Money & Career

Could you raise your family in 320 square feet?

Meet Debra and Gary, a US couple who downsized to a three-room shotgun shack where they now live with their son.

Most days, my husband and I feel like we’re busting out of our Toronto home – we live in a small row house with about 1,800 square feet of space. We do our best to make use of every inch of the house because we have two small kids and we both work from home, sharing one (very) tiny home office. We’ve talked a lot about trading up to a bigger house – and of course a bigger mortgage. But we don’t want to take on the debt – and we’d rather get rid of our current mortgage before borrowing even more money. 

Then yesterday my editor sent me this amazing video – not only did it make me feel a lot better about our small space, it made me think about the obsession we have in North America with accumulating stuff. 
Watch the clip and meet Debra and Gary, an American couple who a few years ago found themselves working around the clock to make payments on their 2,000 square foot home. Overwhelmed by the mortgage payments and tired of working all the time, they made the radical decision to downsize – dramatically. 
They built and moved into a 320-square foot, three-room “shotgun shack” where they now live with their son. The entire cost of the home? Under $20,000. 
In the video, Debra talks about how the move dramatically improved the quality of their lives. “Our focus is on what we have, not what we don’t have” says Debra, who believes that living in a ten foot wide space means her family is forced to interact with each other more and to treat one another more respectfully. If you have ten minutes, this video is worth your time (it also has some great storage tips). 
Of course the jaded urban homeowner in me has to point out that I have seen places this size in Toronto selling for over $250,000 – but that should not diminish the point of this story, however: we can get by with a lot less, and be happier in the process.