Learning to Live with Less

Living in a different country makes you think twice about simple things. I have just moved into a new flat and signed a lease for twelve months. Surprisingly, that wasn’t scary, and I do intend to stay here for a full year. I have no life plan at this stage, my only rules are to not become too comfortable and never stay in a situation where I am unhappy, be it my job, a relationship, or a city. Right now I have zero problems and I don’t think I have ever been this happy. But life is uncontrollable and happiness is fluid; I know that one day this will change.

What if I start to hate Wellington? What if I can’t hack the winter and its gale force winds chilling me right to my bones?

I assume one day I will go home to Australia.

Which means New Zealand is probably not my permanent country.

Which means everything I buy here I will either take in a suitcase home or sell.

It is a strange feeling knowing that everything is temporary, that I have a set timeframe to enjoy every item I own. Knowing that once I leave, my belongings will be sold, donated or, heaven-forbid, end up in landfill.

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Moving country has taught me so much about the disposability of material things and money.

Every time I go shopping, I have to deeply consider the resale value of an item and how badly I need it. Hence, I have not bought a lot. My current furniture items include: a queen bed, one bedside table, a desk and chair, one floor lamp, a small table lamp and a small fan. My clothes hang and fold onto a metal clothes rack. My suitcases are slowly collecting dust. And all of my new belongings were either second hand or from a cheap store, a stark contrast from my life in Adelaide.

I do not own a car and I can’t even imagine owning one now. It is rare to own a car in Wellington; many young professionals don’t even have a driver’s license. Every day my friends and I compare our steps taken in our health apps and bask in the rivalry. I sometimes get flashbacks of being eighteen again, traipsing to the bus stop, hailing the bus, and sitting next to strangers as we all embark on our journeys. At twenty-four I wouldn’t want it any other way.

As I wandered through the furniture stores looking for the perfect desk to write my stories at, I couldn’t help but gasp in awe at the beautiful couches and cushions and furniture on display. I want this one, I would say after falling into the tenth couch I had laid on that day. A new pillow, a cute photo frame, an exotic smelling candle: I wanted them all.

But then I would stop and remember the temporary lifespan of my belongings. I couldn’t help but consider how everything in life is temporary and that maybe if we always remembered this we would appreciate each pillow, each frame, each candle and especially each day a whole lot more.

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