Why We Said Goodbye To Small Home Living
If you follow the ‘Simple Living’ menu tab on this site, you’ll find a whole section on downsizing and you can read our story of why and how we downsized along with our views on how it was going and even some financial savings. We spent just over 3 years living in an 880sqft single wide and honestly we loved it. The experience was all together a positive and an educational one.
Yet when life demanded a location move, we chose to leave our house behind (we literally could have put the wheels on it and taken it) and we chose to relocate to a much larger house. In fact, we moved to a house larger than the one we had so proudly downsized from. Why? For the past 4 months that we’ve been settling into our new home, we’ve mulled over this question too and watched our emotions, our children, and our habits to feel out and best answer this question ourselves.
First let’s go back to the beginning-why we decided to downsize. You can read a more detailed post on that HERE but the gist is that we had two small kids, ages 3 and 1 that as children do, never left our side. More often than not, we found ourselves in one small corner of the house while the rest of the house was vacant. We had cabinets, shelves, closets and an attic full of items that fell under “maybe this will be used one day” if we ever remembered we even had it. Last but not least we wanted to be debt free; we had multiple credit card bills and car payments. My husband and I welcome a challenge so we dove into downsizing headfirst and reveled in the creative problem solving necessary for the process.
We thoroughly enjoyed the fact that every corner, room, wall, and possession in our small house had a purpose and a use. We loved that we could try building projects, and not stress if our rambunctious kids snuck off with a Sharpie (or a vat of diaper cream) and lowered our already low home value. Metaphorical weights were lifted as we reduced our clutter and our bills. The silver lining came when family moved in right next door. Life was good.
Though life kept on going and our children aged, and my husband and I learned that we are not the people to stay the same for very long. We embrace change for the way it opens doors to different views, encourages us to be more, shows us the edges of our present intelligence, and tells us to grow. As was the case with us, sometimes changes seep into the cracks so gradually that you don’t see it coming until you’re holding the broken halves of the mold you thought was complete. So while aspects of posts I wrote at month one, year one, and year two in our small home, seem to sharply contract some of our reasons given below for moving, those posts were honestly written then, just as this is honestly written now.
In our gradual changes, we outgrew our small home.
- We decided to have another kid after being adamant we were done. Despite my initial post that this was still feasible, 3 noisy active kids in the small space did eventually wear on me and cause some stress.
- We decided to homeschool. One of the biggest factors keeping me sane as a stay-home-mom, was that someday all my children would climb aboard a school bus and leave for 7 hours. 7 quiet, uninterrupted hours where I could dust off my shelved hobbies and restore my spirit with a well of silence and personal space. I was NEVER going to homeschool. But our views changed, and while I still mourn that ideal future I envisioned, I knew in my heart we would homeschool and our house grew a little smaller that day.
- We decided to go from outsourcing to insourcing. A small home demands outsourcing. Not having a lot of space requires you to find that space elsewhere at the expense of your time and your money. This is a big category for us with many examples…
Outsourcing to insourcing
- Overnight guests: While we had some family that lived nextdoor, the rest of our family was far and required overnight stays to visit. While their visits were always welcome there was no doubt about it, space was tight. A double air mattress filled an entire room (wall to wall). Minimal space for bags or nightstand, furniture had to be relocated, private phone calls taken outside, and your alarm clock was 3 tiny children at whatever time they felt morning should start (3am?). We wanted space for a guest bedroom where our guests felt comfortable, had privacy, and didn’t feel like an inconvenience.
- Daytime guests: Hosting is harder in a small home, especially with small kids. Welcome more than 1 family with kids and the noise goes up, fast. A small home can be intimate and cozy but it can also be chaotic and impossible to hold an adult conversation, (and difficult to find parking). I really enjoy hosting playdates for my kids, so this was an aspect that caused me stress. We wanted space where we could host more than 3 people and our guests and ourselves could feel relaxed and hear each other.
- Exercise-Gym: I still remember the joy of realizing I could join a gym and drop my kids in the gym daycare. I got exercise, a break from my kids, and an uninterrupted shower. My kids got colds, disrupted nap times, and once they surpassed preschool-age, too old for the daycare. The reality of getting 3 kids ready and out the door, driving to and from, plus time there, plus readjusting meals and naps, meant that a trip to the gym sucked up and disrupted half a day. Try and workout 3 times a week and it’s just not a sustainable habit. We wanted space to have our own gym so that a workout could take 20 minutes when kids went to sleep, and not a 3-4 hour chunk of the day.
