How, where and why we sold our possessions to move abroad
The nomadic Berbers of the Sahara Desert have an ancient Touareg saying, that saying is “The house is the coffin of living people”
This saying was an inspiration to us, but not in the sense that we were willing to drift through the Saharan Sands with only a dromedary as company and the stars to light our way. As romantic as my girlish mind likes to think that is, the reality i’m sure, would get rather uncomfortable after about a week. And all that sand…
Me standing among the Saharan dunes
Admittedly Jmayel and I could never be complete nomads, hauling around our camera equipment and laptops. We could never go to the extremes of selling everything that we own as we would have no way of working and fulfilling our passions and dreams.
I can happily go without a phone or even internet for a while and we can survive a night or two in the middle of nowhere in a desert eco camp with no electricity, I actually quite like being cut off every now and again, but once our camera equipment needs charging it’s time to head back towards civilization.
Jmayel in Morocco
Unless you were devoting yourself to a life as a monk or nun and going to live within the walls of a monastery forever more, it would be difficult for anyone to live with nothing.
Even then some of the Monks own i-pods, mobile phones and cameras as big as ours……!
Well endowed Monks
It had gotten to a point in the UK where the more stuff I had around me the more stressed I felt. Our little flat became more like Singapore each day, running out of space in the cupboards, so the piles on the floor began to just grow upwards, over flowing from the lounge and eventually turning the loft space into a dumping ground. Out of sight, out of mind so they say.
The more stuff we accumulated, the less space we had, the less I felt like I could breathe.
So when the time came for us to begin the big sell I was excited, though it wasn’t an easy task or a quick one. We spent 4 months sorting through our belongings and we were still selling things up until a couple of days before our departure.
After the initial bags had been taken to the charity shop or thrown straight into the bin, many of my items were given to friends and it was then that we began listing items for sale on eBay.
We ended up making almost £2000 from the auction site alone, it was amazing how much money can be made from stuff that is just sitting dormant in the loft. We hadn’t even seen half of the stuff up there for over 5 years since we moved into the flat and yet it was ready to make us some decent cash.
My CD collection that I had been building for almost 15 years was boxed up and sold on musicMagpie and Zapper along with a few dvds and some of Jmayel’s xbox games.
When the packing tape was plastered across the top of the CD box I have to admit I felt a bit torn, all the time consoling myself that all the good stuff was now transferred onto my ipod and CD’s are quickly going out of fashion anyway, time to move on.
With each item being sent to its new owner or collected from us, I felt a weight lifting. It felt so much fresher and lighter with every item we took out of our lives.
We sold the majority of our furniture to the next tenant that was going to occupy the property and that left just one last big object. The car. The very one that started this whole idea running through our veins.
We sold the car to a young learner driver within a few days of listing it online at Gumtree.com. As the little car drove away up the road, its new owner sitting at the wheel and some fresh British pounds in our grasp, the last tie to England was torn.
It was the last few days, we had left the flat, sold the car and shed around 70% of our possessions. Standing on the pavement, a drizzly and cold afternoon in East London, I turned to J and said ‘that’s that then.’
As we turned around to return to the house, where Jmayel’s family were sitting in the lounge, it was only then that I felt a tinge of sadness. With our bags half packed and our dog coming with us, all that was left was us and a few already sealed boxes for storage.
The material possessions meant nothing, being stripped of the items we had collected over the years gave me no sadness, there was no attachment.
Yet the lump that had slyly formed in my throat was because I realised that there was no going back now, that same lump made it hard for me to talk for a brief while. Goodbyes were next.
The ties to family and friends are not as simple to break as a car pulling out of the road. But physically and materialistically we were now free.
We no longer owned anything that wasn’t already stored in a wardrobe at Jmayel’s parent’s house or being carried on our backs to Asia.
It has been almost 5 months now since we sold our possessions and up rooted our lives for a change of scene and country. I am surprised at how little we have needed or missed and this is coming from the girl who at the age of 21 spent 10 and a half months living out of a single backpack.
My Travel Backpack
I brought my hair straightners with me, a bit of an afterthought and stuffed into a side pocket at the last minute, sometimes you just never know when you might need extra straight hair.
An essential appliance for life in England, yet they are still sitting in that side pocket and have not been used once. Used every other day just mere months ago, they are now redundant. What with the heat and humidity of Thailand determined to keep my hair in a state of unruliness, who am I to take on the elements.
There are no high heels (even though I only owned 2 pairs anyway. I’m a bit of a rubbish girl and while we’re on confessions, I’m not into handbags either. Gasp.)
There are no longer drawers full of half used perfumes and body lotions, no bags of make-up and hair accessories. My 4 large bags full to bursting with treasures has now been condensed into just one small and unglamorous plastic bag.
Everything we buy now has a lot more practical thought put into it. Purchases are lot more appreciative as well. When we do buy something, it’s something we actually really want or need and not just been bought for the sake of it because we can.
Apart from the materialistic side of things, anything we buy, we will have to carry around with us or end up having to ship it home one day. Is a 3 foot temple gong absolutely necessary? Even if it does look and sound really cool.
We have embarked on a new life as digital nomads and taken away some of the stresses that go with life in this fast developing world. We have stumbled upon many more stresses since then, but that’s a different story!
I really do believe a clutter free life = a clutter free mind.
Seeing your possessions packed up into a few boxes puts things into perspective of what you actually do need. And the question has to be asked, do you own your possessions or are your possessions owning you?
Sacha El-Haj – 8 Miles from Home
To view our cinematic travel videos, visit:
To keep up with our adventures in between blogs & videos…we’re also on Facebook: