A few years ago tiny house and small house living became derigeur amongst the simple living. There were lots of beautiful shots of tiny trailer houses sitting on big open prairies, or people living in converted buses. All wonderful and inspiring - and a complete pipe dream for nearly everyone this side of the Atlantic. Lack of prairies is the least of our problems with it.
And yet, plenty of us are managing to live small - albeit in less romantic, artisanal settings.
We live in one of those urban terraces that's been haphazardly extended and partitioned over the years, I'm sure you are familiar with them. We put it through its paces - 2 adults and 3 children in a one-and-a-half bedroom house, in approximately 700 square feet, plus a small yard and an unattached garage.
We only intended to stay a year. But we are now heading into our 7th year and have added 3 kids to the mix. Why?
Well, we completely lucked out - our landlords are wonderful; and having bought before the boom, they only require that we pay our rent on time and that it pays their pre-boom mortgage payment. The finish is a bit tatty, the kitchen really could do with a refit - but our rent is at least £150 cheaper than a comparable home in our street, one that doesn't have a garage or off road parking.
Our tiny rent has made it possible for me to work part time and for Mr Pumpkin to take a professional qualification that is now paying dividends. We have paid off debt and begun to save money at quite a pace now, none of which would have been possible if we moved to a bigger house in the area. The kids have had at least one of us at home for the past few year and never been put into nursery. We live in spitting distance of good schools, parks, local shops and the beach. The garage allows Mr Pumpkin to indulge his car tinkering obsession, whilst halving our car maintenance bill.
Small house living isn't without its challenges. Before I embraced my Slob Sisters Card Index, I had been known to shed tears over the state of the house. Smaller spaces get dirtier quicker - especially kitchens. I clean my cabinet fronts once a week and they still always seem to be splattered with something. Personal space is a problem, though we have become OK with sitting in a room together in comfortable silence when we need space. And even now, there are times when the clutter takes over and we have to rethink things.
This year looks like it will be our last year here; and ironically this is the year I feel we have truly learned to live in our small space. Even when we do move into a bigger one, our habits probably won't change all that much. I quite like living small.
If you have the opportunity to live in less house for less money, I highly recommend it as a path to prosperity. Too much house is too much rent or debt repayment. You don't need anywhere as much space as you think you do, once you get rid of your aspirational clutter, your duplicates and all of that stuff you never ever use anyway; and invest in some functional bits of furniture. It is far better to sock the extra cash away and have a few life experiences instead.
As an aside - interestingly, we do not meet statutory definitions of overcrowding. I shouldn't really be writing a post about something I apparently know nothing about!