Does Size Matter?
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It’s not what you’re thinking! I’m talking about the size of your home…get your head out of the gutter! 😉
When I got back from my trip to Utah, I was sitting in my kitchen, adding up all my bills (and writing the big checks for my estimated taxes), when that wild hair popped up once again and made me think, “should I move to a cheaper place or get a roommate?”
That urge made me go onto Craigslist and do a search under some new financial perimeters for an apartment: $800-$950 (I currently pay $1,450, but I rent out my garage for $170) to make moving worthwhile.
An Eye-Opening Experience
But lo and behold a studio just two blocks from where I live popped up for $800!!! My gut instinct was that it was too good to be true, and it was. I went over there anyway, and was rather shocked at how tiny it was. The living room/bedroom was literally no bigger than some people’s walk in closet. There is no way you could even fit a full size bed in there, or even a couch big enough to sleep on. The “hallway” that led to the bathroom was the “kitchen,” i.e. it had a sink, a tiny dorm-sized fridge, and a hot plate. There was one tiny closet, and then the actually somewhat normal sized bathroom was tiny too.
Look, I can and have lived in a studio, but there is no way I could live AND work from home out of that place. But someone did manage to live there. I asked the guy showing me the place to tell me how long the person prior had lived there: almost two years! Wow!
I humbly walked back to my own apartment, which always seems small until I see places like that, and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude of having an OK-sized, no frills one-bedroom.
McMansion Size Expectations
Later I was watching my favorite lunchtime show, House Hunters on Hulu, and was ready to throw my tuna sandwich at the screen watching this family from Dallas. The couple had achieved a lot of career success, so they wanted to move to their dream home because they were “bursting at the seams” in their current place. They only had one kid, who looked to be about 12, who was also very overweight.
Their “tiny” house was HUGE in comparison to anything I ever lived in, including the very modest but spacious suburban Detroit 4-bedroom home I grew up in. Ugh!
They started their search with homes that looked like cookie-cutter McMansions. I started choking on my meal when they walked into the giant master bedroom and described it as “a bit tight.” The bedroom was bigger than my whole apartment! They were also looking for a space for their son to have his friends over to play video games, and have some separation from the rest of the living area. My sarcastic voice kept saying, “yeah, it’s called playing outside, try it!”
Why such a big home? Why do you need all that extra space?
According to this article from the American Enterprise Institute, “in 2013, the average size of new houses built increased to an all-time high of 2,679 square feet, and the median size new home set a new record of 2,491 square feet. Over the last 40 years, the average home has increased in size by more than 1,000 square feet, from an average size of 1,660 square feet in 1973 (earliest year available from Census) to 2,679 square feet last year.” All this while the average number of persons per household is decreasing. And even more shocking is that even though homes are bigger, people are still in need of off-site storage facilities to pile up their extra stuff!
Of course size is relative in relation to what you are used to (as proven by the tiny studio apartment that was OK for someone, just not me). Because I’ve never lived in a huge place, my one bedroom feels spacious enough…but maybe if another person, like my future husband, were to be added to the equation, then it would seem cramped.
On the opposite spectrum is both the minimalist movement and the tiny house movement, which seem to go hand in hand. While I love the idea of tiny homes (and seeing all the cool, innovative designs on the internet), I’m not sure it will ever be right for me. That being said, I do love being as much of a minimalist as possible by de-cluttering, and not filling my apartment with unnecessary stuff. I’ve found that with a little creativity and thought, you can make your house beautiful without spending a ton of money.
All in all it comes down to personal choice, however, if you are buried in stuff in your current place, which is maybe prompting you to move to a bigger place, I encourage you to first consider downsizing your stuff. Create more breathing room and find a way to maximize what you already have. And if you still need more space, go outside and play. At least back in the 70’s that’s what my parents used to tell us kids!
What is your current living situation like? Do you need more space? Less? What would make you want to either move to a smaller or bigger place?
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