t2

Monday, June 17, 2013

Living in Tiny Homes with Families

Img credit: Tumbleweed Houses
There's a story in my culture about a poor man who lived in a small house with his family, and went to his mentor to ask him what to do because his family was feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic in his small home. He was told gradually to bring in one animal at a time into his house, until he eventually had cows, a goat, and chickens in his home in addition to his family in their tiny home, and when he was finally advised to take them all out again, the house felt so spacious and comfortable for his family.

I was reminded of this story this past weekend.
My family of 5 lives in a pretty tiny home- only 484 square feet- and I sometimes wonder if we should move to a bigger place. Mostly its actually family and friends telling us that we need a bigger place, that we can't possibly be comfortable living in that size space with that many people.
We spent the weekend with my friend, Cara (yes, that same one who wrote this guest post on using bikes to save money on transportation) and it was really nice, because we've got similar outlooks on life, including a desire to live within our means and not always being out to keep up with the Jones.
I found it really amusing that Cara read my blog post on how to have guests on a budget before we came, and implemented the same tips I talked about. She did a superb job!

Cara and her husband live in an apartment that is 225 square feet. Over the weekend, it was my husband, myself, and our three kids, together with Cara and her husband in that tiny space. We were a little cramped, not much breathing room (and we slept at a neighbor's), but other than the small space, we had a really nice time.
When we got home, however, we realized just how spacious our apartment was! If we ever felt cramped here before, after the weekend, we feel blessed by how large our home is! Kind of like that man who felt how "large" his home was after removing all the animals from his shack.


This weekend, I was thinking a lot about the concept of tiny house living, and whether it is doable, both for singles, couples, and for a family.
You might say- obviously- I manage to live in a tiny house with my family of 5- but quite frankly, I don't consider my house to be tiny. Small yes, but manageably small.

There are people, though, that live in homes even I would consider tiny.
Cara's home is tiny, yes, at 225 square feet, but there are people who live in what is called micro studios, or tiny homes such as the Tumbleweed tiny homes, which are usually closer to 100 square feet.
A blogger whose blog I used to read talked a lot about potentially moving to a Tumbleweed tiny home with her family.
Is that really doable?

My first thoughts were absolutely not. Especially not after how cramped we were this weekend in a 225 square foot apartment- twice the size of a Tumbleweed home.

See, single people can manage in a micro-apartment. Because, unfortunately, most adults, it seems, are pretty sedentary- as long as there is enough space to put out a computer, eat a meal, and relax to read a book or watch a movie, that's enough for them.
Kids, however, need much more room than that. Especially once they're past the crawling stage and at the walking/running stage.

But then I thought to myself that these huge houses people live in today are a modern invention, that for so many thousands of years, people lived in tiny little homes, like one room log cabins, etc... Little House on the
Prairie comes to mind. Why is it that modern day kids need gigantic houses when kids in the past didn't? What changed?

I started thinking about my own small 484 square foot house and how we manage in a place that small with 3 kids. The answer, really, is that we aren't indoors all day! Kids need to burn energy by running around a lot and being active- but there's no reason why this has to be indoors. My kids spend hours and hours and hours running around outside each day, letting off steam. We don't have a yard of our own, but our home opens on to a grassy lot and area with trees, and then a beautiful flower and tree bordered walkway that leads to two playgrounds. They make use of them all.
We're not living solely in 484 square feet- we've living in that huge outside area as well.

That's how people managed to raise families in tiny homes such as the Little House on the Prairie. Because they weren't just living in those homes- they lived in the great outdoors, playing in forests and fields and meadows, etc...

Today, we live in such industrialized areas that we're missing much of that. Kids don't generally have the freedom to run around like they did in the past, both because most of us don't have that wide open space available, and because we're worried about dangerous characters taking advantage of our children.

