Since the birth of our son nearly five years ago, we’ve lived in five homes. They ranged in size from a one-bedroom short-term apartment rental to the 1500 sqft house we live in now, with the majority of the time lived somewhere in between.
The first time we experienced living in a smaller family home was when we moved from the house we owned to a rental house. We moved not because there was a problem with the house itself, but because it felt too isolating to be a car-free family in a neighborhood where little besides a park was in walking distance.
The rental house had plenty of living space, but significantly less storage than we were used to. It was in that house that I embraced a minimalist approach and went through multiple rounds of purging. My shift in thinking was partially an effort to clear space before our daughter’s arrival, and partially a necessity in a house with only two closets. I was drawn to minimalism because I needed minimalism to feel comfortable in that space.
My newfound philosophy was immediately put to the test when our family of four moved to a one-bedroom apartment. We were only there for six weeks between our lease in Austin running out and our move to Indiana, but it was enough time to force us to think creatively about our space and sleeping arrangements (think: the baby sleeping in a closet and Neil and I in the living/dining room). It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.
The reason both those moves invigorated me rather than frustrated me is that we gained something more valuable than space when we downsized: a prime location. In each case, the space we lost paled in comparison to what we gained from living in walkable, bikeable neighborhoods: access to amenities and connection to our community. In the apartment we may have had limited real estate inside, but just outside the door was a park, a pool, and the children’s museum. In the bungalow we may have only had two closets, but the library, three parks, three splash pads, a pool, tacos, and coffee were a ten-minute walk away.
My experience with living in smaller family homes has shown me that the square footage of where we live does not determine our family’s level of happiness–location does. Being able to walk with the kids to the library story time meant more to me than storage space and extra rooms. Every family needs to figure out what is makes them happiest in their home. For some, that is space to entertain. For others, a yard for a garden, kids, or pets. For us, the truth is that location trumps size.
This post was written for inclusion in the June collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on the truth about living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!
Megan Barnum– “The Truth About Living SMALL” : What does living in a small space look like for a family of 4? Probably not a whole lot different from you.
Little Bungalow– “Less Space, More Happiness” : In a small home, less space doesn’t equal more happiness. Except, of course, when it does.
600 Square Feet and a Baby– “The Truth About Living in a Small Family Home” : Living small as a family of four is sometimes uncomfortable, a bit awkward and never boring. Sharing the awkward and imperfect of living small with 4 humans that you always wanted to know (or maybe you didn’t.)
Shelley Vanderbyl– “Five Things You Don’t Need in a Small Home” : Gatekeeping is about recognizing what things you don’t need or want, and trying to keep those objects from coming into your home.
The Streamlined Life– “The Truth About Living Small: Less Possessions, Greater Value“: Just because you’re a minimalist family doesn’t mean you aren’t sentimental.
The Justice Pirate– “What Small Home Living is Like” : No matter if I lived in a cardboard box or a small home, I just like being with my family, who are my home.
Our Nest in the City– “The Truth About Living in a Small Family Home” : My post gives three challenges to living in a small home with our family of five, and counters them with three ways we “cope” and thrive despite it all 🙂
Fourth and West– “You Can’t Have it All” : Small space living requires compromise and sacrifice.
RISING*SHINING– “The Truth About Living in a Small(ish) Family Home” : A smaller home is why we’re able to live such a full life.
Family At Sea– “The Meaning of Space: Thoughts from a Former Tiny Home Mom” : After moving onto a boat, I thought the hard work of decluttering and downsizing was done, but I didn’t realize that living in a tiny space was the beginning of the real work of the soul.
Real Food Simple Life– “The Realities of Living in a Small Home with a Big Family” : A look into the benefits and challenges that a family of 6 (going on 7) experiences living together in an 800 square foot home in Scotland.
Tiny Ass Camper– “I Didn’t Know Tiny Living Was For Me” : My thoughts on the give and take of living tiny.
Birch and Pine– “It’s Not Always Easy” : Living tiny often means defending your own life and choices: daily.