The Summer of 2010 we made the radical decision to move our large family of seven from a 2500 square foot home into a little 900 square foot house. This meant downsizing from two bathrooms to one, and five bedrooms with a finished basement down to three bedrooms with an old cellar (built in 1918).
Why did we do this? 1) To shave off 2/3 of our mortgage, not because we couldn’t afford it, but because we no longer wanted to give it to the bank or be enslaved to earn it. 2) Because we fell in love with a teeny house that was surrounded by giant Elm trees and we felt magnetized to the river behind the property. 3) Because we saw major potential in what we could create and grow on 1/3 acre of dark, moist soil. 4) Because we desired a more active lifestyle, and a deepened connection with the earth. 5) Because the idea of eliminating more than half of our possessions seemed like the most liberating thing to do. 6) Because Daniel believed it was the only way to get out of the rat race he was in. In a nutshell, to empower ourselves and gain freedom materially, psychologically, and spiritually.
Our tiny gem of a house has 128 square feet per person, which is plenty of room for any human. Somehow, we all feel more comfortable and as if we have more space in this house. It was a Twilight Zone type of adjustment period with us wondering what dimension we’d entered after downsizing so radically, but feeling more free. We are far more happy, intimate and tolerant of one another, and our kids have a much more contented demeanor here. Their behaviors have changed as radically as our lifestyle. Is it the river, the fact that Daniel works less, we experience less stress, are outdoors more, or all of the above? It may appear small, but we’re living big. Knowing that we’re making a much smaller ecological footprint on the earth gives us an added peace of mind. Our utility bills are lower, we have way less to keep clean, more time, and we purchase less because we have less space to store endless stuff. We have what we need, and what makes us most happy… that’s all anyone needs to live a richly fulfilling and successful life.
There is a movement of people across the country buying, building, and becoming interested in smaller house living. People are seeing the McMansions of the past as a ball and chain. They’re whoppers to take care of, maintain, and pay for. For many they are viewed as a drain on the psyche and soul. Typically in our culture, homes are viewed as “investments” and not homes… this wasn’t always the case. The new mindset prevents people from creating a sense of personality and authenticity in their homes, and it’s often reflected in the immaculate chemically treated lawns. Curb appeal and property values have become far more important than family appeal, practicality, growing our own herbs and veggies, and the reduction of stress. With a smaller house we have found more happiness and satisfaction than we have in any other home in our lives. We’re not saying people need to live in shacks or sheds, or live like they’re poor. We’re talking about very nice, homey and comfortable houses… we don’t deny ourselves comfort and beauty. What we say no to are massive mortgages, draining and harming natural resources, cookie cutter housing, time-consuming cleaning, and unnecessary necessities. It’s the most peaceful way to live.
Below are links to some good resources if you’re interested in learning more: