Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Simplicity of Small Spaces


I used to clean house for a friend of Shane's who at first lived in a very modest home of about 600 square feet.  He had very modest, useful possessions and very few extraneous items.  The house was a breeze to clean. 

Then, through an inheritance of sorts, he moved into a much larger home, purchased some much more luxurious yet useful possessions, and still had very few extraneous items.  The new house was also a breeze to clean, never looked cluttered and didn't tie him down when he traveled frequently for work.

So, obviously, a small space isn't a requirement for a simple lifestyle.  But I think a simple lifestyle is required to live in a small space. 

Enjoying our first weekend in the camper spurred a discussion about life as "full-timers" who live in their camper or RV year round, which morphed into a discussion of living in tiny houses in general.

Out of necessity, we'd quickly pare down, weed out and purge all but he most necessary or precious of possessions.  Potential purchases would be weighed carefully to determine if they were worth the real estate they'd occupy. 

Having not done it yet, we can't be sure, but it seems to us that living in a travel trailer would be somewhat different than living in a tiny house like this.  An RVer would maintain fewer possessions, while the tiny homesteader, being tethered to a piece of ground in a more permanent way, would be able to acquire and keep more things since some could be kept outside the structure.

Naturally, there would be other factors to consider, like whether we're bothered by small spaces (we aren't) and how well we get along with each other (we think we could live this way, but we know couples who probably couldn't).

We like the idea, this "forced simplicity".  At this time, we aren't looking to move, but if the time comes, we're pretty sure we want to down-size.  Maybe not all the way to tiny, but to small, at the very least.  While others might see a small space as confinement, we think this type of simplicity would be liberating.

Which raises the questions, "Why aren't we simplifying already?  If size doesn't matter, then why not begin now?"  I'm not sure we've even begun to understand all the answers yet.

What do you think?  Could you be a full-timer in an RV or live in a pint-sized house?  Do you think you'd enjoy it, either alone or with another person?  What about non-essential possessions -- how easily could you give them up?  And maybe more importantly, if you think you'd enjoy "livin' small", what's stopping you now?


slugmama said...

We moved from our 1st home which was about 1000 sq. ft.(with 3 kids aged 9/7/4 when we left) to the current home which is just over 2100 sq.ft.
I thought it was too big then and now with only 1 teen home full time after this month, it is WAAAAY too big!
The problem in this town was that every home for sale 11 yrs. ago, in that time frame, that was in a "good"(safe, convenient, lower taxes, etc. area was this big or we did opt for the smallest house on the market.

Hubs thinks I am crazy but I miss that first house!

We can't downsize or move for another 3 yrs. until #2 son graduates. I am using this time to downsize the possessions since I can't move.
Once he goes off to college or otherwise leaves, we need to stay locally but will sell and rent something closer to Hubs job. This will give us up to 4 yrs to sell this house before he retires. And if we sell it before he retires, being renters at the point, we will not be tied down to move about the country. ;-)

We have talked about fulltiming it for years. When the time comes to make the decision it will involve the money situation, what is happening with the kids and what our health looks like. In a perfect world, I'd like to get a used RV, even something we need to work on(tho Hubs doesn't share my vision on this point lol)and RV fulltime for a couple of years. After then maybe a small homestead(small house, big land)and RV parttime.
But it all depends on what happens in the next 7 yrs. so we are working on different scenarios.

Mark said...

Oh Miss Annie, I love this stuff. I am fascinated by the size of those homes and able to get by on what you need and not bothering with what you want. My question is, does this man have four kids shoved into that space? And where is his bathroom?
I would love to move into a cabin one day with one big great room and then two or three separate bedrooms but I'm not sure I could go that small. m.

frugalredneck said...

I love this post. We are downsizing right now. We live in a 2500 sqft house and I hate it hate it hate it. We just purchased a 1200 sq ft house on some land. I can't wait. And before you think well 1200 is not that small, We have 7 children 6 still at home. I am so sick to death of stuff stuff stuff. We are halfing all our stuff before the move. I don't have any attachment to anything so that is no biggie for us. I chose a house that does not have a huge amount of storage. I did choose one that has storage for food and that is about it. I CANT WAIT!!!! We move in on October 1st!!!! Michelle

Dmarie said...

If it were just me, I think 600 sq. ft. would suit me to a tee! but you're right...RV living would be much different than stay put livin'. I love slugmama's idea to move about the country. I can picture staying in each place for 6 month stints. what fun!!

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I don't think I will ever be a minimalist but I do need to pare down (that is very evident right now - after moving it all carload by carload from house to house!) I like a smaller home but I need space, especially if I'm sharing a bathroom with someone.

McVal said...

I will only pare down when I don't have to share the space with my kids and possibly husband... I'm a space person and love to be able to spread out.

Jill said...

I've lived in all different sizes, currently in our largest at over 3,000 sq feet (that gets tiring to clean, organize, etc) With 4 dogs and 2 cats and more importantly 2 children I think downsizing now would be tough to do! LOL But yes one day....I would love too!


Melynda said...

NO! With respect there are reasons. I grew up in a small house with 5 brothers and sisters and two parents, one bathroom. There was never any privacy or quiet area to go to, none. I do not have an extravagant home now (1003 sq ft, that 3 feet does not make much difference LOL!) but there is enough room to find a quiet spot when the TV is on or the grandchildren are playing, very important to me. Now alone YES I could RV just fine. And Annie my friend there is a reason you have not pared down in size, it is not time. The desire will not over-ride the needs spoken or silent. I'm just sayin!

SonyaAnn said...

I would love to get rid of all of our crap and move into a RV. Den loves junk so my guess is we will never come up with a plan that works. Oh well, a girl can dream.