We're thinking about doing something crazy… downsizing!

I know, I know, normal people move into a bigger house before having a child, but we’re debating moving into a smaller house.

For reals.

If you recall (and you should given how dead this horse I’ve beat is), we own two houses on the same street: “the little house” that my husband owned when we met and “the big house” that we bought together when we moved in together.

Little house: 1400 square feet, 3 bedrooms (or 2 bedrooms + office), 2 bathrooms (now), newly updated windows, siding, kitchen, laundry room, fence 80% complete, smaller relatively-level lot. 1 car garage, no additional storage.

Big house: 1850 square feet (main floor), 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom (main floor), full floor basement (extra 1800 sq ft)… kitchen appliances need replacing, roof needs replacing, plumbing drainage needs replacing, fence needs to be installed. Lots of closets, lots of room, lots of potential. Big (2 acre) lot, mostly heavily graded. Lots of work. 2 car garage, extra “bunker” under the garage.

Basically, we’ve used up all of our DIY oomph. We’re plumb tuckered out of the do-house-stuff spirit, a bummer with a baby on the way and a mini-fridge in the kitchen.

{To get a full-sized fridge in the kitchen, we first have to replace the roof that leaks, then replace the ceiling. Then we need to move the cabinets or buy a new stove since the old stove is wider than normal and the old fridge was narrower than normal. If we’re doing that, we may as well replace the three layers of old flooring, but that part’s not necessary. And we’ll need to buy a stackable washer/ dryer to put in the kitchen because — until we dig up and replace the outgoing sewer line — when we do laundry in the spring, everything backs up owing to the tree roots growing into the sewer line. Oy.}

So while doing some oh-thank-God-we’re-almost-done trim painting at the Little House, which is just days away from being put on the market, this crazy idea my husband suggested months ago suddenly seemed reasonable.

Maybe we should move into the smaller-but-finished house and leave the upgrading/ renovating/ face-lifting up to someone else.

When we bought this house (the big house), I thought we’d live here forever. My (older) children would play hide-and-seek in the woods and eventually invite their friends over to hang out in the rec room in the basement. When my family visited, they could stay in the basement guest suite – bedroom, bathroom, living room (!), kitchen (!) all to themselves.  We’d have room for people and this magical property that’s like Central Park, with woodsy areas and sunny areas and a fire pit at the bottom.

But we seem to be running out of time and energy, having used what little had on the other house. We’re not ignorant enough to relish the idea of ripping apart the kitchen; we know too much to believe it’ll get done in a few weeks (or months!); we dread doing much more than painting (and lately, even painting). At halfway through this pregnancy, still living with a packed mini-fridge, I’m more open to ideas than I once was.

And if we want to move to the lake in a few years anyway (and we do, oh, boy, do we), then we’d spend three years making this house more livable just in time to cross our fingers and hope we’d make our money back. Ugg.

In a nutshell: square footage and potential + work + big money or move-in ready and minimal maintenance – square footage and having to move. (Except I like to move, I’m weird.)

We’re waiting on our Realtor to run comps, hoping we can sell this house for what we paid (because honestly, the things we love are still here — the wide hallways and walk-in closets and original red oak floors, the guest room suite and magical property and bunker awesomeness).  We also know we’ll be committing ourselves to moving again sooner rather than later; while we can make it work with a second kid, it won’t be ideal.

I’m pretty ready to make the decision, even if we end up doing a bit more to this house than just painting (like refinishing floors and some drywall work – still cheaper than the will-work-for-now $5k fence we were considering), but my husband is waffling being more balanced about it.  I’ve always been happier in smaller places given my propensity for accidentally living in a pigsty. My husband remains concerned that he’ll have to curtail his habit of acquiring things which must then be stored, though we’ve compromised and will be buying an outdoor storage building if we make the move.

I hope we don’t regret the move (if we ever get around to deciding, sheesh!), although the beau coup bucks we’ll (eventually) be saving and the work we’ll be avoiding are sure to cushion the regret.  And if my family has to squeeze in when they visit, so be it. We’re close that way.

So, anyone else weighing crazy-for-normal-people decisions?  How crazy are you thinking we are right now? (Maybe I should ask you not to answer that!)


9 thoughts on “We're thinking about doing something crazy… downsizing!

  1. You can totally do it. We’re even crazier and thinking of having a kid in our one-bedroom apartment. It doesn’t seem like you are into stuff as is- so now you have even more reasons to not get all the baby stuff!! Either way- good luck with selling at least one of you houses and getting to your dream lake house!

    • @Karen @sugarspicelivin, See, I don’t think this is a big deal! Perhaps bc I lived in a big city with high real estate costs where people make do? My country boy husband is stunned that people in multi-million dollar apartments would trick out a walk-in closet as a nursery, but they do, oh, do they.

      I don’t mind less square footage but I’m worried he will. And while I accumulate stuff just like everyone else, less room means I’m more committed to my furniture (which is the thing I tend to collect).

      I am a cheapo, though, so this is a GREAT excuse not to go all crazy buying baby stuff.

      Now I wish we’d just make a decision. I don’t live well in limbo.

    • @tonkelu, The little house does, actually. It’s in the garage (same level) and has lots of space plus (my favorite part) a shower in there too, so when my husband is disgustingly filthy he can take his clothes off and put them right into the washer! Heaven!

      This bigger house has a laundry room, but it’s in the basement and it’s creepy. I hate going down there, much less multiple times a day. NO THANKS. We were talking about putting a W/D in the kitchen when we redo it – which would help – but we won’t have room for a cabinet or anything. It’ll just be the W/D and hopefully not a bunch of clothes piled in the corner of the kitchen. Ew.

  2. I don’t think it’s crazy for you to downgrade at all. I would take the move-in ready smaller house over the larger work-in-progress in a heartbeat. Do you really want to be worrying about renovations when you have a new little person in your life that you’d rather just enjoy? I say do it!

  3. would it eventually give you the push to move to the lake? if that’s your true dream, then this is merely a stepping stone. do it.

    heck, we’d planned to have a tiny human in our barely-one-bedroom cabin here in austin, and there is *NO* walk in closet-for-nursery to speak of.

    aquiring things means purging them on a timely (ha!) basis. It just keeps things in check instead of realizing when you move that somehow you have enough crap to outfit three medium families.

    [also: you can totally do 2 kids in the same room. look at rebecca at girls gone child. heck, they *LOVE* sharing the same room, even since the second was a baby]

  4. I’m really in favor of giving yourself time & space to enjoy your life. If what you enjoy is NOT home renovating, then I’d probably move into the smaller house in a heartbeat and be happy to, just to get the stress of kitchen renovation off my shoulders.

    My crazy decision was putting our house on the market now, when we’ll be lucky to clear what we owe on it, just because we’re getting divorced, he can’t pay for it on his own, and I know I don’t want to do the work this place requires (I wanted to sell years ago).

  5. Sorry, the description of the “little house” sounds palatial to me: I’d give a lot to have that kind of space! We, also, are living in a wee one-bedroom apartment in an expensive city, and I know a few folks in our building who are raising a toddler in the same size place.

    Move! It’s less work, it’s all the space you need, and you don’t have to live with the mini-fridge.

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