As I mentioned before, my husband and I had some interesting conversations while we were clearing the clutter out of our heads during our camping trip. The first one was regarding the cabin itself.
Our cabin was about 10 x 10. I didn’t have a tape measure, so that is my best approximation. It was a very comfortable size for a room, although their layout was poorly done to maximize space (they had a really weird bunk bed where the top bunk and bottom bunk were at a 90 degree angle). We’ll just say that the cabin was bigger than some rooms in our current house and a little smaller than others (our living room is about 13 x 13).
As we discussed the size, I already started thinking about the layout. To me, that cabin size would make for a comfy kitchen. Add another cabin on the other side and I could see our living room. Add a few more cabins and you have two bedrooms. That puts us at 400 sq. feet. At two more cabins for a bathroom and perhaps a little more space in the living room and you have a 600 sq. foot home. I should note that any future home of ours would have a basement so there would be added storage area and some peace of mind during a tornado warning.
With being in that cabin, it gave us a great feel for what it would be like living in a smaller home. Both my husband and I liked it. Of course, we had to discuss the screened in outdoor living room/porch that we would also have, but that is not included in a home’s size 😛 Next up, I would love to visit a small home to really get an idea if we would like it or not. I do believe our current home (about 1,100 sq feet) is too large and poorly laid out.
Is a small home for everyone? Of course not. I don’t think everyone should do it. But for us, where we are in our lives, our ideals are becoming more concrete. It doesn’t involve a huge home with a white picket fence. Sure, they are very pretty and grand, but who are we kidding? There’s no way we’d want to clean a large home – and there’s no way I’d want to spend the money to furnish it! The key to making a small home work would be to have a great layout and smart furniture/appliances.
Of course, not much can be done until our finances are in better shape. But we can keep looking at houses/plans and we can start doing another important step into turning all of this into a reality. That’s discussion #2 which I’ll write about tomorrow 🙂
Small houses are great! But one thing to keep in mind is your son as you get older. Will he want to be with you in the same room all the time? What if he has friends over? Other factors like that should be considered.
And if you have some skills you can remodel any interior of a house to fit your needs. So it really is all about location, location, location.
I have to agree with Da Big D as far as your son is concerned. My daughter turns 13 next month and she and her friends use our family room a lot, as well as her bedroom. Having a small room other than his bedroom (because you don’t want the girls in there, right?!) where they can get together and you know they are there and can check on them is, in my opinion, very valuable. I want my house to be the “go to” house where the kids congregate and I’m setting it up to be that for the next several years.
That said, I’m in my mid-50ies and looking towards retirement in 10-12 years. I’m already thinking about the home I want then and I think you’re very much on target with a smaller home. I’m single so I can decide this on my own, but I’m thinking that a rancher with 2-3 bedrooms, 1-2 bathrooms (for guests, hopefully said daughter and her family, as well as friends and family) with about 800-1000 square feet in a small town feels just right to me now.
That’s awesome! I love your plan, and I’m always amazed by how many people try to talk you out of it each time you post on the topic. I think you’re ahead of our time – in a good way. Eventually America will leave this age of hyper-consumerism and others will learn that less can indeed be more, that there’s a difference between needs and wants, and that it’s okay to live below (gasp!) our means. 90% of the world lives in homes less than 600 sf, and often with lots more people. Homes that small were the norm in America a couple of generations ago. There are fascinating studies of America showing that our families continue to get smaller and our homes continue to get much bigger. And then we start to think that’s normal. I grew up sharing one tiny bathroom with 5 people. It was fine because that’s what I knew and we adjusted. No big deal. Now, because I’m used to something else, that would seem terrible. But, if I had to do it again, I’d be just fine after a few weeks. Good luck with the scaling back. I hope it leaves you more money in the long-term to travel, see family and do other things that are important to you.
Another key factor though is the neighborhood where your home is.
8 years ago we moved from a small very affordable home in a nice neighborhood. But it was a bit cramped and we bought bigger and nicer (mortgage much bigger).
We moved just in time. The hood started to run down. More and more homes were sold and bought by people who…well lets say didn’t keep their homes up. So now that same neighborhood, is kind of nasty, just 7 years later. A much tougher sell.
Our current neighborhood is starting to run down a bit as well. The homes are nice, but a few neighborhood rednecks have moved in ….and it’s not nice to watch.
I would love it if I could live in a small home like that. But, in our “bigger is better” society, I wouldn’t chance it. When people start bringing the welfare of children into it, it’s a desire best left untapped.
Our home is 1,300 square feet and way too big. I have a whole third bedroom I haven’t entered ALL summer. Its more to heat, furnish, clean. And I think your absolutely right about how important the lay out is. If you have a good lay out and use the space correctly 1000 ft can feel like 1500.
Its amazing how many of my friends are looking to “move up” and we want to take it a step down.
I’m in the middle of a divorce so I am moving next month and our home will be even smaller than the small home we have. It will be just me and my son, so at least that will help. I plan to really maximize the space as well as I possibly can. I agree with you when you say less furniture and less to clean. I love that part of small living!
Great article as usual! Just thought I’d let you know that this didn’t seem to come through on the RSS as a full text, like it usually does.
If you need the space or really have nothing better to spend your money on then a big house really does make sense. My wife and I occasionally watch a show called property virgins and we see all these people looking for new homes that are gigantic and there’s only one person moving in (why does one person need a 4 bedroom house?)
Finding the right fit for where you are in your life is important and you can’t be too attached to a property (or you’ll have difficulty leaving when you really need a different space)
I used to think that I wanted a large house. But the more I think about it – I don’t really. We hang out in the living room/kitchen mostly. And the bedrooms are really only used for sleeping. Our boys drag their toys to the living room – they hardly ever play in their actual room. Maybe when we go to buy a place, we should consider smaller ones – would cost less anyways. 🙂
I think it’s a great idea! We had a few sales to eliminate a lot of our household when we thought we were moving to California. I would love to be able to just sell almost everything and move.
Love your blog and the family discussions.
We downsized 2 years ago just before the house prices dropped. We had to declutter our lives too. I feel that if you have cabinets and drawers that you seldom use they are most likely full of stuff you need to get rid of. I also got rid of lots of furniture that was to big for this home. We sold a 2000sq ft home and bought a new manufactured home that is 1500sq ft. It is perfect. Easy to keep clean and cheaper to heat and cool.
Good luck in you downsize venture.