I have been living in a studio flat for almost 17 years, and I am not planning to trade up for a larger home.
Tiny house and studio flat living are popular for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s all about money—smaller homes are cheaper to buy and run. Tiny houses, in particular, offer the opportunity to become a home owner without being a slave to a mortgage. Some self-built tiny houses are super affordable and can be paid for entirely in cash.
I wasn’t lucky enough to buy a tiny house, but I have learned so much about minimalism just by living in a studio flat. Who knows, maybe I’ll realize my dream of living mortgage-free in the near future.
Another benefit is simplifying your space. Many people are obsessed with space and storage. They need lots of space for the lots of stuff that they own. But what happens when we take stock of what we have and realize we don’t use half of the things we own?
When we live in a small apartment, we need to do a major clearing at least twice a year. Clutter is definitely the enemy of small places, so it’s a good practice to let go of what we no longer need on a regular basis. I go through phases when I don’t tidy up for a couple of weeks and paperwork starts piling up. Bills have this special magic trick of colonizing quickly. Clothes have a similar hold on space. We throw one t-shirt on a chair after work, and before we know it our chair becomes a clothes mountain. (According to Urban Dictionary, a chairdrobe is an actual thing.)
Having too many things actually decreases our quality of life. Why? Because we can’t find what we are looking for, we get stressed because we’re surrounded by stuff, and we realize we wasted our money on items that we don’t really need.
This brings me to the other important lesson from living in a studio flat: Avoid materialism.
Does owning many clothes make me happy? No, it doesn’t. I have noticed that I favor a small number of outfits that I always come back to. I sent my fancy and fashionable dresses to charity shops many years ago. Maybe it’s because I work from home as a freelance writer. I don’t need to impress my employer and co-workers with a new outfit every day. I count my blessings for that. I used to work in an office and would use shopping as a way to exorcise boredom and frustration. However, once I got my purchases back to my tiny flat, I wouldn’t feel any happier. I had to find somewhere to store my purchases and cram them into my wardrobe. Even so, I would often complain I didn’t have anything to wear.
We can still have a social life and a change of clothes when we live in a studio flat. We simply need to be clever with accessorizing. We can wear the same basic clothes and perk them up with a colorful scarf. I actually use my imagination more now!
I used to buy CDs and DVDs in the past. Luckily now, everything is digitized which makes it easier to keep things minimal. It was rewarding to donate boxes of CDs and DVDs to charity shops and gain more space on my shelves in exchange. There’s an inebriating feeling of freedom from giving away stuff (of course, we can sell it too). I felt much lighter. I also stopped worrying about losing things. The less we have, the less we have to worry about.
I also realized my carbon footprint is much smaller now. My utility bills are quite low because a small flat doesn’t require as much energy to heat up during the winter. I also decided to be more efficient with the way I cook as well. If I have to use the oven, I prepare two meals or two courses at the same time and cook them together to save electricity. I believe if I was living in a larger home, I would not be as attentive to my electricity consumption.
In a way, having a smaller home means we get to really observe our behaviors because everything has a big impact. If we’re not tidy, we can’t hide anything in the spare room because there isn’t one.
I have become more disciplined, tidier, and more conscious about the environment as a result of living in a studio flat. What about you? I’d love to hear about your experience with simplifying your home spaces.
Author: Paola Bassanese
Image: Unsplash/I’m Priscilla
Editor: Danielle Beutell