Save. Spend. Splurge.

Why set up your 100% space for 1% of your life?

Every time I mention the small spaces I have lived in (even a trailer…. true story), people always look at me with a mix of abject horror and fascination mixed with curiousity, and they ask me any one of these questions:

1. HOW!?

I had my stuff, I moved it in, end of story……

2. Do you have kids?

For the trailer – not yet.

For the 500 square foot space – not yet either.

For the 1200 square foot apartment – yes. And I don’t plan on having any more, but it is more than enough space for all of us. We use every single room often. If you did a hot spot look at where we spent most of our time it would be:

 3. WHY!?

Sometimes I had no choice. I had to do it (see: trailer)…. but mostly because I don’t want to pay for more space that I don’t use or need.

I just need ENOUGH space. Sure it would be great for the same price to get double the space or more, but then I’d give up on location (FOR SURE) or community amenities, commuting perks, etc

4. But where do your guests sleep? How do you entertain?

Okay, so this one… is the point of this post.

I usually say:

We don’t entertain that often (some people do this nightly or weekly, we are NOT those folks because we don’t have any family near to us by a long shot and we are pretty quiet as a family which may come as a surprise to many because I seem very extroverted at work but I need my own recharge time too)….

…. and we don’t have people come over to stay often either.

Maybe once a year if that. When my family visits, they’d rather stay in a hotel downtown and not bother us with their night owl schedule (we sleep at 8 p.m. sharp and they stay up until 3 a.m. because they are way past the age of having young children).

If you’re that family, maybe a small space won’t work for you. You’d need a DEDICATED room to having these guests come over, stay, hang out, etc.

…but why would I set up a space for 1% of my life?

Most of my time is spent with just the three of us, and the occasional person who comes over to hang for dinner or lunch, but that’s it.

I would rather have the space work for me for 99% of my life than all of these dead rooms I see that are “guest bedrooms” or “formal dining rooms”.

We don’t have that although Little Bun’s room is empty right now for guests, and when he’s older, he’ll move to our bedroom to sleep if a guest comes over to visit, and give up his room to them. *shrug* Won’t happen often, and this is part of small space living.

Otherwise, these rooms are dead. They’re empty, very unused spaces, and while I do like the idea of a dedicated room for just my clothes, or a dedicated office space, I don’t need it enough to pay an extra $100,000 for a place, PLUS an additional $1500 a year in condo fees for an extra 200 square feet of space to do all of this.

$100,000 + ( $1500 x 30 years ) =  $145,000

Not worth it. I’d rather put that money elsewhere.

And financially speaking…

There are always tradeoffs to deciding to upgrade your space to the biggest McMansion you can afford.

Just this year, the Canadian banks all raised their interest rates. This on average, added about $200 a month on top of people’s mortgages because their rates were variable (presumably).

A lot of families started saying things like — “Well sure we can afford the $200 a month extra but that means no extra eating out, some belt tightening, no treats, etc…”

I hear this and immediately think — Those families bought too much house.

Of course I don’t know their full story, but before you throw stones at me for being an elitist, might I gently point out that I paid cash for this condo (my half was $300,000) but with the down payment of $600,000 we could have FOR SURE bought a huge house, or even a penthouse where we are now which is triple our space.

I was personally pre-approved for an individual mortgage of over $500,000. Can you believe this? My banker was willing to front me over half a million just like that. No real approvals needed.

I considered it briefly then told her “No thanks” (which she totally got because she knows I’m really into personal finance & debt-free).

I could have definitely upgraded to something nicer for my home, but we purposefully chose something within our budget (even $600,000 was a little tight for us because we had started off with agreeing to $400,000), and we decided we cared more about having JUST enough space with two covered parking spots and being mortgage-free.

Can you imagine?

Those families feeling the pinch of an extra $200 should NOT feel the pinch. It isn’t $500 extra. It is $200. Yes, it is a big amount of money for a lot of people on lower incomes, but $200 is something that should already be the buffer for “miscellaneous” in your budget, and used as just-in-case-we-go-over.

I feel like when people buy a house, they should stick to some sort of rule for themselves. If they buy to the LIMIT of their budget, it means any amount of money (even $20) will push them over the edge.

That’s a scary, effing thought.

Thoughts? What are some very unused rooms in your house?


  • cindy

    For your needs and family size (one child), I too think you have enough space. Why pay for more?

    I live in Europe and people here (especially those in the cities) usually don’t have such a thing as unused rooms (more like not enough rooms. 🙂 ) And no formal/informal rooms, like in the USA for instance.

    Homes in European cities (which are mainly apartments) have become very expensive, but I really wish I could have a bedroom for each child. One reason is that it is very hard to put two small children to sleep in the same bedroom. Imagine a toddler and a small school-age child. Both fall asleep with difficulty, both can wake up crying during the night and wake each other up.

    I’d rather have a bedroom for each and wake up (my partner wakes up too) to go to each child’s bedroom to calm them down, instead of having both children wake up at the same time because the other one is crying or refuses to go back to sleep. Imagine the chaos.
    Also, past the baby stage, I find it very hard to sleep with my children in the same room (a lot of snoring, turning, tossing; they are also sensitive to my own movements). I and my husband prefer to wake up at night and go to their rooms when they cry.

