Minimalist Basics List - Living Essentials

1. things to sleep
2. things to eat
3. things to clean (yourself/your spaces)
4. clothes for local temperature and laws
Please share your own detailed list in the comments!


The 100 Items or Less challenge and others like it are great fun to my essentialist-loving mind, but the lists others make usually frustrate me as well. What I always want to see is a list of everything they own and use in-home. When shared items aren't included, it feels incomplete to me. I also feel unsettled by some of the item grouping choices people make.

I had a discussion with friends about how a formula could be created to give ratings to each item. Items have different weights and heavy items can be more of a burden (you will need help moving that couch). A phone takes up less space than a desk. Some items are used everyday and others once a year. Some items you have emotional connections to and others not. Each of these factors shapes the joy or burden level of an item. The discussion was in jest, but it did highlight different item considerations.

A lot of my minimalist consideration comes from the knowledge that I will have to move all of my stuff. At one point I thought I was in my forever-home, and I accumulated many things. Then I was given sudden cause to move and I lost a great many items in that move (partially because I didn't have anything prioritized). You can forget what a huge pain in the butt moving your stuff is until you have to do it, and with the life I envision for myself, I may have to move a dozen times. 

What I want for my list, and what I love seeing on others, is everything you would take in a move- everything you would need to successfully and joyfully inhabit a new space. A Stuff list that has living basics as well as personal items. The living basics should cover what you would need to move out on your own.

Because I'm thinking of things in terms of moving, if I have four bath towels, they count as four to me and are added as four to my total number of items. If I had a box of towels, the box of towels could potentially count as one, as I'd only be lifting and fussing with one item. Every item I have to carry or pack into a box or fold or otherwise deal with for moving, counts to me. My intention is to have only what can fit in the trunk of an average car, to minimize moving hassle.

It's impossible to make a list that would seem essential to everyone. Some people's kitchen essentials might simply be a pot and a spoon, while other people have sets of dishes, frying pans in different sizes, and so forth. The only true universal essentials are 1) place to sleep 2) food 3) toilet/toiletries and 4) whatever is necessary to keep your body temperature in the alive range. For that reason this list will be from my perspective with notes where I'm aware that other people might want more of different things.


  1. Bed (mattress, sleep roll, futon, full bed with frame, etc)
  2. Bedding (sheets, blankets, comforter)
  3. Pillow (and pillowcase) - nonessential to some, but I'd guess essential to most

Additional pillows or a set of spare bedding may be wanted. 
Sleep mask (essential to me, though I've used clothing in a pinch)
Laundry basket (here and/or bathroom)
End tables


At least one full outfit is needed (unless it's legal to go nude and you live somewhere temperate), that addresses the weather year round where you live. I know people who choose not to have any underwear, and I've seen lists where people count 12 pair of underwear as one.

  1. Top
  2. Bottom
  3. Undergarments (panty/short, bra, pair of socks)
  4. Shoes

Most people want more than this. I create successful wardrobes for women out of 10 items, not including undergarments. You may also want somewhere to put them, meaning hangers for a closet, or a small chest of drawers, shelving, etc.


  1. Towel, hand towel, wash cloth (one or some combination. I like a set for me and another for guests)
  2. Toilet paper
  3. Hand soap (liquid in a bottle or soap in a dish)
  4. Shower curtain (depending on the type of shower and if you take showers)
  5. First aid kit
  6. Razor
  7. Shaving oil
  8. Crystal deodorant stick
  9. Toothbrush, toothpaste (can be liquid bronner's used also as hand soap and laundry soap)
  10. Hair scissors (if you diy)
  11. Tweezers
  12. Toilet plunger
  13. Toilet brush


  1. kitchen soap
  2. dish sponge or cloth
  3. dish towel
  4. quality knife

Particulars of cookware and eating dishes/silverware are really about the individual. Some of the super minimalist lists don't have any kitchen items because they eat out for every meal. I prepare my own food, but there isn't much preparation for most of what I eat (dried and fresh fruit, nuts, olives, steamed or baked veg, etc). For others, the kitchen is a hobby zone, and they enjoy many gadgets and different pan shapes and vast spice racks so on.

pots, pans
blender, food processor, juicer
dishes (bowls, plates, cups)
silverware (forks, spoons, knives)
baking sheet
oven mitts
coffee maker, frenchpress, aeropress, etc; kettle
rice maker
serving/stirring spoon/ladle, whisk, spatula (scraping kind), spatula (flipping kind) 
mixing bowls
measuring cups and spoons
tupperware, ziplocks
bottle openers
can opener
toaster, toaster oven
rolls of aluminum foil, wax paper, plastic wrap, and parchment paper
ice trays
hand mixer
cupcake tin, bread pans, cake pans

After reading all that, don't you want to just have some dried fruit and nuts with me, swig wine out of a bottle, and call it done? I ain't packing all that ish. My VitaMix has traveled with me for the last ten years. I need to send it in at some point, but it's a very handy tool. If I move somewhere warm, it will warrant bringing my Dole banana nicecream machine- otherwise it will stay behind.


  1. broom
  2. mop
  3. vinegar
  4. rubber gloves
  5. bronner's liquid soap (laundry, teeth, hands, floors, etc)
  6. rubbing alcohol
  7. baking soda
  8. bleach
  9. trash bags
  10. trash bin
  11. paper towels

Living Room is a non-essential category. Imagine a studio apartment where the bedroom and living room are one and the same, and the difference is whether the futon is in couch shape or folded down as a bed. It is a category for entertaining (yourself and/or others), and where many personal items may be if the home is yours (shared housing will find your personal items mostly in your bedroom). Dining room is another non-essential category primarily for entertainment purposes. Office and hobby rooms are two other likely possibilities for non-essential rooms you may have and enjoy. 

  1. smoke detectors
  2. carbon monoxide detector
  3. low folding table or other dining table or coffee table or desk
  4. floor pillows (4) or chairs or other seating
  5. lighting (lamps, reading light, flashlight)
  6. Curtains or privacy screen if there is a window

Personal Items

  1. electronics
  2. decorations, artwork, plants, candles
  3. sentimentals
  4. notebooks, pens, paper
  5. hobby items
  6. fitness items (yoga mat, etc)


Interesting though the personal item lists are, what is on your Living Essentials list?