Extreme Minimalism – Owning Less Than 15 Items

Extreme minimalism is certainly not for everyone. But there are people who live with only 15 items. Find out how and why.

Do you know Andrew Hyde? He’s a pretty interesting guy. He decided to travel the world and sell all of his stuff, so he could fit everything he owned into a single backpack. That’s pretty extreme. That’s extreme minimalism.

All he had in his backpack was fifteen items. FIFTEEN. He said that it’s so liberating to own so little. Besides that, he wrote in one of his blog posts that “When we were growing up, didn’t we all have the goal of a huge house full of things? I found a far more quality life by rejecting things as a gauge of success.”

After a couple of years, he increased his possessions to 39 but still… it is WAYS LESS than we own.

But let’s start with the basics.

What is extreme minimalism?

Extreme minimalism is a lifestyle where you own as few possessions as possible. For some people, that might mean owning just 100 things. For others, it might mean owning just 15 things.

Extreme minimalism pushes you to really think about what you need in your life and what you can live without. It’s a lifestyle that declutters your physical space and gives you more time and freedom to focus on what’s important to you.

What is the difference between minimalism and extreme minimalism?

It might sound similar, but it’s not. Minimalism is a lifestyle where you own fewer possessions and focus on quality over quantity. Extreme minimalism, on the other hand, takes that one step further by owning only items that are used on a DAILY basis.

Another difference between the two is that minimalism is about finding a balance that works for YOU. There is no “right” way to be a minimalist. Everyone has different needs and priorities.

Extreme minimalism, on the other hand, is about owning as few things as possible – period.

Extreme minimalism & comfort

Comfort is basically life satisfaction + contentment. And it’s not just about your physical comfort, but your emotional and mental comfort too.

How does extreme minimalism affect your comfort?

There are studies that confirm that the more money we have, the higher our life satisfaction is. Why? Because we can afford things. We can afford a blender, a comfortable mattress, and a stroller for our baby.

No, let’s be clear, money does NOT buy happiness. But money does increase our life satisfaction because it gives us the ability to purchase items that make our lives easier and more comfortable.

Whereas living as an extreme minimalist would most likely decrease your comfort. Because you would only have 15 items.


I don’t think it’s a bad thing to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. In fact, I think it’s incredibly rewarding.

You see, when you own fewer things, you’re forced to be more resourceful. You have to get creative with what you have and figure out ways to make do with less.

It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely rewarding. And it might just surprise you how much you can accomplish with so little.

Andrew Hyde started with 15 items but eventually increased his possessions to 39. He understood that while it’s possible to live with just 15 items, it’s not always practical or comfortable.

The contrast of extreme minimalism

39 possessions are a far cry from the average American household, which has 300,000 items.


Can you even wrap your head around that?

I know I can’t.

It’s mind-boggling to think about how much stuff people have. And yet, we still feel like we need more.

It’s an interesting contrast, isn’t it?

On one hand, you have people like Andrew Hyde who are living with just 15 items. And on the other hand, you have people with houses full of stuff they don’t even use.

How is that possible? There should be some reasons why you and I and many others are interested in minimalism, and even extreme minimalism.

Why would someone want to live with only 15 items?

People choose to live with fewer possessions for all sorts of reasons. Some of the most essential ones include:

  1. downsizing
  2. saving money
  3. reducing stress and anxiety
  4. gaining time and freedom
  5. living more intentionally
  6. decluttering their physical and mental space
  7. creating a simpler life
  8. traveling
  9. pushing their limits
  10. being more resourceful
  11. testing their assumptions
  12. breaking societal norms
  13. pursuing their passions
  14. eliminating distractions
  15. connecting with nature
  16. valuing experiences over things

As you can see, there are all sorts of reasons why people might want to own only a few things. Most of the time, there is more than just one reason.

Living furniture free

One of the most interesting things about extreme minimalism is that some people choose to live without furniture.

They don’t own a bed, a couch, a table, or chairs.

Sounds pretty extreme, right?

Why would they do that?

  • Maybe simply because it’s possible.
  • Or maybe they want to see how far they can push themselves.
  • Or maybe they just don’t need all that stuff.

What is Minimalist Aesthetic?