    Also, I find that in one (European) bedroom there is little space for furniture for two children (2 beds, 2 wardrobes, 2 desks) when the children grow…

    Thus, many people on our continent are also using the living room to sleep (I’m not a huge fan of that, but what is one to do?!)

    Considering what I wrote, how much home would you have bought if you had had more than one child? And what would your living/sleeping arrangements would have been? Even if this is not going to happen :-), I’m curious what you would have really done.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      In your situation, a three-bedroom.

      In mine, but with 2 kids? The same – 2 bedrooms and they share. My son sleeps with us, so very likely the baby would also want to sleep with us too.

      We actually don’t have a dining room (we use the counter), and there are a lot of desks/space, so it would work out if they did their homework out here, and in the bedrooms, just sleep.

      Luckily I only want one child so.. *laugh*

  • ENSJ

    I live in a studio apartment (which means my kitchen and living room are open plan, with an open bedroom (though I did install sliding doors to get some privacy).

    It’s large enough for everything, but honestly? I would love a second bedroom. I am a book lover and used to have a home library (five bookcases). With downsizing had to go back to 1 bookcase and I really miss it.

    I would happily trade up for something my current size + one extra small bedroom (where I would create my home library, put my desk which is now next to the kitchen and get a pull out couch for there). I read a lot, so I know I’d spent enough time in there to be worthwhile.

    I also do not have a private outdoor space so even a tiny balcony would be used regularly.

  • Jodie Bierbrauer

    I am in the process of moving from a large home that my husband and I designed and general contracted ourselves. He was in the building trade and had tons of contacts and wanted to build our dream home on 20 acres in the country. Our family of five lived there very happily for almost 14 years but about two years ago hubby and began discussing downsizing. We agreed that when our youngest graduated high school this June the time would be right. Sadly, I lost my beloved husband unexpectedly to heart failure in February and now I am carrying on the downsizing process alone. My adult children (who all still live at home) have helped but I am definitely the force behind this overwhelming project. It’s been a summer of selling items. He had a large shop full of trucks, tractors and very fast “toys”. I listed our home and had an accepted within two months. The closing is next week. I found a smaller home closer to the business we own that has room for everyone. I did not feel right about kicking anyone out given that we are all grieving. But the bedrooms are much smaller. The house is smaller and will work for us now and work for me when it is just me. That is a very tricky balance to find! The actual downsizing is really hard. Trying to figure out what we are keeping and what will be donated or given to family or friends is hard. I did a lot of purging all summer but my move here reveals I still have way too much stuff! I’ve decided it’s a process and will take me a few weeks to settle in. This very longwinded post is to say that I agree with you. I have eliminated the dedicated spaces that were not used everyday. My new house is still much bigger than any minimalist’s space but anything smaller would have put me over the edge!

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You take the best space for you. The more space you have the more you tend to fill it. Restraint! 🙂

      I am sorry to hear about your husband. I wish you and your family all the best to get through this very painful and difficult time.

  • SarahN

    My ex and I used to rent a two bedroom apartment, and save for the month when we’d split but not yet moved out and I slept there, it was seldom used other than for his desktop computer use and a little storage. I often thought you could ‘chop off’ the room and the apartment would still make sense and be sufficient. Interestingly, the price of my share of the rent vs the mortgage repayments I’d been paying in my one bedroom loft, I was ahead, so I didn’t mind (the rent I got for my place was very good too). We had the occasional overnight guest.

    The functionality with properties with more bedrooms often increases – more logical layouts, or natural light. Was certainly the case with the rental I got last year (ie post break up) and got a flatmate. I inspected every apartment in the building (new build so were all vacant) and honestly, the one bed room layouts were not as well considered IMO.

    My mortgage rate just bumped up. My interest rate is also set higher than if I was an occupier (which I will be again soon enough). I can easily handle it – given pay off is within 12 months of now (though the bulk sits in offset so it’s liquid enough for emergency fund and travels.

  • Cassie

    Formal dining room and 3rd bedroom, largely because we moved in a month ago and don’t actually have furniture for those rooms at the moment. It was more house than we needed for sure, but the size of the house wasn’t the reason we bought it. We bought it for the lot. It was a really strange market when we were looking too. The price we paid for our house was the same price as what new houses that were 70% the size and 40% of the lot were going for. Also, we were looking right around the time the 2%+ rule on the mortgage rates kicked in, so a lot of people looking at our price point were bumped out of the market, but sellers weren’t willing to drop their house prices because they thought they could still get 2017 prices. We eventually managed to get our house for ~$90k less than their original asking price. Given that we’d like to expand our family, I don’t mind having a few empty rooms at the moment.

  • liteadventurer

    We have a small house and love it. We don’t have parties, and if people do come over, it’s usually just one or two at a time. There’s plenty of floor space in the living room for people to stay the night if they’re interested, but not having a traditional guest bedroom discourages visitors from staying for an extended period of time. Which is totally fine with this introvert.

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