Crystal at Money Saving Mom is on kind of a small house kick. Recently, there was a guest post about a family of 9 living in about 1200 square feet. The author gave a tour of her house and detailed how they utilize their space and it’s great and you should totally go check it out.
At the end of the post she adds that their family was recently gifted several acres of land and they are planning on building a home the same size as ours – a two-story house with a main floor of approximately 1200 square feet.
One of her last comments is: “To be honest, we are all kind of looking forward to having more space! We go through seasons and we kind of want this small house living to be a season the Lord is bringing us out of.” I absolutely loved that sentiment, but it struck me as apologetic. I read it as “I know that we seem to be doing great and I am celebrating it because this is our home for now, but in reality, it’s kind of a tight squeeze and sometimes uncomfortable.”
Of course, I might totally be projecting my own feelings onto the author.
When Noah and I first moved into the bus, I was excited. I had been reading so much about “simple living” and minimalism and about people who were purging the majority of their possessions and downsizing into tiny houses and living fuller, happier, SIMPLER lives as a result. I was ready to run into this adventure full-throttle and was half convinced that this could possibly become a permanent lifestyle change for us. I literally asked Noah during our first weekend out here “what if we like living in the bus so much that we don’t even WANT to build a house?”
Living in a small space with minimal possessions had been totally glorified in my brain. It was a great example of reverse-snobbery – the thought that a lifestyle of less was inherently superior and that we would all be better to embrace it.
Over a year later, I have to admit that living in a two-story bus with six people is not how I want to spend the rest of my life. Alas.
Interestingly enough, we have found this lifestyle to be anything but simple. Living in such tight quarters is starting to feel cramped and stressful; the additional work that we have to do to make up for the lack of “stuff” in our life has taken away from time that we could be spending doing things we enjoy.
I still feel defensive about micro-living as an alternative living option. Most of the things I wrote about in my post about stigma and happiness still ring true to me: I believe that lots of people refuse to consider unusual living situations out of a fear of what others will think rather than focusing on what will allow them to live their lives more intentionally.
The purpose behind our move into the bus was to be able to save money while building our house and to that end it has, so far, been successful. But rather than instilling in me a love of ultra-minimalistic living, this experience has helped me develop a thankfulness for the fact that we will be moving into a larger space where I can once again have things that serve no real purpose aside from the fact that I like to look at them and own them (library books are all well and good, but I miss my own dog-eared copies of the Anne of Green Gables series).
Our homes should reflect our priorities, not what someone else is telling us our priorities ought to be.
My parents, after raising five kids in relatively large houses, recently had an opportunity to purchase a home on three acres in a rural area they love. It required them to downsize their living space by several hundred square feet, which was made easier by the fact that three of us kids are no longer living at home, but it was still a point that they balked at initially. However, they prioritized outdoor space and privacy over living in a larger house and they haven’t regretted their decision.
On the other end of the spectrum, one of Noah’s sisters lives close by with her husband and two kids in a house that is close to three-thousand square feet. They make great use of it by hosting often: they throw parties, their kids’ friends are always over, and Noah and I actually had our wedding there! They have a space that allows them to be very social and hospitable, which is something they enjoy.
Ultimately, the idea of simple living is different for each one of us and it’s rather foolish to idealize one lifestyle over another. Likewise, it’s equally silly to think of the idea of living in a small house, or a large one, as something we need to apologize for.