More than one person has said this to us since we bought our small-ish condo four years ago: “You could get a bigger house if you moved inland.”
Five people and one fluffy labradoodle living in just under 1200 square feet of space isn’t “living small” by big-city standards, or especially by world standards, I imagine, but in terms of suburban America, we could definitely “get more house for our money” elsewhere.
Of course, that’s the rub: we don’t want to live elsewhere.
Our community, our neighborhood, and our three-mile drive to the beach make our “small” space worth it to us, and whenever our discontent gets the better of us, we are quick to remind ourselves of our value system and why we’ve chosen to live where we do (and love it).
Maybe someday our value system and/or our budget will change, but for now this is it for us. Here’s how we work around what we don’t have and why we feel at home in a small space for this season of life.
In the moments of uncertainty, when we find ourselves fed up with our space or wanting more, what we most often lament is not having a bigger yard.
But having small patios honestly urges us to get out beyond our own fences more, which I think is a good thing. Rather than sticking to our ourselves and our own space, we’ve found ourselves, and our kids, enjoying the neighborhood and shared community space more.
I like the idea of gardening, but for now, wine barrels with simple herbs fill that void a little in my front yard, and I can still eat local by belonging to a CSA. It’s not quite the same as straight-from-the-backyard, but it’s less work, which leaves more time for other things.
We can’t just let our puppy out free in the yard (although he gets that experience when we’re over at my parents’ house), but instead I have a reason and motivation to get out and walk around the cul-de-sac a few times day, and hopefully as he grows, so will my walks with him.
And it turns out our already-friendly neighborhood has a whole other element of community when it comes to dog-walking, so I’ve found myself meeting new people who stop to pet my dog.
While more land and space would have its amazing benefits, in this season of raising young children, we love living in close community with our neighbors in addition to the coziness of being together in our our home.
More bedrooms and bathrooms would be wonderfully convenient, but on the other hand, I certainly like having less to clean and less space to acquire clutter. (Of course, I notice the clutter more, because there are less places to hide it, which is why–yay!– I’m thrilled to be taking Tsh’s decluttering class this spring.)
And entertaining in a small space, while it can be tricky, is still totally doable I’ve found, especially when we employ our patio as a little “second living space.”
My gathering spaces, the table and the comfy seating of the living room, are not only central, they’re well, pretty much all there’s room for in our main downstairs area, and to be honest they’re all we really need.
The table is where most of life happens (as can be seen on Instagram at the tag #atthebennetttable) anyways, so these days I’m more concerned with the size of my table than the size of my home.
Maybe for our family and the season we’re in, small living is helping us look outward more, rather than at the house itself and what’s inside.
Just like so many issues of contentment, living in a smaller home is all about perspective and priorities, so we set them and stand by them, and we choose to be grateful for the privilege to have the choice to begin with.