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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Go simple and go small...


How small of a space could your family live in? That question was sort of asked and certainly answered in a recent web site article at HouseLogic .com about a family that built and is living in a 320 Sq Ft home in Virginia.

Now this is no one man-one women “family”; this is a family of four with a 90 lb dog all sharing 320 Sq Ft of living space – About the size of a modern master bedroom. The 8 foot by 21 foot home has a loft for sleeping, but everything else is in the 8 by 21 main floor. There is a nice outdoor patio area that they make extensive use of during the warmer months that helps a bit. The whole thing is heated by a 60” electric baseboard heater in the winter.

OK, so maybe this is an extreme example of downsizing; however, it does demonstrate that we can probably all simplify and downsize a bit. The couple that lives in this house with their children lost everything in the recession in Florida, so they were beyond just motivated to downsize. They made up their minds that they were not going to get into another deep debt situation on a home. The husband also had a reasonable set of building skills, so he did most of the work. They made extensive use of Craigslist to get cheap building materials.

Go read the story to see what they live in. It’s sort of like living in a camper trailer all the time. The family in the story already has plans to expand their lifestyle a bit by building a second tiny home of 16 X 24 foot, with a stand-up loft space (their current loft has only 3 foot of headroom).

So what’s the point of any of this for the rest of us? I think if you read the story and think about it you may start to think about all of the room and how much “stuff” that you have crammed into that space and how much you really need. Many of us probably live in much bigger spaces than we really need and all of us have more stuff than we know what to do with. I know that I do.

I’ve met people in my real estate business who’ve made the conscientious decision to simplify their lives, which included dramatically restricting their possessions. These are not people who are attempting to live in 320 Sq. Ft. tiny homes, but they are folks who don’t buy more space that they really need and who are also very deliberate and careful about what “stuff” they have. Not surprisingly they are also people who are in great financial shape. They do not have huge mortgages or maxed out credit cards; in fact, some have no credit cards at all and live on a cash basis.

People who live simple lives do not live the lives of hermits; in fact the ones that I know are very active and engaged in activities like kayaking, hiking and other outdoor activities. What they don’t have are closets full of clothes that they don’t actually wear or basements and garages full of other stuff that they don’t use. They have simplifies their lives.

Lots of retirees end up having to simplify when they finally decide to give up their McMansion and move to a condo.  Nothing forces simplification like giving up a few thousand Sq. Ft. of space. Those moves make for great garage sales. I would say that we all should probably hold a garage sale every 2-3 years and sell off anything that we haven’t used during the last year – that would make our lives simpler right away. You’d be amazed how much of your stuff falls into the garage sale category, if you do that. Once your excess stuff is gone I suspect you’ll be surprised that you don’t really miss any of it.

So I guess the moral of this post is that you can simplify your life and go small without having to live in a tiny house. Of course, if you do a good job of simplifying and getting rid of stuff you might be tempted to downsize from whatever size home you’re in now. I don’t have any 320 Sq. Ft. homes that I could show you right now, but there are some nice condos around 1,200 Sq. Ft. that might fit.

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