Sunday, August 2, 2009

Moving Aboard -- Extreme Downsizing

I always thought of Steve and Michele as the couple down the dock with the little powerboat and big dog. But this season they traded in the powerboat for a brand-new 40-something foot Jenneau sailboat, and now they’re spending every weekend aboard in Annapolis, and loving it. Suddenly, living aboard became a real possibility for them. There are a lot of things that could be obstacles, such as whether the move would make their commutes impossible, or simply dreadful; and aging parents; and the state of the real estate market. Other than showing them my super secret-agent route across the District, that avoids some of the traffic congestion, some of the time, I can’t help with most of their challenges. But one concern that Michele voiced, “What do you do about your stuff?” – that, we could talk about. Food for thought for some land-based downsizers, as well.
Moving from a house to a boat is a huge attitude adjustment. Can you say, “storage space?” Of course, none of your furniture comes with you, tables and seating are built in. But what about the rest? For scale, think about what you would chose to bring if everything – every. single. thing. – you contemplated bringing had to fit in the kitchen cabinets of your land-based house or apartment. That’s all the space you have, and in that space you need to find homes for not just pots and pans and dishes and food, but also all your clothing and your backpack and your toolbox and your books and the spare sheets for the guest bed and … you get the idea. When we were first thinking of moving aboard I asked my friend Linda Glaser how to prioritize and she said, “First, all your safety stuff. Then, your tools. Then, everything else.” That was almost 10 years ago and I still chant that like a mantra. It’s a sobering reflection on the difference between things you need, and things you want.
I hope I didn’t scare Michele – I haven’t seen her around the docks in the last week or so. But regardless, given the current economy, I know a lot of people who are reconsidering their relationship with their possessions – even the ones who aren’t toying with the idea of moving onto a sailboat.

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