by Leo Babauta
I often hear that I cannot practice minimalism in San Francisco — it’s a city, it’s expensive, people are busy, etc. I’m confused by that because it makes me wonder what people think minimalism must be.
There’s no one way to practice minimalism — you can do it living out of an RV, backpacking around the world, living in a tiny house, living on a large farm, living anywhere. For me, it means enjoying a simple life with my wife and kids, learning to be content and not needing to buy things all the time, living with fewer possessions but more time to do the things I love, living with space in my life.
I can do that anywhere.
Sure, many people in cities (including S.F.) are busy. That doesn’t mean I have to be. Many people drive around crazily in cars all day — but I walk or take transit. Many people are caught up in a life where they have to impress others, but that’s less important to me.
Housing in San Francisco is expensive, but other than that I need to spend very little — I mostly cook for myself with simple ingredients, shop at thrift stores when I need something, and walk. What San Francisco does offer that I love is a health-conscious environment, a gathering of amazing independent-minded people who are doing their own thing and loving it, a spirit of open-mindedness and a love for nature and art, a great place for my kids to explore.
Also, the Giants.
At the same time, others wonder whether they can live a minimalist life in the suburbs or a small town, where they don’t have access to good public transit and must rely on a car. Of course you can: learn to find contentedness, get rid of unnecessary stuff, spend your time doing free or cheap things you love instead of shopping. You can also go car-lite if you like, walking and riding a bike when possible, and doing things at home or in your neighborhood much of the time. In fact, some people have ditched their cars completely while living in the country or suburbs — even people with kids.
Minimalism doesn’t need any one type of environment. There are no prerequisites for minimalism. Do it however you want, however you can, wherever you want.