The Upside of Downsizing: Five People, One Bathroom, Six Months Later

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Last year, our family made the decision to sell our 4 bedroom home, along with its half acre lot, garage, etc. and downsize. What makes this a bit unique is that we took our dog and 3 kids and moved into a 2- bedroom 960 sf loft apartment in a commercial building we own. I am an architect and my husband is a realtor and we renovate and reuse historic properties. We had done a great deal of work to our previous home, and the market provided a strong opportunity to sell, so we did. In our new space, our boys share a lofted bedroom space and hidden game area, while our teenage daughter has her own room. We have ultra-hip exposed brick and a soaring black ceiling. But cool design features only go so far. Now, several months later, I have the clarity to reflect on downsizing. Here’s my list of what’s working and what needs work:

 

What’s Really Great About Downsizing

  • SO. MUCH. LESS. TO. CLEAN. (one toilet versus four)
  • we spend more time together-because there’s literally nowhere else to go
  • new, modern finishes are easier to clean (than old repainted woodwork) and we love the cool vibe we created
  • less expense-we eliminated a mortgage from our life with this move, and it is hard to consider going back
  • limited space is easier to keep tidy on a daily basis
  • limited space means you have to decide what is important enough to keep, or buy in the first place-and has definitely increased my mindfulness of being lured to allllll the cute things in Target 
  • no lawn care or snow removal-(having had a large yard, driveway, and pool to care for previously) my husband is in heaven with a shorter to-do list

What’s Not So Great About Downsizing

  • distance from the car to the kitchen-carrying groceries for a family of 5 is a pain, especially in the winter
  • taking out the trash and recycling is an actual chore
  • no attached garage; see two items above
  • lack of overall storage, but especially a large pantry
  • it’s hard to get away from each other-because there’s literally nowhere else to go (a pro and a con with Tweens!)
  • the dog has to actually be walked, not just lazily let out a patio door to chase squirrels and bark at joggers
  • waiting for the bathroom-call me spoiled, but I’d like more than one bathroom again

Much of this comes as no surprise. Some things, like walking the dog, have become great chores for the kids, and has actually made the dog easier to take care of, as…her em- system operates like clockwork now that she gets walked regularly after every meal. 

What’s next for us remains to be seen. We miss hosting large gatherings, sleepovers, and holidays and we are in process to adopt one or more additional children. This was never meant to be a permanent move for us. But downsizing has certainly been an exercise in minimalism, as well as discipline in behavior and space sharing. Would I recommend it? Yes. Is it for everyone? NO. But I have appreciated that our careers and lifestyle allowed for us to make this counter-cultural move, and I’m sure it’s one our kids will never forget!

 

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