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Less is more; Living in less than 1,000 sq ft
Old 09-19-2010, 06:38 AM   #1
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Less is more; Living in less than 1,000 sq ft

I am fascinated with efficient use of small space. In my 20s I dreamed of a palatial red brick Georgian manor of 3000+ square feet. Now I am preparing to retire in a two bedroom/one bath condo of 930 square feet. It is open and faces south, sunny and energy efficient. I have my morning tea on the little balcony.
Why on earth did I think a huge house would make me happy! My attitude has changed so much in the last two decades.
I want to add a little fold away bed to the computer nook area of my apartment
This would allow a third sleeping space for overnight guests.
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Old 09-19-2010, 07:05 AM   #2
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DW and I are leaning toward this type of home after ER. In addition to its efficiency attributes, we like the idea of freedom from traditional home maintenance chores as we plan to travel for weeks or even months at a time.
"There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means." Calvin Coolidge
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Old 09-19-2010, 07:06 AM   #3
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I found this article. Family life in less than 1,000 square feet - MSN Real Estate
There are many others doing the same. Our retirement condo is centrally located , a walking distance to everything. A big park area is two blocks away, the harbourfront is one block. I will walk lots!
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:23 AM   #4
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The only thing better is renting it.
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Old 09-19-2010, 09:48 AM   #5
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I don't actually use more space than that, even though I live in a house that is almost 1600 square feet. The rest of the square footage acts only as a noise buffer between me and the street, neighbors, and so on.

If people were more considerate (or if my hearing fails), I could be perfectly happy living in less than 500 square feet.
Happily retired since 2009, at age 61.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:02 AM   #6
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Though we live in a 2270 sqft home (at least half unused), our next dream homes are 1100 to 1500 sqft. We're great fans of Ross Chapin homes and the "Not So Big House" series of books from Susan Susanka (which you can most likely find at your local library).

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Old 09-19-2010, 10:23 AM   #7
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As one who has been living single-status in basements and spare rooms and hotels for the past 7 years or so (gypsy engineer, remember?), an efficiency apartment looks pretty good to me.

On the other hand, DW has a problem with that.

It is worth reflecting that all our family eventually wound up in retirement facilities and nursing homes with less space than that and had to gradually dispose of possessions. At some point in life, we have to de-clutter our lives permanently. There is a good case for doing that sooner than later.
I have outlived most of the people I don't like and I am working on the rest.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:28 AM   #8
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My current house is rated at ~1000 sf; it is way too big.
"Knowin' no one nowhere's gonna miss us when we're gone..."
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:36 AM   #9
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I have never lived in home/condo with much more than 1000 sq ft. Current home is under 1200 but most of my life lived in smaller aparts/condos probably closer to 800-1000. I have never felt that I needed more space (with the exception of finding a spot to place my oversized photo printer).

The big issue for me is the floorplan. I prefer more open layouts with less space devoted to bedrooms and more to common areas. I think ideally for me I would have no rooms except the bathroom.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:44 AM   #10
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I don't know if I could live in 500 sq feet. I think 1000 sq feet is my sweet spot. My current home is ~1250 sq feet and some of the space is just used for storage. I agree with photoguy about the open plan, but I would want a separate bedroom and bathroom. The key to enjoying a small space is good design.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:47 AM   #11
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When I was a kid, our family of 4 never lived in dwellings larger than ~900 sq.ft. As a single guy I lived for 5 years in a ~150 sq.ft. studio apartment. I currently live in a 2,500 sq.ft. house (2 people + 2 cats).

Conclusion: I prefer small spaces. Our current house is way too big: too much wasted space, too many inefficiencies, too much to clean, too much to maintain, too much room for cr@p to accumulate.
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:08 AM   #12
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I think the big thing on this is if you are single or with someone....

I lived in places that had 700 to about 1,000 sq ft that were in mid rise or high rise.... some were laid out very well and some were not... but I did have enough room for just me...

One that I liked the best even had a separate dining room with a wall between it and the living room.. the kitchen was small, but not to small... the bedroom just fit a queen or a tight fit for a king with a dresser... but had a nice sized closet...

The one that did not fit me as well was the one that had a larger bedroom... a bit larger kitchen and bathroom... took away from the living space...

