From 2 to 3, and 1200 to 598 – The Small House Movement
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Before we even knew about the growing popularity in the small house movement, we were already well on our way to making that ‘dream’ a reality.
Ariana and I began our journey together living separately in the homes of two friends. At the time I was recently unemployed and proposed to Ariana without a wedding band to offer.
These two friends, hearing our story, reached out to us and separately offered a place for both of us to stay so we could save for our wedding.
What a gift!
If that isn’t shocking enough, these two couples who did not previously meet each other, lived less than 100 yards away. My fiancé and I were no more than a two minute walk apart during our engagement.
As I’m sure most of you know, living with others is a unique experience. We are all mess makers in our own way, aren’t we? Some call it sin nature and I think that’s as close as we can get to explaining our selfishness. But what a blessing it was for these two families to open their doors to us.
After our wedding, our generous friends kicked us out and it was time for our own place. We took a queen bed and tossed it on the floor of our very own, two bedroom apartment; 1200 square feet of spacious living.
The extra bedroom ended up being an entertainment, computer and TV room because we need a separate room for that, right? TV wasn’t the focus of our living room so we had a lot of space to…well, sit and talk.
Like most new places, apartments or homes, there came a point when we stopped enjoying the apartment complex and living space we were in. I think we’ve all felt that before.
That feeling that this place just wasn’t really home anymore.
After nearly two years, Ariana spoke to a client that was willing to rent us their 598 square foot condo. I told Ariana ‘no way’ and that was the end.
We found another couple that was interested in saving money and wanted to share the expenses of a nice size condo or rental home. We figured this could be a good opportunity for us to have a bigger place, share in expenses and build new relationships.
So we found a place and moved in.
If you’re not super keen on sharing space to save money, check out my post on how to start a side business: Start a Side Business.
Married couples living with married couples provides for some interesting dynamics. We were grateful for the couple that we lived with as they we very respectful of the space and we communicated well.
It was a beautiful two bedroom condo with upgraded appliances, wood flooring, a spacious living room and it overlooked beautiful palm trees and a well kept pool.We were also saving a few extra hundred dollars a month which was great when trying to get out of debt and save an emergency fund.
But there came a point where both couples were ready to be on their own. Thoughts of having kids and pets in the house told us that it may be best to split ways before the families grew much more.
Since Ariana and I were largely pinned up in the smaller room most of the time, we became accustomed to sharing a smaller space. Remember that 598 square foot one bedroom apartment?
Well, when the time came for us to move again, it was still available.
1200 to 598
Now begins our small house movement.
We were given the keys to this new condo a month early. The owners let us install some new appliances and a closet as well as paint the rooms to give it a more home-like and warm feeling.
By the time we moved in, we had made the place our own. We even removed the bathroom door connected to our bedroom because it took up too much space!
The only closet we have is inside of our bathroom. The laundry room is outside on the patio and the space was, well…under 600 square feet. But…
We absolutely loved it!
We also love the community; it’s well kept and gardened, it’s quiet and we face away from the sun so it stays cool in the summer. And then we got pregnant…
One of the most common questions from friends and relatives was,
“When are you going to move into a bigger place?”
Well, we didn’t want to. This was our new home and it fit us perfectly. We are paying less than half of what people normally pay for rent or mortgage and there’s less to clean!
When our son Elijah came around, we just decided to make it work. We’ve even considered the possibility of introducing a 4th into the family (We already did by the way! Check that post out here: Family of Four in One Bedroom.) and what would we do then? We aren’t there yet, but when it happens, we’ve still decided to stay here in our lovely little condo.
I bring this up not to brag but as a challenge to the typical lifestyle we see on TV and all around us.
Everyone wants a bigger and better home. But bigger and better homes often required bigger and higher paying jobs. The amount of freedom my family has in this house is tremendous.
Our expenses are low which means we can work less. We spend less money on furniture, cleaning and decorations. We’re able to spend more time on what’s important like connecting with each other and friends.
Also make sure if you decide to get this close, that both of your are on the same page financially. Read: How to Get Your Spouse on Board with Finances blog post.
As a bonus, there’s nowhere to hide if one of us is angry, so we’re forced to deal with our marriage issues in a quick and meaningful way. Living in such a small space has opened our minds to other areas of life that are more important.
I’m sure there will come a time when we will move but for now, we’re happy and a bigger place would not make us happier.
What are you striving after that you feel will make you happier? If you could live off of half your income and work half as much, do you think a sacrifice of space would be worth it? To us, it’s no longer a sacrifice, it’s a fun challenge that’s a part of our life and we’re excited to find new ways of making the best use of such a small space.
Have you ever had a positive downsizing experience? Let me know in the comments below.
Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon
I’m Brandon and that’s my bride Ariana and our first born. We listened to age-old wisdom and paid off over $100,000 in debt from college, credit cards, vehicles and an underwater mortgage in under two years. We now we live a debt free life. Now we’re able to spend more time at home with our kids and prioritize our life.
With BeardedBudget, I have developed a number of financial and merchant relationships; some of which are affiliate relationships. The opinions expressed here are mine alone and should not be construed as professional financial advice but honest reviews and recommendations based on my own experience. For more information, read the disclaimers and disclosures.