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MC -- The Hammer


Living small



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August 04, 2010 - I got all caught up.

House hunting is exciting more square footage, bigger lot size, massive kitchens, walk-in closets, hardwood floors, tiled bathrooms, marble counters, vaulted ceilings, bonus rooms, four-car garages and the list of desirable features goes on (and on and on).

The mentality is: I have a couple hundred thousand dollars to spend; gimme, gimme, gimme as much as I can get.

But, why?

I don't really need vaulted ceilings. By definition, they're a waste of space. Thirty-foot ceilings still need to be lit and heated, but I can't walk around up there or store stuff.

I don't need a 20-by-20-foot kitchen, either. All that extra cabinet and storage space only means I have to spend more money on appliances and gadgets to fill it, and I'll use 'em once every year or two.

What about a walk in closet? Sure, it's a nice luxury, but why do I need storage for 20 pairs of shoes? There's something wrong with this picture.

Really, it comes down to money versus quality of life.

If my husband and I buy a house with these things, we're financially anchored to it. The mortgage payment and utility bills each month would suck up both our paychecks, and then we'd be doing what my mother-in-law calls living for a house.

Do I want to live (and work) for a house, filled with unused space and stuff, for 20 or 30 years? Nope.

But, I almost did. For awhile, we've been looking at houses in the 2,000-square-foot range, on acreage. Then I wised up.

I stumbled on a Website awhile back about a man living in a 78-square-foot house. Yep, 78, not 780 or 7,800. And he loved it.

So I started researching small houses. Seventy-eight square feet isn't exactly ideal for a married couple with plans for a family, but this guy's concepts were really cool and made complete sense.

I found house plans for 780- and 800-square-feet that are useable, utilitarian, beautiful, and just plain smart. You live with the stuff you need and use, and get rid of the stuff you don't. Seems simple enough. It's essentially ergonomic, streamlined living.

And with living in a small house, there's also an environmental/green living component that really appeals to me. I can heat an 800-square-foot house with a woodstove (and I miss the one from my childhood so, so, so badly) and pay a couple hundred bucks for four cords of wood as opposed to a couple thousand in electric or gas heat in a big house.

The electric bill for lights and appliances would be next to nothing in such a small space. And I can cool the house with a whole-house fan that blows hot air out of the attic, circulating in cooler air. (Or, buy a small air-conditioner if I have to, but I hate air-conditioning so dry and icy).

Plus and here's the best part cleaning a small house will take half the time. And that is wonderful.

So when I'm not working two jobs to pay bills and not cleaning my house, what will I be doing? Traveling, if all goes according to plan. There will be money left over to buy a travel trailer or vacation home, and time to use it.

And that seems much better to me than marble counters and huge garages.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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