What Are You Happy Living Without? Version 2.0

Bedroom, v0
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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?

14 Comments

  1. 1. I don’t own any furniture except for a Japanese futon for sleeping (most hotel rooms I live in, tend to have a table and chairs, I just can’t sleep in the bed.), and I don’t need other furniture like dressers — the closet with hangers is enough.

    2. I don’t own a smartphone (Had one, got rid of it)

    3. I don’t own a car because I’ve been taking the transit most of the time

    4. I don’t own a TV

    5. I don’t own physical books because I have an e-reader and I hate moving heavy things all the time.

    ==============================

    1. I own a suitcase full of clothes (all I own)

    2. I own a lot of laptops and electronics (each has its own purpose and use for me)

    3. I own a Japanese futon for sleeping on the floor

    4. I own otherwise bulky kitchen cooking pots and utensils (a massive Le Creuset for instance), because I like to eat

    5. Lastly, I own what I think is a reasonable amount of shoes and purses, but boys and hardcore minimalists might think otherwise.

    …. this was hard. :)

    • leslie beslie says:

      Thanks for sharing, both lists are great!

      hm, what is your reasonable number of shoes??

      I love the idea of a japanese futon for ultra bed minimalism! I have decided I’m as much of a minimalist in that area as I want to be. I have a regular foam mattress but use wooden slats instead of a bulky boxspring. I don’t have a headboard/footboard but I do have a wooden box frame that fits the mattress. Everything can be taken apart so it’s still great for moving. I am jealous that your set-up is so mobile!

  2. Michelle says:

    Well up until this past weekend, I lived without a smart phone. It’s definitely sucking up my time now.

    • leslie beslie says:

      It will in the beginning because everything is new! There are a lot of things you can do with it! It will just take you some time to filter out what can be done more efficiently with or without the phone. Enjoy!

  3. Diana says:

    I recently moved from a 3br with yard to a 1br cottage. Here is what did and did not make the cut.
    I said goodbye to:
    …3 bookcases and the books in them.
    …1 of 2 couches.
    …CDs.
    …desk.
    …worm bin (but I kept composter).
    …specialty kitchen items like a ricer and gravy separator that are only used a few times a year..
    …most of my vases.

    I kept:
    …my kitchen table, but it is in the garage b/c it does not fit in my cottage. I don’t want to get rid of it b/c it is a very solid piece of furniture and I hope to have space for a table someday.
    …my crock pot and it is used weekly to make beans.
    …my stand mixer and I love it.
    …my microwave. I hardly ever use it and would love to free up counter space, but the husband is super attached.
    …my two bicycles.
    …my small dresser.

    I was actually shocked to see that I didn’t have many things to begin with and transitioning from 3 to 1 bedroom not much of a change. I really miss my yard and garden, but I can find a place with a yard someday. There are a few things I’ve gotten rid of that I really regret such as a metal, non-electric hand mixer, some jars for bulk food, and a set of plastic lawn chairs. They were all actually quite useful and now I have to go thrifting to get something comparable.

    • leslie beslie says:

      Great lists! Do you store the two bicycles in your garage now? Stand-mixer is a must for me too! I suppose that is why I don’t own a microwave because I only had room for one and it was a pretty easy decision.

  4. SWR says:

    So, these things exist in my apartment right now because of my roommate, but they aren’t mine/things I need:

    -television/dvd player/gaming system. I have nothing against tv/gaming, but it just doesn’t interest me. I would rather read, and I can watch the occasional show or movie on my laptop.
    -extra dishes, utensils, glasses, etc. We don’t entertain, so I see no reason for having more dishes than needed for just the there of us in the apartment

  5. Megg says:

    I own…
    We got a couch (a large sectional!) when we moved into our house 2 years ago. It’s brick red and comfortable, but not all especially attractive. We’ll use it until we buy real furniture (recliners and a sofa) which we’ve been saving for.
    I just got a free freezer for our garage (which cost us $100 to move, but that’s a lot cheaper than buying it new). We buy a lot in bulk at Costco because we have a seal-a-meal.
    I also just upgraded our crock pot to a larger one because, related to the freezer, I was making more freezer meals and needed a bigger crock pot.

    I live without…
    A huge amount of decorations. Some people have boxes upon boxes of fall or holiday decorations, but I like to go the minimalist route.
    Single use appliances, like a waffle maker. I try really hard to make sure we don’t have things that either I don’t use often or can’t use for a variety of cooking purposes.
    An extra extra bed. We have 1 guest bed, but I got rid of the futon in our office in favor of a smaller desk for my husband’s computer that fits better.

  6. Pavel says:

    The wife is working on getting rid of her books, since she bought an e-reader; when they invent a water proof one, I’ll probably do the same, with a couple of exceptions that would probably fit on a single shelf on my desk. (Autographed copies, as an example.)

    Otherwise, I don’t think I’m missing anything that people would find necessary. We have a dishwasher, even though I actually enjoy washing dishes by hand. We have a washer and dryer, which is actually super convenient.

    I could cut down my possessions by about half, but I couldn’t throw them away.

  7. eemusings says:

    I don’t own a kettle or a dresser.

    My desk was free. Crockpot free. Microwave free. Couches free. Coffee table bought using a free gift card.

    I did buy an outdoor furniture set for cheap because we have an awesome deck that gets tons of sun.

    • leslie beslie says:

      Hm, I don’t own a kettle either. That was one of those items I consciously gave away when I moved. I just boil water in a normal pot. What do you use instead of a tea kettle?

      This isn’t so much about the cost of the items as it is just pure minimalism. You definitely lucked out on the free couches! Are they in good enough condition to last you a while?

  8. Katie C. says:

    I feel exactly the same way about microwaves! We have one because it’s David’s main method of cooking, but I loathe reheating food in the microwave. Like you said, it comes out soggy and…weird tasting. I use the oven, and I’ve never been happier eating leftovers!

    Great post!

  9. As much as I love music, I have never owned an iPod. Too expensive to me for what it is. I always knew phones would eventually be able to play music, and now that they do, I just use it to listen to music when I travel.

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