Forgive me. There seems to be a recurring theme here. Hope you’re okay with it. Just seems to be a lot to say on the subject. When I first talked about cutting back on spending last Friday, I had no idea I’d still be talking about a variation of the same topic four days later. But here I am.
Yesterday the idea evolved from buying less, to living with less. In less space. With fewer possessions. Even traveling lighter. But it’s Morristown Memos, a fellow blogger, who’s the inspiration behind today’s post. The comment she left, in response to a statement I’d made, was very honest. I said I was ready to get rid of all but a few ‘possessions’ and go off somewhere and live a simple life.
I’m paraphrasing here, but she essentially said figuring out where to go is a challenge, because giving up some creature comforts she is used to, isn’t really an option.
She has a point. A very valid point.
Got me to thinking. We take an awful lot for granted. At least those of us who live in North America do. Our homes are heated. We don’t have to put hot water bottles in our beds to keep warm. Or wear heavy sweaters, or even coats, indoors. We have running water. Indoor toilets. We can keep our food fresh, in refrigerators. We have stoves to cook on. Microwaves and toaster ovens and BBQs.
Aside from when disasters strike, we have electricity. Washers and dryers. Curling irons for our hair. Lots of us keep our houses nice and cool with air conditioners. So no sleepless nights tossing, turning and sweating.
We can have newspapers delivered. We have our choice of 300+ television channels to choose from. We don’t even have to get off the couch to switch from one to another. We have access to the Internet wherever and whenever we want it. Grocery stores and pharmacies are open 24/7; and the shelves are always fully stocked with whatever we need.
And we take it all for granted.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live somewhere else? Where all the comforts of home might not be available? Have you ever thought about what you’d be willing to live without, if anything?
For a few years now I’ve been toying with the idea of living abroad. When I first came home from India I thought a three or six-month contract in Mumbai would be great fun. Living in Paris has always appealed to me. Or sailing around the world. Or living on a houseboat somewhere. So I have half heartedly reminded myself, every time one of these ‘fantasies’ surfaces, that many of the ‘luxuries’ (like central heating and central air) I’m used to, wouldn’t be there for me to enjoy. Because these musings have been just that — musings — I’ve never really been put to the test.
Early in 2012 there was a possibility I’d be offered a job writing for a magazine publisher in Nassau. The publications were top-drawer, I detest winter, Nassau’s close enough to Florida for a quick escape from island life from time to time, so it really appealed to me. Suddenly I had to seriously ask myself what I’d be willing to give up, in order to escape the cold.
The reality is, the cost of living in Nassau is very high. Comparable to Canada’s. But the salaries sure aren’t. Not even close. So I’d certainly be compromising on my living accommodations. Who knows if I’d get air conditioning. Or WiFi. Most likely, not. I’d be more than willing to live in a 1-bedroom apartment, instead of 2. Or a tiny cottage. I could handle not having a dishwasher.
But not having air conditioning in a tropical climate wasn’t going to work for me, or my sinuses.
Could I really live, full time, on a small Caribbean island? Could I give up going to the movies for a year or two? Could I give up Grey’s Anatomy? White Collar? The Newsroom? Because while the tourists and the uber wealthy who live there to avoid paying income tax have all the comforts of home, the locals and the poorly-paid imports like me, certainly would not have access to satellite TV and the yacht club and fine dining and beach front properties and infinity pools.
Certain compromises I would have been willing to make, for the experience. But not all. In this case, the money was the biggest disappointment. And deterrent. What I will never give up is a safe, clean, pleasant place to live. One that’s cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. A good location.
What about everything else?
For the right opportunity and the right adventure, yes, a lot of must-haves would become nice-to-haves; and even don’t-have-to-haves. I might even be willing to starve in a garret in Paris for a while. As long as it has WiFi.