Saturday, March 24, 2012

A low house-to-person ratio

Anyone who knows me knows that I read about tiny houses (the size of small trailers) and get lustful.   129 square feet.  I could do it.  Anyone who knows my husband, however, knows that aint gonna happen for our family.
A tiny home . . . I could live there!
We bought our current home when we got married, bringing into our marriage three small girls from previous marriages.  My husband was already anticipating/dreading the day when we'd have three teenage girls, and he figured we'd need a lot of bathrooms.  We moved into a home that has one shower, one bath, and four toilets.  He hoped that would be enough.

Truth be told, we bought a lot more house than we need.  Our realtor lists us as having 2400 square feet, but if you count all actual floor space (boiler rooms and such), our home is over 4,000 square feet.  We rattle around.  We have to call out, "where are you?" to find one another because the place is so big.

Would a smaller place be cheaper?  In terms merely of sale price, probably not.  We have occasionally looked at city homes nearby, smaller than ours.  Location matters a lot, and we have found that moving to a place half the size of ours, but nearer the center of our town, would be nearly a wash when it comes to sale price.  (Utilities and upkeep would certainly change, though.  I read those zero waste blogs and see how happy the small-home owners are.)

How does a Miser Mom ensure that a gi-normous home is still efficient?  How do I lower the floor space-to-occupant ratio?  If I can't decrease the floor space, then the only solution is to increase the number of occupants!

This, I understand, is not the usual household strategy.  Adopting a bunch of kids isn't actually the best way to reduce a family's expenses, I'll admit.  In fact, of course, the truth is quite the opposite.  Everything from food bills to clothing bills to repair bills to medical bills to transportation bills -- it all goes up.  For me.  But somewhere else, those food/clothing/repair/medical bills go down.   In a larger sense I feel like spending a bit of my own money, because I'm so gosh-darned penny pinching, is saving society a bunch of dough.

Yesterday my husband and I drove a couple of hours to meet a boy I will call C-son.  He's 15 years old.  He's been in foster care since he was 4; he's lived in 15 different homes.  It's hard to imagine.  Next weekend, he's coming for a visit to our home.  Plan is, the weekend after that (Easter weekend), he's going to move into our home, and that will be that.  No more new families -- we're the "forever family" he says he's been waiting for.

Here's a picture of our big house, back in December 2009.  Much bigger than a tiny house.
Current occupancy is 5 people.  We still have 3 empty beds;  C-son gets one of them.  We're going to use what we have.  Fill 'er up.  


  1. yay! I'm glad everything went well and he wants to come home with you :)

  2. Isn't it funny how the picture we paint of how we would live if it was just us so different than the reality of having to consider a whole family? Mine is a lot like yours, I would be in a tiny abandoned cabin in some mountain living off the land with the nearest people being over a 100 miles away!

    Your house is beautiful though and you are very blessed to consider such a beautiful boy into your household. I have often dreamed of this myself but never had the space to qualify for something like this!

    Hope it all goes well, he looks like a ray of light that deserves a forever family!

  3. You are totally inspiring. Last year at this time we began a class to become foster parents, after having been an emergency home for a friend of our boys. At the first class we were given a HUGE packet of papers to fill out to begin the home study. It was so overwhelming and so much more invasive than I thought necessary. Some of the questions were so not any of their business. I gave up. I couldn't face the stress of dragging up issues that for me are in the past and that's where I want them to stay. We would love to open our home to needy children, but not to have to go through the process of our lives under a microscope. I subscribe to the "by their fruits ye shall know them" position of "are they worthy of being foster parents". Our three adult children are emotionally healthy, productive citizens and really great adults. What better proof of our ability to parent. Anyway, so glad you're getting another son. May you have success and joy in your adventure.

  4. Thanks for the warm wishes, one and all. Rozy points out an interesting truism, that one of the reasons that we could get this far is because I am so detail-obsessed that I can make it through the incredible amount of paperwork involved. Yes, I'm following up on K-daughter's TB test, our auto-registration, the number of smoke detectors in the home. We've had something like 11 criminal background checks this year. A warm heart, a good mother, might be entirely a different thing from a person who can keep track of all these details. There will be lots of non-paper-work bumps in the road ahead . . . I'm glad for your e-support!
    --- Miser Mom