I live in a one bedroom apartment, with my husband and toddler. Family and friends ask how can we live like this - but we are happy here. Is that so hard to comprehend? It seems it is.
The lack of housing market affordability in many of Australia's major cities in recent times has driven many young families to adapt to smaller living spaces. The reality is most of us cannot imagine owning a Californian bungalow, Federation or Victorian style home on our incomes. Whether you're renting or a homeowner, high density apartment living is becoming more common place.
So let me explain to why living in an one bedroom apartment with a toddler, even one who is active and running, is great.
1. Location, location, location
For what we pay for a one bedroom apartment, seven kilometres from the CBD, we would be able to afford two bedrooms out in the suburbs. But more space doesn't equate to an easier life. If a smaller living space provides you with the freedom to live in a neighbourhood that suits you, why not do it?
For me, it was important to maintain an urban lifestyle. For some it may be proximity to the beach or an easy commute to work. If the ability to be more flexible on your location comes at the price of space, count me in.
2. Activities and adventure
I call my son a child of the streets. On an average day, we leave the house twice. Some days, we leave the house four times and yes sometimes we stay indoors all day but those days are the rarity.
By being such active participants in society, my son is constantly exposed to new people and new things to see. I am driven outdoors by our small living quarters, and therefore propelled to find exciting (and cost effective) ways to utilise our time.
Our "backyard" one day is a gallery, the next it's the playground. Our "TV room" is our local library, the next day it's our favourite cafe. My toddler and I have traipsed all over the city since he was a six-week-old.
3. The beauty of togetherness
Ever hear a fellow mum, say they can't even leave the room without their baby, or toddler, having separation anxiety? When your living room and kitchen are in one, you are always in the sphere of your child's sight. It's like your own private snowdome.
Your child isn't scared you're going to leave the room, when they are being particularly clingy, because they know you are not. I've found with this added sense of togetherness I am able to achieve more chores and my baby was able to relax in our one room.
Hey, you'll even save money by not needing to buy a baby monitor!
If you're spending a lot of time out of the house, you build up a sense of community as a matter of course. Whether it's your local barista turned babysitter, or simply the same person out walking their dog that you see each time you head to the park that becomes a friend, forging relationships bourn of spending a great quantity of time out of home is a wonderful thing. The community becomes your village.
5. No unnecessary stuff
I am not saying that you need to live as a minimalist.
Wherever I live will always be crammed with books, and furniture. But with limited storage, every potential purchase is heavily scrutinised and the answer is mostly no. We are strict on new toys and clothes, or other unnecessary items, simply because we just don't have the space. There's a certain beauty to removing yourself from the consumer culture that comes so easily in today's world.
There are various creative ways to make a small space feel bigger that are important for your sanity. I've known families to build little private sanctuaries, such as a modern tipi, in their shared living space for children to claim as their own. Thrice daily mini power cleans are a necessity, as a small space becomes messy quickly without the luxury of closed doors to hide away junk.
Sometimes you will wish you had a spare room yourself to escape it all, but the advantages are more worthwhile than you may have thought!
So whilst your small space may intrigue your extended family, and friends, just like anything else, if you it works for you - enjoy it!