A Realistic View of Minimalism

What it really looks like to live with less.

Melanie & Jeremy Scroggins Melanie & Jeremy Scroggins  |  11.10.2017

Minimalism has become one of those terms thrown around like “love” or “hustle.” The more popular the term becomes, the less meaning it has attached to it.

A simple Google search of “minimalism” will show you pictures with a little bit of text, color, or imagery. But what is minimalism, really? What does it mean to live with less?

The Minimalists describe minimalism as,“…a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”

For me, the biggest part of my life with less is asking questions. Mainly, Why? Why do I own these things? Or when it comes to our emotions or ways of thinking about the world, Why do I think or feel this way?

What it is and what it isn’t

I’m going to come out and say that living a minimalistic lifestyle cannot be defined as one way of living.

One possible definition comes from Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo teaches her readers about the Konmari Method, which is a particular lifestyle focused on whether or not the stuff we own brings us joy in our lives. Whether it’s an item or a person, Konmari is the idea that if you hold something in your hands and it does not “spark joy” it shouldn’t be in your life.

Joshua Becker expresses to his readers that Minimalism is simply living with less. Instead of de-cluttering, Becker encourages others to de-own their things: get rid of them for good.

However, one of the definitions of minimalism that is hard to digest paints the picture of a very small apartment with white walls, two books, and one bed on the floor.

While this isn’t a far-fetched example of what one person’s minimalistic lifestyle could encompass, this is not the kind of life others have to live to be considered minimalists.

Living with less

I use the phrases living with less and minimalism interchangeably. I find that living with less is indeed minimalism.

Two years ago, my soon-to-be husband and I watched a documentary about tiny homes. Fascinated by the idea of living in a small space with nothing but the world around us, Jeremy and I immediately struck up a conversation about what that could look like in our lives.

“I’ve always wanted to live in an RV,” he said. “We could do that, you know.” That one sentence set us on a trajectory to live our lives outside of the confines of the average newlywed couple.

After we got married and Jeremy finished his degree, we started going through all our belongings to decide what we really needed and what we could sell, throwing away or rehoming everything we didn’t.

Now, we are living in a 32-ft motorhome on the coast of Oregon. For us, living with less meant only keeping what could fit in our tiny rolling home and focusing on things that brought real meaning to our life.

No house. No mortgage. No storage unit.

To me, those things take away from the meaningful nature of what they are meant to be. A home is supposed to be a place of sanctuary. It shouldn’t take 30 years for someone to call it “mine.” Some people don’t mind having the responsibility, but for people like my husband and I that kind of thing is a burden.

We’re young, newly married and childless. We’re still getting to know each other. Having all that added fluff just doesn’t make sense for us.

My first recommendation

No matter what your conviction is about living with less, just know that it doesn’t have to look any one way.

One of the most beautiful aspects of a minimalistic lifestyle is that you can shape it however you like. Items other people need may not be items you need. The role stuff plays in our lives is solely based on the needs of the owner.

For anyone looking to live a life with less, whether it is in a tiny home, RV, or a house in the suburbs, it is important to make it your own.

There are countless outlets telling you how to look, feel, be, etc. How we choose to live is no different: someone will inevitably tell you, you should or shouldn’t do it.

No matter what this lifestyle looks like for you, it is important that it be your decision. Like I said, living with less is not easy, so if it isn’t your decision it will be an even harder transition for you.

My second recommendation

Along with making it your own, take baby steps.

Nothing worth pursuing is done overnight. It takes time and energy to put in the research needed to be sure it is a suitable lifestyle for you and anyone else you live with.

There are countless resources available if you are interested in pursuing a life with less. Whether you’re curious about this lifestyle or what living in a tiny home or RV can offer, you can find others who have gone through the same experiences.

Besides websites and individuals sharing their experiences, Facebook groups have become more popular as well. Like Google, no matter what you’re looking for you can probably find it on Facebook – and may even make some new friends while you’re at it.

Are you interested in a life with less? What does that look like for you?

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  1. Chris Posted on 12.05.2018

    So true. Baby steps is what I’ve extracted as key for my process. Perhaps a refinement to that might be, Trial and Error. I have a very small home and getting things just right has meant thinning out things that may not bring joy, sure, but more important to my journey has been what item(s) precisely fit my NEED. And I think that has been my filter that has continuously needed to be changed as I THOUGHT I had something figured out, but only to find that I could refine it yet further.

    And interesting and challenging journey for sure. There is no Ron Popel Set it and Forget it, There Done, step with all of this.

    Nice balanced article.

  2. Melanie Posted on 11.18.2017


    Wow! Looks like you have put together a great plan for yourself. As one RVer to another, I am proud of you for the decisions you made and are continuing to make. I love your trailer home office idea.

    If you need any support while you’re downsizing, feel free to reach out! I love that kind of stuff.


  3. Melanie Posted on 11.18.2017


    You are so sweet! Thank you for your kind words. It has been an amazing journey and we love to share it with others. Thanks for reading!


  4. Ernesto Posted on 11.18.2017

    Thanks for your story, I’m a single male, late 50’s w/small dog, downsizing is something I’m happily looking forward too, plus no mortgage. It’s amazing how much stuff I’ve accumulated over time, soon it’s time for garage sale and Craigslist ads. Settled on a new Winnebago View 24G, while using a custom 7×12 cargo trailer as home office, storage and workshop. By having a cargo trailer I won’t carry extra weight while traveling, won’t have to get a storage locker nor pay monthly fee for one. I’m looking forward for reduction of house and yard chores, and enjoying using my extra time to travel in my home on weekends and vacations till full timing in retirement in several years.

  5. Rachel Posted on 11.11.2017

    Hi Melanie, lovely to read your article and catch another glimpse into your life. I like your photo looking out of your van window, it gives such a sense of freedom and lightness :-) Combined with your mortgage free life, it sounds pretty perfect. Thanks for sharing x

  6. Melanie Posted on 11.11.2017

    Thanks, Don!


  7. Melanie Posted on 11.11.2017


    I agree. De-clutteirng doesn’t make sense if the goal is to get rid of stuff. I prefer the de-owning technique.

    Wow! A van? My husband and I have talked about a van in the future, so we’ll see.

    Thanks for reading!


  8. Don Posted on 11.10.2017

    Great article…keep it up.

  9. Veronica Cavanaugh Posted on 11.10.2017

    When I moved into my van, I had to pare down quite a bit. I like the advice on thinking about it as de-owning instead of de-cluttering.