I Blame House Hunters International!
I don’t watch much TV. I’m really behind the times on all of the up-and-coming hit shows. I would totally win at a game of “I-Never” (TV-themed). If I’m going to sit and chill with TV it’s usually the Food Network, football, and HGTV.
HGTV’s House Hunters International is partially to blame for my road schooling dream. If you watch the show you know folks are searching for specific housing needs in various countries. It’s fascinating to me to see the variety of landscapes and the various interpretations of acceptable living conditions. I also find it entertaining to observe the shock of Americans to European-sized living. The House Hunters International real estate agents working with individuals consistently remark on the oversized expectations of Americans.
There seems to be a pervasive desire for “bigger” and “more” regarding the “American Dream.” In fact, the average American home grew from 980 square feet in 1950 to 2300 square feet in 2004. This fact is even more interesting considering the shrinking household size. Perhaps this is also characterized with our ballooning figures and gas-guzzling SUV’s? I know I could use some slenderizing, but what about a diet for my American home?
We’re guilty. Every house we’ve rented or owned has been bigger than the last. We’ve always been house poor in relation to our income. Just 18 months ago we rented our biggest home yet. Initially, we were thrilled with the gorgeous yard and a separate room for each of our 4 kids. Gradually, the financial crunch and yard work began to feel overrated.
Jeff and I started talking about downsizing and finding a place with more character. We broke the news to the kids that they may have to share a room. They’re the super cool type so they were receptive. We also decided we didn’t want to wait until we were a couple of old farts with bad knees to travel and have enriching experiences. We wanted to do stuff with our kids now. This all evolved into our current experiment.
Moving from 3000 square feet to less than 400 square feet with 4 kids will be an accomplishment. But the idea is that when we do find our permanent sticks and bricks home it will feel palatial and help us feel more appreciative of our future space…if we don’t scratch each other’s eyes out before the journey is over.
In recent years there has been a growing small house movement that debunks the cultural myth that bigger equals success. We recently watched the documentary – Tiny: A Story About Small Living on Netflix. While radical, the appeal is the less-is-more mentality and living without the burden of a 30 year mortgage or enormous rental payment. After viewing the documentary, Jonas has dreams of building his own tiny house and living near Naples Island, California. I applaud whatever he deems a pursuit in a better quality of life.
Another captivating documentary on Tiny Houses can be found here.