When kids are cooped up in tiny spaces, when they aren't given the freedom to run around as kids need, they end up misbehaving, causing trouble, and showing ADHD like symptoms even if they don't have true ADHD. Sometimes, all kids need is to be able to run around. That is why kids in school do better scholasticly when they have recess and suffer when they aren't given that ability to run around and burn energy. In a way, I think sitting kids in a small classroom for much of the day isn't that dissimilar from trying to raise kids in a tiny home in the city. Kids need to be able to let loose.

Sometimes my kids start misbehaving and getting "cooped up" symptoms. When that happens, I generally realize that we haven't been spending enough time outdoors; we then go out, run around outside, and the misbehavior goes away.

In the winter, though, it is harder to manage with kids in a small space. We try to go on as many trips as we can in that season, to indoor playgrounds and other places where they can burn energy. We also do lots of projects in the winter to keep them entertained. But fortunately, we live in a place where there is good weather much of the year, so we're not confined to 484 square feet.

If push came to shove, would we be able to live with a family of 5 in a 225 square foot apartment?
Well, I wouldn't love to, that's for sure. I do need my elbow room.
But if we would need to, the answer would be- definitely not in a city. Only in a place like where we live, with wide open spaces to run around, so that we would be able to live outside as well as in our tiny home, like we do now.

How big is your home? Do you think it is too big or too small? Would you downsize or move to a larger home? Why? Have you ever considered living in a Tumbleweed Tiny Home or similar? Why or why not? Do you think it is doable?
If you live in a small space, what tips do you use to make it more manageable?

49 comments:

  1. My home is 1146 square feet and there are four of us. I hear constantly how the house is too small. On occasion, we've had up to 7 people here, when family visits.

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    1. How many bedrooms do you have? Do you feel your home is small?

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    2. That was the same for me growing up. Our house was 1000 sq. ft. with two bedrooms and one bathroom for a family of 4. My parents gave us the big bedroom to share and we just learned to live with one bathroom. When we had people over (usually good friends, another family of 4) the parents would take the pull-out sofa in the living room and the kids would all sleep in the same bedroom. It worked well and we grew up in a great neighborhood. But, as you said Penny, having a yard played a big part and my parents knew about every public park in the area.

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  2. We used to have a tent camper, which of course was small. No one stayed inside except to sleep. Probably people with very small homes,spend more time outside on porches, working in the yard or talking with neighbors. In the winter, they probably find places to go. I have found that people adjust to their circumstances whatever they might be.

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    1. Did you live in the tent camper? Or just used it for vacations?

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  3. Can you live in a small city apartment with kids? yes, we have done it for 4 years, but I wouldn't recommend it. When we moved to a bigger place, many of the behavioral problems lessened or almost completely disappeared. My older two didn't fight constantly any more because they could each find a corner in the house where they wouldn't be disturbed. Bed time became much more manageable. I no longer had to wait for one of the kids to fall asleep so that they wouldn't start talking or playing with each other. the improvement is so significant, I consider the extra money we spend on the rent the best investment into my family. And personally, I had no idea how much little cramped space literally weighed on me until we moved and a few weeks later I observed that my mood is better and I breathe easier.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. I'm glad to hear that moving made your life easier! Everyone needs to make the decision that is most right for their family.

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  4. 1000 square feet with 3 people, 3 cats, and one big dog. People always say how we'll need to move whenever we have more than one kid, but we haven't found it to be cramped at all. We have a big backyard and a nice neighborhood with parks nearby to enjoy the great outdoors. I think this size is perfectly fine, even if we add another kid or two, but not sure I'd want to go smaller. I agree with all the things you said. :)

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    1. Thanks Amy! 1000 square feet with a big backyard sounds wonderful!

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  5. My apartment is 330 sq feet (without a kitchen) but the family house is quiet big. I find that this is pretty much all the space I need for "living". You can't dry outside at winter or anything so another space to do that is pretty nice like our basement.

