We are now living in a 5th floor 30 sq. metre 1 bedroom condominium in Chiang Mai Thailand which was fully furnished and equipped when we moved in. When we first inspected this condo, we initially thought it was too small for us and over the next couple of days, inspected many other properties throughout the city. Somehow, we were drawn to this unit and after the second inspection, decided this is where we wanted to live. It is a small amount of space, but over the past few months, we have settled in and are extremely comfortable. All we needed to buy was some bath linen – 2 towels, a hand towel and a bath mat.
The queen size bed is extremely comfortable and the built-in wardrobe is large enough for our suitcase load of clothes hung on just a few coat hangers. The flat screen TV is the largest feature of the lounge room which includes a very cosy 2 seater settee, 2 foot rests, coffee table and a very small dining table. This 65cm square table is multi-functional and between meals it is converted to an office desk for both of us to work at and yes, some days are more challenging than others, especially when the man needs more than half the space.
The tiny balcony which is about 100 cm x 120cm houses our washing machine and fold up clothes dryer. When we collapse the clothes dryer, one of us can stand on the balcony and if we remove the clothes dryer to another room, both of us can stand together and sometimes our happy hour is spent there watching the world pass by.
The kitchen has 2 electric hot plates just big enough for our 2 litre saucepan and our 20cm frypan. The dinner set is a setting for 4 people so we could invite 2 friends for a meal, except they would need to bring their own cutlery as we have only 2 knives, 2 forks, 2 desserts spoons and 2 teaspoons. On the occasions when I am inspired to cook, I can manage with just these few pieces of cutlery and when the cooking is finished, I quickly wash the used items and place them on our tiny table ready to eat out meal with. The kitchen bench is only just large enough to hold two dinner plates; the sink does not have a side draining section and the fridge/freezer is larger than the bench and sink combined.
We are constantly being challenged as we live with no toaster, no kettle, limited bench space, no hot water in the kitchen, no outside clothes line, no clothes dryer, no iron and that is just some kitchen/laundry items. We do not need a vacuum cleaner as there are no carpets in the unit. We have learnt to hang our queen size sheets, bath towels and all our clothes over the portable clothes dryer. The Chiang Mai heat is captured to avoid ironing anything and even if we owned an iron, we would not have anywhere to put it. We boil water in a saucepan to make tea and coffee and to wash the dishes; we make toast and toasted sandwiches in the frypan which are really yummy; and we are aware that only one of us can be in the kitchen at any time because there is just not enough room for both of us. We have learnt to live without storage containers, as there is no storage room such as a pantry; we have not used Glad Wrap since we lived here – we simply cover any food with a plate or a recycled fruit bag.
Keys are no longer a possession as we do not own a car and our condominium has a touch screen entry and a swipe card is used for the elevator. We have made a conscious decision not to own a vehicle (car or motorbike) and though I would like to think it is solely for environmental reasons, the simple truth is we actually do not need a vehicle. We can walk from home to several shopping centres and our daily routine is just to buy the 2 or 3 items from the supermarket that we need for the next 24 hours or so. We travel by songthaew to get to the city and other locations and considering a return trip costs about AUD $5 – $10, it is more economical than the cost of owning a vehicle and all associated expenses.
Though the size of the condo is small, we live in a beautiful complex. At the entrance to each block, there is a huge lounge area with comfortable furniture and decorations where we can sit and read or meet with friends. The grounds are absolutely picturesque and are constantly being attended to by the staff. We are surrounded by hundreds of trees, frangipani, bougainvillea, palms, hibiscus, ferns and so much more. There is a massive swimming pool with four spa areas and two walls with waterfalls and lolling in the pool in the summer heat is so enjoyable and refreshing. Surrounding the pool are several covered areas with outdoor furniture and couches where we relax and often read after our time in the pool.
Though there are challenges, we have easily made the transition from a 3 bedroom villa with too many possessions to a 1 bedroom condominium with all we need. Sometimes I am tempted to buy extra items but when I stop and think “do I really need this”, I usually realise that I can manage without. The number of possessions I own will not make me happy. I am constantly aware that I have so much more than many other people for which I am truly grateful.
As this will be my last blog about possessions, let me share with you a treasured memory – we had been staying with my life-long friend Sally and her family for a few days before we ventured off to start another chapter in our adventurous life. On the morning we said goodbye to everyone, we placed some clothes we no longer wanted in her rubbish bin. Several years later when we were visiting again, we were amused and delighted to see her teenage son, John, wearing one of my husband’s discarded T-shirts . . .
one person’s trash is another person’s treasure!