size of home for happy family - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 85 Old 02-08-2010, 11:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Our home is very comfortable for the stage our family is at now (2 kids 3 and 5 yrs old). its about 1300 sq ft. We have a large (700 sq ft) living room, kitchen is open to it, our 2 girls share a room/loft. We don't really have a master bedroom though, we made the office area into our room. cons are we only have one small bathroom, but it works for now. I wonder though if and when we might out grow this house. I would hope never since our mortgage is only about $400/mo..... and anything else in this area would be alot more. what is your experience with home size and raising kids?
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#2 of 85 Old 02-08-2010, 11:37 PM
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For us it comes down to what we can tolerate and priorities. We live in an 1,100 square foot, one bedroom/one bathroom apartment in the city. While our mortgage is a bit higher than yours, it is relatively low for this particular market. We could afford a bigger apartment, but we'd have to forgo DD's private schooling which is a priority for us. The apartment is one of those pre-war jobs where grand entrances were important but yet impractical. We use said foyer for painting, projects and other things that require space. DD is still in the family bed but will move into the "dining room" when she needs her own space.

A lot of people here live with a lot less space and a lot more family. Living on top of each other is not so unusual, and most people don't give it a second thought. My brother lives in an 800 square foot apartment with four kids - so I count myself rich! Our hovel is our happy home.

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#3 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 12:00 AM
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Well our house is the one DH grew up in and there were 9 people here, and it's about 1700 sq ft. It's not big, even though it looks like it due to it being an old farmhouse, there's a bunch of wasted space. We also have one bathroom, but it's been remodeled and is wonderful. I guess like the PP it's all about priorities. We have a decent mortgage of $630 which is less than many of our friends rent, so I guess that is a biggie. Plus for us it is a family home, and has been in DH's family for 2 generations. It has everything we want and need. Acreage, garden area, a shop-the stuff we need living in the country.

I really don't know how they all lived here, but for awhile they all did, plus other friends and family. they are a big family and I guess it's just normal to be "cozy".

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#4 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 12:03 AM
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Wow, where do you live? That sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

For comparison I live with my husband, daughter, and soon to be new babe in a railroad apartment (for those that don't know that means most of the rooms are in a row and you have to pass through one to get to the next in a long line) and the total size is about 800 sq ft. We have some very creative storage solutions and privacy can be a relative term, but we're happy here. I suppose it wouldn't be an easy spot for us when we have a couple of teenagers living with us but I'm sure hoping we can make it here for the next few years because we just moved in last spring and I hate moving.

I think its possible to live with a lot less than you might expect in terms of space and in many ways having these limits makes us happier I think. We have to put serious limits on how much stuff we have and that just means less to take care of. And we have to make an effort to get out of the house and explore the world around us which is great.

I say enjoy your good fortune (and excellent mortgage payment) for as long as you possibly can.

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#5 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 12:15 AM
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We don't live in a major city but it's a desireable city. We live in 967 sq ft with two teenagers a tween two adults and two large dogs. I wouln't mind more storage but I like our mortgage.
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#6 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 10:56 AM
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We're a family of 4, and at times have had a variety of pets - cat, dog, fish. We've lived in small homes (about 900 sq. ft.) and large. I've discovered there's never enough storage space. From a purely aesthetic viewpoint, empty rooms are as problematic as overstuffed spaces.

I like to have a little space of my own, it's helpful to restore my soul when I need it. So I think it's helpful if there's a bedroom for each child, or failing that, at least some unshared private place they can go for awhile. I'm sure others will tell you children will share bedrooms happily and I'm sure it's true. Personally, we like having separate bedrooms. Since we have a boy and a girl, and they are now teens, I wouldn't have them sharing anyway.

I've discovered that I can make any size space work for us. Properly furnishing and keeping up a large home on a daily basis (cleaning the floors!!) was almost as tiresome as constantly trying to manoeuvre around small rooms with too much stuff.

We are now considering our 5th move in less than 10 years. I'm not sure I have the energy for it, lol, but one thing I've been thinking about is what size home makes sense, since my eldest will be off to uni soon.
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#7 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 11:03 AM
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We have 2 kids in 950 sq feet. They share a room, we only have 1 bathroom, but it works for us! We have no plans to move as we love the area (suburb of London), there are great schools and lots to do. I would much rather have a smaller house in an area I love than a big house somewhere boring.
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#8 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 11:27 AM
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My dh's best friend and his wife lived for 20 years, raising 5 children, in a 85 sq. meter flat in Germany (they're still there, but have since moved). That's about 915 sq. ft. They were and are one of the happiest families I've ever known. The kids are amazing people, the oldest of whom are successful adults and the youngest, well-adjusted and joyous kids. I think it's a symptom of American greed to think that you have to have a huge home to be happy. It's so sad. Our flat was 55 sq. meters (about 550 sq. ft.) when we lived there and we loved it. Our house is 1500 sq. ft and my mom lives with us. We are very happy and I would never want anything bigger. A larger home means a larger carbon footprint. That matters to me, also.
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#9 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 11:42 AM
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I think it has less to do with house size than just the environment. I actually think shared space serves a family better than everyone having their own room. If everyone has their own space, you run the risk of people going into their own private space and effectively detaching from the rest of the family. With more shated space, you interact with each other more and learn to be more co-operative. Of course, I'm biased. I grew up in a 1200 SF house with my 7 brothers and sisters and parents (for most of my childhood). My mom grew up with her 7 brothers and sisters and parents in a 850 SF home.

