Confessions of Living in a Smaller Home
In past posts I rounded up and said our new home was 900sqft, 1100sqft less than our old home.Turns out our new home is just over 800sqft when considering only interior space. When you buy a mobile home listed as 14X70, you may actually be getting a home that’s 13.5X66 because they claim the axle that would stick out 4ft when moving, to be part of the actual size, and I guess they just round up on the width. The axle is stored under the trailer in case you’re wondering and in my opinion this is just a way to make you believe you’re getting a bigger home (since this isn’t standard practice on all descriptions). 50Sqft may not sound like a a lot, but it is when you’re already working with a small space. True we did not discover this fact until after we bought the home, but it would not deterred us from buying it had we known. Bring on the extra challenge!
We actually genuinely do LOVE our smaller home (like really truly). We’re surprised at how much we already love it. The act of moving was stressful, the act of trying to rent our old home, is stressful, the act of living in a smaller home with two small kids, 2 cats, and a parrot (and some fish)-not stressful. In fact I feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted. Perhaps literally lighter because we have less stuff, but also mentally I am more calm and at ease. A smaller house is much more manageable and simpler. We are very proud of our home. The size and label seem irrelevant to us. After just one week, walking into our new place feels welcoming, cozy, comfortable and well, homey. I walk into our old townhouse to prep it for renters, and it already feels foreign, huge, excessive, and not at all like home, despite having lived there for 4 years.
I don’t feel the need to step outside to gain “more space” and neither do my hyper active children. I’ll admit, I was worried that the small space would feel constricting or claustrophobic and I would constantly want to step out for more air. I’m happy to report that NOT ONCE have I felt this way in the 3 weeks so far. Yes it’s Summer, but with the amount of rain we’ve gotten, the past month has felt more like Spring so I’m not even worried about Winter. I don’t feel like I’m tripping over my kids any more than I did before-they still cling to me as a wash dishes, they still find me in the bathroom, they still boycott sleep. They still won’t “just go play in their room” if that’s not where I am. The main difference is I don’t have to bother with annoying baby-gates or worry they’re going to fall down the stairs (because we have none).
The house still gets messy. It’s true, even with less stuff the kids still manage to spread food and toys from corner to corner by 9AM. Cleaning the house is really stressful. For example, today I vacuumed. I thought the 5 minutes would never end. I stopped half way through and had a juice box to rest. I paused at a another point to unplug the vacuum cord from one room, to a different room, not because it wouldn’t reach, but because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. And sweeping? If you have kids then you know you sweep about 4X a day. That mean’s I sweep for a grand total of 4 minutes a day, which means my house actually gets swept 4X a day and I don’t just lie and say I do while procrastinating any cleaning until we have company.
Never again will we think we need “bigger” and “more” space. Instead we have taken on a mental shift to now think “How can we best use THIS (and even less!) space” and not “If only we had more, more, more.” True, we absolutely bought a 8X12ft shed for the property. We came from a 2 car garage and we are very DIY type people whose 2 car garage is more a workshop than a car storage.We’d upgrade our shed/garage before we considered increasing our actual living space again.
We actually use everything in our home. As we downsized we got rid of excess, extras, and rarely used items. The result is that everything in our home has a purpose and fulfills that purpose on a near daily or at most weekly basis. Yes we brought all our decor from our old home, so we still have ascetics and I do love my Christmas decorations stored in totes in the shed, but items in the house don’t collect dust like they used to.
We have extra space, in fact we have a whole extra room! The house is a 3BR but we decided to try our 2 kids out in the same room. We thought, they always want to sleep with someone anyway, why not have them sleep together? The result is an extra room full of luxuries like hobbies and pets and random odds and ends that slowly find their new place as we continue to organize.
Our energy usage and therefore bills, are even lower than we thought it they would be. We were worried because our previous townhouse had us spoiled with inexpensive natural gas heat and hot water, a tank-less hot water heater, and amazing insulation that kept temperatures consistent. Our new smaller home is only electric and we’re ecstatic to report that our total usage for our electric, central AC, and hot water is so far averaging about $65/month (compared to $80-90/month at townhouse).
We actually have a yard-and we love it. Our previous townhome had a single backyard space of 22ftX32ft. Our new home has way more yard space. Not just in the back of the house, but on all 4 sides. We even have trees and shrubs and room for flower beds! Being newly constructed our townhome site had been stripped of topsoil, NOTHING would grow without excess/expensive measures. We had very few bugs, worms, or even birds. Our new home has all those in abundance AND wild bunnies; my toddler is in paradise.
We are not dirt poor. Downsizing and moving into a smaller home is a luxury for us. Meaning that hard times and low finances did not force us into a smaller home.We are forever grateful that this was a choice we were able to make. However, we look around us now and see all these “large” homes. We wonder how many of them were bought simply because they could, and not because that’s what was actually needed. We used to think that way too. Not once has someone first congratulated us on our smaller home-instead we are always immediately asked, “Why?” Why with 2 small kids, at a young age ourselves, would we opt for less when we could have more? We opted instead for what we needed and to be honest we still have a crap ton of stuff that we want. Our priorities and goals have just shifted. We aim spend less, to use what we have, reuse what we can, spend more time enjoying and less time maintaining. Read “The Decision to Downsize” for more on this.
Our smaller home is still a trailer, a “mobile home,” and we do live in a trailer park. There’s no denying that. Read more about this in “How We’re Surviving Living in a Terrible T******.
Update: I love how this post perfectly captures our attitude at the time. But in the Fall of 2018 we were ready to move again. You can read more about that here: Why We Said Goodybye to Small Home Living
Hi there! I’m Kaley, prevailing parent and wife, but also just me; stubborn lover of DIY everything, outdoors, and chocolate. Read more about myself and my family under the “Parenting” > “About My Family” tabs.