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Anyone live in a home with 250 square feet per person or less?


Entropymama
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We currently live in a 3200 sf house. We were hoping to buy it (we rent) but it's not happening. We're considering moving into a much smaller house because it would put us in a fabulous place financially. 

 

The catch is that it's only 2000 square feet and I'm expecting baby #6. There are 4 bedrooms and 3 of them are good sized. We'd need to get rid of a lot of stuff, which I'm good with, and get very organized, which I also enjoy. 

 

Can it be done? 

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We are in our biggest house ever, it's 2000, including basement, but no garage, we are a family of 7. I think it's plenty of space. Before this we spent a year in 1400, that was a little cramped. 

 

When we owned, it was just less than 1600, it was fine. 

 

3200 sounds insanely big to me. 

 

ETA: floor plan is really important. 

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There have been quite a few threads here on the topic of house size, and I know that quite a few people are living in small spaces (a lot smaller than 2000 sq ft) and are very happy.

 

But just because others are happy with it, doesn't mean that you will be equally satisfied. I think a lot depends on how much privacy each member of your family prefers to have. Some families like a lot of togetherness, while others need more private time.

 

Have you ever considered renting a small house for a week or so (like a vacation house on the off-season, so you won't be spending all of your time outside the house at the beach or whatever,) to see how it works for you?

 

One other thing -- is there any way to create more bedrooms in the house you're thinking of buying? If anyone needs more privacy, even a tiny bedroom might do the trick, rather than having to share.

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I would say it certainly could be done.  We lived in a very tiny house---about 800 sq. feet if that with 3 kids growing up.

 

Will you have outside play space or near by parks, nature areas, etc. for lots of outdoor time?  Downsizing STUFF would be a positive for me.  If you read the downsizing threads I have yet to find anyone that wishes they would have kept more stuff.  Everyone seems happier long term with less stuff.

 

If it means a much better financial position I would try it if possible.  A smaller place means less taxes, lower insurance costs, lower utility bills, etc. as well which all add up in the savings category.

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Our house (up until last year) was only 340 sq TOTAL...so yes it can be done! We have friends that live in a 250 sqft house, with a 250 sqft out building. We have friends in busses, in campers, in vw vans, and all varieties of cabins and tiny homes.

 

It's really a matter of perspective and priorities, but small house living is very gratifying and fun!

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I think that a lot of it would have to do with how the space is laid out and how much storage there is. Does the house have a basement, garage, and/or attic? Is there a pantry  or pantry closet? Does the house have 7 rooms or 8? Are there closets in each room? These things can mean the difference between tight living and nicely together.

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Our house (up until last year) was only 340 sq TOTAL...so yes it can be done! We have friends that live in a 250 sqft house, with a 250 sqft out building. We have friends in busses, in campers, in vw vans, and all varieties of cabins and tiny homes.

It's really a matter of perspective and priorities, but small house living is very gratifying and fun!

Wow, seriously? :svengo: It's hard for me to imagine that, although I know people who lived in tiny studio apartments in NYC when they were young and single, and they managed just fine.

 

How many people were living in those tiny spaces? Were they set up like those adorable little displays at Ikea, where they have an entire house set up in 400 square feet? I love the way they fit so much functionality into such a small space.

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We have nine people living in a 1200 sq. ft house. Four are teenagers/young adult. We manage just fine. The important thing is not so much how much space there is but how it is used. We have 4 bedrooms and an office/den area. I have looked at larger houses with fewer rooms...wouldn't work for us.

 

Susan in TX

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Wow, seriously? :svengo: It's hard for me to imagine that, although I know people who lived in tiny studio apartments in NYC when they were young and single, and they managed just fine.

 

How many people were living in those tiny spaces? Were they set up like those adorable little displays at Ikea, where they have an entire house set up in 400 square feet? I love the way they fit so much functionality into such a small space.

Ours was an RV, so it was not cute like IKEA...but every inch is functional. Our friends in the 250sq ft house is totally an ikea room come to life. This is the model they live in--http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/cypress-overview/#ad-image-3

And it's 130, not 250 sq ft like I thought. But I know their outbuilding is. They have washer/dryer out there and a mud room. It's just the two of them, and a step child on the weekends.

 

My traveling friends, full time rvers, have lots of kids. We had 2 in the rv, but we know others with 2-6. It was a very different life and took a loooong time for us to get used to a full sized housed.