I think the arrangement you have is nice, actually.

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#10 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 11:57 AM
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I would say the size isn't the most important thing. Happiness can transcend circumstance.

I can definitely understand starting to feel cluttered in a smaller house. Clutter makes me crazy. For us, that means we streamline our life and get rid of stuff that's just taking up space (moving often helps a lot!) We have moved into progressively larger houses over the last couple of years, and found that our natural tendancy is simply to find more stuff to fill up the space, so we still quickly end up feeling lack of space even though the house is bigger..
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#11 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 12:01 PM
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We have 4 people in a 1800 square foot house. It works, for now, but at some point, we'll have to move. The house is ancient and not set up all that well.
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#12 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 12:20 PM
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It all depends on what you think you need. We live in an rv with a 1 year old, baby on the way, 2 cats and 2 dogs.

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#13 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 01:25 PM
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I recently spent a week visiting a friend in her family's 3500sq ft house. It felt completely overwhelming and lonely. When we were in the 'guest room' we had to walk for literally about two minutes before we go my friend's room. (My toddler has short legs--I could have walked it in not quite a minute.) The amount of upkeep on a house that size is a nightmare. I was so happy to get back to my nice, modest little 950sq ft house. I am not thrilled with the layout of my house and I think by the time I have teenagers I will long for slightly more room (not to mention another bathroom) but I will make due.

Our goal is to pay off this house and then my husband won't have to work full time anymore. That is way the heck more interesting to me than a bigger house.

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#14 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 01:46 PM
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Well, we are very happy as a family of 6 living in about 3k sq ft. But, I think as long as we could keep the 3-car garage for storage, we could be comfortable in about 1800 sq ft. We really don't need all this space, at this point, but I won't lie and say it isn't nice. My kids are still fairly young, and much prefer to sleep together rather than in their own rooms, but I imagine as they get older, having their own space will be a good thing.

In the past, we have lived in much smaller homes (apartments). Before moving here, we were in about 1k sq ft, 3 bed/2 bath apartment on the 2nd floor. I wouldn't say we were unhappy, but it was far from ideal with four small children. If we had had a backyard, that would have made all the difference (I see that now, as we have 1/2 an acre for them to run around, dig, ride bikes, etc). I will say, that I was extremely unhappy living in about 700 sq. ft when we had 3 children (and I was pregnant). It probably had more to do with the condition/location of the apartment plus the rest of the things going on in our life, than the actual space - but still, I really, really, could not make the best of it at that point and I'm still bitter thinking about living there now. (not having two vehicles, I'll admit, was a HUGE source of my frustration, on top of other lifestyle struggles.)

Basically, I think having enough space is nice, but not necessarily the determining factor of happiness. It contributes/takes away from it, though, definitely. And again, where that living space is, probably plays a bigger role. My bro and soon-to-be SIL live in a tiny apt in the village of Manhattan. They are very happy - but look where they live, and they don't have children and all their belongings to contend with. Which reminds me (and others have mentioned this), having a ton of stuff in a smaller space (or a big one, actually) can be the difference between making it work, and being frustrated and feeling cramped. I know in the past we could have gotten rid of a lot of non-essentials, and I would have felt just a little bit better about our living space. Also, being able to put up shelving, etc (hard when renting an apt) and making the best use of your space, makes it easier to manage and keep organized.

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#15 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 01:56 PM
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We lived in a 2200sq ft. place just over a year ago. When our oldest lived at home too, so we had at least 5 kids all the time, it was crowded. And with an emergency care baby on top back then it was even more crowded. And then we sometimes had nurses at home 24/7 because of our severe SN child, and her personal assistant, that was too much.
So we moved, to 4300 sq ft. And for us, that was the only right thing. The nurses can have their own room when they have to be here, sometimes for months at a time.
And we have enough room to be comfortable with a teacher coming here to homeschool the 6 yos. when the girl with SN is to sick to go to school as well. And I'm home with a baby, and like these last weeks, the baby's new foster-adopt mom being here all the time too.
We have no problems when the physiotherapist comes, and she sometimes brings the ergo.
It's a lot of issues like that for us. So we needed more space. Both because we have many kids (and aren't done yet), and because we have a SN child who requires a lot of extra care. And, of course, I don't want to limit the other kids either, they need their space when their sister is very sick and needs peace.