    I would say shelves shelves shelves for storage. We have 12 foot walls and I'd love to have some shelving to "take away" the clutter that's on the floor but it's a big project.

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    1. Right, indoor laundry drying in the winter takes space.

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  6. We downsized from a 2300 square foot house to one with more like 1800 feet. There was a huge room in our other home we never used We live in Fargo, so run around inside space is important (we are thrilled with the size of our now home) and the local Y is a nearly daily necessity.

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    1. in our 900 sq foot old home, we also had a room that was never used...

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  7. Your post reminds me of a story I once read.

    One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live, so his son might be grateful for their riches. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
    On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
    “It was great, Dad”.
    “Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.
    “Oh yes”, said the son.
    “So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
    The son answered:
    I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our porch reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.
    The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added:
    “Thanks, Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

    It's all about your perspective. I live in a small house by New Zealand standards, but having lived in Asia, I know my home is palatial compared to their small apartments.

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    1. That's a terrific story! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Our house is large -- 2200 sq ft -- and there are just three adults. Could we manage beautifully in a smaller space? Oh yeah.

    But. Having this much extra space means we can store things for friends -- for free. We've housed a suddenly homeless family for a while without going nuts. Most of my family is dead, and when they passed, we inherited furniture and, well, things. Those things remind me every day of people I love. Could I live without these mementos? Sure. But I don't have to, and it's a blessing. (The house, in fact, was built by my great-great-grandfather and is full of memories.)

    I think if you choose to live in a large house, then there are opportunities for giving back to whatever force let you live there in the first place. I'm very lucky. Though after spring cleaning , which takes a month for a proper job, I might grumble some!

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    1. Annemarie, if it makes you happy to live in a big home like you are, that's wonderful! Life is about doing what works best for you, not doing what other people are doing.

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  9. We have 3 people in an 1100sqft two-story house, plus full unfinished basement and large front porch. I think that's plenty of space. We've had as many as 5 overnight guests without feeling excessively cramped.

    But I occasionally talk to people who think it's appalling that we are raising our child with "such a small yard". Our front yard is 11 feet square and is all garden with a little brick path. Our back yard has a flat area 17 feet square and then a downhill slope so steep it's difficult to walk on, so it's just semi-wild forest rather than run-around space.

    But we live half a mile from an enormous city park with a playground by the entrance and then miles of forest trails. Within half a mile in other directions are two more public playgrounds. And on our block, my son can run along 1000 feet of sidewalk and draw on it with chalk. In all of these places, there are other kids to play with. He doesn't seem to consider himself deprived because he doesn't have his own private huge yard with swings and such.

    So I agree: Having a large space to get out in is more important than having a large private space. I feel this even as an adult; although I have adult friends who live alone and work from home and sometimes don't leave their tiny dark apartments for days, I wouldn't like that! When I lived in a high-rise dorm, for example, I spent most of my waking hours in the public spaces on campus.

    I grew up in a much less densely-populated environment with fewer public amenities than where I live now, and the change made me a lot more conscious of what space I really need and how much I can share. I wrote about it here: This Crowded World.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Becca! I'm sure your son isn't missing out by having a small yard...

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  10. Expanding on what Angela said (thanks for the lovely story!), we Americans are culturally conditioned to want to live in bigger spaces, but most of the rest of the world does not live like us. My family of 4 lived in South Africa for two years in an 80 sq meter cottage (about 860 sq ft), but there were literally thousands, if not millions, of people living in 1-room shacks. Then we lived in Japan for a year where we downsized to a 250 sq ft 2-bedroom apartment, which was spacious by Japanese standards. BILLIONS of Asians live crammed into very small spaces and yet have no more behavioral problems than we do. It's all about attitude.

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  11. Depends on climate. During the winter we about go crazy in our tiny house. I dream of a bigger one, especially when we have more kids. I really can't imagine trying to house more than two kids in this house.

