jungle, and you get to see the animals!

What a great idea about your internet!! Perfect way to live 🙂



Heather November 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I like the idea of “use” instead of “own.” It’s a great philosophy. Thanks for sharing.


Gabi Klaf November 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Again, you move me. I love the ‘studio’ life you are creating for you two. So very inspiring. And yes, I agree, that when we live with less, we suddenly do live more. How oddly counter-intuitive, no?

Much love,
So proud of you!



Diya November 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

I love how imaginative kids become away from their toys! Looks like you are living in paradise, literally and figuratively. Looking forward to reading more.


with2kidsintow November 22, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Here-here. Love your way of thinking, and like you said, “I really wish all the people could have what I consider less in my life.”


S King November 23, 2011 at 5:11 am

I can totally identify with you on the benefits of having a smaller home and less toys.

The bigger the home, the more time you spend in maintaining it and living in it. We moved to beautiful places not to spend more time in our house, but to get out and enjoy the nature around us. We are currently in a 2 bedroom condo that fits us beautifully. And we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to take care of.

On Toys: Many are surprised when we travel that we don’t bring toys with us. We have a few at home, but when traveling we don’t take any. Our kids have an incredible imagination and find the new places we go fascinating…it’s all new to them. They want to touch, explore and discover. IMHO, toys are often used as a child distraction that buys the adults some time. And I simply don’t like that reason. I love the blossoming of my 3 and 1 yr old imagination. It’s just magical.


Marilia Di Cesare November 23, 2011 at 8:50 am

That´s so true about toys: ¨ toys are often used as a child distraction that buys the adults some time¨. Last trip we made we also brought no toys and Luísa was playint all the time with all the things around us.


Stacey November 23, 2011 at 9:55 am

As a follower of your blog, I have to say I loved this post – one of my favorites to date! It happens to be addressing something I’m dealing with right now anyway and in such a specific way, considering we’re planning on moving (and also to C.R.) soon, and we are downsizing in a BIG way. We have made an international move 3 times already so it should be easy, but each time we hauled way, way too much stuff. Now I’m getting my family ready to ‘live with less’ and that includes me. (it seems so practical, but now to DO it!) Thanks for a great read!


Marilia Di Cesare November 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

Thank you for being a reader, how sweet to know this.

Funny, living with less is easy, but getting rid of the stuff first can be painful. But not for long 🙂


Living Outside of the Box November 29, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I love how you point out that it is silly that we feel the need to “own” anything…when really the whole world is open to us to enjoy and experience!

About the toys…my Mom has always said that kids don’t need toys. She points out that the are cupboards, cups, pots, pans, and the whole outdoors to play with! I find much more joy watching my kids enjoy playing with other kids and playing outdoors, than playing with a doll or playing a computer game!


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