Category Archives: Home optimization

Simple is beautiful: Time to declutter

The range of stuff you can buy in a modern consumer economy is truly stupendous. Thanks to globalization, a lot of this stuff is quite cheap too. It is therefore all too easy to collect way too many things that add more problems than value to your life.

This pervasive, but primitive habit can increase stress, hamper wealth creation and increase environmental impact. It therefore goes completely against the philosophy of happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable living advocated on this blog.

Let’s have a look at a few simple ways in which we can overcome this problem.

The size of your home

This topic has already been discussed in the previous post, but remains the most natural way to limit the amount of useless stuff in your life. A large home simply grants you a large amount of space to fill with lots of useless stuff. A more moderate size home, on the other hand, will not only save you a lot of money, but also naturally encourage you to declutter.

The six-month rule

Take a serious look around your home and identify anything that has not made a clear positive contribution to your life over the last six months. You might be surprised at how many of these things you find. Items identified via the six month rule are generally well suited for donation to charity. So why not employ this rule to help yourself by helping others?

The replacement rule

There are only so many hours in your day, so much space in your home, and so much capacity in your brain. The replacement rule acknowledges these facts and recommends that you only buy something new when you can easily identify something that it will replace. Keeping this simple rule in mind will save you from many unwise purchasing decisions.

Adopt the minimalist style

One very positive trend over recent years has been the popularity of minimalist interior design. Indeed, it can now be quite cool to keep a home with very limited stuff. If you are one for keeping up with the latest trends, adopting the minimalist interior design style can be a very natural motivation to declutter.

Filed under: Home

PS: Why should you take lifestyle advice from a random guy on the internet? Good question. Take a look at the effects that these guidelines had on my life and decide for yourself.

Don’t supersize your home

After selecting the ideal location, avoiding a supersize home is the next most important thing. In general, an apartment in town is good, while a large house in the suburbs is bad. If you are a proud citizen of suburbia, please keep an open mind and see if these arguments make sense to you.

Money

A home is a very costly thing. It is expensive to buy, expensive to maintain and expensive to furnish. Downsizing your home will save you money on all of these fronts.

Yes, buying in a central location will probably be substantially more expensive per square foot/meter than the suburbs, but you will save a lot in terms of transportation costs. For example, if you buy centrally and manage to ditch one of your cars for a bicycle and/or public transport, you can easily save $5000/year. Such a saving will allow you to afford up to $100000 more on your mortgage.

Time

A big home consumes lots of time to clean and maintain. If this big home is located in the suburbs, you will waste even more time driving to work or the mall or your kids’ school. Americans spend a rather ridiculous average of 2 hours per day in a car. Another 1 hour per day can easily be lost to cleaning and maintenance of a big house and garden.

Buying a smaller home in a central location can easily shave this big chunk of wasted time from 3 hours to 1 hour. So, if you are awake for 16 hours per day, this simple act can literally give you 12.5% more time to live.

Environment

A big house has a big carbon footprint. Not only does it need lots of electricity and other fuels to run and heat/cool, but it also consumes lots of energy and materials during the construction process. For interested readers, I previously calculated that saving energy and emissions by buying a smaller home is massively profitable. As an example, reducing your home size by only 100 square feet (5.6% reduction for the average American) will save 1150 kWh/year. This means a saving of $805 and half a ton of CO2 every year.

Happiness

Happiness is of course much more subjective than the previous three topics. Many people may think that the perceived status or space afforded by a big home will bring them happiness, but I don’t think this is true. More time, more money, less clutter and a clear environmental conscience will make me a lot happier than the perceived status of a big home. Think carefully about this. Is that big home really worth it?

Filed under: Home

PS: Why should you take lifestyle advice from a random guy on the internet? Good question. Take a look at the effects that these guidelines had on my life and decide for yourself.

The most important choice you’ll ever make: Selecting your home

The title of this post is no overstatement. Choosing your home is literally the most important choice you can make when it comes to ensuring a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life. Allow me to elaborate…

This blog is all about creating intelligent micro-environments where the perfect lifestyle just comes naturally. Many areas of life are difficult to shape in this manner, but your home is one area where you have (almost) complete control. In addition, the location of your home directly influences the environment around you. If you choose well, the art of making happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable living as natural as breathing can become a breeze.