    In the summer, though, the house is just a home base. We're all over the yard and neighborhood and the house really doesn't feel small.

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  12. We live in a tiny house and we manage but our house makes others very uncomfortable when they visit. Our house is a quarter the size of average homes in our area and makes people feel cramped when they step into it. I feel the stigma of being out of step with my peers and am reluctant to invite people I don't know well around. But would I change things? A few extra squares of space would be good but that is about it. Morally and ethically I would never consider the must have mac mansions everyone aspires to these days. They are a waste of space, money and resources and I so detest glutenous waste.

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    1. I have to agree, the thing I dislike most about my small home isnt living in it, its having guests because it seems guests arent comfortable when they come here because they feel cramped, and they encourage me to move to a bigger place. But is it worth it to move to a bigger place just so the occasional guest feels more comfortable, and/or so we can host more often? Its something I think about from time to time.

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  13. Actually, the average size of the US home hasn't increased that much since the 70s. According to Elizabeth Warren, your average, middle-class home has only grown larger by one small bedroom or one large bathroom. I know the McMansions are infamous for being huge and all, but the amount of livable square-foot-age in a home hasn't increased all that much. I think the primary thing that's changed over the past 30 years (my lifetime) is that parents have gotten insanely paranoid about kidnapping and strangers molesting their kids. I know that, when I was little, running around our neighborhood unsupervised was par for the course. By the time my sister came along, my mom wouldn't allow it. And that was only over 10 years.

    What I don't understand about schooling and cutting recess is that people seem to think that more time = more learning. I was lucky enough to go to schools that would let you take a full 30 minutes for lunch, and you could spend half of it sitting outside in courtyards or just relaxing if you were so inclined. But where I live now, kids have a half school day on Wednesdays, and they don't get homework until they're 12, and they still beat the pants off the US when it comes to math and reading.

    We currently live in a pretty large 2-bedroom apartment, and my sister is visiting for almost 2 months, and we find that it's plenty for three adults and one kidlet. I don't want a larger home--I hate housekeeping, and it's all I can do to keep our place respectable--but I would like a backyard for gardening. If we were to move out, we'd have a small house and a large vegetable plot. .

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  14. I feel like I'm swimming in spaciousness. With just two adults and 3 cats in 1200 sq ft the place seems ridiculously vast. I made a point when choosing the house to find 9 foot ceilings to prevent feeling too cramped. But I was actually looking for a smaller home, we just couldn't find one at the time. It has two bedrooms and one bath. In our 14'x12' living room I have room to seat 10 people comfortably at all times, plus small tables near each cushioned seating area, plus an entertainment center and two ceiling height bookcases. My 12'x12' dining room has a wide entry-way connected to the living room, and we have the center of the floor empty, but that room can seat 7 at all times, even though the middle of the room remains fairly empty. We have space to spread out large projects on the dining room floor (or on the dining room table), and we have a pull-out sofa in the living room for guests. One bedroom is my home business and art studio (but will one day be a kid's room)
    The house sits on 1/4 of an acre (that's considered a "small lot" for the countryside) but we have a two car garage in the yard that my husband spends his time in, wood working and making art. I spend a great deal of time gardening in all four seasons, and we talk with neighbors quite a lot. We walk to the park which is one mile from our house and has river access, playgrounds, sports games, pavilions, and leisure fields.
    To me, our home and yard is enormous. Most people who pull into the driveway and see our "small" yard and the stout bungalow style house end up expecting a cramped, dark, hobbit home. But we have a great architectural feature that tricks everyone every time. Not only does the house feel small on the outside, but our door opens into my 8'x8' kitchen, and everyone has to squeeze into the small room, and you can tell they are extremely uncomfortable, their eyes dart everywhere, wondering where to stand and feeling very awkward. But then when I open the kitchen door into dining room/living room combo, people feel immediate relief, and they feel grateful for the large space. I usually get shocked "oh wow" comments and you can visibly see people loosen up and start to spread out into the space and find a roost to relax on. I have never had anyone tell me that my home is too small.. But they do tell me my kitchen is tiny.
    I think living in small spaces takes thought. All of my furniture is multi-funtional. Each seat in my living room holds linens, household files, dvds, even overflow kitchen gadgets. Also, vertical space becomes important in smaller homes. Why do people fill their homes with bulky furniture that sits on the floor, and then leave the top 3-4 feet of wall space empty? That's backwards to me. I hang EVERYTHING on the wall, I have all my cooking utensils on the wall, I even have our sled hung on the top 3 feet of wall in my kitchen. We have ceiling height shelves circling rooms too. I know for a fact my house can hold 25 people effortlessly... If only those 25 people didn't have to wait for the one and only bathroom.
    For me, a smaller home means a home that will never be too big to manage. I know I won't have to hire people to keep it clean or maintain the yard, not now, and not when I'm old either. I would have rather had a smaller place, way less rooms to clean, but this size house has proven to be small enough to maintain on our own and is big enough that we can throw a pretty big party and everyone still have room to not be sitting ontop of another person. I'm also confident that the house is large enough for several kids.. They could have a giant tent in the dining room floor, or run laps around the big storage ottoman in the living room. Maybe I'm crazy.. But I think 1200 sq ft is plenty.

