Tuesday, October 14, 2008

smaller living

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times about upper middle class families choosing to stay in smaller living spaces in metropolitan areas as opposed to moving to the suburbs for bigger houses and yard space.

Apparently, there is about a 30% increase in the past few years of folks staying in the cities even though their incomes (and family size) increase. I think this is fantastic.

Smaller living has been a hot topic around here. Partly because we'd like to live in a city (me indefinitely, though m is a little concerned about the safety issue for when we have kids) and take advantage of all it has to offer. And if you're going to live in a big city like New York or San Francisco, chances are the more affordable options are going to be cozy at best.

But even outside of the cost of rent, there are other factors to consider. Smaller means lower utility bills. It takes up less energy to heat or cool your home if it's small. Smaller means you have be a little more thoughtful about what you bring into your home so that you can avoid clutter. We like how this forces us to consume less materials (some of us are better at this than others) so that our home is a place where we live and not just a storage space for all our stuff. Smaller means that there is less square footage to clean up. This one's a biggie for me as I sometimes struggle to stay on top of household cleaning in our 650 square foot one-bedroom apartment. I don't want to spend any more time cleaning something bigger.

There are times when our snug home does feel a little crowded (laundry day for example, when we've got half our wardrobe out on hangers and drying racks waiting for everything to be folded and put away). And I sometimes get a little covetous for a studio space to set up my screens and tools for screenprinting and woodworking. But at the end of the day, I'm still convinced that smaller is better for how we want to live. Though it can be challenging to convince others (who have our best interests at heart) of this. On those days, I'll have to remember to pull out that article when my in-laws wonder why I've shoved our children into a closet instead of moving out to a multi-bedroom place in the burbs.

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