It’s all about setting priorities

I kind of get it. It’s not a necessary thing as we might think, it’s a comfort thing. Extreme minimalists have other priorities and comforts that they focus on instead.

It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

Let’s say you have a bed, a couch, a table, and chairs. And you use them all regularly.

Now let’s say you get rid of all of that furniture. What do you have left?

A lot more space, for one thing. But also, a lot more freedom.

You see, when you have fewer things, you’re not tied down to them. You’re not responsible for taking care of them cleaning them or storing them.

You’re free to move around, change your mind, and live your life however you want. And that’s pretty liberating if you ask me.

Deprivation of stuff

It’s interesting to think about how we might react if we were suddenly deprived of our stuff.

What would happen if all your possessions were taken away from you?

Extreme minimalists have experienced this firsthand by choice.

Do you know Youheum Son? She lives in a furniture-free apartment and has only a few things that she loves.

You might think she’s deprived, but she actually says she feels rich because she has everything she needs and loves. She expresses gratitude for the things she does have, instead of feeling sorry for the things she doesn’t have.

Youheum says that she doesn’t deprive herself of stuff, even if she is an extreme minimalist. On the contrary, she is happy with what she has and doesn’t feel the need for more.

Is extreme minimalism for you?

Extreme minimalism might not be for everyone. But it’s definitely something to think about.

  • Are you ready to declutter your life and own only very few items?
  • Are you ready to get rid of your furniture and live a more nomadic lifestyle?
  • Are you ready to push your limits and see how little you really need?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then extreme minimalism might be for you.

A good idea might be to try it out for a few months and see how you like it. You can always go back to your old way of living if it’s not for you. You will certainly learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Related: 20 Characteristics of a Minimalist Person

How do you live with very few possessions?

In case you want to try it out, how do you start?

Let’s say that living with less than 100 possessions is extreme minimalism. How do you even begin to get there?

Here are some tips:

1. Declutter seasonal items

Extreme minimalists typically only own items that they use regularly. This means getting rid of seasonal items that you only use a few times a year.

This includes:

  • holiday decorations
  • winter clothes
  • summer clothes

2. Get rid of duplicates

If you own less than 100 items, you certainly wouldn’t need more than one cup or one plate. Duplicates are a waste of space and resources.

3. Have multipurpose items

To save space, have items that serve more than one purpose.

For example:

  • A sofa bed (well, in case you decide that you want furniture).
  • A kitchen table that can be used as a desk.
  • A blender can also be used as a juicer, food processor, and mixer.

For instance, a lemon zest peeper is certainly not a multi-purpose item. You would only use it to zest lemons. And you would probably only use it a few times a year. So, it’s probably not something you would need if you’re trying to own less than 100 items. Unless you are a lemon zest lover.

4. Consider borrowing, renting, or sharing

There’s no need to own everything. If you only need something once in a while, consider borrowing it from a friend, renting it, or sharing it.

5. Be grateful for what you have

This tip is more of a mindset shift. But it’s important nonetheless.

When you’re trying to live with less, you need to focus and enjoy the things you do have. It’s easy to take our possessions for granted. But when you have fewer things, you start to appreciate them more.

Related: 101 things to be grateful for

6. Let go of your attachments mentally and emotionally

In order to declutter your life, you need to let go of attachments. Don’t hold on to things because you think you might need them in the future.

And don’t hold on to things because they have sentimental value. If you’re not using them, let them go.

7. Notice the freedom that comes with owning less

One of the best things about extreme minimalism is the freedom that comes with it.

When you own fewer things, you have more time and energy to focus on the things that are important to you.

You don’t have to spend time cleaning, organizing, and maintaining your things. And you don’t have to worry about them getting lost or stolen.

8. It’s okay to adjust if needed

There’s no need to be rigid about it. If you find that you need more than 15 items, then that’s okay.

The point is to find a balance that works for you. If you need 101 items to be happy and fulfilled, then that’s perfectly fine.

The essential thing is that you’re conscious about the things you own and why you own them.

Extreme minimalism, like minimalism in general, is a deeply personal journey that transcends rigid adherence to a specific number of possessions. Rather than fixating on a set numerical limit, extreme minimalism revolves around cultivating a profound awareness of our possessions and the profound reasons behind their presence in our lives.

