The Big House
I chased the American dream of the big house and got exactly what I wished for and worked hard to achieve – over 4000 square feet of an American dream.
Right away, deep down, I knew it was too much house. My husband, John, and I tried selling it just a year after we bought it. We had a sign in our yard for two years and then the housing crisis hit. We decided to hunker down and make the best of it. We did for 11 years.
I did love my big house. We raised three kids in it, hosted oodles of parties, always had room for guests to stay and even had my daughter’s wedding in the living room. But, it takes a lot to live in a big house. It uses a lot of utilities, it is a lot to keep clean, it is more to maintain, and it is a lot to fill up – and fill it up we did – with lots and lots of stuff.
Somewhere along the way John and I became obsessed with the tiny house movement and the ideals that come with it. Fewer bills, less stuff, more time, and more freedom appealed to us. We seriously considered going that route. We purchased books, I started a Pinterest board, and I subscribed to tiny house YouTube videos.
In 2009 we purchased a used motorhome to tour the United States for a month and then ended up keeping it for six years because we enjoyed the freedom and relaxation that travel provided. It had everything we needed but was basic and simple. We loved that. Could we really live tiny?
Why did I feel like I had to live either big or tiny? Somewhere in the middle between 400 and 1000 square feet is small. Small house living offers the best of both worlds. This seemed to be the answer for us. There were a few factors that lead us toward small.
The child. I watch all of the tiny house shows so I know you can live in them with children. It can be done. We are still raising our youngest, who is in her teens. She is an artist. Canvases, paint, knitting needles cover her bedroom floor. And, of course, she produces laundry. That stuff needs to be kept somewhere. In a small house, she can have a room of her own.
The parties. Cooking and throwing parties is my way of showing love. Spending time with family, friends, and neighbors is a major part of living. My knack for design spills over into my cooking and entertaining. In a small house, I can have a full-size kitchen with (some) room for guests to roam.
The garden. I am passionate about growing my own food. Moving dirt, pulling weeds, planning how much I need for preserving, and dreaming about the meals I will make with the harvest grounds me and makes me happy. In a small house, I can have my own plot of dirt to garden and plant fruit trees.
Sometimes, life ends up shoving you into a decision before you are actually ready for it. In late 2014, John was offered a job in the same California town we had left 10 years prior.
Many late night talks, early morning walks, and notebooks full of pro and con lists were made. Nine months later we broke the news of our relocation and a year later we moved. This was a really good time to downsize.
We were going to buy smaller. And we did. It took us 6 months of hunting, bidding, and patience to land in our 920 square-foot urban cottage.
I would like to inspire others who want to downsize or who already live small. Having a full satisfied life doesn’t have to be restricted by the size of your house. Do you live small? Do you want to live small? Share with me why in the comments. I would love to hear from you.