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May 29 2017
by Stacy Andryshak

How To Start A Minimalist Lifestyle in College

By Stacy Andryshak - May 29 2017
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Many college students become "accidental minimalists" from their time away from home, learning to live with fewer belongings due to a lack of living space, money or both. Others are completely unable to budget properly in college and end up blowing money on too many expensive dorm decorations from Urban Outfitters. A third group of students would be those that are prone to overpacking and have to deal with a small room full of things they won't use. Minimalism can solve some common dorm living issues, such as a lack of space or a tendency to stress shop. Packing only what you commonly use at home will keep your college living space and mind clear of junk. Read on to discover what it takes to live minimally, and the pros and cons of a minimalist lifestyle in college.

1. Adopting a minimalist lifestyle in college starts with packing right.

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It may sound easy to just leave everything you don't use on a regular basis at home, but packing for college can leave you unsure as to what you really need to live comfortably. Sentimentality kicks in, and you often find yourself overthinking whether or not you should bring those framed pictures or embroidered pillows that remind you of home. Sure, having one or two small items that combat homesickness won't hurt, but getting carried away while packing can lead to a regretful time unpacking. 

The easiest way to set yourself a strict packing regime is to make a carefully planned list of exactly what you think you'll need to survive away from home. You want to be able to live comfortably but not excessively. Setting exact amounts of items can keep you from overdoing it, and is especially helpful with clothing. Telling yourself, "I am only going to bring five pairs of jeans," keeps you from bringing three of the same color. You will have access to a washing machine, so cut down on any items that seem repetitive — it'll save you tons of closet space. 

To put things into perspective, it can also help to set a goal amount of items you want to bring with you overall — 50 is a good place to start but could be adjusted depending on personal needs. You should never be uncomfortable with the amount of items you are bringing with you — especially if you go to college far away from home. Students are often concerned about packing too much to keep track of, or too little to be happy. Many people adopt minimalism knowing they will feel anxious with an abundance of items in a tiny dorm room. Others feel more comfortable with more things to remind them of home. Going into packing with a minimal mindset should, at the very least, make you more aware of what you actually need in your life, whether you end up packing 50 items or 150 items. No matter what, it is extremely important to ask current college students — or read articles like this one — in order to get a sense of what is really necessary to have in your dorm. This way, you'll have room in your suitcase for items you'll get more use out of. 

2. Plan to accumulate more items at school.

Porapak Apichodilok via Pexels

It's just what happens with living spaces: You end up with more items than you started out with. Whether it's free college swag that's been handed to you around campus, things you bought with friends or random items that you didn't start out with can easily take over your space. Unless you realize you forgot to pack a necessity (which is entirely possible), or you run out of a product you use daily, I would recommend trying to save your money. Minimalism is all about making the most out of what you have with you and using things until they are absolutely finished before buying more. This can help save you the inevitably small amount of money you have as a college student, which could be put towards buying food or going to events with friends. Many self-proclaimed minimalists value life experiences over material possessions, and would rather spend their money on the former.

3. Make sure you're practicing minimalism for the right reasons.

peter-facebook via Pixabay

As mentioned before, there are many obvious benefits to packing minimally and staying that way throughout your college years. A less cluttered life leads to less stressmore creativity and you will save money. For example, after being away at college for a year, you might come home and realize you don't need most of what was left hanging in your closet. Selling what you realized you didn't need from living minimally can be an opportunity to make money for next year.  

However, being able to start a minimalist lifestyle is often an expensive position to be in. It can come from a place of privilege to be able to afford and maintain only a few expensive, multitasking items, rather than make do with a bunch of hand-me-downs or older items that require supplements to work correctly. Some people can afford to have one Kitchenaid mixer with a bunch of stirring and peeling settings, while others need to use a more basic mixer as well as a separate peeler (maybe not the best example for students in dorms who will probably not be using mixers, but you get the idea). Many people are also "minimalists" without choosing to be — they have to live minimally because they can't afford much in the first place. Saying you're a minimalist is more highly regarded than saying you don't have many possesions because you're poor — just like tiny houses are considered "trendy," while trailer homes are "trashy." Because minimalism can come off as a trendy way to flaunt your privilege, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, like protecting your mental health by limiting your dorm room-related stress or trying to cut down on excessive consumerism.

Overall, packing for college with a minimalist lifestyle in mind can show you what possessions you value most. Having an idea of what you use often can help you cut out what you don't really need to bring with you, and can save valuable space in your dorm room. Most importantly, starting a minimalist lifestyle in college can set you up for a less materialistic and more budget-friendly future. 

Lead Image Credit: AlexBor via Pixabay

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Stacy Andryshak - Northeastern University

Stacy is a freshman pursuing a combined major in Communication Studies and Media & Screen Studies at Northeastern University. In high school, she spent most of her free time acting in dramas and musicals. She enjoys obscure vegan restaurants, British soap operas, and her pet rabbit. Find her on: Instagram @stacy.a / Twitter @standryn

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