My Tumbleweed Year: Small Space Living
The total area of the house I live in is 117 sq. ft and I share it with a friend. Most people's backyard toolsheds are bigger than that. Americans have been known for having huge houses. The average ideal house size is 2,100 sq. ft. So my friend and I live in a space that is about 5% of the "ideal space".
But for us, the space that we live in is ideal.
Our situation is a bit unique. We live as intern-residents at a retreat center which means the kitchen and all the food we eat is shared. There are also public bathrooms.
So really, our tiny house is a tiny bedroom on wheels. However, understandably, even that is crazy for the majority of people. But think of the joy that comes with it. We can get up in the morning and step out into a large orange orchard and at night we can fall asleep in what feels like a cozy hand-built fort of our childhood dreams. Oh and did I mention we did build it by hand. So it feels great to be abiding in a structure that we put our own hard work into.
It isn't easy, or course. There are some the things that we don't have that others would miss. There is no wifi connection. (Yes you heard correctly. We had the option, but decided to save the internet for our offices.) There is no television, less privacy, and obviously a lot less space for a lot less stuff. There is a bed against the back wall and a bed in the loft. Sort of like bunk beds. At times it feels cramped, but you make room and after a while you get used to it.
So why do we like where we live?
1. Less space means less stuff - I have been living with only the essentials for a while and a tiny house fits with that lifestyle. It's simple. But even if I hadn't been living with less I can see how having to reduce your possessions in order to live in a smaller space would be a good goal. Downsizing means $$. And not money to buy more things, but to do fun stuff, like travel or continue your education.
2. Less stuff means less stress - Staying simple means not having to worry. Because I am not overwhelmed by the many distractions a larger house can bring, I have the time to focus on what really matters.
3. Less stress means more mental space - With less stress and less things, there naturally is less clutter mentally. Which means there is clarity and freshness. It's funny how having a tinier space can lead to a healthier and happier mind, but trust me, it's true.
4. And more time to relax - I feel like I can relax when I relax. This may sound silly, but how many times have you found time to relax only to realize you can't relax. Your mind begins to wander to the messy garage or the backyard that needs to be mowed again. You finally find the time to chill and suddenly you're thinking of a thousand things. With a smaller space, it's easier to know where everything is (because it's all in one room) and what needs to be done (which is a shorter to-do list.) And any time to relax is relaxing.
5. And more creativity - Limits can sometimes mean the beginning of freedom as we've seen. By limiting some parts of our lives other parts can gain space. Limits also allow us to focus on the goal and on what we really want.
I'm not alone in loving a smaller space. Americans' ideal living space lowered in the last decade from 2,300 sq. ft to 2,100. It means we're starting to realize that bigger isn't always better. That wanting to keep up with the Jones' might mean starting a new trend instead, a trend of smaller, healthier, happier, and more efficient small space living.