How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Do You Really Need All That?

So it’s been about six weeks since we moved, and we’ve definitely had an opening of the eyes, so to speak.

As you may know, our plan is to begin building a house on our land next year, with the goal of moving into it around September or October.

We even had lots of stuff planned out for the place, some reasonably refined floor plan ideas, including some modifications that we made based on what we thought might work.

Now that we’ve been here, we’ve discovered that we don’t need as much space as we thought we did.

In fact, we’ll be able to reasonably chop a fairly large amount of space out of the house we had planned to build.

On the flip side, there are some areas that need significant tweaking.

A prime example of this is the mud room plan.  Originally, the mud room was designed to be longish and narrower than a normal room, with some ‘nooks’ for each kid to store stuff.  Think locker room.

The place we’re in now has a mud room about the same size as we had planned, and it’s dysfunctional   There’s too much contention for the doors when everyone is leaving the house at the same time, for example to head to school or church.

We’ll need to tweak that design a bit to accomodate that.

Another good example is storage.  In our master bedroom we lost a fair amount of square footage when we moved.  That’s ok, except we lost a bunch of storage as well.  We need more closet space!  And several of the kids are having similar issues as well.

Now the point here isn’t that we’re back to the drawing board.  Not at all.

It’s that we had some assumptions based on how we were living at the time.  And we made plans based on those assumptions.

And promptly found out that we could make do just fine and dandy with less.

And honestly, I think we’ll find that to be the case more and more.  As a society we’ve become accustomed to large houses with vast amounts of space, half of it unused.  But we still GOTTA HAVE IT.

We forget that your average house used to be closer to 1,500 sq ft instead of 3,000 sq ft.

Before we moved, there was a guy in our neighborhood that bought a pretty good sized house.  5,500 sq ft to be precise.  That place was giant.

It was for him, his wife, and a four year old kid.  Ridiculous.

I think it’s important that we all think about what we REALLY need to be reasonably comfortable.  And if you’re planning on moving, take some time to consider downsizing.

There’s massive benefits … it’s cheaper, easier to keep clean (my lovely wife loves this part) and just plain feels more “cozy” than some spread out Mc Mansion in the ‘burbs.

And if we get more of an economic crunch, quite a few of us may be downsizing against our will … it’s good to think ahead of time what you could work with.  Not really something you want to be thinking about in the heat of the moment.

This concept goes way beyond just plain housing, and can apply to just about anything.  Try this experiment sometime … pack up a couple boxes of things that you think you need but don’t use, and put them away.  See if you actually ever do use them, or if you make do just fine.

Most of the time you’ll make do just fine.  That should tell you something.

Now is not the time do be a massive consumer, or to keep up with the Jones’ … now is a time to hunker down and make sure your family is in the best possible position to weather any of the storms that seem to be headed our way.

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4 Responses to Do You Really Need All That?

  1. A smaller place will be easier to keep warm/cool also. If I could do ours over again I sure would have a basement though. (for our food storage and such). I also would pay more attention to passive heating and cooling issues, especially the cooling part.

  2. Timely article, we have been talking about buying more land and less house and actually just met with the realtor last night.

    Thanks for the info based on your experience.

  3. We just moved from a large 2 story Victorian to a small 1 story farm house and brought WAY too much stuff. With 5 kids you have a lot of stuff and we left so much behind but we’re still struggling to figure out where to put everything. Thankfully there’s some storage buildings and a cellar with a cellar house on top. That helps some but 7 people do take a bit of room to accommodate!

  4. This reminds me of a road trip our family took eons ago. My husband and I packed up a borrowed motor home and set out for a vacation with our three young kids. We had some basic cookware, some clothes, some projects, toys and books. As we drove away, we looked at each other and said, “We have everything we really need right here in this motor home. Tell me again why we have this huge house full of stuff?” Granted, that was just for a vacation and we spent a lot of time outdoors, but it’s a fact that we are conditioned to think we need so much when in reality we can get by with much less.