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The first lesson from moving our family of four into a 506 square foot house

Two months ago, we moved our family of four from the U.S to South Africa.

Our home in the U.S. was 1400 square feet, considered modest by many folks back home. Our new home is 506 square feet. We’re calling this “our small year.” We are “Living Small.” (Please note: the photograph above is not of our home.)

Our home in the U.S. had two bathrooms. Our new home has one bathroom.

Our home in the U.S. had three large bedrooms. Our new home has 1.5 bedrooms.

Our home in the U.S. had a large living room. Our new home has a little living room space in our bedroom. (That’s why I say it has 1.5 bedrooms.)

Our home in the U.S. hosted friends. Our new home hosts friends, too (though they need to accept some odd seating arrangements).

Our home in the U.S. was sufficient. Our new home is sufficient, too.

Our home in the U.S. was filled with joy. Our new home is filled with joy, too.

So I’ve been thinking about simplicity and minimalism a lot lately. This New York Times piece comes up a lot. And there’s some well-founded critique of middle-class folks in the U.S. choosing minimalism.

In moving to a new home that’s 36% of the size of our last one, we have given up things. We have given up space and stuff, as well as Netflix and tightly packed schedules.

But we have also gained things. We have gained time, simplicity, games, exercise, cooking, peace of mind, singing, dancing, and sleep.

Living simply is more about what you gain than what you give up.