Small space, new reality – how small can you go?
I spent years living full-time in a 26-foot trailer with my husband. In this home-is-where-you-park-it lifestyle, we flourished with less space and more mobility.
While I don’t need sprawling rooms, just how minimalist can a person go with their living space?
Sure, compact condos and micro homes are evident solutions to crowded urban centres, but will people without options feel satisfied when they’re forced to go small?
Some are fine with small. Take those millennials who encounter their own brand of space restrictions. In an Avenue Edmonton piece by Ron Messenger, he interviewed “simplifiers” who gave up space and found better balance.
One woman came to terms with her debt load and material possessions – neither made her happy. She moved out of a three-bedroom home and into a 590-square-foot apartment, bringing only the basics. Before disposing of much of her stuff, she digitized important documents and photographed keepsakes.
Although learning to live within a smaller footprint isn’t easy at first, the trade-off is more freedom with money and time, including the time to connect with community.
Beyond financial and emotional aspects, downsizing has environmental benefits. The City of Edmonton recommends 500 square feet of living space per person, a choice that will help Edmontonions reduce their energy demands. The result is less fossil fuel and greenhouse gases.
But there are critics of this trend. Alexis Sobel Fitts writes that tiny homes allow developers to exploit urbanites by charging premium prices for small spaces. And Jacoba Urist argues that living in a tiny space can take a psychological toll. “Experts warn that micro-living may not be the urban panacea we’ve been waiting for,” she says.
Wait. Not all micros homes are created equal. Housing for the poor, for instance, where large families are crammed into low-income units with no access to public green spaces and libraries is one swing of the pendulum. The opposite swing is toward small units that offer much of what humans need for satisfaction – access to privacy and security as well as a pleasing design with natural light.
No matter how you construct both the argument and the home, if people are forced to live in small spaces, they won’t necessarily be happy. Throw in what people consider “crowding” and now there’s more to discuss.
Me? I’m cozy in small spaces, and yet I grew up in a four-bedroom bungalow with a large yard. I’m fortunate that my pleasures come with a minimalist wish list, especially in today’s crazy-high real estate prices.
I have a pragmatic attachment to my belongings. Use them? Love them? No to both? Then recycle or give them away. Costco will never be my BFF – I don’t have the capacity for 32 rolls of toilet tissue, and I’ve no place to hoard in my compact world. But at least I never lose my remotes. For long.
What about you? Ready for 500 square feet or are you already a “simplifier”?
Guest Author Bio
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