Downsizing Your Stuff And Embracing The Minimalist Lifestyle

boat garage
The garage on the boat overflowing with gear, food, dive toys, etc.

For many people one of the hardest parts about moving aboard a boat is downsizing your stuff. Even if you’re moving from a relatively small house to larger boat you’re not going to be able to fit all of your land lubber possessions aboard. Some people get a real emotional attachment to their belongings.

Even if it’s things that have been sitting in a closet collecting dust for years they find it hard to let go. For me living a more minimalist lifestyle was one of the things that first attracted me to the idea of living aboard.

What Is Minimalism?

I could go into great depth on what minimalism is. There are entire blogs dedicated to the subject. In its simplest terms, though, minimalism is the idea of having fewer possessions, specifically unnecessary ones. When I first discovered minimalism I remember reading a quote that went something like this.

“The more things you own, specifically things that are un-needed the more your things start to own you.” By doing away with unnecessary things your life becomes much simpler. You eliminate clutter, you have less to clean, less things that need to be maintained, you lower your overall living expenses. All of this adds up to more freedom to do the things you want and less stress in your life.

How Does It Apply To Living Aboard?

sparky and his toys
Sparky is finally downsizing too

On a boat you have no choice but to take on at least somewhat of a minimalist mind-set. You have much less room to store things than you do in a house or an apartment. There are some items that obviously have no place or use on a boat such as lawn mowers, snow blowers, gardening equipment, etc.

Then there are large electronic toys and appliances that use a lot of power, some of which may be a convenience but aren’t really necessary, such as a giant screen TV. Lastly there are your clothes. Obviously you’re not going to get rid of your clothes entirely, but if you’re living on a boat, especially in warmer climates, you can really cut back on what you have.

Taking It To The Next Level

The above are just a few examples. There are plenty of people living on a larger boats, especially powerboats with large gensets, who do run their TV, microwave, and every other convenience that they had when they were living on shore. Then there are people who even eliminate or do without certain boating equipment if they determine it to be unnecessary.

I’m In That Second Group

When I first bought the Turtle there was an air conditioner installed. Since I knew I was going to be spending most of my time on the hook, where it wouldn’t be used I removed it. When my chart plotter started acting up I just removed it since I was using my laptop for navigation anyway.

When the wind instrument started malfunctioning I uninstalled it and just did without a wind instrument entirely. By not having a wind instrument aboard it actually forced me to become a better sailor. Until very recently I didn’t even have a generator aboard, and finally did get one just because of the problems with the new batteries.

And I even have plans to downsize more in the future!

6 Responses to Downsizing Your Stuff And Embracing The Minimalist Lifestyle

  1. Hi, Captain Chris. I really love reading your stories. My husband and I have been talking about getting a motor home, I know it’s not the same as a house boat, but for us it would be more practical. It is the same as far as downsizing though. It will be hard for us because my husband has had a storage unit ever since I met him in 2001. He can’t get rid of anything and if we do get a motor home I’m sure we would have to upgrade the one we have to a larger one. Oh, well, great article, keep it up! Cheers!

    • Go for it Peggy! RVing and cruising have a lot in common. Freedom, adventure, travel. Being able to come and go at a moments notice with needing to pack. And of course having less stuff out of necessity. If I ever move back on land I’m sure it will either be a motor home or a little grass hut on the beach on some island in paradise.

  2. This reminds me of an interest I developed a few years ago, the tiny house movement. More and more people are turning to this new trend as the economy has put many to ask if they really need that big a house.

    Ideally not suited for larger families, but couples, college students, retired folk seems to be taking on quite an interest. It requires a minimalist way of living and you’d be quite surprised how many have praised it for its role in becoming financially free.

    Love your site, great post.

    • Hell yeah! If I was to move back no shore someday it would either be a little hut on the beach in the middle of nowhere. Or one of these tiny houses somewhere close to nature. I have a friend who is also a live aboard who is always posting tiny house photos on facebook.

      Thanks, Chris

  3. I’ve been downsizing for 2 years now, bought a little trailer in a little 55+ park & started with 3 storage units, down to 2 and now at 1 soon to be none. Gotta thank ebay for helping me get rid of s…, stuff. I’m planning on doing the Great Loop in 3 years, under power, mainly because of a couple height restrictions along the way. I do like sail, I’d like to be able to harvest free energy, wind, solar, etc. so after the Loop I might go to sail. I notice you don’t mention solar & or wind turbine, do you have or planning on having?

    • Before I moved out of my last apartment I sold everything I owned on ebay and craigslist. And then even gave away the stuff that didn’t sell. If it would fit on the boat or wouldn’t be needed I didn’t want it. By the time I moved out I was sleeping on an air mattress and the only thing I still owned that couldn’t go aboard was may car. Although I’m also car-less now too. I don’t have wind, but I do have 420 watts of solar. I’ll be writing some future posts about that, LED lighting, etc. Let me know when you make the Keys Brad.

Leave a reply
Your email address will not be published or added to a list. Required fields are marked *