At this point, we’re not quite sure if we want to quit our day jobs and head for the mountains of Spain never to look back, or if we’d prefer the slightly less radical option of going back and forth between Sweden and Gaucín. This blog is a way to explore these, and other, alternative ways of creating a minimalist life. The most appealing part of minimalism, and the very reason for our explorations, is the desire to work less and spend more time playing, reading, writing, hiking, socialising and immersing ourselves in various creative processes.
In order to reach to the point where most of our time is leisure time, we could either work our arses off for a decade or so, make a lot of money and retire early, or minimise our material needs and other expenses so that we no longer depend on having a lot of money. For the moment, we’ve chosen a combination of the two. We’re both working a lot. We’re also scrutinizing every expense so as to figure out which are necessary and which can be minimised or eliminated. Our long-term strategy, though, is definitely needing less, spending less and working less. Time and freedom are the single most valuable resources to us; we’re happy to forsake material possessions, middle-class conventions and professional success if it means that we’ll have more time to spend freely.
Having a place to live certainly seems necessary, as far as expenses go. We now live in a rental apartment in the center of Gothenburg. Since the rent is quite cheap, we have not yet started exploring other alternatives. Yesterday, we went to a very nice party at my dear friend Karin’s commune. She celebrated having run the commune for ten years. I’ve never really considered communal living; most of the communes I’ve visited have been way too dirty, cluttered and messy for my precious soul. The same goes for most homes, I might add, at the risk of alienating every single person I know. I’ve once been called a fascist hippie, which is a very accurate description: an advocate of free love, long hair, left wing politics and the arts, but at the same time obsessed with routine and orderliness.
On the tram home from Karin’s place, I came up with the excellent idea of creating a hippie-fascist, minimalist commune for myself, Kristoffer and a few equally neurotic pedants. Could this be a feasible option? I know there are other people out there who keep their demons at bay by cleaning their homes constantly and vigorously. Perhaps we could find ourselves a couple of those?
We both got very excited by the prospect of a minimalist commune and have now spent a good part of the day talking about it. I realise that I could never live in someone else’s commune, but if I were the one to make the rules and call the shots, it may well be a solution to many of our current concerns. Firstly, the cost of living could decrease drastically. This might make it possible for us to keep two homes without spending more – one in Gothenburg and one in Gaucín. Secondly, sharing our Gothenburg home with other people would facilitate us going back and forth between Sweden and Spain; perhaps working in Sweden and leisuring in Spain. There would always be someone there to pamper the house plants, look after the place and pick up the mail. We wouldn’t have to find trustworthy tenants every time we want to stay in Gaucín for an extended period of time.
In addition to the economic and practical advantages, it’s also worth considering the possibility of communal living actually being nice. The nuclear family is a very recent construct; isolating ourselves in small apartments is, in fact, not the only way to live. The idea of creating a family-ish community of consenting adults attracts me; perhaps due to the fact that I have very little contact with by biological family.
The next step, then, is to start looking for suitable apartments. I have a feeling that huge, and thus expensive, rental objects in the city center could be easier to find than smaller, low-priced ones. If a number of adults were to share it, even a ridiculously high rental cost could be acceptable. Have you heard of the concept DINK? It stands for “Dual Income No Kids” and is often used in reference to urban, well-off gay couples with a fair amount of pink money to spend. Go on to consider TRINK, FINK or even SINK, and you’ll get an idea of the spending power of three, four, five, or six or adults pulling together. It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?