Column: Material things are suddenly no longer a priority

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In three weeks it will be exactly one year since I hopped on a plane with a two suitcases of 30 kilos each. Leaving that much behind at home was not an easy choice, but today the priority is completely different. Material things are suddenly much less important. But why did my priority change? I explain it further here!

The older you get, the more you realize that it isn’t about material things.

That your priorities change as you get older has been mentioned to me many times. But experiencing it myself was a bit of an adjustment and a shock. In the past few months I have never thought about my income and expenses so often. Not that I didn’t know what I was doing before, but I was much less aware of it. And there are two main reasons why this has dramatically changed.

You don’t need as much as you think

Life in the Dominican Republic is personally very comfortable for me. You can wear what you want, no one is judging you and because I can be myself, I think a lot less about what I wear or which brand my clothes come from. This used to be completely different as I used to save up most of my salary for a new designer bag. And now I just enjoy it when I’ve been able to put an extra aside and support a local merchant.

The basic necessities are also different than in Belgium. Not only in terms of fashion, but also the household. With much less, I now have the opportunity to do all kinds of things! I don’t have a mixer in the house? No worries, I’ll mix it with my hands. In the past I would have run straight to the store to get a mixer. It was mostly convenience and a luxury to be able to have all of this in the house. Now it’s rather thinking before making unnecessary expenses or decisions.

Don’t get me wrong, I still buy clothes or what I need. But now I am more conscious about the simple questions like “Will I wear it often?”, “Is it comfortable?” or “Am I sure to eat all of it?”. Whereas before I would just buy because it was pretty or I wanted to fill the fridge. So being more conscious about my purchases is already a huge difference for me. And I’m proud of this change!

Safety and well-being are number one

And this came in quite hard the last few days. Carefree walking around the streets, alone, with my work gear, it was a huge change. In the Dominican Republic, you don’t just walk down the street with valuable items. You need to look over your shoulder from time to time and you are very aware of what can happen if you show that you have value in your pocket.

Realizing this too, now that I’m back in Belgium for a while, makes me remember that material is not the most important thing. Your safety and well-being are. Feeling good and being happy. And that doesn’t have to be by buying things. The people around you, the location where you are and the atmosphere does make that difference.

And that means that I now value much more the people who are close to me, who I spend time with, and how I spend my free time!


Immersing myself in a different culture and lifestyle has taught me a tremendous amount of life lessons. Of course, it’s not all roses every day, but these experiences have made me the woman I am today. And I am enormously grateful for everything that has come my way. It has not only made me more mature, but also much more realistic about life.

Have you experienced something similar? Let me know in the comments!

This article has been written by @CINDY VAN DYCK

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