Growing up in Austin, space never really seemed like an issue. My parents lived on minimal means, but we owned a five bedroom house in the suburbs, replete with an enormous backyard that backed right up to a greenbelt with bunnies and deer meandering around, and later on, a grocery store where we frequently trekked on Saturday mornings, or right after school to rent movies and grab a gallon of milk and a bag of candy. Austin was relatively affordable, and sure the traffic wasn’t great, but it wasn’t the worst- just avoid the highways between 7-9, and 5-6, and you were fine.
Then something shifted, and what felt like overnight, Austin boomed. And suddenly 5 o’clock traffic became 2 o’clock on a Sunday what the %*&!? traffic. And rent started going up $300 a month when you renewed your lease. But there were good things too. They took the Luby’s out of the mall, and replaced it with a Nordstrom. And we got an Anthropologie and a bunch of food trucks. That much can be said (not that i don’t love Luby’s! But it has a place. And that place is maybe not the mall? I don’t know, don’t quote me on that).
Small space living was not exactly something we chose, but we didn’t exactly NOT choose it either… when you live in a city as expensive as Austin, where rent prices rise by the hundreds each year, regardless of the relatively stagnant cost of living adjustment in most Austinite’s salaries, and our horrific traffic situation, you just have to make choices.
So, we chose an apartment in our budget, that we liked, where we felt safe, in the cutest dang neighborhood you have ever seen, with a six minute commute to work for me, and a 10 minute commute to work for Will. Cram all of those lovely things into 530 square feet, and you have our reality-check adjusted dream apartment for our first year of marriage!
Our tiny little bedroom!
And the truth is, yes, we really do love it. Most of the time. Yes, I really do feel like my life is less complicated and I am less attached to my stuff and more inclined to declutter. All of those things are true. Because Will and I share one closet and one large dresser between us, I am much less likely to buy things I won’t wear, and much more likely to get rid of items I neither wear nor want.
It takes no time at all to cool the place off, or warm it up. I know where everything, literally everything, is at all times. Cleaning is a breeze (we have about five things to dust, and I do it on Monday after I get home from work). We’re just big enough to host a few friends, but not so big that we become the party dumping ground* (though it my dream to someday have a house big enough to be the party dumping ground, as well as the means to fund it), and we cannot in fact accommodate overnight guests unless they want to sleep on the kitchen table, which would someday be problematic, but for right now, we don’t mind.
Our most important factors in choosing an apartment besides the price was the location– we definitely pay a lot for the amount of square feet we have, but we love our neighborhood so much it borders on obsession. Well, for me. Will likes it, but not in a weird way. I love it in a weird way. I could spend hours under the great old network of trees that seem to grow out of every yard, meeting twenty feet up in the air like old friends, or staring at the beautiful, unique homes spotted everywhere like a big creep. We will most likely never be able to afford to buy a house in the area where we live now, so we get all of the benefits of this non-suburban wonderland, without the longterm commitment.
Perhaps the most comical thing about small space living is entertaining. I don’t care how efficient your systems are, it’s a bit of a freak show and you just have to embrace it. People end up using our bookshelf to set their drink down because they are stuck between the coffee table and the end chair, and unless everyone in the room sits down, they won’t be going anywhere. The first time we had friends over, Will and I were still putting the final touches on dinner, and by “final touches” I mean burning the pre-packaged falafels I had bought from Central Market one hour earlier, and they seemed somewhat in awe of our system, watching us fly past each other with knives, bowls balanced on the sink, trays of food stacked on top of each other, fanning the smoke detector and offering them drinks from the refrigerator you have to completely close the pantry door to access.
Me, preparing an elaborate fall dish in the tiniest kitchen you ever did see. My cooking has vastly improved since the falafel incident of February 2015. See closet/pantry in the background for the saving grace of our small space living situation.
How my nephew feels about our apartment… upon walking in for the first time he announced, “You have a schmall TV…well, you have a medium schized TV,” and then after running wild for a few minutes asked “Do you have a yard? Do you have kids? You have a cwock (clock) in your bafroom, do you schweep (sleep) in your bafroom?” Fortunately, we allow our guests to stand on the coffee table if they so desire, which he seemed to enjoy, contrary to his face in this picture.
And yes, I do miss having a yard, and a kitchen big enough to fit two people in, and a couch long enough to nap on (though I have napped on that loveseat, and it wasn’t bad). But, I’m learning what it means to say “we just can’t” and feel ok about it, whether it be in terms of money spent, of items owned, or what we can and can’t do. And that feels liberating! Forget you, beautiful blogger/Pinterest homes! We just can’t! This is our right-now home, and we are doing our best to live it and love it well.