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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Is our house too small? (or is it really too big?)

My mother-in-law asked me a while ago if we planned to buy a larger house.  It was an innocent question.  We have five children who are getting bigger every year.   I felt instantly defensive, though. We already have a large house.  I spend SOOO much of my time maintaining it.  We have 2,504 square feet;  three bedrooms, three bathrooms, three living spaces, one dining room, and one kitchen.  That's eleven rooms.  Our whole family can be home, yet, relaxing in different spaces.  This is helpful to maintain sanity, but sometimes I think it helps me hide from my family.  (I'm kind of crappy at spending quality time with my people.)

I'm aware though, that our house has a lot of shared space, and very little private space.  Our kids have their own beds and their own drawers for clothes.  (Stephen and I also have our own sinks in our bathroom.) Otherwise, everything else is communal space.  I think our culture places a high value on individual, private space which we've kind of rejected.

Not only do I not want anything bigger, I dream of living in a smaller space.

When we were living in San Antonio, before we found out we were pregnant with Maggie Lu, we had plans to move to Portland, Oregon.  We've never been to Portland, but I spent a lot of time online getting familiar with the neighborhoods in Portland, looking for schools and houses.  Housing is expensive out there.  I started to comprehend that to afford a house in the city, we would probably need to purchase something with less than 1,200 square feet.

And I was kind of excited by the challenge.  I was dreaming of murphy beds and transforming spaces for different purposes.  I wanted to design rooms that could be used 24 hours a day.

We didn't move to Portland, though.  We found out that my sister was expecting triplets.  I was expecting Maggie unexpectedly, and we moved back to Indy to be close to family.  We wanted to live downtown, and we could afford more than 1,200 square feet in Indianapolis.  (We bought at the right time, though.  Prices for homes in downtown Indy have nearly doubled since we bought our house six years ago.)

Seven people and a dog live here.  If you divide 2,504 by 7, you arrive at 357 square feet per person.

In America today, the average square footage per person is nearly 1,000.  That's double what it was in the 70's.

So, basically, our house is on the small side considering how many people live here.  At least for the new American standard.

A while ago, I stumbled on the instagram account of our kids' principal.  She recently sold her home and moved to a condo downtown with her husband and two kids.  In her feed, she was sharing about the decision as a means to avoid spending loads of time working on house projects and maintenance.   I don't have a ton of social media envy, but I definitely had a moment of rethinking my whole life.  Why were we living in this big old house?  Yeah, we have a lot of kids.  Why did we have so many kids?

This January, Stephen took D'arcy to the Women's march.  He happened to meet up with some CFI families including the principal, and ended up visiting her condo for lunch.  Guess what I was doing?  Laying tile.  ALL DAY LONG.  I was doing a grueling (for me) home improvement project while he ate butternut squash soup at her maintenance free condo.

To answer my very loving mother-in-laws' innocent question, we have no plans to move to something bigger.  We really LOVE living downtown. We've put a lot of work into our home over the last couple of years to make it functional and beautiful (to us).  I think we would be hard pressed, anymore, to find anything either bigger (or smaller) in our preferred price range around here.  And, in my view, it doesn't make great financial sense to rent.  (We're actually not that far from owning this house outright.)

But, hey, Check out this guys' condo that he shares with his five kids.  This is kind of what (my) dreams are made of.  

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