We’ve all heard about bijou apartments the size of a small walk-in wardrobe in big cities where space comes at a costly premium. More and more people are living in tiny spaces and if they’re lucky they’ll have room for a chopping board as well as a kettle in their kitchenette. It all sounds a bit extreme but we too live in a tiny space. 97 square feet to be precise. (I did say it was tiny!) We’d downsized from a 4 bedroom detached house with over 2000 square feet of living accommodation. Whilst we willingly traded space for adventure and travel, we wish we’d known 2 years ago how to survive in such a small space, together. Instead, we’ve had to learn and now we have it down to a fine art. Here are our top tips for how to survive small space living with your partner without going crazy or killing each other.
How to survive small space living with your partner
#1 Get into an arrivals habit
In a small space, your whole home can become a dumping ground for your bags, shoes, coats and keys, making a small home look cluttered no sooner than you’ve walked through the door. Pay extra attention to your arrival lounge and the area right next to your door. Have a home for the things you bring in with you and put them away as soon as you enter. Even a good set of wall hooks for your keys will be a sanity saving addition to your doorway, and help you to avoid getting locked out too.
#2 Become OCD (almost)
Being tidy is pretty much essential if you don’t want to irritate each other in a small space. In 97 square feet of living space, you’ll need to take this up a notch. Make sure everything has a place and that you both know where that place is. Then make sure you use it. There is nothing worse than reaching for your wifi dongle and it is not where it’s supposed to be. It should have been in the top drawer but the other person has decided to put it somewhere else. And he can’t remember where. Then you both end up hunting for it, at the same time. It’s not like we have 97 square feet of free space to wander around. I can feel my anxiety levels rising as I’m typing this!
When you’re storage arrangements aren’t working for you, agree to change them. Jointly.
#3 Have your own storage space
It doesn’t have to be huge but having a small box or drawer that is exclusively yours to do with as you like gives you a sense of having your own space. If it’s untidy, it’ll be of no consequence to your partner. If you want to fill it with junk that’ll one day be thrown away, that’s ok too. But it’s yours and that’s what’s important.
#4 Make sure you have a cleaning regime
It’s no surprise that a small space can feel messier and dirtier much more quickly than a larger space. I know chores are boring but if you don’t do them or let them slide when you’re living in a small space, it’ll soon affect your mood. Mess and dirt is a big no-no on board our home and if we let it get out of hand by missing our chores for even 1 day, it really does affect us. Avoid getting grouchy by setting a cleaning regime and sticking to it.
#5 Break the rules and have a day off (occasionally)
Sometimes, being so regimented can get me down. It’s a no-win situation because if we miss the chores or don’t put things away in their rightful home, it makes the other one grumpy. Being regimented makes me feel like I’ve been recruited into the cadets. We recognise this so occasionally we agree to take a day off from the rules. It’s like a breath of fresh air and we usually end up catching up on our chores later in the day, as neither of us can cope with the untidiness, by which time, we’ve got it out of our systems anyway.
#6 Have an escape hatch
Living in a small space and travelling together is a 24/7 operation. You’ll spend almost all of your time in each other’s company. That’s not healthy; at least it’s not for us. Sometimes, we just need to be alone or at the very least, away from each other. Small spaces don’t come with private rooms to go and relax in for an hour or so. We’ve learnt to give each other space. Our bedroom area is visually separate from the rest of the indoor living space and now feels like a little bubble. The great outdoors is another escape hatch we use regularly, whether it’s simply going for a walk in the near vicinity, exploring for the day alone or joining new neighbours for a coffee and a chat. Having an escape hatch and using it before you need to is a must have if you’re to survive small space living with another person.
Although our home is a tiny space of 97 square feet and on 4 wheels (usually), we like to think of it as a small shelter from the great outdoors which serves as our extended garden and patio. We’re making memories that will last us a lifetime and learning to live in such a small space together is just part of the adventure. And hey, I’ve not killed him yet so his training must be coming along well.
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