Too Much House

A dear friend in her early 60s complains that it takes her all day to clean her house, and afterwards she is exhausted. I feel sorry for her, but the truth is that her house is way too big for her. She raised five kids in it, and is emotionally attached to it, but the kids are grown and gone and she doesn’t need all that space anymore.

Maybe it’s just as well that I was forced to give up my big house. It held many memories and I miss it, but I love having a small house now. I remember after we made the offer on it, and I drove by it with my daughter, who hadn’t seen it yet. She exclaimed, “It’s so small!” and I responded, “That’s what I’ll say about my electric bill each month when I open it,” and that’s exactly what I do say every month.

As King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes in the Bible, there is a time for everything: the time to have a big house is when you have lots of people to live in it. Once they’ve grown, the small house becomes a great idea for so many reasons:

  • It takes me about two hours to clean my little house (except for the basement, which I clean once in a while), leaving me more time to do things I enjoy.
  • Our utility and property tax bills are small, which helps us stay debt-free. We had to sell our big house because we couldn’t afford the $7000 property tax bill anymore and didn’t want to risk losing a paid-off house to unpaid taxes.
  • I always wanted to live on acreage, but now that we’re pushing 60, I can see that our modest yard is more than enough work for us at this stage of life.
  • Whenever we have to make an improvement to the house, it costs less time and money than it would on a big house. We replaced eight of the ten windows in this house a few years ago, and that was expensive enough. The rental house we used to live in had 56 windows. Can you imagine what those would cost to replace? Yikes!

I feel sorry for my friend, but I think at some point she’ll be ready to give up her big house. Or I guess she could just hire a cleaning crew. Personally, I’ve found that downsizing is the way to go.

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Not Enough Steps in a Small House?

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A while back, I had some health issues, and it became clear to me that I had to be a bit more committed to getting exercise. I bought a fitness tracker and soon discovered that I can’t put enough steps on it each day unless I go out.

I guess this is what happens when you live in a very small house. Everything is close together and conveniently accessed, so you never need to take very many steps to get where you’re going.

Given that I work at home, I often don’t go out for days. I’m a happy hermit, so that’s never been a problem. I also like to work in the yard, but it’s a small yard, so again, I don’t take very many steps.

Since getting the fitness tracker, whenever I go to the grocery store or on other errands, I’m amazed at how many steps I take. But at home, the number of steps rises much more slowly. If I were to go to the store every day, I’d rack up more steps, but I’d probably spend too much money and buy too much stuff for my house. These would not be good things.

However, I think I’ve found a solution to my dilemma. On nice days, I go for a walk. And on wet, chilly, icy days, I do laps in my basement while listening to YouTube. Also, if someone calls who I normally chat with for a while, I do laps while we talk. This allows me to get the necessary number of steps per day.

So far, this is working just fine.