What is it like living in a small home?

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I get asked this question a lot. “How do you manage it?” “How many bedrooms again?” “How much square footage?” “Are you one of those small house people?” “How many people live in that house?” and many more. The reality is this, we’re working towards moving, but I have done this for 10 years and complain and grumble about it some days and other days can more easily embrace a more content attitude. It all boils down to the pros and cons of living here.

Number one: What are the specs of our home?
We live in a seven-hundred and seventy foot cinder block 1950’s home. This house has 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1 kitchen and 1 large living area. We actually measured our home one day because our deed said one thing and the city records said another. It is a fixer-upper home. We’re still working on it but as you can imagine, we live here, while we’re trying to fix it up. Its been a very, very, very slow process.

Pros and cons of small home living:

Con: You constantly are rearranging, reorganizing, purging, and cleaning because its a small house. It can seem like it gets out of control a lot quicker. Not everything can have a home. So its a daily struggle to see what we need, what we want, and what we have room for.

Pro: However, this helps us keep on top of stuff that no longer is necessary to our family. I can’t put off going through things because the amount will quickly pile up and get out of control. Each purchase is generally, thought out with the mind that “will I regret not having the space, next week?” Another big thing is that to pick up our house (notice I didn’t say deep clean) takes us maybe 40-45 minutes. If we were to deep clean, it could all be done within a day. Maybe half a day.

Pro: Some bills are lower. This is huge when you are on a small budget. It’s more affordable for us for the time being, and we don’t have a heating bill in the winter. We use our wood burning stove and burn free wood that we have collected from throughout the year.

Con: Summertime can be hot in a cinder block home. There is no separation from the outside to the inside. The bathroom has literally burned my arm in the summertime because the sun pounds it all day. Our electric bill isn’t that bad compared to some in the summertime, but for us, it’s double what it normally is.

Pro: We have a closer knit family. This seems to be the biggest pull for families wanting to live in a smaller home. We’re intertwined in each activity and day to day learning. There’s not a whole lot of places to go and hide when you are trying to be sneaky…

Con: Hubby and I are introverts… we’re raising some introverts… we all want our own quiet/down time. It can get intense at times, and we can’t all hide in the bathroom to get a moment of peace.

I think a lot of people get a misconstrued idea that we want to move to just get into a bigger home. That is not the whole picture, though. My husband and I have worked really hard to put money aside to move but for many many reasons. It’s always been in our heart to foster/adopt, and due to rules and regulations, there are things we have to consider when purchasing a larger home. We don’t necessarily want to go from our size home to a 3000 sq ft home. Layout is everything to me. How does the rooms flow? How will each space be utilized? Does it have two bathrooms? How is the kitchen laid out? Does it have at least four bedrooms? How much yard do we have? Is there granite in the house (I’ve cleaned enough granite as a housekeeper to know that I will never do granite)? How can we function as a unit here? I know there are a ton of other questions you ask but those are the ones that we consider when looking at larger homes. The first three things we look at are, kitchen, yard, and bathrooms. When you look at these questions, most aren’t much different from what we’re looking at in our current home (outside of 2 extra bedrooms and a bathroom).

I’ll be honest. I know people constantly talk about just giving your current home a cosmetic lift to feel more open to it. I would love to do that. But my husband used to be a contractor… and he’s one of those “do it once- do it right and I’ve been taught and have the experience on how to do it right”. Which, he is to be honest. But that means a lot of what I want to do will never get done. He doesn’t have time and is a very busy man. Now, before this sounds like a bashing, he has done so much for our home! SO MUCH! Guys, this guy has redone the kitchen cabinets by building me an open shelving concept, replaced my awful cast-iron sink (can you say, “bye-bye constant dish breaking!”) with stainless steel, built me a pantry shelf, cut into our cinder block to put a master cool in (3 days of cutting into the block!), among many, many other things.
So, I leave him alone about things in his field of expertise. He doesn’t take over my sewing, knitting, cooking, gardening—well, actually, he’s the green thumb so he does take that over… and save the garden from my black thumb, and I don’t take over his construction work. Although honey, could we hang that last curtain rod up?

There are days when I throw my hands up in frustration after rearranging my pantry for the millionth time this year and say, “I can’t do it in this home anymore!” Or watch stacks of piles appearing all over because I need to find a home for them, am out of space, and just want to toss it all into the garbage and go Amish. I love beauty. I love watching shows like Fixer Upper (although, maybe a little less on the decor part? Simplicity is best!) and getting simple inspiration (anyone have a old ladder I could hang my Glory Quilt Creations on?).

I’ve read the infamous book, Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels and was intrigued by her accounts of making whatever situation/home she was in, worthwhile. But its like comparing apples and oranges. Her living circumstances may not have been ideal, but if we look at particulars, there is no comparison. I actually know of an amazing woman that had a baby who she and her husband raised in a 400 sq ft studio apt. Galley kitchen and tiniest bathroom you’d ever see.

One of the hardest remarks you hear is when people do compare your circumstances with theirs. I’ve heard “We need a bigger house. We just can’t manage in 1200 sq ft with the 4 of us anymore.” Then they look at me and realize that we do and immediately say, “Oh, I know its nothing compared to you, and I think you are amazing for what you do”– please don’t do that. If you can’t manage/function in 1200 sq ft and can afford to move, why wouldn’t you? If you are going to spend the rest of your life always wanting bigger and better than maybe it is time to stop and think but for the majority of those people, if you want to move, go for it. Don’t let what our family and others like us have or don’t have influence you not to choose what is best for your family.

For the rest of us in our tiny homes, maybe wanting more, maybe not, we learn to adjust and make it work for our family. We can spend our days whining and complaining, and I have done that, or we can look at the bright side of life and just teach our children the joy and contentment in enjoying what we have and being thankful for it.

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