About a year ago now I really became interested in the concept of voluntary simplicity and how it relates to family and green living. I can’t quite remember where it was I heard about it but I have devoured many books on the subject since and have reviewed some of them here. Check out Choosing Simplicity and Frugal Luxuries and Simple Living.
For me the concept has been slowly working its way into my life, one small change at a time… downsizing to one car, doing our Christmas shopping at garage sales in July, working less and spending time together more, etc. In a few weeks we are about to embark on our biggest adventure in simple living and I will be honest, it is kind of scary, but I am excited too.
We are moving from our 6000 square feet, 5 bedroom home on a private street with 2.5 acres in a small country town to a 1000 square feet, 3 bedroom home on a city block in a suburb just outside a major metropolitan city. The move has advantages and disadvantages but overall I think it will be very good for us.
I LOVE our current home…adore it actually. It is a little slice of heaven. But we are about an hour away from the city where my husband works and where all the best shopping and entertainment is. And by best shopping I just mean you have more choices than WalMart… like Costco, Whole Foods, and farmer’s markets, for instance.
The shopping part I could live with and even commuting to places like the zoo and Whole Foods (even though its not so green) but the time we lose together as a family due to hubby working so far away has to stop. Currently my husband spends 1.5 hours commuting each way. That is 3 hours per work day that we lose. That is unacceptable to me and the town we live in is so economically depressed and has so few jobs that working here is not really an option. I am also unhappy with how car dependent we are here. According to Walk Score our current residence has a walk score of 3 out of 100. That is terrible!!!!
So we made the decision to move to the city and we decided to rent so that we could take our time trying to find the area that best fits our needs, since we are so unfamiliar with the area in general. I couldn’t find any houses in my preferred area so we decided to just look on Craigslist for something simple, in a good area, close to schools, and on the outer loop of the city. We figured we could move in a year if we fell in love with some other area. We also wanted something cheaper than what we currently have since I eventually want to phase my husband out of working outside the home altogether. It was important that I be able to handle all the bills myself if it came to that.
I also wanted something small so that we would be forced to downsize our belongings and get on track with simple living. Also, not having 3 bathrooms to clean is always a bonus.
What we ended up with is pretty darn small and uhm…not nearly as nice as what we are used to, but I really like it. It is 1,150 square feet, 3 bedrooms, it has a 2.5 car garage, a fenced yard with enough room for a pool, and a perfect work space for me that is just off the kitchen. My son is elated that it isn’t an apartment…we made that concession for him. He can ride his bike to his hearts content here and even ride it to school which is about a quarter mile away from our front door. And of course it is a city school which was also important to my son… his bad experience with the county school here has made him weary. I REALLY hope he likes it but if he doesn’t I take comfort in the fact that we have other options in a city… Montessori, charter, etc.
Behind the school is a big city park with a water park attached. I imagine that will make for one FUN summer. There actually 4-5 city parks in the area and residents have access to affordable activities such as sports, dance classes, karate classes, music lessons, swim classes, etc. Lots of 2 day art workshops for $10 a pop all summer long. They have a 80 page brochure that comes 3 times annually with all the fun stuff to do in our immediate area. I am giddy about it.
The library is within walking distance also. The walking score for our little city suburb is 68 out of 100. That is a HUGE improvement from what our current walk score is. We are less than a mile away from a large shopping complex with a big movie theatre… so the movie buff in me is happy.
Of course now we are back to the BIG issue. Pool or no? I am still terrified by the thought of a pool when I have a toddler. But there is a big circular patch of dead grass in the back now so the kids KNOW what was there. I admit I would love to have a pool so hubs and I could sneak out at bedtime and enjoy it together but the drowning thing….yikes…it would keep me awake at night and make me want to put deadbolts on their bedroom doors. BUT because of my neurosis about not having a pool, none of the kids can swim very well. Hubs and I both grew up in homes with pools in sunny Arizona. We could both swim like fish by the time we could walk… my kids have been robbed. :(
In addition to getting ready to host a yard sale of our own I am also busy shopping them too. Our current place has built in bookcases, desks, and closet organizers in most of the rooms so we will need to buy those as we are big on books, art, sewing, and workspace for our creative stuff. We need bookcases, desks, and dressers. I want everything to be second hand if possible…yes…grumble, grumble, even the washer and dryer. ;) I have a few auctions to go to this week to look for them.
I am excited to green my life even more and start reaping the benefits of more family time and a simpler way of life in general.
Got ideas on the pool issue?