My first apartment had one room and a tiny bathroom. As life went on and our children were born, we moved to bigger and bigger apartments, then ended up in a house in the suburbs. We spent at least an hour in traffic every day and became very dependent on our car. We had to buckle up to do anything.
After two years of commuting and wasting time on the road, we decided to move back to the city. However, we could only afford an apartment that was half the size of the house we had rented before. The move and the experiences of the past year have proven my initial expectation that the quality of our life would change for the positive in our new smaller home.
In a smaller home, you’re likely to bump into each other more often. Since my children spend most of their time at school and attending afterschool activities, and my partner is at his office a lot, I really appreciate seeing more of them when they’re at home. This also means a lot more interface for quarrelling between my two children which can sometimes be hard to bear, but we also noticed that they’ve gotten closer to each other since they share a room.
When you have a smaller space you can fill, you’ll think twice before you buy another item. We’re more conscious of our shopping choices because we would like to live in a spacious and simple home. Less shopping creates less clutter. Much time and money is freed up by having to pay less attention to maintenance and by keeping our belongings functional, neat and tidy.
Less money spent on utilities
The money spent on utilities is in more or less direct proportion to the size of your home. Our costs of utilities dropped by 50 percent while the quality of our life hasn’t changed. If being environmentally conscious is important to you, this means your carbon footprint can also be dramatically lessened in a smaller home.
A lot less time spent keeping our home clean and tidy
There’s much less space for clutter to build up in a smaller home. In the house we used to live in, I constantly found hidden spots with built-in clutter-magnets that tended to reappear even after the most accurate demolition. Now they have a much harder job and have less chance to accumulate.
Opportunity to teach kids about living with less
My kids are six and eight, so you can imagine the multitude of board games, Lego cubes and stuffed animals that have miraculously found their way into our homes over the years. We established a habit of donating toys to less fortunate kids every year, but our new home prompted a further step.
Instead of getting rid of the overflow of toys, we started to take steps to eliminate their appearance. We introduced the concept of an experience gift. This is a surprise event or even a full day, instead of adding another item to the already crammed toy cabinet. This event can be anything from theatre tickets to family excursions to visiting undiscovered cities. And our kids love this time spent together on meaningful experiences. (To ease their transition from object gifts to experience gifts, we make sure to have a blend of the two and manage their expectations by letting them know what kind of gift they’ll receive for the coming occasion.)
Health benefits of walking or cycling instead of driving
Our children’s school is within walking distance. So are shops, parks, playgrounds and restaurants. If we hop on a bus, we can reach downtown in 10 minutes. We started taking bike tours in the city and we enjoy this new type of moving about as a family. There’s a lot more time to have meaningful conversations with the kids while we’re walking to or from the school—compared to having them talk to the back of my head when I used to drive them.
Becoming more conscious about property
During the preparation for the move, we created lists of essentials, nice-to-haves and luxury-to-owns. In order to fit into a half-sized home, we were forced to be ruthless. However, this also helped us become conscious of the necessities of our life. It turns out that we don’t need much; the quality of our life doesn’t depend on stuff. And that was liberating to find out.
Developing a flexible mindset
A new home provides new opportunities. New neighbours, new neighbourhood, new habits. Also, an opportunity to rethink the living arrangements of the present and make changes if necessary. As kids grow, the circumstances will change for sure and this move helped us stay in the flexible mindset needed to embrace this change.
Can you imagine moving to a smaller home? Let us know in the Comments below.
Orsolya Hernold is the writer of orzola.org, a blog dedicated to personal growth by journaling. Orsolya offers topics with powerful questions to explore, online courses, and printed journals to help readers to create the habit of journaling. Follow her by subscribing at orzola.org, or on twitter.