“Um, it’s…small,” I said to my husband as we toured the two-bedroom, two bath townhouse in D.C. But with a decent-sized yard and a price that came in under our housing allowance, my husband’s eyes gave him away -- he wanted this place, and I wanted him happy (here’s why).
So we squeezed our two small kids and all of our belongings into less than 1,200 square feet. And surprisingly, we are so happy we did.After more than a few rough nights, our boys, ages 3 and 1, now have a hard time sleeping without one another. My husband and I learning how to avoid the creaks in the very creaky floor. We have adapted to small living and the benefits of a cozier home.
Our top five big benefits of living small:1. Cut the crap. The first thing we did once we realized our boxes outnumbered available square footage was to decide to let it go -- all the stuff, that is. I think it’s common in the military to hold on to things for “someday” or the “forever home.” To a certain extent I think that’s okay.
But I found the large box of Tupperware had to go when I saw the limited kitchen storage, and I survived. We are fortunate enough to have an attic where I can store those memories that don’t have a place in our current home.
We were forced to take a closer look at what we needed versus what we thought we did, and as we let go of box after box after box of “stuff,” it was liberating to see that we actually “needed” very little.
2. Less mess. Something that everyone can appreciate about living in a smaller place is having less to clean! Yes, I only have two (very small) bathrooms, but I love having two very small bathrooms when it’s time to clean. It doesn’t mean our home is always spotless, but it makes the messes less obtrusive and the cleaning time a snap. Just like that, it’s done!
3. More time. Because we don’t have as much space, the chores are less cumbersome. We have had more time together in this home because we’ve removed the clutter and spend very little time keeping house.
Rounding up the boys for bath is easy since they’re never more than ten feet away (no, really…). And those giggles far outweigh an extra bedroom ... at least, for now!
4. Show me the money! Living in a smaller place has afforded us another bonus -- literally. We have a few extra bucks at the end of each month. It is amazing what a little financial breathing room has done for our family.
We have just a little more for monthly expenses, travel, gifting, savings, or whatever else we decide. Imagine what you could do with a little extra each month.
5. Nowhere to hide. Two bedrooms, a small living room and a finished basement -- there are not many places to be alone in this house. The boys share everything from their room to their play space to their toys. And they love it. They used to sleep alone, but now have trouble sleeping without each other; a strong, brotherly bond already formed.
My husband and I spend a lot more time together, talking, reading, watching Homeland . The small space has made it impossible to ignore each other, strengthening our relationships and allowing all four of us to get to know each other even more.
So during your next PCS, you might consider going small(er) too. Maybe not forever, but perhaps you’ll find that by trimming down on everything from square footage to belongings, you will gain an enormous amount of time, shrug off the excess, fatten your wallet and, most importantly, strengthen the most important of relationships: the ones at home.
Kate Reimann is an Air Force spouse and a freelance writer who documents her family’s journey in their battle against cancer at www.effthec.com. She relieves stress by eliciting giggles from her two little boys, teaching intense cycling classes and eating a delicious plant-based diet. Kate and her family are currently stationed in Washington, DC.