How Moving to New York City Turned Me into a Minimalist


It’s been two weeks since we moved to a life in suburbia from the busy streets of Manhattan. It was a bittersweet decision for us to pack our family up and away from the life that my kids have always known. While it was a practical move in that we needed the space, it was much harder than I thought to leave our small apartment that I watched many of my kids’ “firsts” in.

Our life in the city was a great learning experience. We moved there shortly after I had my oldest daughter, Harlan. We had a house in Tampa that we had just recently bought and completely furnished. I took so much time to decorate Harlan’s nursery only to find out that she wouldn’t spend as much time in it as I imagined.

I didn’t know life out of the suburbs and I surely didn’t know a life of motherhood in the city. I was scared for both myself and my family of what moving to Manhattan would do for us. Little did I know that it would be one of the best decisions we could make.

Our apartment in the city was a small two-bedroom. We moved all of our furniture up from our Tampa house thinking we would have no problem fitting it in the apartment, but quickly learned that it was way too big for the space. We kept a lot of things in a storage unit and put the necessities in the apartment. It felt cramped most times because of the furniture, all of our other stuff, and the kids’ toys, but we made it work.

With the lack of space, it didn’t take me long to learn that we didn’t need most of the “stuff” that I thought we did when we lived in our house in Tampa. I decluttered not only our apartment, but most things in our life. Every time the girls got a new toy, they had to donate one to a child in need. Rather than keeping every little piece of baby memorabilia, I kept only the things that I knew I would be able to use later on. My life soon went from “I need this product” to “I don’t need much.” For the first time in my life, I was learning the true value of simplicity — and I loved it.

A couple of weeks ago, as we were unpacking the boxes from our storage unit that we hadn’t seen in the five years since moving from Tampa, my husband and I both laughed at some of the things we kept because we thought we couldn’t live without them. To be honest, most of the things that we had in storage I hadn’t thought about since we packed them up five years ago. I kept asking my husband, “What was I thinking?” as I pulled out old magazines and way too many coffee cups to count. It was then that we started a “donate” pile, which quickly racked up most of the things that were in our storage unit.

That night as we laid in bed exhausted from the day of moving, I told my husband that as excited as I was for our new adventure in suburbia, I was so grateful for the time that we spent in the city. Not only did we become a family of five and make some incredible memories, but we learned some pretty valuable life lessons as well. For that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you, New York City, for helping me realize that less really can be more.

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 Image via Lindsey Belle

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