Well, here we are. End of the road for Building Project #1.
Garrett is inside, changing all of the light bulbs to LEDs because he’s the best!
We have utilities and almost all of our stuff at the small house. Oh yeah, we live here, too! Due to the challenges this month presented, we had to take a break halfway through the move and focus on other priorities. Fortunately, we didn’t have to rush moving out of the big house since it hasn’t sold yet.
How did we get here?
For the new-ish followers, let’s get you caught up, shall we? If you’ve been reading since the beginning, perhaps out of familial obligation, feel free to skip ahead. Here’s the high-level, chronological overview of how we ended up here in our 500 sq ft house:
- Our first blog post, the one where we shouted into the vacuum of space what our goals are for sharing so many intimate details of our lives
- The purchase of our vacant lot where our small house resides
- Shortly after the purchase of our vacant lot, discovery of “building codes” and “minimum dwelling sizes“
- The first small house construction update, followed by the second construction update and then the third construction update
- A bunch of delays and then moving (FIN)
What’s life like in a 536 sq ft house?
I love it! I really, really love it. I knew after the first night that this was the right move. Our small house is cozy and fits all of our needs. Central HVAC is the BEST. Cleaning is QUICK. Did I mention I love this house?
Since it’s only been a couple of weeks and we were away for a bit, I can’t tell you immediately what all of the challenges and opportunities are relative to downsized living. I imagine that there will be continual references to our new way of life in future blog posts.
- Real Talk of Tiny Living #1: Clutter
- Real Talk of Tiny Living #2: Time
- Real Talk of Tiny Living #3: Diet
- Real Talk of Tiny Living #4: Routine
- Real Talk of Tiny Living #5: Noises
- Real Talk of Tiny Living #6: Smells
- Real Talk of Tiny Living # 7: Misconception
However, we knew that storage was going to be the biggest challenge in going from a 1,500 sq ft house to a 500 sq ft house, so we tried to plan ahead. Throughout spring and summer, we planned as much as we could for the space we thought we would have, spent hours upon hours decluttering. We sold stuff and donated more stuff. We thought we were streamlined. Haha.
In the 1,500 sq ft house, we had storage in every room of the house as well as an attic above our two-car garage. In the 500 sq ft house, we have one closet, no attic, no basement and no garage. All of our clothes, shoes, coats, exercise accessories, and much more are in this closet.
Needless to say, we’ve donated even more stuff since we moved in. And we devised this reversed hanger technique to determine what we wear v. what we don’t wear–whatever hanging items are left on reversed hangers next year will be donated!
See for yourself how we’ve made good use of this closet!
Max T. Cat doesn’t live in the closet. Also, we have too many shoes.
In the 1,500 sq ft house, we had two full bathrooms and closets in each of these bathrooms. In the 500 sq ft house, we have one bathroom and a vanity. Any goods that we stored in the bathroom closets before (i.e. soap, toilet paper) are now stored in the singular closet we have.
Thus far, the one-bathroom situation is working out well by simply staggering the time required to prepare for the day. Pretty straightforward.
In the 1,500 sq ft house, we had a TON of cabinetry, which we promptly filled with stuff (i.e. glass Pyrex containers, pounds of chia seeds). There aren’t any lower cabinets in the new house, so that’s a bit different. Though the upper cabinets are taller, offering more storage than we are used to, there are still some items for which we don’t have room. Extra bags of chia seeds and other food items are in a bucket in the kitchen–not sure what to do about this.
Our new appliances are Whirlpool and comparable (or better) in terms of efficiency than the LG appliances at the big house. No complaints on the appliance front.
In the living room, we have a TV stand with storage for our office supplies, printer, modem, router, movies and more. The coffee table serves an additional function by storing our blankets. But that’s it for living room storage.
Since the living room and kitchen are basically one room, it can be a bit noisy. Listening to music or watching TV aren’t possible when the dishwasher running–so we run the dishwasher when we aren’t at home or when we go to bed.
Utilities and Efficiency
Rather than steal Garrett’s thunder, I’ll just tell you to stay tuned for these updates when our bills arrive in the email. 🙂
Other Small House Improvements Unrelated to Storage
Since our vacant lot was once a throughway for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, we’ve had to install a picket fence. I thought that our presence would deter such traffic, but alas, it has not. I’ll pass out candy at Halloween so that the kids are happy again.
We’ve seeded the lot, an attempt to have a little bit of a yard. And I put a perennial grass out front to jazz it up.
Lastly, we’ll purchase a unitized washer/dryer in October–the laundromat nearby is way too expensive to be a sustainable option.
Are you interested in downsizing to a smaller house?
Are you considering downsizing to a smaller house? Many of our older posts focus on the logistics of such a move, so rather than discuss those details any further in this particular post, I thought I would provide a slightly different take on downsizing housing.
Regardless of the downsizing goal, whether that be 10,000 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft or 1,500 sq ft to 500 sq ft, it seems to me that downsizing has three components that will make or break any effort: perspective, patience, and perseverance.
- Perspective. For us, it’s been all about what we gain as a result of downsizing. We chose to downsize to be able to reduce our liabilities and expenses because our of our FI-minded perspective. Rather than focus on what we lost, we focus on what we gain.
- Patience. Numerous times in my life I have heard that patience is a virtue and never has this been more apparent than in a small house. We remain patient as we re-learn our routines, rather than choosing to frustrate as we trip over each other. We had a routine before. Now, we have a new routine. We’ll live. 🙂
- Perseverance. Just when we thought we didn’t have any more stuff to get rid of, we are presented with another space-related challenge. Because we persevere in our continuous improvement and downsizing efforts, what might appear to be a challenge is actually an opportunity to get closer to our ideal life. Separating the stuff we need on a daily basis from the stuff we “may need in the future” helps us focus on needs, critically important for our future tiny house adventure.
If you’re thinking about downsizing, there are bound to be a ton of things you may or may not consider today (like having two full bathrooms). You might even encounter some of the same challenges we have (or more). But I’m certain that if you maintain a growth perspective and a positive attitude, you can probably make a smaller house work for you. Yeah, it’s different, but you’ll live. 🙂
When does the next adventure begin?
The adventure for us is just beginning. This was the first small (house) step in the right direction.
Garrett has started planning for our tiny house, aka Two Cup House, aka Building Project #2. He’s working to establish baselines for electricity usage and water usage, two key elements that can make or break even the most enthusiastic tiny houser. I imagine Garrett will have many posts on the benefits/drawbacks of hauling solar panels around with us and whether or not it’s worth installing a composting toilet in Two Cup House.
Personal finance will continue to be an ever-present theme in our blog posts as it is an ever-present them in our downsized life. We’re working to pay off our debt in the next year, at which time we’ll invest in passive income for the future. Side hustling will also continue to be a theme in our posts, because we feel that side hustles are critical for us to achieve financial freedom. And the entrepreneurs in us want to try some new endeavors. We’re looking to launch two projects/side hustles in 2016–one project geared toward side hustlers looking for a new way to make $ while the other meets the needs of desperate consumers looking to improve health.
Like I said, the adventure is just beginning!