We haven’t moved into the van yet; but we’ve been steadily downsizing our living space for the past several years. We started out in a 2-bedroom apartment that was roughly 2000 square feet; and now we’re in a 1-bedroom apartment of roughly 800 square feet. Losing more than half of our living space has caused us to make some adjustments in our relationship. Here are some highlights of what we’ve learned:
Being in close proximity to someone else really helps you work on your communication skills. With a smaller space, you’re not able to hide from tension. You can’t hide from each others’ quirks. You’ll need to develop a set of tools to address dissimilar expectations, to fight fairly, to have the freedom to communicate and to grow. We’re very pro-active in our communication. We bring up issues immediately so that they can be addressed and so that we avoid “bottling” up feelings.
If you’re in a relationship, you’ll be physically closer to your significant other. For months, we only had one sofa-chair that we could both kinda-sorta fit on; and we happily squeezed into it every day. You’ll know each others’ habits and quirks; and, personally, I love that. However, I don’t just mean intimacy in the romantic sense. When you invite your friends over, you’ll feel closer, too. (We’ve since gotten a kitchen table with chairs and a sofa, so everyone doesn’t have to squeeze onto the same sofa-chair.)
Living together in a small space has taught us to be patient with each other. She knows when I’m grumpy from being hungry; and I know when she’s stressed from deadlines. But more than that, it’s taught us to be kind and to accommodate one another.
You Can Live Without “Stuff”
The problem with big spaces is that you need to fill them with a lot of “stuff.” Big empty rooms feel cold, so you fill them with “stuff” to make them warmer. The beauty of downsizing and having a smaller space is that you don’t have to overfill it to make it feel inviting. You don’t really need all those things that you thought you just couldn’t live without. You can live without them, and you’ll be just fine. (Our previous article discusses living with less and how that impacts personal finances.)
The Value of Living Outside
Smaller spaces help you spend more time outside of the space – where life should be lived. You’ll want to go out to meet up with your friends; go discover the outdoors; go explore your neighborhood. Our goal is to get out, have adventures, and live a full life; and, for us, a smaller space moves us towards that goal.