Friday, December 4, 2009

Minimum Space Requirements

warning... long post!

I found out a vital piece of information from my financial advisor yesterday that has helped me make a decision about my spring tax situation.

After asking her to sell 50% of a stock to put it into my registered account, she told me that I could just transfer it laterally without having to sell and that amount would be based on the last closing rate and would be considered a rsp contribution. I did not know it was possible to do that.

In my mind, I've kept those 2 accounts as separate and not related so this move was a pleasant surprise. So yesterday, I made a $11575 rsp contribution! It's especially great as I didn't need to use any new money to do so.

The personal tax exemption is supposed to go up as well this tax year and I have a few small expenses in Dec. to input. Hopefully when the dust settles, I won't be out too much. Right now I still owe in the low 1000's. Oh yeah, I missed out on the private rim sale. Someone beat me to it.

I want to write about minimum living space today. Dave, the new co-blogger over at Canadian Dream, wrote this piece a few weeks ago and the concept of it has been rolling around in my mind since.

As you know, I have a thing for real estate and we own a 3 of them (1 outright and 57% of the other 2). When I read the comments to Dave's article, a number of people spoke of un-used space in their respective homes. It got me thinking.

D and I use every square inch of our houses (when we are there). How could that be when we are just 2 people?

In our main house (2880 sq ft), we have 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and a very small basement, not really usable outside of a workshop as it is a very old house (1854). So our square footage is pretty much all above ground.

The main floor houses the kitchen a 3 piece bathroom (that D uses after his runs as I refuse to let him drip all over the house to use the upstairs shower), laundry, kitchen, living room (doubles as D's work area) room/dining room combo, study and sun room.

We hang out in the sun room and study when not eating, working or watching movies. The 2 rooms are completely different in feel and experience as is all the other rooms.

Upstairs is our 3 bedrooms. One master with en suite (mine), and another bathroom (D's). The 2nd bedroom is our guest bedroom/office. Mostly office as we very rarely have guests. I am typing in that room right now.

The other bedroom is our theatre room. It houses our TV (we don't pay for cable) and our projector. We like movies and concerts.

D and I spend a lot of time together compared to other couples we know. Luckily we like to do that and each other. When we work, we like to be separate.

If you were to come to my house, you'd see minimal if any clutter. When we moved here (from a 1000 sq ft townhome), outside of furniture and clothing, I had 7 or 8 bankers boxes. Since then I've reduced it to 2 (will probably all end up as recycling), mainly stuff from the desk I recently donated.

Our rooms have nice furniture and antiques but no trinkets all over the place. There are paintings on the walls, built in book cases in the study and a couple of rugs, my piano and that's it. I let the architectural details of the house speak for itself.

When we are at the ski condo (just under 300 sq ft) and D has to work, I cannot seem to be able to relax as well. I think it is because he is giving off a different energy when working that doesn't mix well with my relax zone.

Plus the noise when he is on a call etc. I cannot escape it as there is no place to go other than out. It is open concept. We live very small and it is cosy and simple. It is very easy and I do not miss anything when I'm there.

So what we are opting to do this year is have D work minimally during our upcoming holidays so that it will feel like holidays. This has meant using more of his paid holiday time to ensure it.

I don't want to live the exactly same way everywhere I go. For me, it would take away from the experience. I even fought having Internet there for that reason. Eventually I relented as it is very useful for checking flights and weather etc.

At the cottage (700 sq ft), we have no TV or phone or Internet. We are as unplugged as can be and love it that way. We have 2 bedrooms, the 2nd one more as storage as there is only one closet, a main living area with 2 couches, bathroom and kitchen. That's it. Not even a book case. We don't miss a thing when we are there either.

We've talked at length about how it would feel living full time at the cottage or ski condo and what we would be giving up. There is a very obvious cost difference with each one. I guess it depends on how anxious we are to fully stop working and move.

Right now we like being able to enjoy living in 3 very different places -- ranging from what I consider to be luxury to basic. We have learned a lot about ourselves in the process and are very grateful for being able to do this right now. It hasn't escape me that maybe the reason it is so easy to not miss stuff is because we know we are coming back to stuff?

Given the choice, D would keep all 3. I would be willing to sell everything and move out west right now. I'm not scared to start again and start small. I crave time more than anything else and I would have the luxury of time if I did that.

I say I because full time in that space with 2 people would probably drive both of us crazy. We would likely need to buy another unit for it to work long term. So I guess, I did end up answering the question of Dave's post. I need at least 300 sq ft for myself to keep sane.


  1. It's really amazing how much less space that one can live in. My house is 750 sq.feet with a small attached garage, it has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen and basement. I live there with my 2 medium sized dogs and honestly I don't even use half of it. The one bedroom is dedicated to the dog beds well actually most of the house is and the basement is empty except for the washer/dryer.

  2. Sound wonderful Sue! The cottage would be perfect space for us if it had a basement. Part of what we've talked about was turning the 2nd bedroom into a laundry room.

  3. I'm not sure if I could do 250 square feet, or the 125 square feet I noted in my article, but I think that both environmentally and economically I would like it to work. I tend to look more on a global scale and see what most of the world lives in and a lot of the world lives in tiny spaces, meaning that I probably could and not go bonkers, my spouse on the other hand.........

    I liked your article, glad I got you thinking :)

  4. Hi Dave!

    I think if push came to shove, we can adapt to anything. Doing so voluntarily, however, is a totally different story, especially when not single and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people living what is "normal" in north america.