#ourdownsizingjourney: A Year In The Life

Hi Everyone!

Happy Tuesday friends. So, its been a little over a year since we took the plunge into downsized living guys.  I can’t even believe how quickly the time has flown by. Our lives have changed quite a bit since moving into our bungalow, and I figured today’s as a good a day as any to talk about some of the joys and pains of moving into a home half the size of that of our previous home. The changes have been both physical and emotional, and our family is still living and learning everyday from a different perspective than we were accustomed to.  I wanted to share what the process has meant for us and how we’ve been adjusting.

BUT WHY?

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of it, we should probably start with the most common question I get.  Girl, why? There are a ton of reasons why we chose to downsize, but it all comes down to the fact that we genuinely felt the need for a major change.  Wanting to live in a little old house had been in my heart and on my mind for years, and one day I woke up and realized It was time. When we first purchased our last home we knew it wasn’t our forever home, rather it was our way to get our foot in the door in the housing market. We couldn’t afford our desired area with beautiful period homes, but we could afford the area filled with new builds and that was  (unfortunately) riddled with foreclosures. We told ourselves going into that purchase that we’d probably only be there about 5 years, or until the housing market recovered. We weren’t drowning in our last home, but it was pricey, and every year it seemed to get more and more expensive.  Between the mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance, utilities, etc. I didn’t feel like it was worth the rat race anymore.  Throw in the fact that every house looked the same, were piled on top of one another, we barely knew our neighbors (after living there for 3 years), and there were parts of the house we literally rarely even went into, and the decision to make the change was quite easy. Our house was beautiful and spacious and we had plenty of room to spread out, but we found that we were spending the majority of our time in the same few areas of our home.  We simply realized we just weren’t using all the space.

We also considered that the year prior to us making the decision to sell our daughter was accepted into a charter school with a K-12 program and we were commuting her there.  When our son was also accepted into the same program we evaluated whether or not we wanted to keep having to commute. I had also been wanting to be a work from home mom for some time, and with the kids now in the charter system it was the perfect time to transition into that.  Charter schools require you to provide your child’s transportation to and from school and they require a lot of involvement from the parents, so there would no longer be the bus to take them to school.  This would also save us about $1000 a month in before and after school child care with me leaving the away from home work scene.

Speaking of the kids….We were surrounded by McMansions, and their friends had the latest this and the best that. They were starting to come to expect that of us. I realized my own kids were starting to take on a sense of entitlement. The one thing I don’t want is entitled kids who grow up to be entitled adults. It’s important for me that my kids understand that just because people live in a small home, it doesn’t mean they are poor or less than.  I wanted them to understand that a large house and expensive cars and tons of things, don’t necessarily translate into happiness. I wanted them to understand that home isn’t about the size of the dwelling, it’s about family and community. I wanted them to understand that although there are societal pressures to move up to “bigger and better”, that’s not everyone’s dream.

THE GOOD

I’ve been in love with smaller homes since I was a little girl.  The happiest place in the world to me was my grandmothers home. Its a small, humble place but it always felt really really big. Our family spent so much time together in that house and we created the most amazing memories there. Even though my parents always lived in larger suburban homes, nothing ever felt as good as grammy’s little house in the country. The minute I walked into our little bungalow I knew it was the one.

1. Right away one of the things that makes the pros list about our new home is its curb appeal and character.  Our last home was new construction, so things like original white oak hardwood floors, smooth walls, built-in niches and hutches, solid wood doors,  wood burning fireplace, checkered floors, etc. weren’t part of the deal.

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2. Cleaning the house takes half the time it used to. I can get the entire house clean and pulled together in about an hour.

3.  Financial savings. Cutting our square footage in half also cut our financial responsibilities by a lot. We made a pretty decent amount of money when we sold our house and we used that to pay down debt and put a good down payment on this house. This house was purchased for much less than what we sold our house for, so we set ourselves up to build a lot of equity overtime with our fixer upper. Which in turn helps secure our  financial future.

4.  I read somewhere once that small homes build close families. We spend a ton of time around each other now and the kids have mentioned that they love how we are all physically closer to one another now. I love that my mom ears stretch in this house!

5. Piggy backing on the financial aspect, I feel much less guilt splurging on things around the house. Yes, I could splurge before, but now that our spaces are smaller I really focus on getting the best quality possible.  I’m ok with spending more on the perfect chair or table because I don’t have tons of furniture to buy anymore.

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6. Freedom.  Since we’ve downsized we have a lot more freedom to live! I know it sounds crazy, but I feel like we actually live now.   We travel and do more things outside of our home. Before we felt like we couldn’t make that a priority because the cost of living was our main focus.

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7. I get to stay home and focus on my kids and my passion.  This is probably the biggest advantage that’s come from our move. I’ve wanted to be a stay at home mom for years and It just wasn’t possible when we lived in a larger house. We needed two steady, dependable sources of income to cover costs.

8. We have the most amazing neighbors.  The sense of community in this home is so wonderful. Our neighbors are phenomenal. Its old school here and that’s what we love.  Within a week we knew everyone. They stopped by with cards and dishes and welcomed us. We have block parties and watch over one another like family.  We never had that before.

9. We live much more simply. I relish in the joys of how much easier day to day things are now. Cutting back feels like a breath of fresh air.

THE CHALLENGES

Our move has been such an amazing and positive thing for us, but let me tell ya, there are definitely some challenges that come with cutting things down by half overnight.

1. Sharing a single bathroom is NOT the business! This makes the top of the list friends.  Its hard.  We had 3 bathrooms before and going down to a single bathroom with 3 girls (including a teenager), 2 women, and a little boy had been interesting, at best. Naomi hates it. It was almost  a deal breaker with the house, but we knew we would eventually add on and build a new one.  Than day isn’t happening fast enough!

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2. We don’t have a master bedroom.  I’ve mentioned this before, but we don’t actually have a bedroom.  Our daughter is in the master and we are in a room that was added on as a den. We are making it work, but we definitely cant wait to be in a legit space….with a dedicated bathroom.

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3. Purging is difficult for me.  I’m a maximalist guys.  I truly and sincerely LOVE everything that comes into my home. I love my rooms full and layered so it’s really hard for me to not have a place for something.

4. I miss a large dining space. I love to entertaining and having big dinner parties.  We had to part with our huge dining table in the move so its been challenging not being able to have a service for 10 at the table.  We find ways around it, but I do miss a larger dining area.

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5. Its been tough for my daughter. It took a while for her to grasp living in a smaller home. She was 12 when we made the move so to her it was a major loss to leave our old house. She loves new homes and in her eyes, the bigger the better.  As she has friends over and they tell her how much they love our house she’s starting to see things through their eyes now.

With all that said I’m still incredibly grateful and happy we took the plunge.  Its been the perfect thing for our family. After reading and researching and weighing the pros and cons we made the decision because we felt it was something we would benefit from, and we have.  It hasn’t been all peaches and rainbows, and it’s definitely NOT for everyone. I was really inspired by Dana’s and Carmella’s downsizing journeys as we approached our own and it really helped us determine if this was something we really wanted to do. It’s about changing your perspective, the way you think, and it affects so many areas of your life.  In the end we made the right decision.

Until next time loves…..

Xo-Shavonda

 

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