Selecting the ideal home is not easy though. In some cities, it may even be impossible. However, given that this is the most important choice you will ever make, you should not be afraid to step way out of your comfort zone (or out of your city).

Selecting your town/city

It is vital that you build your home in a town which closely fits your personality. Most people would prefer a town which is safe, clean and well-managed. Others would fare better in a rapidly growing city which might be dirtier and more chaotic, but presents better job opportunities. Whatever your preference, know that the world is large and moving to the perfect country/town may be the smartest thing you can ever do. The earlier in life you do this, the better.

Selecting your location

Once you have selected your town, it is vital that you look long and hard for the ideal location. If at all possible, try to eliminate the need for a car, meeting your transportation needs via cycling or public transport. This will save you a lot of time, money and environmental impact and, if you cycle/walk quite often, it will do wonders your health and fitness.

Another key aspect of home selection is that it should make healthy and fulfilling recreational activities easily accessible. Decide what healthy and fulfilling recreation means to you and make this an important consideration when selecting your home.

Example

I moved from South Africa to Norway in December 2009. In this one single move, my country of residence was upgraded from number 118 to number 1 on the Human Development Index.

Human_Development_Index_2014

After living in a cheap little room for 2 years, I had saved enough money to put down a deposit on a flat of my own. After extensive research, I bought a flat which is right on the edge of the forest, but still close to every convenience I need.

Getting to work requires an 8 minute bike ride – mostly downhill, so no sweat. Grocery shopping involves a 2 minute walk and the city centre is the same 8 minute bike ride away. If the steep hill back home becomes too much (e.g. after rugby practice), my electric bike is always an option. On the rare occasion where the bike is not practical, a convenient bus stop is only 2 minutes away.

Theissendammen1

Along with all of these conveniences, I quite literally have nature as my back yard. For example, the dam in the picture above is only 3 minutes’ walk away. In summertime, it presents a great opportunity for a relaxing stroll, a barbecue next to the water and even a refreshing swim. In the winter, it brings wonderful ice skating conditions (below) before the snow comes and I can enjoy the 120 km of well-maintained mountain trails on my cross-country skis.

Theisendammen_skoyter7

These two decisions: moving to a new country and buying in the ideal location, have enriched my life tremendously. I’d recommend a similar course of action to anyone.

Filed under: Home

PS: Why should you take lifestyle advice from a random guy on the internet? Good question. Take a look at the effects that these guidelines had on my life and decide for yourself.

The importance of buying the right home

This blog is all about building intelligent micro-environments where happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable living happens naturally. You don’t get any better opportunities for micro-environment construction than in your own home.

For this reason, we will build a separate chapter in the One in a Billion project dedicated to this crucial topic. We will look at three critical aspects of your home: its location, its size and its contents. Th e importance of each of these will be briefly outlined below.

Location, location, location

It is well known that the three most important things to look out for when house hunting is location, location and location. Once you have bought a home, you can change many things about it, but you cannot change its location. This aspect therefore has to carry the biggest weight.

As far as this blog is concerned, the most important criterion in selection of a home is minimization of travel distance. For example, if you can intelligently select the location of your home to replace your 30 minute car commute with a 10 minute bicycle trip, you will become happier from escaping stressful rush-hour traffic, healthier from getting automatic exercise every day, wealthier from the huge savings brought by biking instead of driving, and more sustainable for the same reason.

We will also look at several other location-specific factors impacting health, wealth and happiness, but travel time remains the most important one.

Size

The size of your home directly impacts its costs (mortgage and maintenance), its environmental impact (mostly energy consumption for temperature control, lighting and appliances), and its demand for your time (maintenance and gardening).

A person who has evolved beyond the primitive consumerist mindset will obviously favour these advantages of a smaller home over the materialistic appeal of a large home. The willingness to settle for a smaller home can also make it possible to buy in the ideal location, bringing many additional benefits.

Stuff

There are many choices when it comes to filling your home with stuff. The choices you make here will have important impacts on your home’s environmental impact, running costs, livability and productivity.

We will take a look at several of these important choices with a special focus on building an environment for increasing productivity.

Filed under: Home

PS: Why should you take lifestyle advice from a random guy on the internet? Good question. Take a look at the effects that these guidelines had on my life and decide for yourself.