The Upside of Downsizing

The economy being what it is and the real estate market being what it is, I’m stuck, literally stuck in a smallish condo raising two rambunctious boys. Granted, this wasn’t what I ever expected, or even (admittedly) what I initially wanted, but even more surprising has been the multitude of upsides to the situation. As it turns out, downsizing or rather never supposedly upsizing at all has been a wonderfully rewarding and eye opening experience. Here’s the silver lining in our situation and how we found it.

Small house

My kitchen is literally 6 feet long by 2 and a half feet wide with only 8 modest cabinets. With such limited space, I’ve truly had to divide each and every inch of that kitchen in order to conquer the space and make it fit our needs. If it’s not used at least on a weekly basis, it’s just not stored in the kitchen. Additional vertical storage space is added inside cabinet doors, on the side of the fridge and on the walls via removable adhesive hooks for immediate, convenient storage of everything from trivets and potholders to cooking utensils and dish towels. This seemingly shortage of space, however, does have a silver lining. I can put away all the content of my dishwasher without lifting a foot!

Probably the hardest part of condo living for us is the lack of outdoor space. Surrounded by pavement and cars, I can’t simply tell our boys, “Go play outside.” While initially I viewed this as solely a negative, there is thankfully a bright side. Sure, they can’t run around outside or play in the grass, but then again, neither can I. Never a lawn to mow or weeds to pull or landscaping to tend to, my husband and I are freed up to spend more time with our kids running and playing with them rather than preparing the space for them. Yep, the way I see it now we’ve got the best of both worlds. Our boys never have a shortage of pavement to ride their bikes or scooters on and when we go to the park for a bit of outdoor playtime, I’m not too tired to play with them.

Our inability to sell and move has saved us money for obvious reasons, but it’s also saved us from unnecessary stress and helped us teach our children valuable lessons, too. From learning to love what you already have to finding ways to make what you already have work for you, we’ve been able to teach our children these things in the most powerful way possible: we’ve lived it, modeling it daily for them to watch and experience firsthand. As a result, they’re more likely to say wait, “What can I do about this situation?” rather than looking outward for some possible solution that may or may not be there.

My husband and I have also learned some valuable lessons as a result. While the economy may have initially forced our hand, we’ve learned that we can choose to either simply accept what’s happened or take control of it. We’ve stretched our creativity to recreate and reorganize every nook and cranny. We’ve reinvented areas of our home to better suit our needs. (Example? We added a small, free-standing freezer to the inside of our bedroom closet. No joke!) In short, the economy and the housing market may have forced us to stay in our smallish house, but it’s also stretched us to make it truly our home.

Photo credit: matley0

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

One Response to “The Upside of Downsizing”

  1. Tim |  Aug 19, 2010 at 1:02 am

    we’ve had the opposite effect: the upside of upsizing. for us, our new house which is 4 times larger than our apartment is actually costing us less in utilities. this is because the apartment’s hvac system was completely inefficient and sucked up energy like no one’s business. i’m keeping fit with the yard work, which i didn’t have before. we also can have many more people over since we have so much space. we are use to having someone over every day, but in our apartment that wasn’t possible.