Small space living might not be for everyone, but I’m grateful for the tiny homes I’ve lived in. Here are four things I learned from living in small apartments and homes. I’ll carry these with me to whatever place I live in next!
We’ve moved six times in the five years we’ve been married. While some of our apartments have been more spacious than others, small-space living has been our norm. There are many times when I’ve longed for a little more elbow room (or leg room!), but I’m grateful for this stage, too. I’ve learned from every home I’ve lived in.
Here’s what small-space living has taught me:
Lesson #1: I can live with less
There’s nothing like having stuff in storage to show you what you don’t really need. We’ve lived in plenty of tiny spaces where we couldn’t unpack all our boxes. And we always made do. Sometimes I go through the boxes later and find that I can get rid of many of the contents outright. Others items, I’m glad to see again and eager to put into use when we have the place to accommodate them. But either way, I’ve learned that I don’t need a lot to live comfortably.
Living with fewer possessions, whether by compulsion or by choice, has taught me to be resourceful.
Lesson #2: I can live anywhere
I have looked at places we’ve lived and thought to myself “It’s too small!” I’ve looked at tiny kitchens and poor excuses for closets and not-enough-drawer space and said “I can’t make this work!” But with creativity and determination, we’ve always managed to squeeze into the space allotted to us. We’ve re-arranged, saved space, added shelving, and simplified our stuff until we fit, albeit snugly.
I’ve learned that I can get accustomed to just about anything, whether it’s a complicated shower, a minuscule counter, or a half-sized stove. You adapt. You learn to live with it. You learn that you can live with it, and that it’s not so bad! And down the road? Eventually you’ll be faced with an inconvenience and be able to say “Sure, I can make this work!”
Lesson #3: Bigger is still better
Although I’ve learned that I can live anywhere and that I can make any small space work, I don’t necessarily want to, long-term! Living in a 450 square-foot apartment and an 800-square foot apartment has taught me that I’d rather have the latter. I’ve written about why I don’t want to live in a tiny house, and that’s all still true. You can enjoy a simple, uncluttered home no matter what size it is. Square footage is not the true test of a simple life.
I know we’ll reach our limit on the space that’s right and good for us, but right now we’re at the point where we need to expand. I need more than one closet in my home. If we have more kids (and even with the one we’ve got!) we’re going to want more than one bedroom. At this point, anything bigger will seem like a luxury!
Lesson #4: I know what I’m looking for
Each place we’ve lived has helped us accumulate more data about what we want in a home. We’ve learned what we’re looking for aesthetically, what’s comfortable for us and what’s not, how much space we actually need, our patterns of living in and using various areas.
We have many treasured memories of living in a small, rustic cabin when we first moved to Alabama. But it taught me that that’s not the type–or size–of home I want, especially as our family grows. When we buy a house someday, I know we’re not going to get a perfect place that ticks every box, but we’ll use what we’ve learned to guide our decision and to make our new space work for us.