Seven years ago, Matt accepted a job that would move us over 4,000 km. Coming from northern New Brunswick where rentals were spacious, plentiful, and reasonably priced, we were naive, at best, about the rental market in our new city. We struggled immensely to even get a response from a property manager when looking for a place to live in British Columbia. Seemingly at the eleventh hour a connection came through and we signed a lease and mailed off a deposit cheque for a basement apartment after seeing only four pictures. We knew we could endure anything for a year and it would be much easier to search for a bigger, non-basement rental when we were local.
The year came and went. We were happy enough so we didn’t actively look for a new place to live. I was in the process of applying for permanent residency in Canada and couldn’t work so it was nice to have very affordable rent in an otherwise expensive area. Another year passed, my residency was approved, I started working again. We looked at our budget and realized we could afford a bigger apartment or we could save and travel a bit. The small place was starting to grow on us so we decided to stay. Another year passed and our landlord, with whom we had become good friends, got married. I doubt we ever would have sought out an intentional community living lifestyle, but for people who are generally homebodies, it was awesome having best friends fifteen feet away. Then life started coming fast… Matt changed careers, I got pregnant. Every time we considered moving or starting looking at our options, the apartment we already lived in came out the clear winner. With only one bedroom, we didn’t expect to stay long with a baby, but our landlords offered to renovate an unused space on our level to give us a den and huge addition of living space. It was something they would do for themselves eventually anyway and if it allowed us to stay here longer they were happy to do it when we needed it.
Somewhere in all of this our hearts were opening to other ideas, as well. That chasing the dream of bigger maybe wasn’t better. That we have friends and neighbours in our town, our country, our world who are affected by our decisions. That owning a bigger home and more things contributes to a global problem. That consumption and overdevelopment aren’t just things for government organizations to worry about, but that we have a personal responsibility to live lightly on the earth.
As we’ve grown into a family here, I’ve developed new appreciations for a small home. It is easy to keep tidy, and for a person who does not relish time spent cleaning this cannot be overstated! The cheaper rent has been a blessing again, giving us flexibility for our career options and allowing us to make choices that best support our family, not the bills we have each month. It forces us into each other’s space and encourages us to connect more often than two introverts might otherwise seek out. And in this home that chose us, it has given us best friends who live upstairs, people who have become second parents to our son, their children like his siblings.
This home has been everything we have needed, exactly when we needed it. It was ready for us when nothing else was an option. It chose us knowing the people we would become, knowing that it would still be our first choice every time.
This post was written for inclusion in the July collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!
Minimalist Meg– “Our Story Behind Small and Simple Living” : Sometimes living simply and living small doesn’t happen because of a grand event. Sometimes it just happens and it’s not until after that you decide to keep it that way.
Little Bungalow– “Accidental then Intentional” : A visual tour of all the small homes we didn’t buy before we bought our most recent smallish home in beautiful Victoria, BC.
Fourth and West– “The Home That Chose Us” : Realizing the home we had was actually perfect all along.
Tiny Ass Camper– “Casita Life” : How and why we chose a 17′ Casita Spirit Standard as our home on wheels.
600 Sq Ft and a Baby– “How We Ended Up Living Small” : Looking back on why living small stuck for us.
Fancy Pigeon– “Why We Live Small” : A vlog on why and how our family has consistently downsized over the years.
The Streamlined Life– “Why I Fell in Love with Small House Living” : Sometimes our earliest memories have the strongest impact.
This Lovely Day– “Tiny Transitions” : Follow along with Kate Shaw, a retiring Air Force pilot, as she transitions her family of five from living in a 3200 ft.² century home to a 900 ft.² downtown high rise condo in the city.
The Justice Pirate– “Minimalism: My First Tiny House” : Once upon a time, a little girl dreamed of having her own tiny house and her dream came true…temporarily.
Family Pedals– “Finding Abundance in 1500 Square Feet” : In our culture it would be easy for us to view our house as a stepping stone to something bigger, something nicer. For us, the next step we’d like to take is to something smaller, something simpler.