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my house is not quite 1000 sq ft and there are 5 of us living here plus all the animals.  The good thing is it has a detached garage and a basement(not suitable to use for living but makes decent storage) so I have a place for all the excess crap until I finish decluttering everything.  It is at times annoying because there is very little privacy but on the whole fine.  My house in the city prior to this one was 1200 sq ft but seemed so much bigger than this house, just a different lay out, the basement was usable so while it was unfinished I could still send the kids down there to play, and the bedrooms were on the 2nd floor(this house is a bungalow).  Just being able to separate people between 3 floors kept the home much more peaceful than it is now, with such a long winter here preventing me from just sending the kids out to play the cabin fever mixed with close quarters means there is far more squabbling than the old house.  I would say 80% of the time I find this place plenty big enough, and 20% of the time far too tiny for my needs.

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We have 7 people in 1700 square feet. Yes, you have to give careful consideration to what belongings you really need but we don't feel particularly cramped. I would much rather have a smaller living space and more wiggle room in the budget than a larger living space but no money for things that are important to me like music lessons for the kids.

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Ours was an RV, so it was not cute like IKEA...but every inch is functional. Our friends in the 250sq ft house is totally an ikea room come to life. This is the model they live in--http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/cypress-overview/#ad-image-3

And it's 130, not 250 sq ft like I thought. But I know their outbuilding is. They have washer/dryer out there and a mud room. It's just the two of them, and a step child on the weekends.

My traveling friends, full time rvers, have lots of kids. We had 2 in the rv, but we know others with 2-6. It was a very different life and took a loooong time for us to get used to a full sized housed.

That Tumbleweed house is so cool!!! I would never be able to live in that tiny a space, but it's an amazing design. I have to admit that it looks more like a playhouse to me than a real house, though, as it looks kind of like it would be in the backyard of the "real" house. I knew a woman who had a 10 x 16 shed that she converted into a craft studio and she made it so cozy and inviting, but she had to get special permits to be able to do it, because in our area, even a guest house can't be that small.

 

I don't know much about RVs, but one of my parents' neighbors used to have one that looked like a customized tour bus (there's probsbly some sort of official RV name for it, but I never asked!) I thought it was very cool, because it had so many interesting features. They traveled all over the place in it, but they were a retired couple, so it was just the two of them. I would have been afraid to drive it because it was so huge, but I guess they were used to it. I would have probably hit something just trying to back it out of the driveway.

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We don't right now, but we usually have lived in around 900-1000 sq ft with five people. There was no other storage space, no garage, no attic. I much, much, ever so much prefer a smaller house. We're in at least 2500 sq ft right now and I really don't like it. We don't have the stuff for 2500 sq ft and have huge empty closets and vast rooms with hardly anything in them. I hate cleaning the place. I can't see any need for all the bedrooms and bathrooms we have. I feel wasteful all the time, taking up so much space, and using more utilities.

 

So yes, you can be in a small house and be very happy. I guess I need some tips for living happily in a too-big house. :)

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We have 125 sq ft per person. It takes some creative thinking but it works. We just don't have much privacy, but I think that's , ainly due to having a lot of small kids, and having a bigger house probably wouldn't change it much. I don't know how I would have the time to clean a bigger house! The biggest problems we have are where to put all the books and the laundry. We have bookshelves in every room. Come to think of it, we have laundry in nearly every room, too. Haha My kids seem fine with sharing space but they have always been doing it....so I don't know what it would be like to downsize from something larger.

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We live in 3000 sq. ft. for 11 of us.  That makes it slightly bigger than you said per person.  Before living here we had all of us in 1500 sq. ft. Both places felt big enough for our family, but the last house lacked back yard space and only had 3 bedrooms. I will reiterate what has been said in this thread thus far.  It really depends on the layout and how you use the space.  Thinking outside the box and decluttering can really make spaces usable in creative ways. 

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One other thing -- is there any way to create more bedrooms in the house you're thinking of buying? If anyone needs more privacy, even a tiny bedroom might do the trick, rather than having to share.

 

Unfortunately, no. That's my biggest concern I think. My daughters would go back to sharing a room, and since they're 12 and 8 now they're wanting their own space more and more. 

