I have gotten a few emails lately asking about different aspects of my Simple. Organized. Life. Questions about my income, about where I live, what I do for entertainment, and what kind of car I drive. So I figured I would put together a post on all the things I believe play a part in allowing me to live the kind of simpler life that I am enjoying. Hope it answers some of your questions!
First of all, some backstory – I used to live in Los Angeles, home of the “importance of image”. I made a very good living, lived in one of the best neighborhoods, and drove expensive cars. I thought that owning “stuff” would make me happy…and it did for a while. That is until I started realizing that happiness comes from within and it cannot be bought. There are people who are dirt poor who are just as happy as those with money, and it’s because they are OK with themselves and their situation. This is an important lesson, and one that took me years to figure out and learn from. 4 years ago I quit my corporate job that I wasn’t very happy at anyway and started down the path that has gotten me to where I am today. Self-employed, working about 4-5 hours a day, and living in the country. Both my wife and I can earn a lot less than we used to need because our expenses are much less than they were in LA, which makes life easier to live in and of itself. I personally don’t want to have to bust my ass just to pay the bills – what’s the point in living like that?
We live in the mountains of Northern New Mexico now. Life is slow, quiet, purposeful. People don’t really care about what we wear, what we drive, what we do for a living. It’s quite refreshing that they are interested in us because of, well…who we are! We moved here owning only our Subaru which we shared, and I have only recently added a 15 year old Jeep that I paid cash for to the mix, as we live outside of town. The house we live in we rented specifically for a three reasons- 1. it is a passive solar house, needing little heat in the dead of winter and no AC in the summer, 2. it has a 1,500 gallon cistern that collects rainwater and snow melt from the roof to use for watering, and 3. it has 360 degree mountain views. The rent is 50% of what we paid for an apartment in L.A., and it has a 2 car garage, 2 acres of land, and an extra bedroom for my office during the winter. (I work outside on the porch now that it is warm out.)
Because I don’t have to work as many hours as I used to have to just to make ends meet, my time has been freed up for hobbies and volunteer opportunities. I spend a lot of time in the garage tinkering with different projects, I go for hikes in the middle of the day, and I sometimes take naps on the lounge chair in the yard…on a Tuesday afternoon. In a lot of ways I feel like what I imagine a retired person might feel like! When you don’t live high on the hog, you can afford to live the way you want instead of having to make more and more money, and that was our partly our goal for moving here. I drive into town once a day to pick up the mail and run any errands, usually seeing someone I know and stopping for a quick chat with them. In fact, people you don’t even know sometimes wave at you from their cars, which was something we had to get used to when we first arrived here! But it sure is a nice feeling.
I mow the lawn with a manual push reel mower. I make bird feeders and baths out of old tupperware containers nailed to posts, as food and water are scarce for them where I live. I hang my laundry out on the line, barely ever using the dryer we bought last year. I spent a lot of time watching the clouds during the day and the stars at night. Did you know you can see the Milky Way if you live somewhere very dark? I didn’t until I moved here! Most of our entertainment consists of going for hikes either up the mountain or down into the Rio Grande gorge, exploring the various incredible art galleries around town, or just sitting on the porch with a good book and a cup of coffee. I don’t really need for much more excitement in my life – I had it in L.A. for many, many years.
We have been slowly paring down our belongings that we no longer need but for some reason held on to. I have “work” clothes that I have not worn for years that need to go out the door – my new work clothes include jeans, a t-shirt, and some flip-flops. We own 1 old television that works just fine, and I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought something for myself other than maybe a book or some music from iTunes. When we lived in L.A., shopping was what we “did” when we had nothing else to do – it’s amazing how much money you save when you don’t have that option anymore!
Hmm…what else? I think that pretty much answers the emails I have gotten lately from readers about the kind of life we lead here. Our goal is to buy a small home with some land, maybe even an off-grid one, raise some animals and have a decent-sized garden to eat from. Escaping the Rat Race was the best decision I have ever made, and I now look forward to what every day will bring me here! Got any more questions? Ask away!