What’s ‘Simple Living’ to you?

A long time ago, I wrote this post called: “Living the Dream” on my other blog, and a reader wrote in that while it was nice they had all of that, it was not ‘simple living’ to her by any means. She also made a good point that the family I mentioned in Portugal doesn’t live off the grid and has a lot of stuff.

It made me think about what “Simple Living” means to people.

To me, simple living is when you have your needs met and you have no more in excess than you require.


Yes, I always say: Food, Shelter, Clothing, Warmth.

In reality, what does that translate into?

Food = Grocery Store, because I don’t have my own fields to grow food in (nor the climate)

Shelter = Renting from others because

Clothing = ..Well, clothing. 🙂 They need clothes too.

Warmth = They have stone homes. The stone regulates the heat in the summer, and the cold in the winter although I will note that their winters are very mild and nearly snow-free compared to Canadian winters.

But wait, what about modern luxuries?

I consider public transportation, laundry machine, the internet and laptop to be modern necessities.

I need them in a modern life, but I could live without them if I absolutely had to.

And that family is exactly the same way — they have modern luxuries like a laundry machine, cars and TVs, and they ‘need’ them the way that I ‘need’ my laptop and the internet.

(Note: No public transportation available in their village. Their cars are a necessity because you will have to walk, otherwise).


So taking modern luxuries out of the equation because I too, love using a laundry machine and not having to do any washing by hand, their life is far more self-sustainable and perhaps simpler than mine will ever be.

It impressed me highly that if they needed to do without all of these modern luxuries and still have their basic needs met whereas I cannot.

I can only get rid of my modern luxuries, but I have basic needs that are not self-sustainable by any stretch of the imagination.

They grow their own food in their backyards

I have to go to a grocery store.

They have their own stone home that they owe no one money on, except the government for taxes.

I have to rent (although I do choose to rent, not to buy a place.. which is slightly different).

They can live ‘off the grid’ without utilities because they have their own running stream in the back, are going to get a solar panel and have the climate where the sun goes down at 8 p.m.

I rely on the city’s plumbing and maintenance for running tap water, and I’d have to live without any electricity.. only by candlelight as I have no other option, being that I rent and cannot just install solar panels willy-nilly.


My only real claim to simple living is that I own less than they do.

I can move my entire life’s belongings in a car, whereas they cannot.

They live very simply in my opinion, but then again.. so do I, considering our circumstances and opportunities.

I live in urban cities where it is not possible for some of what they can achieve in their more rural village in Portugal, and I am living as simply as I can in my environment.

All very interesting, no? 🙂


About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.