Moving from 700 square feet of living space to 2700 will be sheer bliss… I think.

For quite a while, I was worried we would lose the closeness that is inevitable when living practically on top of each other and always being within earshot of every word, every conversation. I imagine it’s how the pioneers may have lived in their one-room cabins. Hell, even the Ingalls’ had more space than we did in that little house on the prairie. I remember they had a pretty cool sleeping loft.

Granted, I have always been a proponent of small houses. I have no idea why people would NEED four or five thousand square feet like you see in the suburbs….unless you were a family of eight or more. If you are very organized and not into owning too much “stuff”, two people can live comfortably in 700 square feet. It is certainly more affordable.  My husband and I did for almost five years. Even when my oldest son was little, it was “cozy”. That’s 10 years total.

But after boy #2 came along, “the screamer”, my brain was nearing its limit, especially during the seven months out of the year that I couldn’t always send them outside to play. Or if we hosted a playdate at our house, the noise of one more child was simply too much in a small space. There was no way to get away from it. It frayed everybody’s nerves.

And forget about ever having a grown up “debate”. Little ears were ALWAYS a few feet away. And “whisper-yelling” behind closed doors in a tiny bedroom is just plain frustrating.

I do know that rats start to cannibalize each other if there is not enough living space in their cages. I am sure I have bitten off more than a few heads. Apparently 175 square feet per person is not enough. Rather, make that 140 per family member. We always have a big dog.

So, we doubled the footprint of our house: 1400 square feet. Then we went to a second story, another 1300 square feet for a total of 2700 square feet of living space. That’s 675 square feet per human family member, not including our Labrador Retriever. That’s quite a jump.

Aside: Unfortunately, our method of “valuing” real estate pushes people to build more square footage. It is a flaw of the system. In order for a builder or owner to get a construction loan, the bank has to have an appraisal that says there will be enough “value” there when it’s complete to more than cover the loan amount. So they send an appraiser to come up with a number. The appraisal method weighs heavily on how much square footage there will be. The more square footage, the higher the value, the more money the bank will lend. Because this has been the process, all the new homes out there that are used for comparable values, have the larger square footages. If your home has less square footage, according to the appraisal, it is not worth as much. This is the conundrum of building a small home…it is much more difficult to finance because the appraisal says it’s worth so much less. But it doesn’t cost so much less to build as to offset this value loss. Therefore, in many cases, the smaller home cannot be built at all.  (I have simplified the method, but the result is the same.)

 

So our new home may indeed be larger than what is optimal for a family of four. We did pull in some new uses that we were not able to accommodate before. We now have a place to eat with friends. Our old house had no eating area. Ours was the living room coffee table for many years. Our friends sat on the floor. We now have an in-home office so that I can work out of the home and not have to commute and still manage the day to day kid details. We have guest accommodations for visiting friends and family, enriching our relationships with those that live far away. And most importantly to us, as grown children living 3000 miles from aging parents, we will have the ability to take care of our parents in our home, if and when we need to.

So, we’ll see.

The line we always hear from friends is “What are you going to do with all that space, now? You’re not going to know how to act.” They have visions of us all following each other from room to room in our new house because we are so used to being together.

I have visions of being alone. Blissfully alone. Reading in my room, alone…Not able to hear the screaming on the first floor. And I glance around my room and it is clean. No one else’s shoes, clothes, toys, “art projects” from the recycling bin… Just me, in a simple grown up space, behind a locking door, alone.

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