Living Small

Living Small

When we purchased our home in early 2011, we were a family of 3 and the 1343 square feet was more than enough house for our small family.

There were a few things about the house that we weren’t crazy about. It is a 1.5 bathroom (we preferred 2), the kitchen is small and the laundry is in the carport. We compromised on those factors because the house is a charming 70s brick ranch on an acre in the area where we wanted to be. Plus, the price was well below the budget we had set when we began searching for a home.

We knew we were going to be able to comfortably grow our family in this home.

Living Room

With the announcement of our third pregnancy, we started to get questions and comments like “where will you put the baby?” and “you’re going to need a bigger house.”

Our answers were “we’ll put the baby in the room with his/her brothers” and “we have plenty of room.”

As the months passed, we started thinking that maybe our house wasn’t big enough.

Simple math says it’s small. Our 1343 square foot house divided by 5 people is 268.6 square feet per person. (We realized that per person, our house was smaller than our 576 square foot first apartment! We had 288 square feet per person there.)

A few weeks after Cecilia was born, John David was browsing real estate listings and an 1,800 square foot home on 7 acres with a barn and shop caught his attention. We went and looked at it and fell in love with the farm. Within a few days, we decided we were going to sell our home so we could buy a farm.

Throughout the month of May, we had several inquiries and a few showings and were hopeful that our home would sell quickly so we could buy the larger home and farm.

Towards the end of May, we started really questioning whether this was the right move for our family and began praying for direction. Sure, the 1,800 square foot house (with a bonus room, attached garage and fireplace) on 7 acres was exactly what we wanted. But, was it what was right for our family now?

We started evaluating the work of keeping up a farm. John David’s job is not only a job, it’s his calling. With his job he’s not home every single night of the week at the same time. With 3 small children, I don’t want the responsibility of having to care for a farm on his long nights. Plus, the honest truth is we have a hard time caring for our acre (and nearly half of it is wooded). The care of 7 acres seems quite daunting.

We also looked long and hard at finances. Yes, we can afford the larger home. The asking price was a figure we can afford, at least on paper. Figuring the mortgage payment on the larger home into our budget worked but it left very little money and our budget would be very tight. To us, it’s not really worth having a larger home if we can’t live life because all of our money is going to the house!

But, we need more space, right? Well, 500 more square feet would definitely be nice but isn’t a necessity, at least at this point in our life. We’re comfortable in our current home. Our boys share a large bedroom, Cecilia now has her own room and there’s plenty of space for the things we own, especially since we choose to live minimally.
Dining Room

We’ve decided that living small in this house means we can really live large.

An affordable mortgage means our finances are not super tight.

Since our finances are not super tight, we can spend more on healthy food, eating out and experiences. Plus, we’re able to be more generous since we’re not simply scraping by every month.

Living in 1343 square feet means we have to be intentional about our possessions as a family of 5. We evaluate purchases not only based on whether we can afford the item but also based on if we have space for it and if it is a necessity. We choose to live minimally but our home also forces us to live minimally since we don’t want to be overrun with stuff!

We’re content living small. But, we really think we’re living large.

(And, the lovely pictures in this post were taken for our house listing. My house is never, ever this tidy!!)




responses to “Living Small” 14

  1. Good article. A smaller home also allows a family to spend more time together which can result in stronger relationships.This is not a bad thing!

  2. I commend y’all for making this decision. Coming from a person that has a 4000 square feet home and 5 acres, we bit off way more than we could chew at least at this point in our lives. Mostly with the amount of land to take care of and because we have more space, We have more area to get cluttered. So until you are just completely busting at the seams, enjoy the low maintenance of your home. 🙂

  3. based on our family's experiences, you made a good decision! we are a family of five (all three are teens now) living in 1600 sq ft. we have made the mistake in the past of thinking "bigger is better", and as we have gotten older (and wiser, for sure!), we realize that less means less stress and more freedom. we live within our means and are able to travel more with our kids, and our lives are simpler and easier. we also have 2 boys and a girl, and our boys have shared a room very well. and sometimes we even have had a 6th person living with us (we are fortunate to have 4B/2BA), so we have been able to be used by God to help others by living with less. thank you for sharing your story, it encourages us all!

  4. I think it’s great you realized it was not the best move right now. We live in a small home as well- a 3 bedroom ranch with 1000sq ft upstairs and just a small space partially finished in the basement, so pretty similar to your total space. We’ve even contemplated an addition bc our kitchen is small but in the end it all comes down to contentment and I’d rather live in a smaller home and be able to vacation and travel, things that are really important to me. Families in smaller homes are closer and I think it’s good for kids to share bedrooms. When you think about how the rest of the world lives, our house is actually quite large and luxurious… It’s all about perspective. My grandparents raised 5 kids in a house not too much larger than ours. I’ve always said we could do it too if it really came to that!! So far we just have 2 little girls however so we are plenty roomy right now! The key is knowing how to maximize space and how to keep things to a minimum. Moving always will cost money, esp if you already have a mortgage and some equity. I’d rather take that 10-50k and invest it for our future.

    This all being said, when the time comes, i would love a slightly larger home. Just because my husband is 6,4 and our current ceilings are all very low!!

    1. Love your perspective too! You're so right, knowing how to maximize space makes a big difference. And, we also would like a larger (maybe 1,800 sf) home in 5 years or so since we're planning on homeschooling and hope to have at least one more baby!

  5. Love this post, Rachel! We are currently in a 996 square foot apartment. We moved in as a family of three and we are now five! We are itching for more space – mainly some sort of garage/storage. Right now a corner of our bedroom is dedicated to storage of 2 Christmas totes, hunting gear tote, gun/bow storage etc – not the tranquil room I dream of! Right now Amelia and Joe share a room and Jackson is in his own room. Eventually the boys will share and she will have her own space and, if necessary, we could make that happen here. Hopefully we will have our own home before that time comes!

    Even with my desire for just a *little* more space I wouldn't ever trade our small space for a home that is too big for us! When the time comes to purchase our first home I can honestly say we would only be looking for about 500 more square feet at this point. Living in this small apartment for so many years has really been teaching us valuable lessons on "living small."

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