Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Downsizing: Could My Family Move Into a Small Space & Be Happy?

Alexandre Bailhache
Six years ago, my husband Logan and I, lived a normal middle class lifestyle. We were newlyweds with flashy rings living in a two-bedroom apartment, driving two cars, commuting long distances to work and living well beyond our means. At this time, we were living in Davis, California, which is notorious for expensive real estate and a negative vacancy rating. We were living a life with too much stuff and stress.
Initially, we resisted the idea of moving into a smaller one-bedroom apartment because we were more concerned about appearances and space for guests than for our financial well-being. We decided something needed to change once we realized our debt was causing us so much stress. This change began by defining our values and prioritizing our needs versus wants. *bold my addition
This is the opening quote on Rowdy Kittens page 'Our Downsizing Story', This kick ass, smart and quirky couple moved to a smaller space and eventually became enthralled with the Tiny House movement. Now they are building their own tiny house, due to be done next month.

Mr. Curry and I live in a four bedroom house with four bedrooms ( two master bedrooms, one is connected off the kitchen area and was a remodel, both have their own bathrooms ) a ridiculously large and badly planned use of space next to the kitchen ( tiled floor and off side of house, we spend next to no time there ) a living room and a large sunroom attached to the living room. We could easily afford this house when we moved in, and Mr. Curry's business was thriving. Before it all collapsed. The last year we have turned a conversation that was at first a joke into a more serious and pressing discussion: Would be we happier living in a smaller, more affordable space? We barely make it, and when something difficult happens, we don't make it. For instance, right now.

Our roomate moved out ( snuck out like a teenager out the window ) and shafted us the entire month's rent she owed. Then we had to pay registration for the car, with late fees. Then, then, then. I won't bore you with the details, but we are fucked right now. And being fucked before the holidays, when you have four kids, can get a girl thinking. I'm thinking: there has to be a better way.
So we are talking about trying small space living. If we hate it, it will be temporary. If we like it, we can do it for a year or two and be much, much more financially secure, save money, and maybe live more. Spring for the bigger pumpkin in the patch. Travel with the kids. Be able to help out others financially when we want to so badly.
It's complicated as far as the space. We're thinking things like: Are we insane? What about the dogs? What about the boys? ( D. is currently living with my Mom, ten minutes from our house, as you all know, and I'm not sure what is going to happen with that, I'm being very cautious, slow and careful as we move forward and make decisions, and right now D. is doing well - Ian we have two overnights Fri and Sat and he leaves later Sunday ) How would we delegate the space? Mom/Dad/Ever, Lola/Dakota/Ian another room with a pull out couch in the living room, which considering the ratio of days Ian is here and the unsure nature of where D. will be at any point (here or moms) ... and are we insane?

Also thinking things like: We've done this before and we were really happy. We are the kind of family who is all up in each other's business. Mr. Curry is my best friend and I never get tired of him until I CAN'T STAND HIM FOR ONE MORE MINUTE ( when we are fighting ) and then what would I do? It is exciting! It's an adventure! We could really do some awesome things with the extra money, like breathe. And buy a new bra for me. And if Lola needs braces... And Lola is totally up for it, she says it would be awesome, and Ian would be because Ian is awesome like that and a trooper and can adapt to almost anything, and I haven't talked to D. yet so I have no idea what he'd think. And Ever? Would follow my breasts anywhere. Same with my husband. I'm almost finished with my novel ( STOP LAUGHING! I REALLY AM! ) and this could be an amazing opportunity to freaking relax about work and focus more on my writing career and finishing and editing and sending out my novel. I'm used to writing around babies crying, kids playing, my husband cooking. I write from my bedroom with the baby pattering around and Lola in and out.

We could downsize and still live in the same area, and the kids stay in their same schools.

Here's a family of three who were entrenched in the appearance of the American Dream. The theme of a family's actual needs and desires versus what they feel is socially expected of them is again reflected in Debra's words:
Speaking about making the move, Debra said: 'It was not a simple idea, this of scaling down. It was even more difficult to execute, and required mountains of courage, and truckloads of patience.
'I was worried about what my family would think, so after making the decision to downsize, I decided I didn't want to tell them. It's just not what people do. They don't live in 320 square foot homes.
Fascinating Links of the Small Space Movement*
This article about families fitting themselves into small spaces, the manager of Apartment Therapy talks about fitting his own family of five into a small space A fellow blogger moved her own family of six from a large home into a three bedroom bungalow This woman moved into a Tiny House, Here is an awesome slideshow of some very small apartments making a very big impact This contest for Cool Small Spaces is inspirational as far as making the 'stuff' work, but what concerns me more is making the 'us' work- how to keep a diverse age of people happy in a small space? Readers, what do you think? Any experience with this? Downsizing? Small spaces? :)

* I just made that label up. As far as I know.
previous next