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#16 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 02:25 PM
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I will admit that I like space, but I hate the layout in our current house. It is 2800 sq feet which I could happily do and even bigger if it was say a 5B 3-4 BA, but we've got 3B2BA which for my family of 5 has been a logistics nightmare. DH and I can not sleep together, snoring and insomnia do not mix, DD1 has anxiety issues which keep her rooming around the house at night, DD2 has respiratory issues and also wakes up at a sneeze across the house. Her nebs, etc... at night keep up DD1 and DS so she has to be kept separate from them. One bathroom is through a bedroom and there always seems to be one sleeping child or another in there which renders it unusable. The other one is sandwiched between the other two bedrooms, even flushing means that we've woken up DD2. I am happy with a smaller common area, our current living room is huge and such a waste of space and then more room to spread out in the rest of the house.

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#17 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 02:26 PM
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I agree, so much depends on your family, your needs, and your priorities. I also think, with kids, there can be a tradeoff between indoor space and outdoor space.

Our first house was 2100 sq ft, 4 bedroom, and the two of us rattled around in there until we packed it up with stuff . I wanted a place where our families could visit comfortably, perhaps host a Thanksgiving or such. Unfortunately, we were too far away from the families to make that a feasible reality while we lived there.

What I grew up with was very cramped, six to eight people in a small space. So I've come to appreciate having room to breathe and move freely. I also like having space to practice yoga or martial arts indoors when the weather is bad.

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#18 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 02:51 PM
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We have a 1400 sq foot 2 storey house (3 bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms). It's ok for us with one kid and another on the way, though we are losing our spare room/sewing room for the new baby. We desperately want to convert our garage into a useable room (we have an old house and the garage is actually too small for our mazda3). By doing this, we would also be able to use the sunroom all year (located above the garage). We feel it's a bit small as is because our rooms are all very modest and narrow which is irritating for furniture. Also, the 3rd bedroom/nursery is a very tiny room and would be very cramped as a child's/teen's room.

Eventually, we will develop the attic and do an extention to the house. But we have no intention of moving anytime soon unless we move cities.

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#19 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 03:05 PM
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We came from 900 sq ft 2 BR condo that felt very small, even though we are minimalists in terms of furniture and stuff. When DH did renovation work, there was nowhere for DS and I to go! When we had people over after DS' bedtime, well, we just didn't! It's not that DS requires silence to sleep, its just that DS would be able to hear company at full volume in that place--not dampened at all!

We looked at houses from 1700-2200. The only way to get a decent yard, at least 3 BR and a so so neighborhood around here was to stay above 1700, but even then to get our 1/2 acre, great neighborhood and 4 bedrooms (we hope to stay for 30 years!) was to go to the 2200. It feels HUGE right now with a 3 year old and little stuff, but when I imagine 3 preteen/teens, it seems just right!
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#20 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 03:09 PM
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I think it depends on what you need and if the house is providing it.

We moved and doubled our SQ. But I feel more cramped than before b/c the storage capabilities of this house are nil. (losing a walk in closet is depressing in itself lol).

Now my house feels cluttered all the time and I've been constantly downsizing and clearing out stuff just b/c we can't keep it anywhere.

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#21 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 03:44 PM
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It sounds like you want to make it work (and I do envy your mortgage!). To me the bathroom would be the biggest issue - any way you could add one on? Even just an extra toilet would be huge for us if we only had one (we actually have 3, and there have been a few times where all 3 have been used at the same time, so if I were imagining us with only one, I would be doing anything to get another one - that's just me, though ).

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#22 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by claddaghmom View Post
I think it depends on what you need and if the house is providing it.

Our current home has 4,200 sq. living area and our family of 4 is comfortable with that. The home we moved from was 2,500 sq. feet and we were cramped.
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#23 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 03:57 PM
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layout is so much more important than actual area, we currently live in a 3br2ba condo, it's adequate right now, with 3 kids, but already we are having challenges of keeping everyone and their belongings safe as it's a bad layout for having any one area entirely baby safe, particularly whilst also attempting to keep certain toys belonging to our 6yr old safe from the middle child!

We lived in a house half the size but with 4br1ba, which would probably be easier for our current situation!

We're tied to this area and it's a high price area, I hope we can move in 2yrs, but I expect it will be longer.

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#24 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 04:32 PM
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We lived in a house that was...think it was 800sq.ft., for a family of four, plus a dog when I was a kid. I never remember feeling cramped at all. My sister and I shared a room. We moved into a bigger house when I was 8. I got my own room, which I liked, but also...didn't like. I kind of missed my sister at first (was glad to have my own space as a teen, though).

