My wife and I have mostly lived in Silicon Valley the last 11 years. I say mostly because there was a two-year stretch where we lived outside of California. The desire to change careers took us out of state for grad school. We ultimately found ourselves with a big decision: Should we move back to the Bay Area, where the high cost of living would limit our housing options, or should we find a new place to call home?
Most of my classmates chose the latter, moving to lower cost areas where they purchased large homes on large plots of land. The career opportunities, weather, and friendships we’d built over the years were enough for us to select the Bay Area. Our home would be much smaller than the one we lived in during grad school, but that was a sacrifice we had to make, or so I thought.
We quickly noticed a few benefits of having a smaller home. Less square footage = lower utility bill. Smaller yard = less yard work. Smaller home = less space clean. (Fun fact: you can almost vacuum our entire house without having to change electrical outlets.)
But there was one blessing we didn’t expect. Being close physically helped us grow closer in other ways. Let me explain.
Family prayer and scripture study has always been important and our goal is to do both daily. In grad school, we had a two-story home. Corralling kids was always a challenge and we often missed our goal. The seemingly small change of living on a single floor reduced a minor barrier and made it easier to gather as a family. We are now much more consistent at reaching our daily goal and it’s made a difference.
Living in close proximity has also strengthened our kids’ relationships. Our 8-year-old and 6-year-old share a room and are in constant interaction. They butt heads all the time, but there’s little space for them to be separated. While in the moment this can be painful for all involved (especially mom and dad). Our kids can’t run to their separate rooms or ignore the other. They are forced to work things out.
That constant interaction has fostered a special relationship. One recent night, after putting them to bed, we noticed it was unusually quiet in their room. One had climbed from the top bunk into the other’s bed and they were found laughing and sharing stories. A treasured moment for all.
To be clear, I’m not arguing that small homes are somehow better than larger ones, and the day will come (I hope) when we have more space. But this experience has served as a reminder that sometimes those things in our lives that look or feel inferior turn out to be unanticipated blessings.
Living in a smaller home has brought us closer. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. And for that, I’m grateful.