Frugal Living

How We’ve Learned To Live In 600 Square Feet and Tips for Small Space Living.

Cozy. That’s how I would describe where live. You can’t get much cozier than two adults, two cats and a baby in 600 square feet. bloom-blossom-botanical-403575

We live in a 600 square foot basement apartment of a modest, brick home. We have 6 windows, which is actually a lot for a basement! My son’s room does not have any windows and is quite cozy. We share laundry with our neighbours but it’s easily accessible. We don’t pay for water which is a big deal when you cloth diaper! The home was not soundproofed to be a multi-family dwelling so it gets LOUD sometimes. My dining table backs up against the back of our love seat and we have enough room for 2 dining chairs. Our front door is actually the back door of the home. You have to come down the driveway, around into the backyard and onto our deck to access our place. If we run too many appliances, a fuse will blow and trip our neighbour’s electricity  upstairs. We have a cold room where we store all the produce we pressure can from our garden. We have access to a huge, beautiful backyard where we plant our veggie garden during spring/summer. I always feel safe here. Our neighbours have a big, black dog and she’s the BEST alarm system money could buy.  The longer I live here, the more I appreciate it. That’s not to say I don’t have my days where I feel like I’m living in a Hobbit hole that’s going to come falling down on me and boy have I done my fair share of complaining. But that didn’t get me anywhere. I’ve shared on my blog before about my journey of learning to love where we live. It hasn’t always been a graceful and easy journey for me but I’m proud of how far I’ve come!

Recently we considered moving into a home that we would rent to own, with the help of our sweet family. After some serious thought and prayer, we realized staying put was the wisest decision for this season. It was difficult decision but we have such great peace about it. It may be a possibility later down the road but where we are at works really well for our family, in this season of our lives. It allows me to stay at home with our kid(s). It enables my husband to work one job and go back to school to finish his licensing. It gives us a chance to have savings. We can still do fun things, have date nights, buy gifts for our family, be responsible to any debt we have, plan small trips and not be stressed about breaking the bank. action-adventure-blur-386009.jpg
We are blessed to live in a fairly safe, family friendly neighborhood with a great community center nearby as well as other stores that are in walking distance. Since we own one car, it’s a blessing to have things in walking distance.

So how do we make it work in terms of space? I’ll break it down for you and share some ways/things that have helped us streamline our small living space.

  • Intentional purchases- Since we are limited on space, we have to really consider what we purchase. We try to buy multi-purpose, space-saving things. As my son gradually outgrows something like a baby-seat or swing, it goes into storage. alphabet-blocks-blur-591652.jpg  recently just purchased his first brand new toy (this) and I love it because it’s multiple (educational) toys all in one! The two other things he plays with is this Fischer Price Jumparoo (it folds up!) and this Ikea Baby Gym. I bought both of those used and it’s all he’s needed thus far! I also have a very small collection of used books for him and eventually we will take trips to the library for more books.  I bought this Cosco high chair for the very reason that it’s small, folds down and can be stored under our dining table. I also love the neutral colour!
  • Frequent purging/dejunking-I’m not pumping my own tires here when I say that we make monthly trips to our local thrift store to donate boxes of items. It’s just that it’s become a habit which keeps our home from looking like a hoarders’ house.
  • Rethinking/Revisiting the arrangement and usage of furniture-We are doing this constantly and while that might seem exhausting to some, we love rethinking our living space. It helps refresh things and it gives us an opportunity to purge/dejunk.board-bricks-brickwork-269063.jpg
  • Utilizing the Storage space we do have-We have a large detached garage, with hydro on our property. It is such a blessing with all the shelves on the wall and ample storage space. We share it with our neighbours. We are currently working on organizing our things so they are easily accessible throughout the year. My husband’s job requires him to own a number of tools so we are grateful for the safe storage space. We both love DIY projects and my husband is quite handy with woodworking so he loves the ability to work on things even during the winter. It may not seem convenient to have to walk to the back of our property during the cold winter, to pull something out of storage but it’s better than paying to rent a storage bin on the other side of town. Inside our home, we are learning to put up shelving, build coat racks and hang things so that we utilize the vertical space we have.
  • Capsule Wardrobes-A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential clothing items, usually neutral in colour, good quality and functional so as to get the most out of these items over a long period of time. With children this is difficult as they grow so quickly. Living in a place with four seasons also makes this a challenge. I’m not there yet but I’m constantly purging all our clothing and my goal is to greatly minimize we have. I tend to dress myself and my son in the same pieces of clothing each week, meaning I gravitate towards my favourites and my husband does this too. I think that makes it easier to minimize how much clothing a person has. I’m learning to invest in quality pieces rather than loads of cheap things. clothes-colors-jersey-9445
  • Practicing Self Control-I recently started implementing a new practice when I go shopping. I ask myself a series of questions. Do I need this or do I want this? Do I have anything like this already? What Am I willing to get rid of if I buy this? Is it quality? Is it Functional? How Much use will I actually get out of it?  Ok, I don’t ask myself ALL these questions every time I go to buy something but want versus need is a big one!
  • Living and working overseas in third world countries-One day I’ll write a more detailed blog post of how my husband and I met. Briefly, we met while on our way to staff with a non-profit Christian organization called Youth With A Mission. Our work was strictly unpaid volunteer work. During our time with YWAM we had the opportunity to live and work in third world countries where we were exposed to extreme poverty. The people living in this poverty were surprisingly happy. Yes, they were happy. They were also exceedingly generous with what little they had, when we would visit their humble huts made of banana leaves and scrap metal. These experiences had a profound impact on the way my husband and I would later live our life together. I don’t believe in that lifestyle of being an “extreme cheapskate”, I think that is ridiculous.  But I do believe that the ideals our society throws at us in terms of what a good life looks like is completely unwise and it’s necessary to question those ideals. Young people today believe they should instantly have the life that took their parent’s 40 years to acquire.

I’ve shared about The Minimalists in previous posts. I love these guys! Their documentary blessed me and my husband so much. Love people, use things-this is their motto. They’ve shown that living a simple life with less things brings so much more happiness than a 6 or 7 figure paycheck. They would know! One of the guys left a very well-paying corporate job to live a life with a lot less. Less really is more. More time, more freedom to do the things you love, to be with the people you love, to help out others in need, more time to focus on what is truly important. Our lifestyle has taught us (and still is) to look for God’s blessings in the most unusual ways and places. It’s challenged us on what is important, how to manage our money better (not perfectly) and to never be too proud to be honest about the simple way we live. Living a simple life will look different every person. I’m not here to say it has to look any one way. You will know what it should look like for you!

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I hope you found something in here that is helpful and that you are blessed. I hope you are encouraged to live a simple life and not give in to the societal pressure of “more”. We are so blessed, not by what we have but because God loves us and has given us so much in non material blessings, which really is “more.” I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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