How City Living Makes it Easy to Be a Minimalist

Cheryl Russo, Organizing by Cheryl

By now you’ve probably heard the term “minimalism.” There are books, blogs, websites, magazine articles, and films dedicated to it. Maybe you have heard just enough to be intrigued and want to learn more about it. Maybe you’ve read about what it can provide in terms of less stress, finding direction, and focusing on what matters in life, and maybe that interests you. It definitely attracted me, and I’ve been reaping the benefits ever since I first learned about it. It’s something that once you’ve started, you don’t stop. You see everything you do through the lens of minimalism. You no longer just buy stuff; you have a method to purchasing. You think about each new item that comes into your home. You might even have a rule like, “if I buy something, then something that I have gets donated.” There are lots of resources out there for how and why to become a minimalist.

What does minimalism look like in terms of everyday city living?

I’d like to give you a few examples from my life. I hope this will paint a picture of life as a minimalist living in a city. I’m not sure if it’s always easier to be a minimalist in the city, but for me, I find that cities lend themselves nicely to the idea of minimalism in that cities provide resources that make life easier. Also, cities are convenient and lively and provide for us in a way that helped me to live with less. I live in a 425-square foot fourth-floor walk-up in Boston’s North End neighborhood.

Cozy living room

There is so much to do and see here, and this area is often bustling with events, concerts, and festivals, I never feel as though I am depriving myself of anything. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! There is always so much to do here. Living in a city that has a lot to offer gets me out of my apartment. I do and see more. I feel like I’m embracing life instead of watching it go by. Another benefit of living minimally in a city is that if I need anything, I can usually get it by just walking down the street in less than a few minutes. Because everything is so close by, there’s no need to drive to a store, buy a lot of stuff in bulk, and store it all in a huge closet until the next big shopping day. I live near many restaurants, small grocers, a yoga studio, a public farmer’s market, the subway, a train station, a public harbor walk, ferries, boutiques, salons, parks, tennis courts, a library, a pharmacy, a laundromat, a dry cleaner, and more! There are many small businesses in my neighborhood, which is great because I often get to meet the folks who have made the stuff that I buy. I’ve met local farmers, crafters, and jewelry makers right on my street!


I don’t own a car, so when I need to go somewhere that is far from public transportation or cost-prohibitive to take a cab or an Uber or a Lyft, I log into my Zipcar account, reserve a car from one of the lots near my apartment, walk to the lot, get in the car, adjust the seat and mirrors, and go. In a way it’s like borrowing a car. Zipcar is a car sharing company. I pay $70 a year for a membership, and to reserve a car for a day could cost anywhere from $30 to $90. In the city, it is cheaper to use Zipcar than to own a car. And it is perfect for minimalists: no car payments and no paying for parking, gas, tune-ups, excise tax, car washes, and everything else that comes with owning a car.


When I want to watch a film, I go to my Netflix account online, click on a film that’s available to stream on my laptop and watch it from the comfort of my cozy living room. I no longer own a bunch of DVDs or CDs. I sold all but a few of them at one point in time, and it felt great! The folks who bought them were very happy, and I got a little money for them, so that was nice. But mainly the CDs and DVDs got a new life; they were recycled. I do still have a few CDs; they are holiday CDs that I bring to my parents’ house each year on Christmas Eve. At some point, however, I’m sure I’ll end up just giving my parents the CDs! When I want to listen to music either on my way to work or while making dinner or when I host a party, I log into my Spotify account and browse new music or listen to one of my already-created playlists. It’s convenient and easy! Plus it takes up no physical space, which is great when you live in a tiny apartment!

City living can be expensive; however, if you’re a minimalist, you have fewer things, so you can rent a smaller apartment, and that usually means lower rent! Or, you could pay for what you love. For example, you could rent a small apartment that has a gorgeous view of the ocean or the skyline. When you don’t have a lot of stuff, you have more flexibility about what you spend your money on: a view rather than more space. I might pay the same rent as someone living in a much larger apartment in the suburbs, but my choice is to live in a smaller place that has more to offer in terms of things that I value in life: sunset over the harbor, small businesses, local artists, beautiful views, and places to walk along the water. I choose to live with less so that I can live with more of what inspires me.


About Cheryl

At Organizing by Cheryl, I work with you to create the space that you want. With the goals of decluttering, organizing, and developing a space that is both useful and inviting, I work at your pace and with your lifestyle at the forefront. As a minimalist, I have learned ways to maintain a clean and clutter-free home at even the busiest times of the year; I share these strategies and tips with my clients. Because I love what I do, I approach all jobs with kindness, compassion, and support. I truly believe that our home affects all aspects of our lives; therefore, if our living space isn’t peaceful, useful, beautiful, and comforting, then other parts of our lives suffer. Lastly, I’m a member of NAPO and NAPO-NE, and these two resources have strengthened my work and my passion for helping others to live clutter-free, stress-free lives!

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