Extreme minimalism represents an even more intentional and radical form of simplification. It’s not just about owning very few items; it’s about deliberate and conscious choices, which stand from wanting to experience life more. It seeks to establish an equilibrium between material possessions and our internal sense of fulfillment and purpose.

Adjusting as needed will make sure that you are not an extreme minimalist just for the label but for the authentic benefits and alignment with your life’s goals.

True minimalism, whether extreme or moderate, is not about conforming to a label or following a trend; it’s about making intentional choices that enhance your well-being and satisfaction.

FAQ about extreme minimalism

Q: Who is the most extreme minimalist?

Youheum Son and Andrew Hyde are two well-known extreme minimalists. They are both self-proclaimed “extreme minimalists” and have been featured in the media for their unusual lifestyle choices.

Q: List of 15 things Andrew Hyde had:

  • Backpack
  • Wallet
  • iPhone
  • Small Camera
  • iPad
  • Sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Jacket
  • Toiletry Kit
  • Towel
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Long Pants
  • Board Shorts
  • Underwear

Q: Is extreme minimalism healthy?

I am not talking from a health professional point of view, but from what I have researched and seen, I would argue that it could be healthy in some cases.

Owning less than 100 items seems like a good way to declutter your life and focus on what is important. It also means that you will have to do less laundry, organizing, and cleaning in general, which could lead to a more relaxed lifestyle.

Q: What is the opposite of extreme minimalism?

Maximalism! Which is basically the complete opposite. It is the idea of surrounding yourself with as many things as possible. More is more. It is a trend that has been rising in popularity in recent years.

Q: What is the hard part of extreme minimalism?

There are 2 most important ones: sentimental items and acceptance to go without material possessions.

The first one is hard because we are often attached to things that have sentimental value, even if we don’t use them. It can be really tough to let go of something that has been in your family for generations or that reminds you of a happy memory.

The second point is hard because we are used to having things. We are used to having a lot of choices and being able to buy whatever we want. Going without can be tough, especially at first. You might find yourself constantly thinking about all the things you don’t have and that you used to take for granted.

Q: Can extreme minimalism be applied to digital and online life?

Yes, extreme minimalism can extend to digital and online life. It often involves decluttering digital devices, deleting unnecessary files, and reducing the number of apps and online subscriptions. Some extreme minimalists also limit their time spent on social media and digital distractions.

Q: What are some common misconceptions about extreme minimalism?

One common misconception is that extreme minimalists live a life of deprivation or struggle. In reality, they often report increased happiness and freedom from their minimalist choices. Another misconception is that minimalism means owning nothing, when in fact, it’s about intentional ownership of items that add value to one’s life.

Q: How do extreme minimalists handle hobbies and interests that may require equipment or materials?

I find this question fascinating since extreme minimalists want to experience life to the fullest, that is why they get rid of stuff. However, when wanting to experience life, you need hobbies. And for hobbies, you need stuff.
There is no black-and-white answer to this question, however, there are a few things on how this type of people approach hobbies:

  1. Prioritizing: They select a few meaningful hobbies.
  2. Versatility: Choose versatile equipment.
  3. Sharing: Borrow, rent, or share when possible.
  4. Digital: Opt for digital options when applicable.
  5. Quality: Invest in high-quality, compact items.
  6. Regular Assessment: Reevaluate hobbies and possessions.
  7. Shared Spaces: Utilize shared resources if available.

This way, they enjoy hobbies while staying true to their extreme minimalist values.

Q: Is becoming an extreme minimalist a trend?

Extreme minimalism might appear trendy, especially in today’s digital age where everything is showcased online. The lifestyle has gained popularity with more people trying it and sharing their experiences. However, extreme minimalism has existed for a long time. People embrace extreme minimalism not merely as a trend but because they seek a simpler, more deliberate life focused on intentional ownership and less clutter.

Final thoughts

Extreme minimalism is a lifestyle choice that not all of us are ready to make. But it is something that we can all learn from.

It teaches us to be more conscious about the things we own and to appreciate the things we have.

It also shows us that we don’t need material possessions to be happy and fulfilled. On top of that, it can lead to a more relaxed and stress-free lifestyle.

I hope you found this article helpful and that it has given you something to think about.

Have a lovely day.

Cheers, Diana

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