Monday, December 21, 2009

How Much Space Is Enough?

How much space is enough? I grew up as an only child with two parents in a 900 square foot house. I enjoyed the large basements found in my friends’ homes, but I never felt we didn’t have enough space.

After I lived four years in a college dorm, John and I were married and rented a small apartment. A couple of years later we bought a mobile home, 12’ by 60’, or 720 square feet. Then we bought a house that was 1200 square feet, with a 1200 square foot basement. The last home we lived in was 1800 square feet, plus a basement.

Now we live in an RV that is 336 square feet. There are two adults and two cats in the RV; our children are grown and gone and we don’t have company for dinner or overnight.

When we were moving into larger homes, lots of people were building homes with 3000 to 4500 square feet. In some areas of Denver, homes are 10,000 square feet and more. How much space is enough?

When I was growing up, my grandmother lived in a couple of different studio apartments. In the 1930s my parents lived in apartments that I imagine were also studios. I feel like maybe we have been transported to those times. We are spending two weeks in a Homestead Suites studio unit. We have a double bed, one chair, a kitchen with a 2-burner stovetop, a microwave, a sink and refrigerator and a counter with two bar stools, and a bathroom. Oh yes, we also have a closet. The place measures 12 x 21 ft.—252 square feet.

There is a sign advertising move-in specials of $699 per month. When I was in the office, I heard a man asking the staff is he was the longest tenant. They said, no, the longest stayed 5 years. I can’t imagine that. But it made me think about where my grandmother and my parents lived. Today (or maybe 2 years ago, before the recession) young married couples expected to buy a house with 2400 to 3000 square feet very early in life. But do we really need all that space? As our children grew up, we found the best family times were when we stayed in a small cabin with 1 or 2 bedrooms and one large room. We all really enjoyed one another when we couldn’t each go into our own private space.

When we began RVing, we had to simplify. For these two weeks, we are doing it even more. And do you know what? It isn’t that bad. We have enough to eat. Enough to keep us busy. Because we don’t have a DVR or 80 to 100 TV channels, we talk to each other more. This life isn’t what we want all the time, but it is enough, for now. I look at it and think it would be enough for students at local colleges, for people in the first year or two of working after school. Where else could a single person rent a place in the greater Denver area for $699? The simple life isn’t that bad, is it?

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit, I almost did something just like that when I was going to go to Yuma (twice for that matter).
    The first time with RM Fire before they messed with me (yeah long story…..) I was looking for apartments in Yuma. Between the Border Patrol hiring more and more people and MCAS Yuma along with the proving grounds 1 bedroom apts were almost impossible to find. The only place I could find was $785 /month and I still had to pay utilities!
    When the BLM hired me as a Temp firefighter, I called around and found a nice motel that did long term stays. Sure, it was smaller (a studio), but for 3 months, I’d have all my utilities paid, phone, internet, housekeeping(!) for about $800 a month. Can’t beat that.