My family was fortunate to be able to live abroad for a year. My husband and I wanted our two teens to broaden their perspectives by doing something different and living somewhere else. So we spent a year in my husband’s country of birth, Italy.
We all brought a backpack and a couple pieces of luggage filled with the stuff we thought we’d need for the year: shorts, flip flops, swimsuits, jeans, winter gloves, puffer jackets, hats, umbrellas, raincoats, boots, laptops, chargers, cables, adaptors, and toiletries. Each of us found a way to squeeze in our pillow as a comfort item from home.
After settling into living abroad for a bit, an unanticipated consequence hit me: I realized it was refreshing to live with less. It was freeing. Less stuff. Fewer choices. For example, a simplified closet with just a few pairs of pants, shorts, and tops worn repeatedly.
We went abroad for our teens to gain new experiences, but the minimalist notions I gained were serendipitous and welcome.
After the year abroad, we returned home to a house full of stuff. It felt like too much. I had a strong desire to minimize, so I took some time to declutter and clear things out. I started to prioritize experiences over things.
The freedom from living with less was an unexpected benefit that still carries over well beyond our year abroad.