Recently, I shocked my 11 year old daughter when I told her that as a kid, I shared a bed with my younger sister and we ended up sharing a bedroom until I started high school. Having always had her own bedroom, my daughter couldn’t imagine sharing anything with her younger sisters. She has never experienced living in smaller spaces.
We live in a fairly large home- we have four bedrooms and three living areas. The kids each have their own bedrooms and we have an average sized yard for them to run around in. We also have an outdoor entertaining area (that we hardly use).
We have been happily living here for the past 9 years, but it’s only now that I have focused on living an unbusy life, that I must confess that our home is probably a little too big for us.
Is Your Home Too Big For You?
This is a strange thing to confess- many people in our local community are building new homes for their ever-growing families as their current home is deemed too small. By our local community’s standards, our house is of “average” size, in fact some may think our family will outgrow our house once our kids hit their teens.
We recently spent some time holidaying in Europe where I quickly learnt that people can happily live in smaller spaces! My kids were shocked to see how tiny some of the apartments we stayed in were, and that it was perfectly normal for siblings to share a bedroom. It was normal to see a washing machine in the kitchen. Our house in the Netherlands was very compact but had three floors. Our London apartment had a sofa lounge in the living room.
Benefits Of Living In Smaller Spaces
Believe it or not, there are many benefits to living in smaller spaces even if you do have a family! Some of these benefits come from our recent travel experiences, while others come from the experience of owning a larger home.
I’d like to share these benefits with you:
1. Less stuff: Living in smaller spaces means that you have less room to store your stuff. This provides a great opportunity to learn to live with less stuff (rather than rent storage space) and to make a conscious effort when deciding on what things you need to live with. To read about why I decided to live with less stuff, READ THIS.
2. Strengthened relationships: Going back to my childhood, my sister and I shared a bedroom for many years. Sometimes we craved our own space, but there were so many great benefits that my own children miss out on having their own rooms. Sharing a room meant learning to negotiate space, learning to be more considerate of the needs of others and learning to be more accepting of others. It’s great preparation for when your child moves out of home and into a shared apartment or dorm room at college!
3. Smaller running costs: The cost to run a home is much smaller when you are living in smaller spaces. Living in a large home that has an open-plan design like ours means that gas and electricity bills can be quite high.
4. More time: Living in smaller spaces with less stuff means spending less time cleaning and stressing about stuff. When you live in a larger home with a larger mortgage and higher running costs, it means having to earn enough income to sustain such a lifestyle. For some people, this may mean working longer hours or in a stressful job. For others it may mean having to work a second or third job. Would you be willing to downsize your lifestyle to create more time for yourself to focus on living a more meaningful, less busy life- maybe spending more time with loved ones? For more inspiration on valuable time you can spend with your loved ones, READ THIS.
5. Valuable lessons: We are our children’s greatest teachers- are you teaching them the best lessons? Living in smaller spaces teaches your children the importance of being able to adapt to one’s environment. When I was growing up, we lived in a really small home but as a kid this never bothered me. We learnt to make do with what we had. I never once thought “gee this house is way to small for me to play in”. When we say that our kids need more space- do they really need more space or is this something we think they need?
Having a large home makes us feel that we need to fill it up with things- bookshelves filled with books (that we may never read), shelves filled with dust-collecting ornaments, living spaces filled with furniture that isn’t really necessary. Stuff, stuff and more stuff!
Not to mention the mortgage that comes with owning such a large house, and the cost of gas, electricity and taxes!
We live in interesting times here in Australia- our population is growing a lot more quickly than we can keep up with. It is becoming more common to see high rise buildings, and if you are wanting to purchase a vacant block of land, the size of vacant land is much smaller than it was 10 years ago. Growing up in Australia, nearly everyone had a yard large enough to play backyard cricket in!
Although I don’t regret building the house that we did, and at this point in time I don’t want to sell our home and downsize, I do have some advice for people looking to buy their first home (or those thinking of upsizing).
Ask yourself, what is most important to you? Do you wish to chain yourself to an extremely high mortgage that you will work so hard to (hopefully) pay off and in the meantime sacrifice time and money you could have spent enjoying life with your loved ones? Do you really need all that space? Picture yourself living in a smaller space- could you make it work? Are you buying a large house because that is what is expected of you?
Do you live in a home that you think is too big for your family? Do you happily live in a small space with your kids? Did you grow up sharing a bed or bedroom with a sibling? Let me know below!
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