We’re heading out camping for a long weekend, back of a CR-V hatchback filled with gear and we’re good to go. In college, when I was moving every summer to various places, everything I needed to get established and live fit into the back of my Plymouth Horizon. I moved out to the east coast to set up shop with a bad boy similar to below. All my worldly possessions could be fit into this behemoth.
I use these two examples of how we don’t need that much stuff to survive, but inevitably we all end up acquiring lots of stuff.
When we returned to the midwest (where we lived in an 800 SF 1 BR apartment) a couple of years later we needed a moving van. And shortly thereafter bought a house. The house was about 1,100 SF, 2 BR with open floor plan and tall goofy roofline. It had an unfinished basement with no access to the main floor, and thus the basement was initially used for storage only. This size home worked fine, and we raised two kids from birth to about five (for the younger one) here on the main floor. Yes, they shared a room and it was a cool experience for them at a young age. When we finally finished the basement and connected it to the main floor through some newly installed stairs (fun construction project seeing an entire room cut open to the basement below), it expanded our living space to 1,800 SF. A plethora of space, especially compared to before. Unfortunately, after the renovations, the layout was less than optimal, so portions of the house weren’t used as much but overall we thought the final living space was more than adequate for our family and various guests and parties we had.
Today, our house is slightly bigger, with a much better floor plan. All rooms get utilized equally, and this seems absolutely extravagant to us. Both houses had porches that didn’t count toward square footage, but expanded our living space nonetheless. Our current home is one of the least expensive and smallest in our neighborhood. This suits us just fine, and we couldn’t imaging having to take care of, and clean, a larger house. Many neighbors, with much larger homes, have whole rooms or sections of their house that don’t get used regularly at all. Formal dining rooms, guest bedrooms, finished basements that no one spends time it. What a waste. We are a wasteful society.
This all leads me to what I guess is the point of this post: the fact that many can, and do, live in small houses. Some that are tiny. I ran across an entertaining hour-long documentary on Netflix called Tiny House: A story about living small. The couple built a 124 square foot “house” that they planned to live in on a plot of land in Colorado. They profiled the building process, and profiled others in the Tiny House movement. The builders in this documentary had all the personality of a bowl of oatmeal and let’s just say they weren’t skilled craftsmen, but I liked the message and those that lived in these homes. Words like downsize, freedom, simplify, and sustainability were common for these people. Living in a small house with few possessions allowed them to have the freedom to pursue their interests and find happiness in ways that didn’t include consumption. Think Walden.
I’m not sure the neuropathways of our go-go-go modern brain will easily accept this idea very easily. We’ve been brainwashed to constantly get our electronic fix and be entertained and consume til our heads explode, hopefully in a giant house with lots of stuff we don’t use much. I’d like to think my own family’s happiness comes from spending time with friends and family and neighbors moreso than things we have. The early summer days seem to support this assessment.
I am very happy to consume less than my fair share (I’ll just say it, I’m a cheapskate, balanced somewhat by Holly who shops thrift stores primarily for her clothes fix but at least has rhyme and reason [somewhat] for most of her purchases) and have so much gratitude for the relationships we have both in the nuclear family my wife and I have, as well as those of friends and neighbors we often see.
Living in a Tiny House with kids would be a challenge, but the message still applies and is one Mr. Money Mustache (a father and frugal spokesman), among others promotes. Funny thing is, downsizing has great potential for bigger financial gains as well leaving you room to maneuver life with fewer worries about money. Plus smaller house means less stuff. Yay! I found this video that was interesting about a Tiny House family (on a big property):
and another (lot’s of stuff in a small space, but takes a long time for the tour)
So how does living in 300 SF sound to you? Some takeaway message? or not?