 

Our house (up until last year) was only 340 sq TOTAL...so yes it can be done! We have friends that live in a 250 sqft house, with a 250 sqft out building. We have friends in busses, in campers, in vw vans, and all varieties of cabins and tiny homes.

 

It's really a matter of perspective and priorities, but small house living is very gratifying and fun!

 

OH MY. I can't even imagine. On the other hand, DH and I sometimes wander those tiny Ikea displays and dream about living like that when we're empty nesters. 

 

We are a family of 4 and live on a 41 foot sailboat. Definitely less than 500 sq. feet.

 

THAT would be amazing. 

 

I think it's just tough to think of how we'd live now that we're used to the space. For example, we have a 3 car garage and this place is only 2. Where do the bikes go? And the sports equipment and Christmas decorations and patio furniture in the winter? It's a townhouse so there's nowhere to put a shed. 

 

Thanks for the success stories and tips! I'm going to walk through it with a different eye. 

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I think our current house is 1250ft with 5 (going on 6) people, so 250ft per person. It's a little on the cluttered side (that may be an understatement), but it works well enough. I think this is actually our most sq ft/person since DS was a baby - we've lived in some VERY small spaces, the smallest being a sailboat with somewhere between 100 and 200 sq ft of living space for 3 people.

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I don't like to brag, but hang around with me for a while and I'll get your 2500 square feet cluttered up with all kinds of worthless junk in practically no time at all! :D

 

Trust me. I'm a professional.

And then I'd call you to come get rid of it all when we move again in 18 months. :) I'm not allowed to clutter (if one can declutter, can one clutter?) even if I wanted to!

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We don't right now, but we usually have lived in around 900-1000 sq ft with five people. There was no other storage space, no garage, no attic. I much, much, ever so much prefer a smaller house. We're in at least 2500 sq ft right now and I really don't like it. We don't have the stuff for 2500 sq ft and have huge empty closets and vast rooms with hardly anything in them. I hate cleaning the place. I can't see any need for all the bedrooms and bathrooms we have. I feel wasteful all the time, taking up so much space, and using more utilities.

 

So yes, you can be in a small house and be very happy. I guess I need some tips for living happily in a too-big house. :)

 

I felt this way when we moved up to this huge house. Don't worry, you get used to it. Or have more kids to fill it up,  like we did.  :laugh:

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Lovely! That is our dream after we are done with our RV.

You might enjoy this blog by people who have done both:

 

http://roadslesstraveled.us/

 

To the OP, I grew up in 3500+ sq. feet (family of 4), and while the space constraints on a boat take some getting used to, you just really adjust to having less stuff. There's no need for Christmas decorations because there's no room for a tree. We're Jews anyway, but you get the gist. :) You can still decorate; just on a smaller scale. It's really quite liberating not having so.much.stuff.

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And then I'd call you to come get rid of it all when we move again in 18 months. :) I'm not allowed to clutter (if one can declutter, can one clutter?) even if I wanted to!

Sorry, but I'm a specialist.

 

You'll have to get someone else to help you with the whole decluttering thing. ;)

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When we moved into our house it was 900 square feet. We are finishing off the attic space which will give us 1300 when it's all done. There are 6 of us plus our two large dogs. It's fine for us but I wish we had more closets. We started with one average sized closet and one very tiny linen closet. Now that the upstairs is getting done we have another closet which is wonderful!

 

Growing up we lived in a 900 square foot house with 7 of us, moved to 1800 sq ft  for 9 people, downsized to 1500 for 10 of us, and then my parents' current home that is about 2000. There were 10 of us living there but now they're down to 5 - except birthday party nights like tonight when we all come home with our families and bring the numbers up to 26. :-) We always had 3 bedrooms - 5 boys in one (dad built a triple bunk bed to fit them in), and 3 girls in the other. I'm 5 years older than my closest sister and 16 years older than the baby but we all still shared until I got married when the baby was 4. The "baby" (now 15) was the first of us kids to get her own room 2 years ago when our sister got married and there were no more sisters to share with.

 

It's definitely doable. You just have to be organized and clean out the extra stuff that you don't need/want/use.

