minimalism · travel

Living an asset-light life

Over the weekend, I helped my boyfriend move from Kansas City, Missouri, to his new home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he’ll be starting grad school this fall. I use the term “help” generously, because he moved all of his necessary belongings in four boxes, two carry-ons and a laptop bag with almost no assistance from me. And for about $1,000.

How’d he do it? The answer is simple.

He packed only the items he absolutely needed, then found the most efficient way to get those items where they needed to go.

For those who are geographically challenged (like me), Kansas City and Philadelphia are more than 1,000 miles apart. That’s a long way to haul a bunch of your belongings, whether it’s by car, air, or secret underground tunnel. So, first and foremost, my boyfriend made the logical decision to bring as few items as possible with him when he moved.

His next decision was how to get himself and his stuff to the wonderful world of Philadelphia. His plan was to leave his car in Kansas with his family while he’s in school, so driving his stuff out east would require the rental of a U-Haul truck.

I looked it up and did the math: To rent even the smallest U-Haul truck (10 feet) for the 1,150 mile drive from Kansas City to Philadelphia would cost more than $1,000. That doesn’t include gasoline costs; with a 31 gallon fuel tank capacity and an average of 12 miles to the gallon, gas would be an additional $240, assuming it’s $2.50 a gallon.

Tack on a night’s stay at a hotel (it’s a 17 hour drive) and we’re looking at more than $1,300 just to get his stuff to its new home. Ouch. If you were in a similar situation and had more stuff than could fit in a 10′ U-Haul truck (or wanted to bring your car with you), these costs could be even higher.

Instead, the boyfriend decided to fly himself and his stuff (and me!) to Philadelphia via Southwest Airlines. He purchased the tickets with points, but for us mere mortals, a round-trip ticket from KC to Philly booked far enough in advance still costs less than $300. Even with the additional cost of his one-way ticket, it’s far cheaper to fly that distance than to drive.

At this point you might be thinking, “Okay, that’s all fine and dandy, but before you start patting yourself on the back for a job well done, what about his stuff? You know, clothes and shoes and shampoo and the other things people need?”

Well, sit down and hold on, because this is where the magic starts.

Southwest allows two free checked bags per person as part of their baggage allowance, so the boyfriend purchased four heavy-duty cardboard boxes (16″ x 16″ x 15″ each), filled them with his few possessions that made the cut, and flew them to Philly for no extra cost. We were also allowed two carry-on items each, so he packed three bags with the remainder of his things, and I packed a backpack to carry my own clothes and toiletries for the weekend trip.

Grinning like a devil because he flew all of this FOR FREE.

So, what all did he pack? Good question. Here’s the list:

  • Three boxes of clothes;
  • <10 pairs of shoes;
  • Half a box of toiletries (soap, toothbrush, contact solution, etc.)
  • Mixing bowls, spices, and a few other things for the kitchen;
  • Computer, Nintendo Switch, wireless mouse, and a few other electronics/chargers;
  • Sentimental items, including picture frames, a few decor items, and some postcards.

…and that’s about it. Since my boyfriend was traveling such a distance, he opted to sell his old bed (rather than transport it) and purchase a new one, and he bought a desk and chair for school. He also has two roommates in his new place who brought utensils, cooking pots and pans, and most of the other items for the communal areas, allowing my boyfriend the freedom to pack only what he needed for himself—which wasn’t much.

When we got to Philly, it took us less than half a day to unpack. We spent the rest of the time exploring his new neighborhood, drinking bubble tea, and sitting in the park watching squirrels aggressively battle each other in a never-ending turf war. It was all very relaxing.

Boyfriend and I in the park
With an asset-light lifestyle, you too can enjoy leisurely strolls through the park!

My boyfriend is currently living what he calls an “asset-light” life. Rather than measuring himself by the quality and quantity of his possessions, he instead measures himself by the depth of his knowledge and breadth of his experiences.

In a world where many of us are preoccupied with how our belongings make us appear to others, my boyfriend spends very little time thinking about his stuff. His focus is on meeting new people, going new places and collecting new experiences, rather than owning new things.

Living with less gives him flexibility, freedom, and a whole lot of happiness.


Do you like the thought of living an asset-light life? Have you been taking steps to achieve it for yourself? Let me know below in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Living an asset-light life

  1. Great post. I love that you can take boxes on flights. It is how I am slowly moving things back to my parents house in KS. BTW, is that a jayhawk on your bed in the bedroom/minimalism post? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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