When my husband and I went looking for a home six summers ago,  we knew we wanted to look for our forever home – not one to build equity and then trade up when we could afford bigger and “better.” Months and numerous offers later, we found it. 1350 SF on a quarter acre lot (large for in city), backing miles of park and forested trails. We were thrilled. At 23 years old, we had found our forever home.

We shared our excitement with our friends, and over and over again, we got the comment that it was such a “great starter home” – most people couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that we were planning to stay for the long term. According to most, it was “too small” for a family. Oh, how American views on home size has changed. When our home was built fifty-odd years ago, the average home size was under 1000 SF, and most people had more than 2 children (the most we’ve ever considered – though we are now likely one and done).

After World War II, a single family home was considered an important luxury in and of itself, and returning soldiers flocked to these homes to raise their children. In the years since then, homes have gotten larger and larger, filled with more and more stuff – and then we fill storage units with the things that spill over from there. We didn’t want to fall into the trap of packing a home full of things, so we went smaller.

When you have a smaller home, you have to be mindful what you bring in because you don’t have the space to hide it in closets and basements. By choosing smaller, we were choosing less in a positive way.

We still struggle with enormous amount of “stuff” in our home, and it is a consistent struggle to keep it in check, but I’m thankful our home isn’t larger. The sheer size of our space limits what can stay and what must leave.

A closet filled with items you no longer use becomes a burden when you then can’t find space for your essentials and becomes the catalyst to pare down again.

While I may never reduce our belongings to minimalist standards, I hope to reduce to a reasonable, uncluttered space that is enjoyable to live in. By reducing our space to what we really need, we leave room for the things that really matter – which isn’t cleaning.

While the inside of our home may be smaller, we have a lovely yard and we spend lots of time in both the front and back yard. Lounging in our front yard has made it so we talk to our neighbors and really get to know them.

We have block parties, trade homegrown veggies, sled down our hill in the snow, and generally enjoy each other’s company. I think in some part this comes from living on a street of smaller, older homes where people spend more time out front and decide to stay long term because of the community it engenders.

Enjoying an evening walk through the trails behind our house

Our property may be only a quarter acre, but we have over 14 miles of trails directly out our back fence and many more once we cross the street. In a way, it feels like we have hundreds of acres, but without the enormous tax bill and maintenance that would come with owning that kind of land individually. By choosing location over the house itself, our lives are so much richer for the time in the woods.

50 thoughts on “A Little Old Starter House Is Our Forever Home

  1. We just downsized from a four bedroom 2300 sq. foot house to 1000 ft. one bedroom apartment. Getting rid of all that STUFF was the best feeling. Your location sounds amazing, hope we find something similar one day!

    1. That has to be a change for sure! Our 1350 SF is the largest place we’ve lived as a couple, but I grew up in a 4000 SF house, and watching what it was like when my parents moved made me certain I never wanted to go down that path 😊

  2. We had the same mentality with our first home! We don’t plan on moving so we thought ahead and bought in a town with a great school system and 3 bedrooms so we have just enough room for kids but not overkill. Maybe I’m still in the ‘new home honeymoon’ but at this point I’m so attached I couldn’t even imagine leaving for sentimental reasons either.

    1. We’ve been here six and a half years now so I think we’re well past the “new home honeymoon” stage now, and we still have no interest in ever moving. Not that there aren’t a ton of things we want to fix/change over time – it is a 1960s house. We are in a great school system as well 🙂

  3. OMG I adore everything about that photo. Your lizard, your water in a wine glass, and “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is one of my favorite books. Clearly besties for life, regardless of how many states away we are. It sounds like you chose perfectly based on your values. 🙂

    1. I miss that lizard SO SO much. I️ will get another bearded dragon some day (we even kept the cage).

  4. Yes!! You’ve perfectly described all that we love with our house/location. We have a 1100 square feet 1960’s home that we adore and is perfect for our little family. The lot is also larger than all the newer constructions. It’s taken 6 years for my parents to stop asking when we would buy a bigger house!
    We are happy here, renovating it as our forever home and the dynamic with the neighbors sounds exactly like yours :D, block parties included. It’s awesome to actually be able to keep socializing after we put the kids to bed since we can bring out our baby monitor to the party lol no babysitter needed!

    1. So similar to us!! I think there’s something about the older neighborhoods that haven’t changed much in fifty years that seem to foster more community. Or maybe we both just got really lucky 🙂

      1. I think you are onto something! In ours, it’s either original owners so sweet elderly folks who have all the time in the world to come chat whenever we are outside or young families with kids playing together so it makes quite a nice little friendly community. 🙂

      2. Yeah, we have quite a few folks that have been in the neighborhood 20, 30, 40+ years. Lately we’re seeing more young families too which is awesome!

  5. Couldn’t agree more! Twenty years ago we bought a 1965 small split-entry on a quarter-acre lot. It’s not my favorite architectural style, and we have yet to update the original kitchen. But it is paid off, and not having a mortgage is such a relief! Plus, having a smaller and older home has afforded us the ability to travel, which I prize more than decorating and remodeling. Best wishes to you in your home!

    1. Well that sounds exactly like us! We’ve been here just seven years, but I won’t be surprised if the kitchen remodel doesn’t happen by year twenty. Like you said, too many other things to do with our time and money.

  6. All the trails around your house sound amazing! I need to bookmark this post and read it every time we get the itch to move. Our home is about the same size, which is enough room for our family of four, but the neighborhood has a bit to be desired.

    1. The comments on Twitter reminded be how truly lucky we are to be in our space. We know it most of the time, but discontent still strikes from time to time (mostly when something needs to be fixed, ha). The trails are forever the best though.

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