the minimaList: why living small is great

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Living small is our normal.  All of our friends in the city live in apartments or condos, and a lot of them have children of their own.  No one complains that their living space is too small.  We’re all to busy playing outside and getting lots of fresh air, playing with our kids.

Our urban centre is a beautiful, vibrant downtown area filled with lots of green trees and parks.  Of course, the city has its fair share of concrete, cars and construction, but for the most part, it’s not overwhelming.  We consider ourselves very lucky to live where we do, and even though others (namely, our families) think we could do with more living space, we’re content in our 828 square feet for right now.

There are so many benefits to living in a small space.  It’s easy to forget that most of the world does not live in large, McMansion-style homes, even though that’s the norm for a lot of us in North America.  And of course, living in a small home means taking into consideration what we are consuming and bringing into our home – that discussion is a lot more immediate than it would be if we had a larger home.

Here’s just a few reasons why living small is so great:

  1. Living small means less stuff.  Our home is just over 800 square feet.  For our family of four, that means about 200 square feet for each person.  In reality, we have much less space for our personal belongings, as a lot of our home is shared space (a living room and kitchen occupies half of our small home).  My kids share a room that is 100 square feet, but they still have room for their most precious things.  Overall, having less stuff means less time spent managing said stuff, and more time doing other things.
  2. Living small means less cleaning.  This is one of my favourite things about living small.  I hate organizing (I’d rather donate or toss things than try to organize them), and I am HUGE on keeping our home clutter-free.  Keeping our small abode free from clutter makes cleaning up easier, and having a minimal amount of clothing and personal belongings makes our daily rhythm a lot simpler.  Given one morning, I can clean every square inch of my home – this would include a very thorough cleaning of the kitchen, bathrooms, vacuuming, washing floors, washing sheets and linens, and clothing laundry.  Might even be able to get some dusting in there somewhere.  I try to do little bits at a time to keep the amount of cleaning from being overwhelming, but even when things build up, it’s nice to know that a commitment of a couple of hours can have everything back to tip-top shape.
  3. Living small means easier access to all the fun stuff in our city.  We use our home as a launch pad for getting out into our city and doing fun things.  We’re lucky to live in a neighbhourhood where we have access to several parks and playgrounds in our immediate vicinity, as well as amazing sites such as the Vancouver Aquarium and Granville Island.  Having desirable venues minutes away by car or literally steps from our own front door is priceless, and we’d be hard-pressed to find such convenience in many other neighbourhoods that feature large homes as opposed to small ones like ours.
  4. Living small means living with financial order and security.  This point is probably one that will resonate with the most number of people, and really, it’s the most practical reason to live small or at least live within your means.  We’re lucky in that we’ve never felt the need to compete with others in the lifestyle department, so we’ve pretty much never moved beyond living like university students.  Sure, our kids have added a few extra monthly expenses (food!), but for the most part, kids don’t cost that much and neither does living small.  It’s a lot easier to pay your bills when there are less bills to pay.
  5. Living small means more flexibility in life and possibly better health overall.  All of us could live with less stress.  Living small can be a great alleviator of stress:  Less stuff to clean?  Less stress.  More leisure time and less time spent working?  Less stress.  Less bills to pay?  Less stress.  More money in the bank?  Less stress!  All of the above mentioned things are great reasons to live small and stay within your means, but the most important reason is that it allows us to not only live with less material things, but to have a richer life in other areas that don’t relate to consumption and to alleviate some of the stress we place on ourselves to constantly be participating in a consumer-driven lifestyle.

I would equate living small as a similar experience to living in a hotel.  Some people might think, “That’s CRAZY! Who in their right mind would want to live in a space that SMALL?” – however, there are great benefits to be had.  As Christine from 100 things 100 days writes,

Seriously, have you ever walked into a hotel room and thought: what this place is missing is a whole lot of my crap?

My answer to that question, thankfully, is a resounding “no.”  We’re lucky to love living in a small home and we generally don’t miss any of the crap that comes along with home ownership on a larger scale.  We still have things that we don’t love, but we’re trying to own very little of those and certainly have less of those type of things than we would have if we owned a house or a larger home.

I know it’s the path less-travelled to live in a small home.  But none of us are suffering.  In fact, I believe it’s just the opposite.  We’re thriving, because we’ve recognized what is important to us.  Having enriching experiences is a lot more fun than having a bunch of “stuff” lying around our tiny abode, and owning a smaller home is a lot easier and less stressful than owning a house and all of the additional responsibilities that go along with it.

3 responses »

  1. I’m fairly new to the minimalist movement and haven’t had the opportunity yet to “downsize” my home. I do look forward to the opportunity (about 2 months from now) and agree with your post completely. Though I’m not sure I’m ready to move into a place the size of yours yet! That might take a little longer.

    • Good for you for giving a smaller living space a try! I think it’s all about finding a space that works for you (proverbial you), and if you can make a small space work, even better. Sometimes downsizing can take on the form of the amount of things we own, as well as the size of our living space. Good luck with your move!

  2. that is a lot to think about. I would like less stuff, working on that. but sometimes I have to remember other people live in my house (the family) and they have stuff too! I love the hotel room idea, so ture!

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