the minimaList: living small

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We have been living in a condo for the past 8 years.  We bought our home in a pre-sale (before it was built) in 2001, and construction was completed in 2003.  While it was just my husband and I living here when we first moved in, we’ve since added two beautiful boys to our family.  While our two bedroom, 828 square foot condo was plenty for two adults, it eventually began to feel small when we had our second child and there were four of us living here.

When I was still pregnant in 2008, we began looking for a larger home to move to, thinking we’d outgrown our space.  Yet, here we are three years later.  We’ve managed to declutter enough stuff from our home, that we could probably stay here for a very long time.  If you’re considering moving to a bigger home because people are constantly telling you “it’s time” or “kids need their own backyard,” consider the following:

  1. Consider the costs:  Consider not only the monthly mortgage and home maintenance costs, but the closing costs associated with buying and selling a home.  Also, a bigger home costs more to furnish, as more rooms means more furniture to buy for those rooms.
  2. Savour the closeness:  Kids are little for such a short period of time, it’s nice to be able to be close to them when we’re at home.  I enjoy being within earshot of my kids at any given moment (less so when they are arguing, of course).  Our small home forces us to get along, because there’s no basement to escape to should there be a disagreement.
  3. Small home, smaller carbon footprint:  The smaller the home, the smaller your family’s environmental footprint.  Your cozy abode will require less energy to operate and smaller homes require less materials be consumed in their production, as well as requiring less furniture to furnish them.  Also, we can joke with our friends that we’re doing our part to not contribute any further to urban sprawl.
  4. Less housework:  This has always seemed like a huge benefit for me.  I like to get as much impact for my effort, so if I can spend less time doing housework and still have a clean home, I’m all for it.  Larger homes require not only more cleaning, but more cleaning products to get the job done.
  5. Listen to your heart:  When others tell you “your home is too small,” or “kids should have their own bedrooms,” don’t sweat it.  No one else has to live in the space but you, so if it is unconventional for others but your family is thriving, then just keep doing what you’re doing.
  6. Traditional does not equal “right”:  I grew up in a house, but it was only 1000 square feet – the way I see it, there’s not much difference between a house that size and a condo the same size.  My parents have been asking us when we’re going to move into a house for as long as we’ve lived in this condo.  I think it’s because it’s all they’ve ever known anyone to do, and they think that we or our kids are missing out on something.  Recently though, they’ve started asking when we might consider moving into a slightly larger condo so that they will have room to stay when they come to visit.  Sometimes we just need to look at things a little differently, without any preconceived notions about what is the “right” way to do things.
We’ve managed to stay small by doing a couple of things really well:
  1. We’ve made room for people, not stuff:  We’ve decluttered a huge amount of our belongings (2676 alone in 2011 so far!) and continue to eliminate unnecessary belongings from our home.  We have nine pieces of furniture and no need or desire for any more.  We’re enjoying the space we have, as limited as it may seem – and when we feel like our space is too small, we just head outside to get some fresh air and enjoy one of the parks nearby with our kids.
  2. We’ve procrastinated:  As easy as it would have been to bow to the pressure from society, family members and friends and move straight away into a house as soon as we’d had children, we’ve managed to keep things simple and stay put.  By not rushing into such a significant financial and lifestyle commitment, we’re saving money every month by not having a mortgage payment and being able to enjoy more time with our family.  Had we bought a house, I would most certainly be back to working a 9-5 job again, rather than spending my days at home with my boys.

I’ve had family members tell me to my face, “I could never live in a space that small.”  That’s okay, you don’t have to.  But some of us are okay with it, happy even.  And if you’re looking for evidence that it’s possible to live a full life in a small space, check out Apartment Therapy – they always have fabulous, teeny-tiny homes that are small on space but big on function and personality.

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