Empty Nester Living Large in Small Accommodations

Living in “small” spaces is the new challenge today. “Tiny” living is life in an itty-bitty, little house, and they can range from 117 square feet to no more than 500 square feet. Now that’sseriously small living! Although some “small” houses might go as big as 874 square feet, and that is pure luxury living.

Downsizing to a small space is trending today in a big way. In view of the present economy, the high mortgage payments—and then, of course, there is the expense of a home’s maintenance to consider—are making it difficult for even a small family of three, with both partners working, to make ends meet. So downsizing is really catching on.

But can you image living in a mere 117 square feet of space?

I don’t live in a “tiny” house, though at one time (very briefly, mind you!) I discussed the idea with my husband (while we were in the midst of looking to buy a home). I have, however, recently moved from living in a sizeable 3,200 square feet home (three-bedroom, three-bathroom, two-car garage)—all set on a very large property, on one and a half acres, in fact—and settled into a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment, measuring only 760 square feet. So when I say that I have truly and sincerely downsized my living space and made cuts from spacious comfort, comfort I’ve known most of my married life, I am not kidding.

Talk about making serious mental adjustments...not to mention a sober modification in my attitude!

I will confess that it was of my own free will that I am now living in an apartment. Before making the final decision to do so, my husband and I discussed all that the change would probably entail, in all aspects of our life. Money was first considered: a definite plus in savings, when one itemizes the cost of utilities (water, garbage and electricity) at the end of each month. A little means with which to finally get some travel in, something we’ve coveted all our thirty-two years married! But other factors would also alter our long-time set ways of comfortable living: learning to move around in a cramped kitchen (both hubby and I like to cook!), sharing one bathroom/one sink/one toilet (I must usually wait for the air to clear when I want to brush my teeth or take a shower! Because I am a rather squeamish individual by nature!), having neighbors that are too loud, below, above, next door, outside, and immediate privacy (we and the neighbors can probably see and hear each other from our balcony and living-room and bedroom window).

Did I mention we are also sharing our place, our tiny bathroom, with a cat who does take up his share of our space?

As a newbie Empty Nester learning to survive in less than one-fourth of the space I was used to has without-doubt proven to be a challenge. Sometimes a real throbbing headache, if I am going to be honest. And here is where I am glad my husband and I are doing this now, alone, and not with our brood dependant on us making them comfortable. I cannot even imagine “living small” with my nest full.

I actually raved and ranted and cried a lot in the first few weeks!

Downsizing made it necessary that I purge much from my many years of accumulations; it meant I had to part with many of my unnecessary treasures; it meant reorganizing; it meant living uncomplicated. And, believe-you-me, there really is much that I must now do without, in order to make “small living” work. But I have also gotten very creative (if I do say so myself!), and even picked up a few things from watching “Tiny House Nation” and reading-up on what others that have made the transition to live “small” are doing. And I am determined and wholly committed to make it work.

I have learned: to stack furniture (such as bookcases) and even appliances (i.e. the toaster now sits over our portable convection oven), safely, high; to make use of no longer usable guinea pigs bottom cages (bleached clean) as extra storage for CD’s and DVD’s, then it simply tucks away under the bed (easily pulled in and out).

Ultimately my husband’s and my sanity is at stake! This is now more like Survival of the Fittest; learning to live large in my new, small accommodations.

Virginia Kahler-Anderson

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