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  15. Wow I really enjoyed this post and the comments. I would LOVE to see a picture of your "smallish" home. Any chance you'd post some? There are four of us (kids are 3 and 5) and we live in a 1300 sq. foot home with a large deck but otherwise smallish yard. Our families all have LARGE homes, 2400+ and they almost cringe whenever here because omg, we only have 1 bathroom?! :-) We feel like our house is plenty big and none of us want or need for more space. The only time it can be difficult is when we have a family of four (8 of us total) visit..then it does feel cramped, I admit.

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  16. I really enjoyed this post! I would love to see some pictures of your smaller home (how you organize it, spacial relationships, etc.). Any chance you'd post some? My family of four lives in a 1300sq ft, 3 small (one is really small) bedrooms and one bath. we love it! Family members, however, do not. :)

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  17. Using the vertical space helps. Hubby and I have a small apartment. Hubby has a loft bed he built himself (we sleep in separate rooms because he snores), so he has plenty of desk space to work on his computer repairs. I also slept in a loft bed until we got our puppy, who insists on sleeping with me (and I don't mind it) and can't be on my loft safely. Now my bed is in what used to be the dining area in a little "bed nook" and the loft is for storage.

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  18. I live with my husband and cat in a 920 sq ft apartment right now with baby number one on the way in October. As I watch how we live, we only use about 300 sq ft on a daily basis. Ideally, I have plans to purchase some land in a near by town and build a series of 200 sq ft mini houses with lofts. We can live comfortably in just one, but I want to have the other buildings function as a school room, project room, laundry/pantry/DIY recipe room etc. Granted, my husband won't want to live there, at least not right away, but I want to set it up as a weekend retreat, get him used to the idea :)

    Renee

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  19. I don't think its about square footage but layout. Our house has 1500 sq feet if I include our shed/garage thingy. But the layout of our house is terrible. It is an old house that the previous owner continually added on to. Most of the rooms have two or three door ways. Every area that could be used as shelving or shortage, cannot be used for such because there must be room to walk through. One of my best friends has a much smaller house and one more child than us, but her home seems much more spacious than ours. Her husband is a contractor. They spend years planning exactly what they needed nothing more. They were able to build a nice home for cash. It is about 700 sq feet. They have three children and two dogs.

