What Are You Happy Living Without? Version 2.0


Two years ago I created a list of ten superfluous items that I did not own.

In that time, my possessions have changed considerably: Moving from a mid-sized bedroom share in a large townhouse in NJ to a tiny bedroom share in a small upper west side apartment to a mid-sized 1br on my own in brooklyn. I have had to down-size then up-size during the course of these moves. My kitchen supplies, in particular, took a beating.

I have already wrote about not owning a smart phone so I’m not including that in this list.

1. I do not own a desk

When I moved to the UWS my bedroom was too small to have a desk (it barely fit a bed!), so I sold the desk and have gone without since.

Although I do have room for a desk in my 1br now, I use the kitchen table in place of a desk and don’t see a reason for both.

For paper-work storage, I organize everything into hanging file folders that I store in an easily accessible portable file storage container.

2. I do not own a microwave

There are times when heating up leftovers in the oven is inconvenient and waiting an hour for a baked potato requires some planning. However, microwaves, even the small ones, take up valuable kitchen space, which does not overrule the convenience factor in my book.

Besides, most of the food cooked/reheated in a microwave is kind of… gross. Your food comes out half warm half cold half soggy. The oven may take a bit more time (not nearly as bad as you think though) but it leaves thing tasting more… delicious.

As for microwave-foods, I make stove top popcorn, oatmeal, soups and leftovers reheat perfectly in the oven. It just takes a little more planning with tasks like softening butter and defrosting meat.

3. I do not own plastic containers

Similar to microwaves, plastic containers are convenient for leftovers but also kind of… gross.

They’re difficult to get completely clean, are often stained, usually lid-less, and never the size you’re looking for.

Instead, I have a set of 4 pyrex glass bowls with lids that I use for all food storage.

For reheating lunch in the microwave at work, I don’t have to worry about the glass melting or smelling funny the way plastic sometimes does.

Quasi-related, I also don’t regularly use ziploc baggies, saran wrap, or aluminum foil. On a rare occasion I’ll pick up aluminum foil but it is not something I keep on hand. The glass bowls and a few smaller glass/ceramic containers I have work just fine.

Keep in mind, I am cooking for one most the time so I never have huge amounts of food to store in the fridge.

4. I do not own a dresser

Same as two years ago, I still do not have a dresser.

I do have room for one now in this apartment, but I do not want a piece of big clunky furniture. I don’t need it. I simply use my bedroom closet and hang everything.

I have small foldable drawers for my undergarments/pj’s, a small shelf in my closet for jeans, then hang the rest of it.

This also makes it more difficult for me to “forget” about clothes buried in the back of a drawer.

5. I do not own a crock pot

When I moved into Manhattan my crock pot was one of the items I consciously decided to give away because I just did not use it enough and would not have space in the kitchen to store it.

I know everyone disagrees but for me, as a single person, a crock pot is a waste of space.

After owning a crock pot for a few years and trying out a bunch of recipes, I determined that the crock pot was only useful for making one food: pulled pork.

Yes, you can use crock pots for chili and soup and marinara sauce but these foods are just as easy to make on the stove.

I could not justify keeping a crock pot around when I could simply use a pot for the same items instead.

If I was cooking for more than one and had a less busy lifestyle, I can see the appeal.

I am perfectly fine with leaving a crockpot unattended for 8 hours at a time. Maybe 10, but that is my limit.

Unfortunately, I am out of the house at a minimum of 11 hours and that is assuming I don’t have to work late or will not stop for errands after work or that the train is running on time.

I just don’t feel comfortable leaving a crock pot on for 12+ hours.

Unfortunately, cooking with a crock pot just does not work for me and I have not missed living without one.

Really, I don’t mind the 20 mins it takes to make homemade chicken noodle soup on the stove. You can wait 8 hours with your crock pot if you want.

1. I own a kitchen table

I really wanted to be able to have a kitchen table when I was looking for 1br apartments and thankfully I found an apartment that fit one.

I bought a full size table & four chairs plus two kitchen carts on Craigslist for $300 total.

Getting furniture in nyc is a bit of a hassle because you need to rent a truck/service to pick these items up. Even a “free” table will cost you something for transport.

I use the kitchen table not only for eating but also as my workspace for writing, sewing, etc.

As I always lived with roommates before, this was a purchase I never had to make until now.

2. I own a couch

Living room furniture was a mandatory expenses I expected when moving into a 1br.

I went to a local furniture store and bought the cheapest couch I could find ($500) to get me by for a few years until I can upgrade to a nicer apartment & furniture.

Again, since I had always lived with roommates, they provided the furniture.

3. I own expensive headphones

I bought a pair of $115 Shure earbuds over a year ago and will never go back to cheap headphones.

This was a long over-due purchase. Before I moved to the city, I would listen to music via headphones at work, but not anywhere else. Granted, that was ~8 hours a day, but I just could not justify spending $50+ for fancy noise-reducing headphones just to wear at work.

Instead, I bought two $10 headphones which both stopped working after 3 months.

After I sold my car, I realized that I definitely needed headphones. I would listen to music every time I walked outside, on the train/bus, and still at work.

Not only did this mean heavier use for headphones but also there was much more background noise than I was used to. Noise-cancelling headphones or ear buds with a solid seal are a must on the train to be able to actually hear your music and have it sound good.

Poor quality headphones, while cheaper, will have a lot of sound leakage causing you to turn the volume way up which could damage your hearing in the long run and, more importantly, make the music you listen to sound awful.

You’ll notice a lot of folks wearing Apple earbuds will have to turn the volume up quite high in order to hear the song, meaning everyone else around gets to hear the song too.

4. I own a lot of books

I don’t have an interest in an eReader. I realize the storage limitations of books and how difficult they are to move, but having a home-library of books I can see is important to me.

I do use the public libraries here. However, I tend to like like small-press authors that the library does not always have.

Readers, what common items do you live without by choice? What recent new purchases have you made that you did not own before?

If you have thoughts on this and would like to discuss please use Twitter or send me an email.