Thursday, February 08, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa

4 years ago I started following a blog that changed the way I looked at family living spaces. 600 sq ft and a baby is a blog about a family living in a small apartment in a big city. It’s beautiful and curated and makes it seem like small living is indeed attainable. For years (literally) I would sit at my desk and dream about a day when I could have a family home, and in my dreams it would be small.

How weird is that? Aren’t we all conditioned to dreaming big, excessive and unnecessary dreams? Don’t we all need a kitchen that Martha Stewart would envy? Are rolling lawns and massive swimming pools not the key to happiness?

Today I want to tell you about why decided to downsize and how we are making it work.
We live in a very small house. It’s a 3-bedroom, semi detached home in a great school area. Our girls (4 and 1 years old) share a bedroom and the extra room is used as a shared playroom and office space. Regan and I have a very modest master bedroom with a lovely en-suite bathroom that has a shower big enough for 2.

We didn’t always live like this though. Oh no. Before moving to this little slice of heaven, we lived in a 4 bedroom, freestanding Victorian home with a 1600 sq meter garden. We had space both inside and outside.

It was horrible.

In addition to being a nightmare to clean, having a big home also made me feel constantly paranoid about where my kids were, what they were doing and whether or not we were safe. I felt like I was always alert, listening for distant sounds that could mean a threat. I felt panicked if I couldn’t see my girls. I hated cleaning and boy, I did a lot of it. It was expensive to maintain a garden and in a drought, it was also a massive waste of natural resources. When we finally decided to move, we agreed on one very important thing: we never wanted to live in a big house ever again.

I’ve spent so much time thinking about why people move to bigger homes… Is it because you genuinely need more space? Why? Do you have 4+ kids? Or do you just have a lot of stuff? Why are we so conditioned to wanting more? Is it to prove that we can have it? Is it for everyone else as much as it is for us? I find the topic fascinating, but I am veering off course here…

Here are 5 things you’ll love about living in a smaller house:

Some people love to clean. My little sister is one of these people. I’m not. While I need a clean and tidy home in order to function, I don’t want to be the person to clean it. Fortunately we live in a time when cleaning services are but a click away. The worst part about having a bigger home is that said cleaning services usually cost an arm and a leg. Now we pay very little to have a nice clean house and it is wonderful.

This is probably my favourite thing about living in a smaller space. Regan and Sophie are classic hoarders, nothing gets thrown out. Regan’s wallet is a minefield of old shopping receipts and business cards from people he will never contact. It dries me bonkers. Having a small home has forced my entire family to be more conscious of the space we take up. There is literally no room for excess and it makes me so happy.

Less space means we spend a lot more time in the same room together. Which can sometimes drive me a bit batty, but most of the time it’s actually such a joy. I don’t get to miss out on family moments because I am in the kitchen cooking, because the kitchen is part of our living space. It’s rad.

This was a big one for Regan and I. Our old house was beautiful and spacious but the opposite of child-friendly. When I was home alone with the girls, I would 90% of my time trailing after them to ensure they don’t get hurt. Now I know exactly where they are and I feel like they are safe. I feel so much more relaxed because I don’t need to break out the hawk eyes every time they leave a room.

This was another NB point for Regan and I. Regan often works late, living further from the city center usually meant that a late night at the office could easily turn into a missed opportunity to kiss his girls goodnight. If he had to leave the office at 7 pm he would get home after bedtime and there were so many days when he would spend just 30 minutes of quality time with the kids. It’s not how we want to live. Now our commute is cut in half and we are spending less time in traffic and more time with each other. Which is totally amazing.

It’s no secret that we are incredibly spoiled in South Africa when it comes to property costs and sizes. Yes housing has gotten more expensive but the fact that buying a house is even an option to most of us is incredible. I have lived abroad and let me tell you, in Europe and Asia, freestanding homes are a thing of complete luxury.  But just because it’s accessible, doesn’t mean it’s necessary.

Would you moving your family to  a tiny space?  Maybe one of these links will inspire you:

Would you? Could you? I promise, it’s better than you think!



  1. Ohhhh this really resonates with me. I grew up in a MASSIVE house on a MASSIVE farm and I was always terrified. The house echoed at night and a dog barking in the distance was enough to send me into a tailspin. It was fine while my dad was alive because he had a gun and he'd fire warning shots into the night and we'd feel okay but the second he died we would hear guys climbing on our roof trying to break in. I was terrified. My house is very modest, it has three bedrooms but they are all close together, there are no creepy sounds or dark unlived in places and I love it. When we move to New Zealand we will have to live in an even smaller house and honestly, I'm not dreading it.

    1. Gosh I can so relate! We also grew up in a big house and I don't remember ever feeling completely safe when my dad wasn't home. I always admire those big sprawling homes on massive estates, but I know that even if I could spend R60 million on a massive, I probably wouldn't. It's just too big. Our little 3 bed semi is just right for us and maybe when the kids are older and they ned more space we can look at getting something a bit more roomy, but for now, for the near future, small is perfect!

  2. We are all about wanting to live a life with less now. In fact the more I read up about it and our live of excess the more terrible I feel. Most of the reasoning behind the campervan journey is what you have mentioned above. I've even considered keeping our house rented out when we get back in favour of a smaller space.

    1. It's not a bad idea. I think living with less is quite addictive. At least it has been for me. I also think it's such n important lesson to teach our children, they do not need to become hyper consumers.

  3. Thanks for sharing this! We're actively looking for a bigger home to move out of our smaller place, but this blog has probably changed my mind.

    1. That is awesome! I am the first to admit that I admire the sprawl of big homes, but for us, right now, it is just not what I want. God luck with your house hunting. It is so super stressful!

  4. We still choose to have a garden, but it is smaller than the previous two.
    As is the house.
    As large as necessary and as small as possible - has always been my aim.
    (I am a hoarder so still clearing stuff layer by layer)

  5. We want bigger because our place is extremely small. We live in a cottage now. My husband is also a hoarder - wallet is a minefield of old shopping receipts and business cards plus lots of lottery tickets.


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