We recently moved from the burbs to an urban, walkable neighborhood.
When asked why people would ask “Are you moving to a bigger place?”
The implication was bigger was better.
Most of the homes in our new neighborhood were built in the earlier 1900’s and are a lot smaller than houses in our old neighborhood.
Why would I trade a larger house for a smaller one?
1. More of Less
Being in a smaller home requires having less. What?!!! Not more, more, more?
I’ve been overwhelmed sorting through a never ending deluge of boxes.
Imagine a nightmare with boxes chasing you and not being able to escape. Scary stuff.
When we got our pod, I left some of our boxes out in the driveway. I secretly wished they would be stolen. They weren’t. They stayed there for weeks untouched until Goodwill came and picked them up.
How much money, time and energy had I spent on stuff I didn’t value?
I find immense freedom in having less stuff to organize, manage and maintain. How much time do I spend trying to find stuff hiding behind other stuff, only to drive to Target to buy the same thing?
When we left our old home I counted over 30 combs. I can’t remember the last time we used a comb.
2. More Time
When you have less stuff and less space you also have less to clean.
Less cleaning!!! Can I get an amen?
In our old house, I can’t tell you how often we’d need to cut the grass, rake leaves, trim hedges, pull weeds, pull weeds and pull weeds.
3. More Intimacy
Since we have closer quarters I feel closer to my kids and husband.
Organically, I find us playing more games, going on bike rides, laughing and playing impromptu basketball in the driveway using the garage as the hoop (I’m like Lebron).
Even though we had a yard in our old place, I had to bribe my kids with screen time (yes, I’m accepting parent of the year nominations) to use it. It was more of a weed sanctuary.
4. More Exercise
I don’t like exercising much, but I hear it’s good for you. My mind clears and my pulse slows when walking to the park, walking to the market and riding my bike around the neighborhood.
The book Blue Zones profiles areas that have the highest concentrations of centenarians (SAT word; people who live to their hundreds). One feature of these areas is people do consistent daily, low-impact exercise like walking. You don’t need to do hours of crossfit, doing 500 burpees a day to be healthy.
5. More Community
When you walk or bike around our neighborhood you tend to see others who are also walking and biking.
Over time when you see the same people it gets awkward if you don’t chat. I hate awkward, so I end up talking. This leads to knowing people’s names (after asking multiple times), which leads to kids playing together, which leads to barbecues. A very logical progression.
It’s difficult to build connections in a neighborhood where people drive into their garage and shut the door in 2.8 split seconds. Honestly, there should be competitions. Some of my old neighbors would have world records.
It’s impossible to get to know someone when they purposely cross the street and avert their eyes from you as you gasp hello.
It’s annoying when you say “hi” to someone and they look back at you with surprise like you’re speaking a foreign language. But, I should give people the benefit of the doubt, right? Who knows maybe we had an enclave of Western European people in our neighborhood who didn’t speak English and didn’t learn the word “hi.”
In our new neighborhood, people make an effort to connect and even say “hi” back when I say “hi.” It’s the little things that mean so much.
I’m not suggesting everyone should do what we did, but I think it is something a lot of people should consider. Size does matter.
Are you happy where you are?
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