Do you think you’d like to live in a tiny home? Sell everything you own and downsize your life? I did – and I learned some valuable lessons about living in a much smaller space.
In 2004, I moved into a 120-sq-ft apartment on the Left Bank in Paris along with my boyfriend and our dog. Our home was much smaller than the average tiny house in America (400 square feet), but not much smaller than the average European big city apartment.
7 Things I Learned Living in a Tiny Home
1. You don’t need many clothes...just the right ones.
Most people only wear a fraction of the clothes they own on a regular basis. The rest are just taking up space. Sure, I got tired of wearing the same six shirts over and over, but the only person who cared (or even noticed) was me. But I was so committed to downsizing that I gave away my coat, which was not a smart idea during winter in Northern Europe. I wound up wearing my boyfriend’s coat while he froze on the streets of Paris. It worked out for me, but I realized that some possessions are worth holding on to.
2. I didn’t miss my stuff.
Before moving to Paris, I had a huge yard sale and sold almost everything I owned – from my car and my bed to jewelry, precious keepsakes, and heirloom furniture. What I couldn’t sell I gave away. Though parting with some things was difficult at the time, as soon as my stuff was gone I was over it. Out of sight, out of mind. Years later, I have never missed any of it.
3. …But I did miss having space to create.
While my work as a writer doesn’t consume more space than a laptop, almost all of my other creative pursuits do: painting, collage, cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, crafting, and dancing. On top of this, my boyfriend was an artist as well – the type that drags in wooden pallets to repurpose into sculptures. We barely had elbow room, much less room to make stuff. My creative endeavors were limited.
4. Cleaning my tiny home was a breeze.
I could clean the entire apartment from top to bottom in less than an hour. I didn’t need a vacuum or mop or much cleaning equipment at all; almost everything could be cleaned with a big sponge.
5. But it never stayed clean for long.
With such limited storage area and floor space, anything out of place made my tiny home feel cluttered and messy. Walking in with mucky boots made the entire kitchen floor dirty. Since the kitchen floor was also the living room floor and the bedroom floor, cleaning became a near-daily endeavor.
6. Living in close quarters encourages communication.
When you’re never more than twelve feet away from your partner at home, problems that arise cannot be avoided. They have to be dealt with, even when you would prefer to ignore them. Living in a small space forces you to communicate – and with so much practice, you get better at it.
7. But it also exacerbates lifestyle differences.
I am an early bird who likes to rise with the sun and cook breakfast as I dance. My boyfriend was a night owl who wanted to drink wine late into the night and finger-paint on wooden pallets. No matter how hard we tried to be quiet, he kept me up every night and I woke him up every day.
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