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  20. I don't think it is really about square footage as much as it is about layout. Our home has 1500 sq feet if I count our attached shed. Yet my home has hardly any storage space. We live in an older home, in which the previous owner added on to many times. Every room has two or three door ways. There isn't much wall space. One of my best friends and her husband built a home with nearly 700 sq feet and it is very spacious. They have one more child than we do and two dogs. Her husband is a contractor. For years they saved and planned to build this home with just what they needed and nothing more. Their house was paid for when they moved in. They are a family of 5 and live happily in 700 square feet. I think nearly anything is possible with a little creativity. : ) Blessings to you!

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  21. We live in the UK in a one bed flat and my boyfriend has two kids that live here every Wednesday and every other weekend. He also has an older daughter who has a boyfriend and twin babies that stay fairly often.(He has an older son :) I don't want to leave him out but he doesn't stay over night)We have two house rabbits also. It works well for us. Our corner sofa pulls out into a kingsize bed so the boys can share or his daughter and boyfriend can share, we haven't had them all stay at the same time yet, if they did we could just get an airbed. The travel cot goes in the living room for the babies and yeah we have stuff that it would be nicer to have elsewhere, like bikes and an extra sofa that is living next to our bed stood on it's end, but you know what? I LIKE being in such close proximity to my family, I LOVE that it is easy to see and speak to everyone no matter where you are in our home, I am so grateful that this space is my home and that I share it with such wonderful people and that they are happy to share that space too. I've heard no complaints yet other than from me - only for a garden! But we have a great park close by so it's not much of an issue... life is good when it's little! :)

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  22. Im so excited to have found this!! My husband and I got tired with keeping up with the Jones and have recently decided to build a tiny home. We were fortunate to use our savings to buy 5 acres of land with 2 buildings. One is a big, wood framed, tin garage that is HUGE but very old. The other is a 600 sq ft. wood framed garage which we are converting into a home for us and our 4 kids. :) We currently have our 1400 sq ft house for sale and our living in my parents basement until we can get our "tiny house" completed. We are wanting to finish it mortgage free so we are doing it ourselves, as we can. Im extremely excited and thrilled to know there are other people who think as we do!! April

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    1. I'm so excited for you! My husband and I are having quite a debate right now. We are currently renting a house that is about 1200 sq ft plus a semi-finished basement with our four kids and my father-in-law. We are saving money to buy land and build a home. Our problem is, I think our current home is too large, and he thinks it is much too small!

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  23. Another way to think about living space is how many square feet per person? A 5200 square foot home like I live in probably sounds HUGE to most people but for 10 of us (we have 8 children) it is 520 square feet per person. So for 2 adults living in a 1000 square foot apartment, that is about the same amount of space that we live in at our house.

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  24. We have 5 people in our family - 3 children ages 7, 5, and 2. I'm pretty homestead oriented as well, making everything I can from scratch, so there is a lot of action. I homeschool our children so we use the space a lot, and we have a medium sized dog. Our house is 815 square feet. 163 square feet per person. We have 1/3 acre backyard. Our living is smaller than any family I know, especially given the homeschool aspect.
    Prior to living in this house, we lived in Portugal where small living was pretty darn normal. Our family never complains of having too many toys, never complains about how crazy holidays are with getting too much "stuff", etc. - We are very deliberate about what is in this house so that it feels good to live in. I'm happy about it, and also find good reasons for such smallness, such as that no one can (especially in the future) spent too long in the bathroom. When we feel cramped, kids are kicked outside - and again, while we all say we value having the kids be outside as much as possible, without good reason to send them there, I see it happen much less for other families. I think much has to do with what is considered normal and that also impacts the threshold that one has, as my complaints and such are no different than friends with thousands of square feet.

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  25. We currently live in a 1,800 sq ft home. There are 4 adults (me, my husband, my two younger brothers), 3 kids and a large dog. My brothers are moving out to live on their own, leaving my family with a house that is WAY too big for us. We are currently in the process of downsizing. We don't really want to live in an apartment, but in order to live in a house that's at or less than 1,000 sq feet, it's proving harder to find than we expected. But, I LOVE reading about your story - and knowing that a family of 5 really can live in a small space. It's refreshing, especially as most of our friends live in huge homes (3,000 sq ft+) and we are going the complete opposite.