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Stuff can be relocated.  People, on the other hand, are  harder.  We have six kids and there is no way I would move to a smaller house at this point.  We are having a lot of fighting over bedrooms, etc. and the kids get on each other's nerves.  It has some to do with personality and some to do with the unfortunately open layout of our house.  They are all introverts.  I'm sure  if they each had their own computer they'd be fine (grr)

 

Eta, FWIW, our kids are almost-13 dd (has own room), ds11 and ds11, neither of whom wants to share a room with anyone let alone each other (they claim everyone snores), so one sleeps in the tiny loft (hallway) and  the other is currently sharing with dd 4.  The third kid bedroom has ds 5 and ds7.  There have been temporary stays in the basement but they say its  too scary.

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My family, but there are only four of us. The house is a three bedroom so at least the boys each have their own (tiny) room, and that is a life saver.  I always joke that is why we couldn't have a third baby, no where to put it.

 

My BIL's family lives in an absolutely huge McMansion, I am 100% serious that my entire house (including the roof) would fit in their 'great room'. I have no idea how the live in all that space. They must be like marbles rolling around in a packing box.

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My husband works in another state.  We spend 2-4 months (last year it was almost 6) with him in his 800sqft two bedroom, 1 bath apartment.  It's funny, but after the initial week or two everyone seems to get along better when we're on top of each other. Maybe because there is no way to be territorial in such a small space.  I find it isn't the people that take up all the space, but the stuff.  Also, having more than one bathroom would be really, really nice.  The 4-5 kids in one bedroom doesn't cause nearly as many problems as the need to share the bathroom.  It's pretty much constantly in use during waking hours.

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We have 1750 and 8 people.  3 bedrooms. The girls (4 of them) share a HUGE space. They all have their own "corners" and they still have lots of room to walk around etc. The boys share a room and Dh and I have our room. We have so much room outside, it seems okay. Winter can be a rough time.

 

True, that.  I've never done winter in a small space.  

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When my parents retired and moved away, we bought the house I grew up in. My parents had seven kids and we had two cousins living with us. We have three kids and find the house small. My mom says it's because we have way more stuff than she ever had. I think she's right. It's 2300 sq ft, two bathrooms.

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We used to live in a 900 sq ft home and I loved it.  Now we live in a MUCH bigger home, and it is full of just way too much stuff and takes forever to clean.  Both DH and I inherited a ton of old stuff from relatives that died with no direct heirs, plus some stuff from grandparents, etc. and we are overloaded.  I think I could give Catwoman a run for her money on how rapidly we have filled up this place.  I feel more cramped and crowded than I ever have in my life.  If I could convince DH, I would sell this place in a heartbeat, cull down all the stuff, and live smaller.  I hate having to clean this place.  

 

Edited to add, I do love our home.  It feels nice to be here when I am not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff or grumpy at all the cleaning.  I just wish it was the same house but smaller.  And I know we need to cull down.  I do so every year, but it just never seems to make a dent.

 

But I agree with PPs that a lot would depend on the layout, how much storage there is, and how much each individual needs and can acquire personal space....but to be in much better financial shape would also weigh heavily with my decision in this regard...

 

Hope that whatever you decide, it all works out...Best wishes.

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Can it be done? 

 

 

Definitely, it can be done!  We're a family of six (with a dog and two cats), and we've lived in houses ranging from 1250 to 2150.  The house we just moved to in December is the largest.  Before that, our homes were all under 1600 square feet with three bedrooms and one or two bathrooms.  We felt most comfortable in the smallest and the largest.

 

Floor plan is everything, though.  A big house with a bad floor plan is worst than a small house with an excellent floor plan.

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We lived in a 1700 sq ft house with 6 kids. Two boys shared 1 room and 4 girl shared a double over double bunk ( that we built)  in a 8x12 room. It was a bit tight in the girl's room - no room for desk, dresser was in the closet. We used a 12 cube storage shelf to give the girls a few nooks to store things. Otherwise, they each had a plastic tub in the closet to store other things.  They had plenty of space for moving about, dressing, etc - just not for extra furniture.

 

I felt like we had plenty of living space but my kids were older and didn't have a lot of toys so that helped. It wasn't my hearts desire to live in a smaller house, but we were in Hawaii and even a little house was way over what is comfortable to pay. So, we made-do. It wasn't the worst 4 years of my life, by any means.

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There are eight of us living in our 396 sqft RV. That comes to less than 50 sqft per person. (Lol) So yes, it can be done.