I am surprised with a 2 BR space in that sq.ft.... must be really small BRs...
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:34 PM   #13
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Both bedrooms have a queen size bed (albeit the smallest room is a bit of a tight fit ,but it still has a full size closet and room for two dressers). At first we were going to furnish the smaller room with a double bed, but I didn't want to have two sizes of sheets to deal with. I am glad we opted for the second queen bed. We also have a travel trailer with a queenbed in an even smaller space but it is quite cosy. Lots of unused floor space in a room you are using to sleep in isn't that important to me. The condo has a open living/dining/kitchen layout so it does not feel too cramped.
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:51 PM   #14
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I guess it all is based on your prior living experiences and more importantly, the view of your partner.

When I was a young child, my father/mother/me lived in one of their friends basement for a year or so (I was too young to remember any of it).

My/DW's "first home" (e.g. not rented, but purchased) was a used 12 x 55 single-wide mobile home for us and our son. Since it had 3 bedrooms, the individual "living spaces" were quite small.

After several homes, our current terminal/retirement home is 2400 sq. ft. for just the two of us (plus two dogs). We each have our own bedrooms' (including the dogs ). Actually two of the BR's are used as an office and media room. The other bedroom is for the occasional overnight guest.

After living in quite cramped quarters for many years, we enjoy the room we now have. Also, being that we built if with all the energy saving options (at the time - things change) it is less expensive for utilities then our previous 2-BR home.

We have no intention of living in a smaller place just because we're in retirement (it took too long to get here).

Guess it takes all kinds...
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:39 PM   #15
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4 years ago we downsized into our retirement home. 2600 sq. ft. and it's just right.
I only wish I had a 3 car garage instead of 2 1/2.
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:18 PM   #16
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We have about 2400 sq ft for two of us and the dog. It's the perfect size for us and we plan to stay here in retirement. I'm a person who needs some "space" once in a while, and wouldn't be happy if we were in each other's faces all the time. Plus I hate moving so much that my executor can haul this junk out of here next time it's moved.
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:24 PM   #17
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My wife and I have lived in a 950 sft house for 27 years on a 40x60 lot. We are perfectly happy with it though I wouldn't object if we had another 500 sft. A good floor plan is key.
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:52 PM   #18
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My minimum space requirement is 1600 square feet but I really enjoy our larger house . We each have room to putter around and the separate quest suite is great since I have my Mom every other month . If something happens to her I will reevaluate my house and maybe go for something smaller .
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Old 09-19-2010, 04:30 PM   #19
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1,000 well-designed square feet would be ideal for me. Especially, if it would be in some desirable location, as seems to be the case for the OP. I moved in 2004 from a 4,800 square foot house on 12 acres with a 6 car garage to 2,000 square feet newly built on a suburban residential plot. I got rid of a lot of "stuff" to fit in here but am now complicating my life again (aaargh!) with cluttering up this place with "stuff" I rarely or never use. I have to exorcise myself from my habit of recreational shopping. Maybe I have too much time on my hands...should get a second j*b.
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Old 09-19-2010, 06:36 PM   #20
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We built a 4400 sq ft home for our ER, so that we could have our kids and eventually our grandkids all together at the same time in the same place...I would have been happy with half that amount for the same purpose, but DW felt that this size would be more appropriate. After having 12 people in the house during a family reunion this summer (for my parent's 50th anniversary), I believe DW is right, so long as she is the one taking care of the everyday cleaning. I wanted an acre or two, for my own outside hobbies. We found 2 acres, and caring for that is predominantly my responsibility. Of course, we do help each other (when we are there, just on vacations for now) with our respective inside and outside chores.

I suspect that when we are somewhere into our mid to late 70's we will probably trade down to a condo...but this will be after one or both of our kids has a large home and after we have gotten the RVing bug, and my vegetable gardening bug, fully satisfied. At that point, I would be completely satisfied with a small 900-1200 foot place, so long as it had a small balcony or porch for breakfasts and the rocking chair, and a spare bedroom for the occasional guest. I would not want to do that in the E part of ER...I am too active and have too much energy to be pent up in a tiny condo, but that will wane in the later years.

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