When traveling with all you own in 2 suitcases, life necessarily becomes very, very simple. Living simply is allowing us to meet our goals, especially Getting Out Of Debt and Decluttering Our Lives.
We rent a studio apartment. It is rather large at approximately 600 square feet. There is no oven or regular refrigerator. Just a portable 2 burner electric stove top, a small microwave and a tiny fridge. There is a small bathroom, but the shower is roomy. The main living area has room for a queen bed, an entertainment center with a flat screen tv, a couch and a small table with seating for 4. Along with the apartment, access to laundry facilities & wifi and water, electricity & trash is included. Our rent is $500 a month.
We have no vehicle so we have no fuel or insurance expenses. We can rent a car for $30 a day when we feel the need. The taxi ride to town is about 5 minutes and costs us 60c each. We’ve never had to wait more than 2-3 minutes for one to roll by.
Our needs are few BUT…simple for us just does not mean that we are skimping and missing out. There’s a farmer’s/flea market we go to on Tuesdays. We buy fresh Caribbean lobster for $10 per pound, shelled or in-shell. Fresh tuna costs us $5 per pound. Today we bought a week’s worth of veggies for $7.60. And there are awesome restaurants we can eat and drink at on the cheap!
Plus, the only thing we have to “work” at are our Spanish lessons, which is also the only thing that we have to set an alarm for. If we choose not to ride the taxi, the walk is about 35 minutes at an easy pace to and from town.
Another aspect of living simply is, of course, owning and having fewer things. “Things” many times provide convenience. One example is that we have been applying for international insurance. We needed to download and print documents that needed to be faxed or scanned and emailed once completed. That ended up taking 2 trips into town as we don’t have a printer/fax/scan machine. This lack of convenience has been interesting to get used to because it wasn’t that long ago that printers weren’t common household items. It’s definitely easier getting used to having electronic convenience than figuring out how to deal with not having it. But it was still relatively easy and, ultimately, no big deal.
Although our apartment meets our needs and is quite nice and clean, I do miss having an outdoor area. We don’t have a porch or balcony currently. And though we are experiencing less rain as we head into the dry season, I would love to sit in a covered outdoor area with Guy & a glass of wine, enjoying the lightning displays and sounds of the rain and thunder. But we can still have our window wide open and hear and see the weather.
It’s not that some day we won’t own a home again and have all the stuff again. But having less means less work on maintaining the stuff and more time for other things. I feel freer. Having less clutter around me seems to equate to having less clutter in my head. I like that feeling. We have fewer bills so it’s less time-consuming dealing with our finances. It takes so much less time to clean. I find that with more time, I can enjoy learning Spanish, working on hobbies (photography and knitting), seeing the sights and doing things that are fun and more interesting to me.
One of my favorite fun things is to drive around just following roads and checking out the area. Within minutes of anywhere, you can be out in the jungle. It’s amazingly beautiful everywhere.
Recently we took a trip to one of the many beaches in Panama. It was about an hour and a half drive, with an additional half an hour trying to figure out how to traverse the city of David. Difficult with no street signs. Finally we made it to La Barqueta, an area that is pretty much one hotel and some condo properties. There’s not a town. But there are a couple of restaurants, so we stopped and looked through the hotel and ate lunch at Benny’s. Unfortunately I forgot the camera so only got a couple cell phone pics. We were told that the beach is well visited, but the road to get there made us feel like we must have missed a turn somewhere. It’s seems remote. And then on the way home, we got to see a caiman. A couple of guys were parked on the side of the road with this critter tied up. We stopped and got a picture of it. They caught in the creek next to the road. Yikes!!!
As we become accustomed to and embrace this more simple lifestyle, I find that I’m much more relaxed. Living a simpler life has been a growing and amazing experience. And I feel richer every day for it :).