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  26. We live in 400 sq ft with a family of 3 + 1 on the way and 3 dogs. The doggies stay outside during the day but come in at night. We also have 4 acres with a big garden and trails through the woods. Plus a large pole building/shop which we are s-l-o-w-l-y turning into a bigger house as we have the cash/time. We manage pretty well in our tiny home.

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  27. My Mom has some 3 acres with an old mobile home on it, an outdoor laundry room, and a huuuuuuge metal workshop. We have two children (energetic boys, 3 and 6). We are hoping to turn the washroom into a tiny house. We've gutted and cleaned it out. We are trying to figure out how to design the inside/insulate it, and run more power lines. While solar is the most desirable, we want to tie to the grid just in case. So, solar will be our focus once everything is up and running well. We have an underground well with a pump that we have to run. Our goal: get the tiny wash house in a condition that we can live in, and clear some of the land so we can grow our own food/have chicks, goats, and rabbits. I've been looking at a lot of videos on the internet about folks who build furniture that has multiple uses, or that folds away into the wall. Does anyone have any advice for us? We do hope to expand our family, within a couple of years (after we get settled in the tiny house). Hubby would have a shop to work in, and the kids would have Mom's 3 acres, and 9 more acres that belongs to relative, to run around on. We home school (love it!), and I think the woods (and a garden/livestock pen) would be an exciting classroom. Am I just wishful thinking, or do you all who have come before us think it could actually be done?

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  28. My husband and I are expecting our first child, and instead of 'going bigger' space-wise, as most people would predict, were going smaller. Weekend after next, we are moving from our 1100 sq ft home to a 400 sq ft guest house on our inlaws' property. We are lucky to have them as doting caregivers for our child, as I am a physician, sometimes with long hours and my husband largely works outside of the home as well.
    We are also fortunate because we were able to design & build the guest house ourselves, floor to rafters. We chose a high pitched ceiling and lots of natural light to give the space openness and volume. Were painting the walls white, and have one large wall completely dedicated to shelving. Were employing under-the-bed and under-couch storage. We've parsed down our belongings by 90%, bringing with us only the essentials and storing the rest with family.
    We have long felt we use much less space than our 1100 sq ft home provides. Maybe a half to two-thirds of it really doesn't get used--the whole dining room, half the living room, the breakfast nook, the spare bedroom we use as an office (minus the desk itself) and our 2nd bathroom really are extras we don't need.
    In the new home, we will have 4 walls to ourselves, a door to shut for napping baby, and plans to build a sleeping loft for us, given the high ceiling, once the baby's big enough past a bassinet by the bed. We also have a large shared patio, French doors leading to our own private patio, and a great park half a block away.
    Most people would think were crazy, willingly (and eagerly!) choosing this scenario. But my husband and I have long been revelers in cozy, small spaces. When I was eleven, I moved out of the big bedroom and chose one half it's size. My husband and I each independently found Tumbleweed Houses online, long before the wave of 'tiny homes' became a movement. We were intrigued by the efficient use of space. I am excited for the creative challenge of maximizing our vertical space without the place looking cluttered. I also look forward to just 'having less'--worrying about less stuff, an having to account for it. So for us, downsizing at the time your family is growing is the right move. Other than accumulating too many baby toys, if anyone has tips for us in this venture, were always looking for great ideas! Thanks!

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  29. I have 775sq ft and 5 people. 2 adults and a 5,4 and 2 yr old and a new baby in 6 months. Its an apartment with no outside soace, so I feel cramped. We have very little excess "stuff"
    I would love another 300 sq ft.

