That Minimalist Roommate: Unpacking

We’ve moved. It has been the busiest, weirdest week, but we’re in Athens. We packed up our roommates’ moving truck on Tuesday and hit the road Wednesday morning. All day Wednesday was spent unloading the truck again and trying to make sense of the piles of boxes. Since then it’s been all painting and unpacking.

Moving two households into one house is always a challenge anyway, but this move had a bit of a twist to it. You see, Jack and I have spent the last several months of our lives downsizing, simplifying, and learning good habits. We can now wash all of our clothes in a single load of laundry, do all of our dishes in one dishwasher load, and clean our entire living space in about 20 minutes. These things gave us stability, a peaceful atmosphere, and a lot of downtime. We knew (thought) that when we moved again we would be unpacked and settled within a day. This was important to us because we need our haven to be clean, organized, and clutter-free in order to feel like home.

It’s been nearly a week since we arrived, and the house is only about 70% finished. We decided to paint everywhere, since the place was what we’ve begun to call “Crayola chic” when we arrived – all primary blue, firetruck red, and lemon yellow. The bedrooms and one office took four days. The second office (yes, it’s a four bedroom house), living room, and kitchen still need to be done. And the boxes. The kitchen and offices are still full of them. The back deck has piles of empty ones among the trash bags (garbage truck doesn’t come until Monday.) We aren’t quite settled in enough to implement any sort of chore-distribution system, and everyone’s too busy to stop and just clean up. Trying to cook is stressful because of the clutter and never-ending pile of dishes in the sink. Even watching a movie is stressful because the living room is so cluttered and unfinished. This is exactly what Jack and I have spent so long trying to avoid.

It’s not that our roommates have more stuff than the average person. On the contrary, they have a lot less, and they’re downsizing almost constantly. But it’s still significantly more stuff than Jack and I are used to having around. Everyone is feeling the strain. For our roommates, it’s the stress of not being able to readily find or have access to things they need. Everything is in a box or bag somewhere, but until they can get fully unpacked, life is more complicated.

It’ll get better. Our roomies will finish unpacking and the boxes will go away. The painting will eventually be done and we’ll be able to hang pictures and arrange furniture. The chore chart will help keep the place clean and our lives will find a calmer rhythm again. I keep reminding myself that this is just temporary.

In the meantime, I’m breaking rule number four (“don’t become a hermit”) just a tiny bit. My room is the only one in the house that is totally done. It’s painted, unpacked, decorated. It’s my sanctuary, so I’m eating, reading, working, and relaxing in there until the rest of the house is less chaotic. It won’t be long.

Have you ever felt this way when moving in with roommates who had a lot more stuff than you did? How did you handle it?

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7 thoughts on “That Minimalist Roommate: Unpacking

  1. I can only imagine that it cannot be easy. That being said, and not knowing your history with the roommates, I am guessing it had to be a fairly solid relationship to consider a move of this magnitude considering the downsizing you have already accomplished and plan to continue. Much luck to you all.

    • We definitely wouldn’t have agreed to this move if we didn’t feel that this would be the most beneficial thing for everyone. Our roommates are two of our best friends, and one of the only couples we would ever consider trying this with. I am hoping things even out soon, though! 🙂

  2. Hi Amanda,
    I had to live with at least one other roommate for most of the 4 1/2 years I spent in the Marine Corps – For all of the order, discipline, and attention to detail they taught us, some people didn’t really make it a habit, so I know that frustrated feeling caused by clutter – I’m sure it’ll get cleaned up soon though! And then you can breathe 🙂

  3. Oh man I’ve totally felt this but with my own stuff. When I moved into my last apartment I had to move in 2 weeks before the previous roommate was ready to move out and on top of that we had a random dude staying on our couch until he found a place. So my stuff was literally just stacked in the living room for like 3 weeks. It was a total fire hazard. Also a pretty hilarious story.

  4. Ohhh yeah I can relate. I had a roommate in Madrid with whom we’d designated the spare room as a “reading and relaxation space.” But then she proceeded to fill it with her own things, effectively taking over two of the houses’ four possible bedrooms. It was mostly a problem as she insisted we all pay the same amount of rent, choosing not to realise that she had half the house to herself. Conversations about this ultimately drove another flatmate out of the house!

  5. I’ve never been in your particular situation, but I have moved many, many times; and I can completely relate to the way you’re feeling. I don’t feel “right” until things are organized. It is quite stressful if you’re the kind of person who needs order. I’ve found that some people aren’t as bothered by it. Hang in there- it sounds like you’ll be settled soon 🙂

  6. I can relate! To the moving stress, that is. We’ve lived in several apartments over the last 3 years, and with each move I throw out more junk. Now, even though I have more stuff than you do (I hear your voice in my head sometimes as I pick something out to donate cheering me on!), I can get everything unpacked in a day, thankfully. I cannot feel peace until everything is unpacked and put AWAY.

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