- Exercise-Kids: While even in a small home our kids stayed by our side, there wasn’t a lot of room for them to move about even if they wanted to. It’s true that inside we built a climbing wall down the hallway and that helped A LOT but there was literally zero space to “lay like a star-fish” without first moving furniture. Outside we did have a larger yard than the townhouse we downsized from, but the yard space still came with a lot of rules and limitations on mobility. We wanted the space both inside and outside for our kids to MOVE, to RUN, to yell and whoop, climb trees, construct forts, dig holes, ride bikes, and sprint in one direction only stopping when their legs got tired. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve teared up watching our kids do all these things and more with unchecked and uninterrupted enthusiasm on our own land at the new house.
- Winters: I love the changing of the seasons and the first snow fall, but I struggle as the long winter days drag on. Winters in a tight space are HARD and I wouldn’t even consider Maryland/West Virginia winters to be as bad as most places. Yet remedying cabin fever by paying for a family of 5 to go places, gets old fast, especially when considering the young ages of our kids (and the introverted personalities of their parents). We wanted more indoor space for bad-weather days.
- Food: I love to garden, and while I’m pretty sure I could find something to garden in a parking lot, my heart was longing to grow our own food. I made do with canning and preserving from bulk purchases at local farms, but we wanted the space to insource at least some of our grocery bill.
- Office space and commute: My husband’s job requires at home admin time and we found that in a small space with no way to truely escape the kids and their noise, this was difficult to accomplish. He found that it was easier for him to complete admin work on a noisy construction site or in his cramped car, than in our small home. Easier, but still not pleasant or sustainable alternatives in the long run. We wanted the space to allow for comfortably working from home some days. Additionally, our distance from my husband’s job was the biggest spur to our move; cutting his commute down from 90 minutes to just under 60 minutes. Both changes meant more time spent with his family.
- Auto-shop: Both my husband and I have ‘gearheads’ in our blood. I’m really proud of our ability to downsize from a packed 2-car garage and multiple project cars to a tiny shed and no projects. We found though that this is not an area we can stifle for long. We prefer to make our own repairs, do our own oil changes, and occasionally strip and rebuild an entire car. These are skills we also want the space to teach our children. We wanted space to work on our cars ourselves.
- Hobbies: Similar to the above bullet, we wanted room to tackle our projects. In a small house working on any hobby can be discouraging if you don’t have the space to work on it uninterrupted. We either had to wait for good weather and work outside, or take over the kitchen table and have it cleaned up by the next meal. It’s hard enough finding the spare time to do a hobby when you have children, you take small blocks of time as you get them, so we wanted space to conduct and leave out our projects in progress.
In the end…
It may seem that with all these reasons, moving was easy but it wasn’t. We had a goal in mind of how long we wanted to live in the smaller home and we fell short of that goal by years. I spent some time having to reevaluate that not as a personal failure, but an acknowledgment of change, and change is OK. We had to weigh also if all these reasons would be worth the dramatic increase in bills. That was tough, and scary.
We strongly feel that both moves, first to the small house and then back to a large house, were worth it. Three years of downsizing and living in a smaller home allowed us to effectively eliminate (most) debt and build a savings. This made the small home an imperative stepping stone to getting where we are today. With both (debt and savings, ha) now gone, it’s clear we could not have afforded the new house and it’s additional space otherwise. There is also no doubt in my mind that we would not have appreciated the new home and all it’s benefits had we not first gone without them. Nor would we of known what we were really looking for. Removing all the excess from your life can be a great way to show you what you really need for personal well-being. While we still relish living with fewer possessions, we’ve found that we need to live in a space that allows for change and growth. Whether that’s having room for a quiet place to grow emotionally, or having room to literally expand on a hobby or new idea.
Living in a smaller home had many benefits and we learned SO much, but eventually there was also a stifling aspect that lead to feeling stagnant and restless. While we remember our smaller home days fondly, we absolutely and un-regrettably love our new space too.
Now onto a new beginning…
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.