There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.

— G. K Chesterton

When Linda and I returned from our stint in London, we landed in New Jersey. Within a few weeks of our US re-entry, and for reasons that still escape us, we bought a beautiful, 2,400 square foot house with a large basement on the north side of Princeton. Despite the delightful, well-groomed neighborhood, we quickly began to discover the folly of our ways. The sweeping windows that let in so much light in the spring became a greenhouse in the heat of summer. It seemed cavernous to heat and cool. Finding enough furniture to fill all the rooms took the better part of a year.

We vowed that if we ever had the chance to start again we would limit ourselves to 2,000 square feet and learn to live simpler.

Eighteen months later we found ourselves in Chapel Hill, North Carolina when Linda had an irresistable job opportunity with a global company in the Triangle. By some miracle of the real estate gods we managed to sell the house in New Jersey, despite the early inklings of the real estate crash. This time we took our lessons to heart. We found a cute house on the north side of Chapel Hill which measures in at 1,950 square feet. Our rent is $1,500 / month — less than the interest we were paying on our mortgage in Princeton.

The house is a little snug but it is more than enough room. We laugh at how little it costs to heat and cool the place. We wish the garage was a little wider, so both cars would fit, but leaving one car outside reminds us that our goal is to live with one car anyway. If we owned the place we would make a few small structural changes to make a combined guest room / office. For now we just make notes for our future plans if we ever get to build our dream house.

We have confirmed that we can live in less than 2,000 square feet. We have less stuff and we feel lighter for it. As the economy continues to turn sideways we are glad that we could easily put our few belongings in storage and head off for Chicago, or Abu Dhabi, or Bejing. I believe that 2009 will be a year of living with less . . . and I predict that we will be richer for it at the end of the year.

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One Comment

  1. I like your “quote a day” approach to your blog. I don’t have nearly the collection that you do, but am reminded of one of my favorites at the bottom of my Quotes page (

    It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. -Winston Churchill

    I don’t know what this says about those of us who *collect* quotes, though. 🙂

    (I was pleased to see your connection to Princeton. I spent my formative high school years in Princeton Junction and have wandered the streets of Princeton many, many times)

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