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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Scaling Down

Six months ago, we moved into a house 1/2 the size of our old one. Three months later, we increased our family by one handsome 8-pound brunette.

Our large house was a huge blessing to us, especially in the building of Andy's business. But lately, it had been far exceeding our needs in some areas, while not meeting our some basic family ideals in others. Plus, for several boring reasons I won't get into, we were wasting an unacceptable amount of money by staying there.

The timing was right, since Andy was just finishing the renovation of a four-bedroom rental house. So, after deciding in December, we moved into our rental in January. We then made a few improvements to our larger house, and put it on the market in March.

We were blessed to close on its sale in June. So now we find ourselves in this smaller house, weighing our options and deciding what's next for our family's housing.

We'll almost certainly be either A) building from scratch or B) doing a large-scale renovation, so we should be able to customize some aspects of our house.

Living in our current house will greatly influence our future plans, I am sure. Here are some important lessons I have learned from our downsize.  I am 100% positive that I would not have properly weighted these points prior to this move.

(I am going to use the term "need" loosely here; I know we all have much more than our true basic needs.)

1. You cannot overestimate the value of good neighbors.  We were on good terms with our old neighbors, but the nature of our lives, our houses and maybe even the layout and terrain of our street kept us from developing close relationships with them.  We love our new neighbors and have become close friends. Our kids play together, which has improved the quality of both families' lives. When we move, I'm trying to figure out how to take them with us. Advantage - small house.

2. Our family needs an accessible, fenced or otherwise well-defined backyard. Advantage - small house.

3. There is something very freeing and enjoyable about putting a window air-conditioning unit in your daughter's window without having to worry about what your subdivision association or your neighbors will say.  Ditto on building a two-story playhouse. Advantage - small house.

4. We like being close together most of the time. Advantage - small house.

5. We don't need two separate eating areas, but we do need one that is roomier than most. Advantage - small house.

6. We need, at most, two TVs right now. Advantage - small house.

7. In spite of the many benefits of kids sharing a room, at some ages it should be avoided if possible, especially if you don't have a separate playroom. (I'm guessing 2-year-olds do not make great roommates for anyone.) Advantage - large house.

8. We don't need two ovens (I've even dealt with the loss of the Advantium much easier than I expected), but two washers and dryers would be great. In the house, not the garage, please, and the more centrally located, the better. Advantage - large house.

9. It's be great to have a playroom with a door off the den, so that it wasn't too isolated. Advantage - neither, but large house was closer.

10. Most importantly, Andy needs a large workshop with lots of room for organizing tools and building materials. Again, advantage - neither.

I would love to hear others' ideas, whether implemented in a move or only contemplated. What do you have that you value most in your living arrangement? What do you wish you had, or wish you'd considered?

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