Tuesday, 28 June 2016

How we live

I read a comment somewhere on Apartment Therapy recently that said something along the lines of "you don't use your house to get your exercise in." Meaning, in most parts of the world a home is used for the basics of living: sleeping, resting, eating in, shelter, warmth. Outside of the home parks exist, as do cafes, restaurants, walking trails, playgrounds, and so on and so on.

It was a lightbulb moment for me. Or rather, it helped affirm everything i've been thinking lately but couldn't verbalise.

I currently rent a 2 bedroom apartment in the inner city. I actually debated whether I even needed a 2 bedroom apartment as Little One 99.9% of the time bunks in with me. But it was at my mother's insistence that i "could use the storage space" and the fact the rent was a steal that made me cave in the end. Besides, I wasn't exactly spoiled for choice in the area I was desperate to rent in.

Now, almost 6 months in, guess which room rarely ever gets used? Yep. Little One's beautifully decorated color coordinated - in the requested pink and white - bedroom.

Another topic of conversation that comes up everywhere i go is housing affordability (almost everyone i know who lives in the inner city is renting or by some sheer family luck has bought, but only just managed to!) Where i live or more importantly where i want to live a 2-3 bedroom house will set you back a cool million dollars to buy or $600 + to rent. This makes sense if you're a double-income couple with a kid or two.

But i'm not. I'm a single parent with a young daughter who, and this is probably the most important part, is at her grandparents or with her dad for 4 days out of the week. I don't need that extra house. That, in this area, equates to a partial garden area and possibly if you're lucky, a dining room. What i'm more interested in is a mortgage with low repayments or better still, something i can pay off quickly and live in mortgage free!

Photo credit: Dwell Magazine
And so while talking to my ex's father we came upon the idea of me buying a 1 bedroom apartment and getting creative with the help of my (carpenter and builder) dad in building a sleeping loft or sleeping partition instead of having a separate bedroom that never gets used.


Random Google Images Inspiration
Because really, the very important question to ask when thinking the kind of dwelling you wish to dwell in is, how do we live? 

And so i will answer. This is how we live in our family:

We come home from work, or kinder, or whatever activity we've been at. We sit on our cosy couch and watch TV, or read a book, use the laptop or the iPad. And, this is the important part, the most underused room aside from the second bedroom in our apartment, is the kitchen. Oh i might boil the kettle occasionally, assemble a meal. I rarely ever cook. In fact, i've only started cooking because i DO have a big separate kitchen here. But otherwise? I could honestly survive with two hotplates, a convection microwave oven and a kettle. That's how little i care about cooking as at times it feels like there are more eateries in our area than people. And all our local favorite restaurants do home delivery with Deliveroo or Foodora. We have our little dining table and yes, we eat with real knives and forks on linen placemats with linen napkins to give us a semblance of civility, but it's still mostly takeaway or ready-to-go meals.

Then, when we've finished reading, watching TV, going online, we go to sleep. That's pretty much it. It's all very basic.

The only thing that I think is absolutely essential is a separate bedroom. Just the one. Because Little One wakes up at an ungodly hour and likes to watch TV, draw, play with her dolls and stuffed toys (always in the living room mind you, never in her bedroom.)

I think it's good to think outside the box sometimes. There are people who value the trophy home because that makes them happy (and, very importantly, their investment will pay off in the future) and there are people who value their absolute freedom. I think i fall into the latter category. Though that hasn't always been the case!

It's very important for me to mention the role of my ex's parents, the Little One's grandparents in all this. My ex's parents valued the trophy home (and with 4 children rightly so!) And thank god they did because it was their forward thinking that makes all our lives so much easier now. Their house is an inner city sanctuary. But they could have so, so easily have chosen to downsize after the last kid flew the coop almost a decade ago. So now they are left with a 5 bedroom, 2 office, 1 swimming pool inner city abode with enough space to run circles in. In fact, we're constantly losing one another in it.

When i need to cook a big meal, or go for a swim when its hot, or need a free office to do some work in it's here I go. My ex has since moved back in (all the children have been invited back at some stage or another) and the Little One has her own bedroom there plus a separate TV room. It will possibly remain her main bedroom when she grows up and becomes a teenager as i'll by living near them. It's the sort of house you can float around in and have your privacy and do your own thing in without anyone bothering you or finding you. When she's older, or even now if she wants, she can have school friends over and no one would even notice. We are very, very lucky that this house exists in the family.

And so it makes my goal and decision a lot easier. But i'm still very much inspired by the tiny house movement and micro apartments and the simple Japanese lifestyle. Even when i lived in our previous house, a 3 bedroom huge front and backyarded suburban house, i still only 'lived' in two rooms and prior to the Little One i was perfectly fine living in a teeny tiny 1 bedroom apartment - the kind where you have to walk through the bedroom to get to the bathroom.

Anyway. I'm excited and it will be interesting. The thought of designing my own interior and having it constructed to my specifications and needs (when the time comes) thrills me to bits. So now begins the important saving and getting all the financial ducks in a row (I have a 2 year goal) and the dreaming and imagining of what can be achieved designwise.

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