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  30. Wecurrently live in a 3bd 2bth 1800sqft condo. We have a 21/MO old and 7yr old . I want a tiny house, but hubby thinks we wouldn't have enough space. I'm all about simplifying. I know it could be awesome for us! We homeschool, and love to travel. A tiny house would let us be mobile and bring our house wherever we want to go! ;) just need to keep working on hubby!

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  31. Hi! I have a family of 4 (husband, 3yr old, 7yr old and myself). We live in a room that's 225 sq ft. Actually we co-rent a small two bedroom apartment in NYC with a lady and her son, also 7.
    The kitchen and bathroom, which are small, bare bones spaces, are shared.

    Weather permitting, we walk around the neighborhood, go to parks, stores, zoos, museums, etc. In winter, we play in the snow, meander through stores, go to Chuck E Cheese, visit friends & family. When we're stuck inside we cook, read, craft,crochet, talk, play board games, card games, puzzles, 20 questions, 'rock/paper/scissors' , tic tac toe, hangman, charades, Barbies. We play pretend restaurant, school, Iron chef, day care. We do yoga, Pilates, hold sit-up and plank contests (my kids ALWAYS beat me!). We meditate, tell stories, sing, dance, write letters, do homework, study Italian and RARELY watch TV. My kids are never without something to do. (Please notice, I said 'we', because often misbehavior is just a means to get attention.)

    And yes sometimes they misbehave because. ..they are children. Even kids (and adults!) with huge houses, and tons of "things" act up. It's part of being human. When we do get cabin fever (we all do from time to time), we use it as a opportunity to practice self control, patience, creativity, etc.

    We also practice minimalism, and follow a "zero waste" lifestyle which help keep our space clean, healthy and clutter-free(ish) . Boarding or co-renting is actually very common in NYC. Especially among the latin community. It can be done.

    We had our own 1bedroom apartment once, for a year and never, ever used the living room. We spent most of our time outside, but at work. Our first born, at daycare. Nobody was happy.

    We didn't want to pay the same (or higher!) rent for a studio so we decided to rent a room. The only problem we've ever had has not been about space rather too much stuff. Now that we practice minimalism, we have more than enough space, even when we're indoors.

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  32. My husband and I also live in a 225 sq ft apartment like your friend. It has 1 full closet and 2 half closets so we don't need any dressers and we are more aware of not buying/keeping things we don't need. We have a window overlooking a forest that fills the entire area of one of our walls so we don't really feel cramped. Honestly, with just the two of us for now, we wonder what we would even need the extra space for.

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  33. My family of 6 is considering buying a 600sf home on 1 acre close to several small lakes. We'd be downsizing from our 1400sf home. The one good thing is the house does have a basement, that could possibly be finished or at the least be storage. The only issue with that is my husband needs a f/t home office, so we'd have to figure that out. Otherwise I think it's very doable!

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  34. My husband, two year old son and I live in our 359 sq/ft apt. We have an amazing garden which is a huge luxury living in San Francisco. We have loved living here especially because we have family right on the same block. But we are expecting another member to our family this spring and I'm staring to get nervous, do we have enough room? How am I going to get them to nap? How can I squeeze every inch out of this place.

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  35. In right there with ya. We live in 400 sq ft, and we are expecting our 2nd child in 3 mos. I'm sure you already use floor-to-ceiling storage and under-bed, under-couch (under and furniture!) baskets for storage. We also have a great outdoor space and 3 parks close by, so we're lucky. I don't think kids really care about how much indoor space they have as long as they get outside a lot. I, too, am getting nervous about the 2nd child coming, as our little boy will only be 17 mos old when baby #2 arrives. Just pare down your belongings to only the essentials (will also bring you clarity and peace of mind!). I wish I could help more with ideas; just sending you good space-saving vibes! Let us know how it goes!

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    1. Thank you and just sharing and hearing other stories really makes me feel like we aren't as crazy as some people think. I love how close we are and it feels right to live in a small space. Just have to keep re adapting and re prioritizing and we will be just fine. The children will nap. Congrats to you too.

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