Tuesday, February 19, 2013

{Downsizing on Purpose}

We purchased our first home in Richmond, Virginia shortly before my son was born back in 2006. At the time we were certain that the 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home would be absolutely perfect for our little growing brood. 

Or so we thought. *dun, dun, dunnnn*

Fast forward four years later and our little abode on Milbrae Lane had all but lost it's charm. Our family room, you know the sterile room reserved for company, became a volcano of unorganized books and toys. I had no idea what was even being played with and it was just as confusing for kids. They would ransack the space and when the floor was covered, begin lugging other toys into the den, dining room and kitchen. They NEVER played in their bedrooms since they were upstairs--too far away from everyone else. Their rooms were just more toy storage and more square footage for me to dust and vacuum. It was hard to get upstairs and clean as this meant I had to move the whole gang and their activities from one level to the next. And oh.my.god the dust, dust, dust-- I just couldn't keep up with all the dust! 

The maintenance on a larger, older home is daunting. I'm not exaggerating, it was always something. The high gutters were impossible for Shannon to reach on a ladder yet the high trees all around us made easy work of keeping them full. Our driveway was cracking and the deck was crumbling. Inside was one malfunctioning appliance or faulty fixture after the next. The words money pit come to mind. Between everything breaking and the overwhelming amount of cleaning that needed to be done, we were always frazzled, always thinking about what we needed to be doing. It was not worth the stress and the time it took away from our family. 

Perhaps our biggest issue was money. Between maintenance and a high mortgage payment, we had little extra money to do anything but wallow in the mess. We were living in a suburb close to so many activities yet we were so isolated by our lack of financial resources to participate in any of them.

We had to make a change. And we did. 

The opportunity presented itself for us to move out into the country, close to my family. We had been floating the idea around for quite a while and decided to take the leap. Our new home was a 3 (small) bedroom, 1200 square foot, split-level in the heart of Virginia. We would make it work.

The downsizing process:

We both agreed that we needed to seriously downsize our "stuff" so the first step for us was a yard sale. It was easier to sell our things with the mindset that we didn't want it cluttering our lives in our new home. A good rule of thumb is to sell anything that hasn't been used in a year. That tidbit helped me let go of clothing and kitchen gadgets that were pretty but lacked practicality. 

Excess children's clothing, toys and gear were tagged and put in a consignment sale. Children's items do better sold this way than at a yard sale. Worth it for the little extra work of tagging. We sold almost a thousand bucks worth of stuff we didn't know we had! Sad but true but awesome! 

We eyeballed our new space and did our best to figure out exactly where everything would go. We even sketched out a floor plan for some of the rooms. If something didn't have a place it was either stored, sold or donated!

We have now lived in our smaller home for about 7 months and here are the benefits we are seeing:

1.   Way less cleaning. I mean way. I can deep clean the entire house from top to bottom in about 2 hours. I'm talking windows, floors, vacuuming, tubs, all of it. This was an entire days work before. 

2.   Smaller electric bill. 

3.   Here's an obvious one: Less stuff, less clutter. Enough said. 

4.   I can hear what the kids are up to from anywhere in the house. Before, if the kid's were upstairs and I was in the kitchen, I had no idea what they were busy destroying. I had to follow them like a puppy (a cranky one) all day. 

5.    No more super high staircase. Again, nuff said. 

6.    The challenge of making a small space work has been a fun for me! Getting innovative with organization and taking a hard look at what we really needed was worth it for the payoff. 

I'm just speculating here but the hardest part about downsizing for some people may be going against the societal norm of bigger is better. But having sort of lived the other side, I am not envious of the more space than you need lifestyle that comes with it. I'm enjoying my time with less chores, more time to do what I enjoy with less impact on the world around me. A downsized life has proved to be a freeing one. Here's what we're focusing on:

1 comment:

  1. this is the goal i am striving for also, with my disability and ill repair home. even tho much work is yet to be done...at least we will be able to navigate on clear floors and have eye candy space! hubby had been a packrat/hoarder, for lack of a better way to say it, before we met. convincing him to rid of stuff is like pulling teeth! at this point, i am getting the job done with him retired and his hobby has his attention. now i rid of things readily. if i find i need his help he will help. he is only barely aware of what is even left around, i am liking this. thank you for your article, so refreshing.