 

Here's our blog: http://www.coach-and-six.blogspot.com

I would be a stark raving lunatic if I had to live with my family in 396 square feet, and there are only three of us. :svengo:

 

Maybe it's different for you guys because you're traveling, so there are always new places to see and explore.

 

BTW, your blog is great -- your writing style is fun to read, and you're an excellent photographer! You have a beautiful family, too! :)

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We're at 157/pp when ds is here, 183 when he's not (though his stuff's still here, lol, so...)

It is NOT okay with me now, and definitely wouldn't/won't be as the rest of the kids get older.  There is zero privacy. Any serious talks that dh and I need to have take place in the master bathroom.  It's hard to get one-on-one time with the kids. Their concentration with school work suffers. Trying to prepare meals for a largish family in a tiny kitchen is difficult.  I honestly do believe the tight quarters takes a toll on my mental health.

 

That said, I feel like I could be thrilled with 2,000 sf if the layout were good.  Two more small bedrooms to accommodate the ages/personalities of my kids, a small playroom for the little boys, a designated homeschool space (even if just for keeping "stuff" out of the main living areas,) and a slightly larger, better planned kitchen... I could handle that!

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We have 5 people in 1100 sqft and it is plenty for us.  I feel like we have a little "luxury" space even.  We recently turned one tiny bedroom (we have 3) into a "library".  It is 8x11, but still has a bed and serves as a guest room.  I plan to use it for read-alouds a lot especially next year as my boys start getting into more of the school stuff and my daughter starts 1st grade.  But it does mean that my three children share the other small (10x11) bedroom.  My bedroom is small (also 10x11), and we all share a bath.  The kitchen/dining/living rooms are all decent sized though, so it doesn't feel too crowded.  We prefered this arrangement (bigger living spaces and tiny bedrooms) to other similar sized homes with big fancy master suites and bedrooms but small living spaces. 

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I remember that same comment when I was watching a Frontier recreation show.  They took families and had them live on the frontier as an experiment for 6 months or so.  

 

After the 6 months, one family moved in to their brand new mansion built in Malibu.  The comments, even from the teens, were that they were closer as a family living in a tiny home (like the Ingall's home with one bedroom and a loft,) than they were now that they had about 7,000 sq. ft. of living space.  They also commented that they were bored in the mansion and always had things to do on the prairie, where they had no electricity or entertainment available.

 

Dawn

 

 

My husband works in another state.  We spend 2-4 months (last year it was almost 6) with him in his 800sqft two bedroom, 1 bath apartment.  It's funny, but after the initial week or two everyone seems to get along better when we're on top of each other. Maybe because there is no way to be territorial in such a small space.  I find it isn't the people that take up all the space, but the stuff.  Also, having more than one bathroom would be really, really nice.  The 4-5 kids in one bedroom doesn't cause nearly as many problems as the need to share the bathroom.  It's pretty much constantly in use during waking hours.

 

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We had a 36' sailboat and my understanding is that there was a family of 5 that lived on it for awhile.  If they can do that you could easily to 2000 sf.   :D

 

Oh by the way my dh and I along with a 60 lb dog stayed on it for a couple of months while cruising and it was too small for that long, for us.

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We are a military family (still for a few more months) and we have lived in situations with less than 250 sq. ft. per person.  None of us ever liked those situations.  We seem to be happiest in something more like 750 sq. ft. per person.  ANd yes, we have rented vacation places and even those, I feel sort of cramped in even temporary places with around 25o sq. ft. per person.  I am thinking back to a condo we rented on Dauphin Island (a beach island) in Al.  The condo was rated to sleep up 6 or 7, I believe but we were there with just Dh, myself and my youngest and I felt the place was nice but too small.  It was doable for a vacation for us and after all, we have never had an issue with cruising where we have very small rooms, but there I am hardly ever in the room unless I am sleeping.  So the need for space is not just for stuff.  My living room, dining room great space combo has not very much stuff and even looks like it could use more furniture.  I love it.  It is a big open space and just the kind of place I like.  Neither dh nor I want to downsize when we it will just be the two of us.  We thought that this size house would suit us in retirement (around 3400 sq ft plus more not counted).

 

One more point, the best thing we did with our daughters was to separate them in different rooms by the time they were 12 and 8.  I wish we could have done it earlier.  One of the worse arrangements in growing up that I had was always having to share my room with my sister.  I am sure we would have had a much closer relationship if we didn't have to share a room. 

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