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Cultivating Contentment

Cultivating Contentment

No matter how die-hard a small space living enthusiast you may be, there will undoubtedly be times when your 500 square feet of space doesn’t seem like enough — especially when you visit family and friends who live in comparatively massive 2,500+ square foot homes. In those moments you feel tempted to compare your home and find it lacking, remember these facts and follow this advice to cultivate a sense of contentment in your purposefully tiny lifestyle.

Count Your Blessings

Tiny living is not only on-trend, it’s loaded with financial, lifestyle, and time-saving advantages. One of the best ways to cure yourself from the small-home blues is to literally count your blessings, which at a minimum include:

  • No mortgage/affordable rent — No mortgage also means no property taxes, a huge expense for homeowners. A significantly lower housing bill frees up more of your budget for savings goals or other expenses.
  • A shorter commute (or no commute) —  Living in the city can mean less personal space, but it will save you the time, stress and fuel expense of long, stop-and-go commutes.
  • Lower utility bills — Not only do you have to heat or cool significantly less square footage, if you live in an upstairs apartment or loft, you’ll benefit most in the winter when downstairs neighbors crank up their heat.
  • Less maintenance expenses — Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their home’s structural maintenance, appliances, and lawn care. As an apartment or small-home dweller, you’ll have little if any maintenance responsibility or expense since you don’t own the building, and major appliances are included.
  • Less cleaning and clutter — Fewer rooms and surfaces to dust, and fewer places to accumulate clutter frees up more of your time to do what you want.

These are just a few of the main advantages of living small. Take a few minutes to think about some others and write them down on a postcard somewhere you’ll notice and be reminded on a regular basis of all the reasons you love where (and how) you live.

Remember: Small is Cozy

Instead of focusing on how cramped your living space seems sometimes, recall the times you’ve looked around — especially after a long, tiring day at work — and thought how cozy and warm your little home feels. Others may have even noticed this and mentioned it to you. Bigger homes may have more space, but there’s something about a small, cutely decorated apartment that achieves ‘cozy’ so easily and effortlessly.

Utilize Your Outdoor Space to the Fullest

Do you use your balcony or patio space frequently? The more you get out into the fresh air and sunshine, the less you’ll think about the limitations of your interior square footage. Growing a balcony garden is a fulfilling way to make the most out of your outdoor space as you water and check on your plants.

Cooking outside when the weather permits is also a fun way to maximize use of your ‘yard.’ Even if you can’t use a propane grill, pop out an electric stand or table-top grill and and have a mini-cookout. When it’s cold, make it a point to get out there at least a few minutes every day to read a book, sip a cup of coffee, or do some blood-pumping calisthenics.

Feeling Cloistered? Get Out

Even people who live in large homes can get stir-crazy if they spend too much time there. You’ll appreciate both your home and freedom from cleaning and maintenance obligations the most when you get out to do something fun a few days a week. It can be as simple as a walk around the block or to the park. Maybe you’re conveniently located near the grocery store or library. Instead of driving or taking the bus, get some exercise and stretch out the time you can be away.

Keep It In Perspective

As major a part of our lives as it seems, where we live is really not what life’s all about. Cultivating contentment means keeping your eyes open to the bigger picture. Where we live and lay our heads at night is simply a reflection of who we are and what we want to be. It’s not the real image.

Are you living small so you can live large in other ways? Are you saving money by not paying a mortgage so later down the road you’ll be debt-free? Is living in a small apartment the most practical choice for your current location, job, and place in life?

Whenever you’re tempted to be discontent, remember that, even if it’s not your ultimate goal, you chose this lifestyle, and you had good reasons for it. Rest in the assurance that your wise choices will pay off, in more ways than one.

Photo Credit: A derivitive of Contentment by Ian Sane on flickr.