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.
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".
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.
Making a home for our big girl 3/06 and our new boy 2/10
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.
I think the arrangement you have is nice, actually.
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..
Typos+weird words=typing on my iPhone
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.
My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Leila, mama to Eleanor (10/08) and Emmett (4/10)
Visit my blog! www.rookblog.com
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!
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.
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.
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.
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing Aaron Ambrose (11/07)
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.
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.
Spouse (the political geek) * Stepdaughter (the artist) * and introducing...the Baby (um, he's a baby? He likes shiny things).
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!
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.
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.