Living in a Single Room

An ongoing adventure. One that started back in 2014 when I moved out of a house with whole bunches of stuff to a room. I worked then for IBM and worked at home 100% of the time. I think folks are used to living in a house with rooms where you can simply relocate when a mood or a need strikes you. You have a bedroom and a porch and a kitchen and a living room. Perhaps you have an office where you go when you get tired of the other places. You probably have closets where you keep all the stuff.

When I moved, I had a single room. It was called the Master Bedroom in this house. The house was trash basically. Things either worked badly or not at all and the owner was more engaged in get rich schemes than keeping the place up. Weird things happened most of the time.

Finally around October of 2015 I moved out after being asked to leave in 30 days. I moved to another room. A small 10×12 or so room. A room just big enough to hold even less of my stuff. Gone was the desk or table, end tables, japanese screen that separated the room. Now I figured I was at this stage of living where each part of the room was functional in some way. You ever lived in a single room? An interesting philosophical, social, and cultural thing. A single room which has a division at some level but in the small room, no real room for division. Everything in the room was bed and TV. Then about a year later, the room mate living in the larger upstairs room departed and I took that room. More room but still not separate rooms. A room with more room.

You cannot have a couch and love seat and fridge and stuff. You cannot invite someone over for an evening and entertain in the living room. I have a living room but in this house no one lives in the living room. There are 4 others living here now. They each have some thing they do that I don’t know much about. Three downstairs and two upstairs.

The door is the exit and entry. Its like a leaving and an entry all at the same time. I stand a chance of seeing a room mate but most likely not. They all run around their circles. That house outside the door is not mine and I don’t want it. Its a common area where no one gathers. My room is warm though to me. It holds all my stuff and I do not have room for more stuff.

One question I hear when folks hear how I live. Is it comfortable? How do you cook and do laundry and have internet and do all the things? People are used to their multi-room environments where they travel or migrate to their rooms in search of a thing or things. They have rooms to do each thing.  I don’t. I have a room and a closet and I pay less rent than most people but there is a part of this that I would call “giving it up”. You give up a certain lifestyle and tenor to your existence. You don’t just move to a single room. You grow into it. You know what will work and what won’t.

Can you do it? If you’re divorced I would say yes. Can you do it if you are older like me? Sure you can. What do you need to live the room lifestyle? I think you need to admit that this thing is different and its less and you have to have less but find value in the things you do have. I don’t have desktops and multiple laptops. I have a phone and a Chromebook. I guess I am lucky because I know computer networking so I can build my own wireless network in my room with a few little things and knowing how basic networks do their thing.

You cannot do it if you want to have a separate room for a thing and you have to have more things. I also know at some point even this will be too much for me and I’ll do one more junk pickup which will be everything. The remaining stuff will fit in a bag.

If you live in some big apartment and wonder why the money floats away and you need to visit Ikea and buy more, you cannot live in a small room until you make a change in how you see things. But a single room has its benefits too. It will make living easier for you in the long run. It creates value when you still have money at the end of month. Perhaps or not you have to change eating habits. I admit to not cooking whatsoever at home any longer. I eat two meals out every day. Have not had a home cooked meal since sometime in 2014. I just don’t care to amass all the stuff which is needed for cooking.

Clothing has gone way down too. Gone are multiple closets of stuff. I still have shirts I will never wear so those will probably go next. Its still an evolving process to get down to a point where I’m good with what I have and still own things I need and perhaps want. I’m not a minimalist. I’m a mikealist. I want things still but many of the things like fancy furniture and end tables don’t fit.

If you want a change and you are by yourself, pick up craigslist and see what you can find. Its a sea change in living. You may not like it. You may need to go back to the rooms of stuff. But maybe not.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.