Several years ago, not long after I joined Simple Savings, I remember reading an article written by Fiona in this newsletter http://www.simplesavings.com.au/newsletter/2005/june/ called 'Small House, Happy Life'. At the time I was two years into owning an extremely large house and much as I loved our place, I couldn't help feeling a little envious of Fiona's account of raising her family in their tiny, cosy home. Who would have thought five years on that I would be experiencing the very things she wrote about?! Who would have thought that the four of us would be so blissfully happy living in an oversized shoebox?! But we are. In fact, we already think it's the best thing we have ever done!
There are so many benefits to having a smaller place. I love the convenience of everything being so close. No more trekking out to the washing line or to take out the rubbish or collect the mail for starters. But what I have found I love most about living in a smaller house is that I now feel more part of the family. That might sound funny, but now our living area is so much smaller, we all see each other and talk so much more. It's great! Before when I was cooking dinner or making the boys afternoon tea, I was always tucked around the corner by myself while everyone else was in a separate room. Now I don't miss out on anything!
Not only is my kitchen smaller, which doesn't allow for mess or clutter but my pantry is wayyy smaller too. I've gone from having a walk-in pantry you could hold a party in to having one the size of a broom cupboard! At first I panicked a bit but it's actually quite fun. When we moved in we couldn't see the back of the pantry because we'd had to stuff it full with all the food we brought with us but over the last ten days we've been gradually working through our stocks and creating space. It's a bit like living on a permanent $21 Challenge - you just pick the first item that falls out at you each day and find a way to use it for dinner!
Life is so easy and carefree at the moment that I confess I feel downright guilty! Even saving money has been easier than I thought so far. For starters, we are saving 50% on our rubbish disposal now we have a weekly collection. Even though we have to pay $2.00 per bag for regulation council rubbish bags, that's still better than the $4.00 per bag we used to have to pay to dispose of them at the local dump - not to mention the petrol we used having to drive there every week. Our insurance policy has also changed and is now $20 a month cheaper. We received notification yesterday that from now on it would cost us $240 per month. I left it on the table without thinking and cracked up laughing when Ali spotted it when he came home from school and said 'Holy cow! Is that all we have in the bank now we've bought the house?'
I haven't filled up my car with petrol for 13 days and the tank is still 3/4 full. I've only taken it out twice; once was this morning when I went grocery shopping. I had to give in and take it for a spin, there's only so much I can fit on my bike! Even so, we can't go overboard buying too much at the supermarket because we simply don't have room for it in our tiny pantry. From now on we can only ever buy what we need, which is no bad thing.
Mind you, the way the boys have been eating lately I might have to get Noel to build me a second pantry in the garage! No kidding, their appetites have literally doubled since they've been here! I don't know whether it's the sea air or what but I suspect it's because their lifestyle is so much more active now. They play a lot more sport at their new school than they did at their previous school and come home absolutely ravenous. It's great to see them so happy though; they really love their new school and can't wait to go each day. I never thought I would hear them say that!
Every afternoon when the boys get home from school we take the dogs for a run on the beach. Hubble and Minnie absolutely love it here and have taken everything in their stride. They've seen so many new things, people and dogs since they've been here that they barely bat an eyelid any more. Even the cats are more happy and relaxed!
We've had several visitors already. My mum was the first when she came to check out the place last week. It was lovely to actually sit in our new lounge and have a proper chat. I never had the time to do that before! I was always rushing around, grabbing a five minute conversation here and there before dashing off on the next mission. The King and Queen of Bonhomie Ross and Tracey were next, along with their family, followed by several colleagues and clients of Noel's and it was great to spend a boozy evening with Ali's godparents, who we hadn't seen in almost eight years. I have a feeling we'll be seeing them a lot more often from now on!
One thing I remember when we had a big house was that people automatically thought that a big house equalled lots of money. We owned a big house, therefore we must have been rich, right? Perhaps if they had seen the video in the blog entitled 'Proud', they would have seen what our house used to be like before we poured blood, sweat, tears and a lot of love into it (yes Noel, and a lot of money if you're reading this!) It certainly didn't look like a rich person's abode seven years ago!
Now we have a small house I guess nobody will mistake us for being 'rich' any more - but we feel richer now than we have ever been. In fact, if I were any more laid back, I think I might fall over!