I currently live in a 1250 sq.ft. townhouse (row house, maybe - I find the terminology is different in different places). We have no storage to speak of (a couple of hall closets, the under-the-stairs room where the hot water tank is, and a small - about the size of the hot water tank room - outdoor space). We have no yard.

Honestly, if it weren't for the wonky ages of my kids, and the stupid room sizes, it would be great. DD2 is with us in the master bedroom, which is too big. DD1 and ds2 share the smallest bedroom, which is too small (they play downstairs a lot, though). DS1 has the middle-sized room, which is just about perfect. If all three rooms were that size, it would be awesome. RIght now, that works. When dd2 moves out of our room, it's going to be complicated. She won't really fit in dd1 and ds2's room, unless we put their dresser in our room, which I'd rather not do. But, I don't want to ask my 17-18 year old to share with his 12 years younger brother!

Basically, I think our family of six could live quite happily in this amount of space, if it were broken up a bit differently. I'd also like a yard and a basement or attic or outdoor shed or...something...for storage.

I can't even imagine paying $400/month for a mortgage, though. Our rent is almost 4 times that.

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#25 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 05:00 PM
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our house is the same size and same size family. I read somewhere about how back in the day homes were smaller and families were closer because of that, they weren't separated in different rooms watching different tv's, internet, etc. My house is real similar to the layout that my grandparents had in their old house and they had a few more children. The only thing I want to change is the our lot outside, it's real bare and cold, not really inviting.
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#26 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 06:27 PM
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I've lived in just about every size house there is, from renting a really small bedroom (shared kitchen), to a one bedroom flat shared with dh, to a a 1000sqft finished area house with dh and 3 children to 4500+ with dh, 3 kids, 3 cats and 2 dogs.
My conclusion is that it's the plan of the house which really matters. We are now looking for a smaller house with a good sized eat in kitchen, a good sized family shared space, 4 bedrooms which will allow the kids to have privacy when needed and peace to sleep and 2 bathrooms. So few houses seem to be that simple. I don't want a house thats under 1500sqft but I don't want a house over 3000sqft.

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#27 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 07:01 PM
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For me, it's not the size, it's how it's arranged.

My last apartment was 1,300 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, small LR, big DR, big KIT, and it felt CRAMPED for three people. My SD's bedroom was only 8 X 8, the master was only 7 X 11. All on one level, no good way to get away from each other, loud people above us. Tiny, tiny yard.

My current house is only 1,500 square feet and it seems HUGE by comparison, because it's on two levels (and we have a large screened porch, which right now that it's 20 degrees and snowing isn't much help) and it's all ours. Four bedrooms (all bigger than 7 X 11, but still not enormous--the master is 11 X 14 and irregular), two baths. We're now at three people and a 70-pound dog, to be four people in July. We also have a large fenced yard, which also helps.

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#28 of 85 Old 02-09-2010, 10:07 PM
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We tend to prefer smaller spaces. Our last home was the only large space we ever lived in. It was a small house by many people's standards (small rooms), but was three stories--two floors of living space and a finished basement where we had a playroom, plus a small yard. We hated it. It was just too big for us. We hated having a yard, even a small one, to maintain, when we always went to the park instead. (This was in a city, btw.)

Now we're in a much smaller space, all on one level and like it much better. But, honestly, I would be much happier trading my current little house for a two-bedroom apartment in NYC! (We're currently living elsewhere for work reasons.) For me, location is far more important than square footage. I prefer not to have a huge space to care for, I prefer not to have/need a car, I vastly prefer living in big cities to suburbs. We spent the first 1.5 years of dd's life living in a small, one-bedroom apartment, and had no problems with it at all.

FWIW, we're a family of three and planning to stay that way--we like everything small!
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#29 of 85 Old 02-10-2010, 12:29 AM
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I don't know how big the house it honestly, we're renting it but the sixe is comfortable. Is not too big not too small, it's just perfect.
My 14 yo has her own big room that she adores in the basement. My 5yo and 4yo share a room (their choice) and we have a nice and comfortable room next to theirs with the baby sleeping with us and two extra rooms.

Our house in Canada was too big nad before we had the girls we lived in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment and it felt crowded.

Leo(5), Cata(4), Tiago(1/9/09), stepmama to Addie(14) wife to Alec
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#30 of 85 Old 02-10-2010, 02:18 AM
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Yeah... we're a family of 3+ a cat in less than 400 sq feet! It's super tight but you know what we survive just fine. Granted, we don't plan on living her much longer and DD is still really young but it's doable. Your place sounds like a mansion in comparison!!!

DH and i have lived in even smaller places before this. We've always gotten along extremely well and are rarely in different rooms from each other even when we've had more space. I find that having a small space makes us get out more and looking for cool, fun things to do in our neighborhood. It also ensures that we interact a lot and are constantly chatting about our days.
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