Living Minimally in an Apartment

Minimalist living is the belief that less is more. And when you’re living in an apartment, this maxim is doubly true, since you may not be able to live much of a life if your apartment is over-stuffed with stuff. But how can you live minimally in an apartment? Here are a few tips. 

Define What Minimal Means to You

What does minimal mean to you? What are your goals with regard to minimalism? Does it mean having as few possessions as possible? Does minimal mean using as few resources as possible, so that you live lightly on the Earth? These two goals can be contradictory. For example, if you want to keep as little in your apartment as possible, you might end up using far more disposable items instead. If these items aren’t biodegradable or recycled, you end having less but consuming more. In this scenario, investing in a good coffee pot and mugs so that you don’t have a fancy machine that consumes a ton of coffee pods may be necessary to minimize your waste generation. Or buy a good set of cookware and utensils so you can cook more at home instead of eating out. If your goal is to buy less so you save money and pay off debt, then you’d start using up what you have rather than buying more. In this case, you might start selling items in the closet you’re not really going to use so you can pay down debt and free up space. 

And for some, living minimally may require moving to an apartment that gives them more freedom. If you move closer to public transit, you can sell the car and get rid of the related equipment. 


A good starting place for living minimally is getting rid of the clutter. Create baskets or bags to collect what you’ll sell, donate, recycle, and throw in the trash. You can make the task manageable by dedicating a day to a different room. De-clutter the living room, getting rid of things you don’t want or need anymore. You can reduce the anxiety on the keep versus toss decision by having a basket for “later”. Put that basket in the closet at the end of the day. If you don’t retrieve something out of that basket after a month and it isn’t something seasonal like a winter coat, you can probably get rid of it. 

Have a Short List of Acceptable Furniture and Reject the Rest

The definition of a minimalist is someone who makes do with less. This doesn’t mean that they’re sleeping or sitting on the floor. It does mean that they don’t have more furniture than absolutely necessary. Things like buying one of the adjustable beds that can also function as a recliner is a smart move, for example, as it kills two birds with one stone. In small apartments like those that dominate New York City, you’ll be pressured into a minimalist lifestyle simply due to the space constraints. That’s not just due to the fact that the average apartment is so small. Older apartments are rarely neat squares. You may have to fit your living room furniture around a water closet, or the triangular corner left open after they installed a modern kitchen in an older unit.

You have to resist the temptation to bring home lamps, chairs and decorative items people tend to leave at the curb rather than sell. While you can furniture an apartment that way, too many people continue to do so though they lack space. Another solution is adopting a one in, one out approach. You can adopt that new lamp if you get rid of your old one. 

Practice Living with Less

Minimalism doesn’t just mean living with less stuff. It means having a less busy life, too. Schedule weekends where you don’t spend money or don’t go out beyond the essentials. Can you have fun without going out to a restaurant or club? Can you find things to do with your family and friends other than going shopping? You could eliminate luxuries and habitual activities, getting down to those things that you’re not willing to give up. 

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