Living in Small Spaces: Guest Post

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I thought that you would enjoy a guest post from my new friend Naomi over at American Family Now blog. Me and the hubby lived in a camper for almost a year before we moved into the Little House. It’s an unconventional way to live but you can make it work! Enjoy!

Six months ago my husband and I made a very unconventional decision and into a camper with our three children (soon to be four). If you had told me when we got married seven years ago that I would eventually be living in a camper I would have said you were nuts! My, how things change.

Everyone knows the economy is tough, some more than others. Among those who are experiencing the effects, carpenters are at the top. Who will spend money on a new house or renovation when they are struggling to pay the bills? Long story short, my carpenter-husband has been unemployed for nearly a year, and we are now foreclosing on our house.

And so, here we are, moved earlier than expected onto a piece of farmland, starting our homestead out of a 31’ bunkhouse camper. I suppose I could spend a great deal of time sharing about how we got to where we are and why, but I’ll let you read all about it on our blog, American Family Now, and stick to the subject Merissa asked me to share about: living in a small space.

Our living space indoors consists of 250 square feet. This includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a living/dining/kitchen area. Before you start to imagine us all cooped up with our belongings, you should know that, a) on sunny days we spend a great deal of time in the big outdoors, and b) we also own a 28’ camper that we use to store many of our belongings.

I’ve been doing some research on other blogs by people in similar situations and have discovered that there are many people out there who either desire to live in a smaller space or are being forced to live in a smaller space. Our decision to move was actually a combination of both these reasons, confirmed by our goal to cash-build an off-grid house on our land, approximately 850 square feet.

To go from detesting the idea of living in such a small space to embracing it has brought me through quite an amazing journey. In fact, the hardest part of moving for me was the emotional transition of letting go of preconceived ideas of the American Dream. Spending time thinking about it, imagining what it would be like, talking about it, and writing about it were all helpful to us in accepting and looking forward to this change of lifestyle. Once I realized this new venture was OK, and even good, I was able to take practical steps to make the move easier.

For those of you who are moving into a smaller space, here is the simplified version of how we managed to do it:
1. Use less of your current living space. Block of portions of your house and start blending other rooms together (kids in same room, dining and living areas combined, etc.)
2. Purge, deeply. If it isn’t especially precious or regularly useful, sell or give it away. I found it helpful to do this in stages. Granted, I had five months to prepare, but I actually went through my belongings several times, each time finding more things I was willing to let go of. For us, this was exciting and refreshing as we realized it how freeing it was to live with less stuff.
3. Once you have purged as much as you can, decide what you use on a daily basis and what you want to save for later. This will help you to figure out, for example, what you need in your kitchen cupboards and what kitchen supplies you can store in a shed.
4. When you move, experiment with what works; belongings, private space/time, cleaning methods, new schedules, etc. As with any move, learning to adapt to smaller surroundings takes time, and you need to allow yourselves time. It was about two months after our move before I started feeling like I was home and we were figuring out a new way of living, but it was a couple months after that before we really felt like we had organized our belongings and space the way they would work best for us.

If you have already moved into a smaller space, tell us, how did you adapt and embrace the change?

Thank you Merissa for giving me the opportunity to share part of our story! For the rest of our continuing journey, please visit and subscribe to our blog, American Family Now.

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  3. after a tornado destroyed our home we had to live in a 29 foot camper on the property since we could not afford rent and mortgage. It was 2 adults 2 teens a 2 year old 2 cats and 2 dogs for almost a year. Having the shed for kitchen “stuff” was a huge help. I still keep things like holiday dishes and bread machine and pans out there since I have 1 cabinet in my kitchen. it makes such a difference.

  4. after a tornado destroyed our home we had to live in a 29 foot camper on the property since we could not afford rent and mortgage. It was 2 adults 2 teens a 2 year old 2 cats and 2 dogs for almost a year. Having the shed for kitchen “stuff” was a huge help. I still keep things like holiday dishes and bread machine and pans out there since I have 1 cabinet in my kitchen. it makes such a difference.

  5. Well, here we are in our 27′ bumper pull trailer, located in ballard/roosevelt utah. We have been in here since February , after being told we had to move out of our 3 bd/2 bth rental, because the owner’s mother had to move back in as she was losing her house to the oil industry. We had one weekend to find a trailer in SLC.

    The first few trailers we looked at were not what you could call immediately liveable. Then we found one right above Park City that just from the pics online looked wonderful. We were a good 1 1/2 hr drive away, being very disappointed at one we just looked at down south in helper utah. I called and explained our situation to the lady and she said she would hold it until we got there and looked at it. Now in hindsight and after a mix up, we lost that trailer which was completely remodeled inside and fabulous. There was a couple that showed up and she thought it was us, so as we got out to go look at the inside, the couple there said they wanted it. I got very upset and explained that the lady had said she would hold it for us, and if we didn’t want it she would let others know. I also told them our situation and begged for them to let us have it…and they said they were just looking for one to go camping in during summer. Now in my kind world, that couple would have said “you know we can keep looking as you need it more than we do”, and we would be relieved to find a our new home. However, they wanted it and we were again filled with the stress of being homeless. We could have told the lady in the beginning we wanted it, as she offered that option but we had already looked at 7 trailers in a short 5 hours and although the looked good on the internet, we were disappointed every time. That being said, I should have been more assertive and claim the trailer sight unseen, all the while knowing I could have changed my mind after viewing it.

    But we did buy our current trailer and the couple we bought it from were even nice enough to tow it up here for us. The first few days I spent cleaning and slowly bringing things over, so at the time we had no idea that the water heater was toast as well as the pluming going to the shower. We still don’t have hot water, so I heat some in the microwave to do dishes and we paid for the gym, which is where we go to take a “good” shower. Otherwise as long as it’s hot outside, we feel refreshed with cold showers. Yea we have two solar showers, but it’s a bit easier just hooking a hose to the bathroom sink and cooling down…We call it “high style” showering, lol. Our big joke is that before we moved here, we rented a very small apt, and it was kinda “ghetto” so we named our apt ghetto land, and if we didn’t want someone around we would welcome them to our little ghetto land and tell them to ghett-on outta here…lol.

    Currently, I am learning how to put down new linoleum (self-stick tiles) and making new “heat resistant” curtains (I hate the typical blinds, so I will remove them as the curtains are done). I want to repaint, even over the wallpaper and all the “wood” cabinets, closet etc. We really would prefer a motorhome, but hopefully after remodeling, we can sell this and get enough to get a motorhome (hopefully with at least one slideout and larger than our trailer). Our 4-legged kids don’t mind the lack of running space, as long as they are with mom & dad (we have 3 of them).

    I don’t mind living small, in fact, it’s easier and more “freeing”. We still have all of our stuff in a storage unit, and hopefully we will be able to have enough time to go through it and get rid or sell at least 2/3 of it. We know that even with the economy still going downhill we will always have a roof over our heads!! The only thing I miss is being able to have a garden and enjoying the wonderfully fresh produce.