I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of Small House Living recently. My blogging friend, Lori, has shared about their family’s fairly radical decision to downsize to an RV and travel around the country as a family.
This in and of itself is impressive. But it’s even more impressive when you find out that they are doing this with four kids in tow.
Part of the idea of voluntarily downsizing appeals to me in a big way because I don’t like extra clutter and stuff. On the flip side, the thought of living out of a really small space sounds like a recipe for lots of tension. Namely, I like to have quiet places to retreat and living in such a small space might make me feel like I’d go crazy after awhile.
There can be a lot of benefits to downsizing, though, if even for a short period of time.
When I was 10 years old, my parents sold our house and moved all 7 of us (there were only five kids at the time!) to a single wide trailer for 7 months while we built a home in the country. Since our living space was very limited, we put most of our household items in storage and only kept out the essentials.
We have so many memories from that summer in the trailer, most of them good memories. And we discovered a lot of benefits to living in a small space. Such as:
- We hardly spent any time cleaning. My mom divvied up the household chores amongst all of us and with only 6 total rooms in the trailer, that meant very few chores to go around!
- It fostered togetherness. We couldn’t really go off by ourselves because there wasn’t a lot of space, so we had to learn how to get along even in tighter quarters! I have many fond memories of nights spent all together in the living room reading before bed.
- We made our own entertainment. We weren’t able to bring many of our toys/things along, so we had fun using what we had for forms of entertainment. We built an elaborate tree “house” using things left in the old barn. We experimented in the kitchen with new recipes that only used the microwave, crock pot, or electric skillet (we didn’t have an oven in the trailer). And my older sister did a lot of sewing since she was able to bring her sewing machine.
- We became more grateful. My parents were investing most of their money into the house-building project so there wasn’t a lot of extra cash that summer. I distinctly remember it being the first time in my life where we had to do without and I remember how much contentment and gratefulness this helped me develop.
- It taught us the difference between a need and something that’s nice to have. There are many things we had to put in storage that summer that we’d always assumed you needed to live. But we realized that, if you can survive without it for 7 months, it’s probably less of a necessity and more of something that’s nice to have. It’s good to learn from a young age that there are very few real needs in life. I’m grateful for the conveniences of things like ovens and dishwashers and dryers, but you can survive just fine without them, as we did for those 7 months.
I was reading Kathi Lipp’s new book called Clutter Free recently and she talks about their decision not to move up in house, but rather to downsize in stuff.
She lists off a number of benefits for living in a smaller house, including:
- Smaller houses are less expensive to furnish than larger houses.
- Smaller houses are less expensive to heat and cool compared to comparably built larger homes.
- Smaller houses force you to use all of your home.
- Smaller houses force you to be intentional about your possessions.
I love her conclusion that, much of the time, we don’t need a bigger house, we need less stuff. If you’re feeling cramped in your space and like your family is bursting at your house seams, make sure you’ve eliminated all the unnecessary clutter and extras first before you starting shopping for a bigger house.
Have you ever downsized before — even for a short time? Do you think you could do what Lori’s family is doing and downsize your family to an RV? Why or why not? I’d love to hear!
For inspiration, check out this article: 12 of the Most Impressive Tiny Houses You’ve Ever Seen