I moved to a new house the beginning of Aug. Nearly everyone who has seen pictures of it or who has visited tends to say the same thing – “Oh this is a good starter house.” I politely smile to humor them, but I really want to ask “Why do you think that? Simply because it’s small?”
I have found the place to have more than enough room for myself, my boyfriend, Jason, and his cat. Neither the shed nor the attic come to close to being packed with stuff, and I have found plenty of spots for all of our things and then some. I’m sure some people look at the fact that there are only 2 bedrooms (1 of which is more of a catch all room consisting of Jason’s closet organizer, our bookshelves, a small freezer and eventually a desk) and 1 bathroom as not practical for raising a family. The odd thing is nearly all of our friends and family know we don’t wish to have children, so it shouldn’t surprise them that we didn’t seek out a bigger home.
With that said my parents raised my sister and I in a house with 2 bedrooms and while there were times (mostly during my teenage years) that I whined for my own room, for the most part there was no issue in sharing a bedroom. If I wanted privacy I utilized the front porch. I’d love to know when the concept of each child needing his or her own room came to be a requirement for families. I found security in having my sister in the same bedroom and found it rather lonely to have the room to myself once she moved out and I moved back. We did have 2 bathrooms, but my mom, sister and I primarily used the same one and very rarely had any issues. Oh and no, it did not have a double vanity either and yes, we did have to space out taking showers as to not run out of hot water.
I find 3 large benefits to having been raised in a smaller house and in now living in one of my own.
1 – Less cleaning. I don’t mind cleaning overall (other than doing dishes which I just find to be gross), but certainly do not want to spends hours every week doing it. Living in a smaller house enables me to spend less time cleaning, and it is a lot easier to do quick cleanups of each room. This makes it so that my house is fully cleaned more often, and I have more free time.
2 – Less spending. With a limited amount of living space I have found I am much more selective about what I buy when it comes to furniture, holiday decorations, etc. I feel that if I lived in a huge house (which quite frankly even if I had excess money to spend I don’t think I would prefer) I would just waste money buying things to put in it. I value time over money and experiences over material possessions, so as long as I have what I need to suffice I see no need in buying more. In choosing to buy a smaller house we also save money in terms of heating and cooling. Our mortgage is also less, so we’re saving there as well.
3 – More connection. I wasn’t sure how I would like living all on one floor given my childhood home is 2 stories and my last home was as well. I actually find it very convenient in that I don’t have to yell across floors when I need Jason. While sometimes we do get in each others’ way (why the previous owners bought a huge fridge when it’s place right across from the stove is beyond me), overall I enjoy being so close. I can easily get “alone time” if needed by going to the bedroom or outside. Growing up within a smaller house meant dinners together, watching TV together, spending actual quality time together. There was no separate “family room” or furnished basement to divide us in the evenings. There was also no consideration of sneaking out given my sister and my bedroom shared a wall with our parents’ bedroom.
Too often the notion of “bigger is better” is drilled into our heads by the media, the rich, and even family and friends. This is nonsense. Happiness is not living in a home with a half dozen bedrooms, multiple bathrooms and useless rooms filled with unused items bought just to fill the space. Happiness is living in a home with those you love and having that home enhance your quality of life together. Truth be told I could easily end up moving again someday, and it’s possible the house would be bigger than the one I’m currently living in, but if I finish out my days in my “little house” I would find it just as grand.