Small house living – why?

We don’t really have a tiny house, but considering that there’s four of us sharing our 85 m2 we do have a relatively small apartment. What we have is two bedrooms, combined kitchen and livingroom – and a garden. We actually wanted more space, it seems that everybody has more space, right? But it turns out that small works out great for us, at least so far.

Before coming to Bremerhaven I didn’t realize that a city i Northern Europe could be so badly built. Bremerhaven was one of the main cities for the German navy during WWII, and was therefore heavily bombed by allied forces. After the war, houses were rebuilt, but there was just not the money and time available to make first class housing. And now it’s been about 60 years and all the old houses really need to be renovated. It’s happening, the whole city is slowly being upgraded, but there’s still a long way to go. And our flat was old, cold and slightly moldy. Not a great place for adults, and definitely not for kids. And additionally, we just didn’t have nearby outdoor areas, so our daughter spent a lot of time inside.

We actually preferred staying in Bremerhaven because of logistics, especially because Esben is away for two weeks at a time for and I then need to take care of kids and a full-time job. But then I saw an advert for a flat in a terraced village house with a small garden, right next to a play ground and very close to Kindergarten and school. And it was built in 2010, and was an organic passive house. I went to look at it with my sister, who just happened to be there, and ten other people who were also interested. But I called the owners the next morning, and after being second in line for about a week we were finally told that we could have the flat. It was awesome. We were moving to the village Sellstedt. And Esben still hadn’t seen the place.

The main reason we really, really like our place is the surroundings. Being foreigners in Germany we just don’t have a huge network of people with kids, and in the city, being in a kindergarten doesn’t mean that you live near all the other Kids. So Runa just didn’t have that many friends. As our new place is right next to the playground, she can run out and play whenever there are kids around. Plus, the neighborhood is full of young families with kids her age, and they are all in the same kindergarten right around the corner.

And we love having a garden. When we lived in Sweden we had a garden that we didn’t use a lot at all. But apparently we grew up now, and sitting just five minutes outside at night is so wonderful. I guess even more because I spend the whole day in front of a computer.

And yes, the flat is small. The kids share a room. And the bedroom, office and home gym is in the same room. All of our stuff has a place and we only buy new things after considering if we have enough space for it. But we still like it:

  • Money. It’s just cheaper. The money we save on rent now we are directing into funds for our possible future home and for traveling.
  • Money again. We don’t have anywhere to put stuff, so there’s no point in buying things we don’t need. This can, however, be a bit frustrating for grandparents who want to buy physically huge presents for the grandkids.
  • Less to clean. I guess this is partly true, our place may get a bit more dirty than a bigger place, i don’t know. But it’s really nice that we don’t have a lot to clean.
  • We are always together. We know what everybody is doing and we’re usually doing it together. And the kids learn that we need to solve problems rather than go into our own room and shut the door. Sharing of an iPad can be tough though.
  • Our kids learn that it’s fine to live in a small space. That maybe the definition of success is not a fancy house or car for that matter. This one important I think.

2 thoughts on “Small house living – why?

  1. Bremerhaven struggled long time in economic crisis when the ship yards went broke in the 90’s. I think there is still high unemployment rate, but I believe the city is slowly recovering with new business developments and concepts for urban living. Hope you make good friends in the neighborhood. With kids it is indeed very valuable to have other families to help out each other occasionally.


    • There are indeed still problems, but the city has gotten a lot better – even in the few years we have lived here. It just takes time to get people with jobs to move there.
      And it seems that another problem is that for the people who work in Bremerhaven, but live outside of the city (like us and many other families) actually pay taxes to Niedersachsen.
      I must say I am quiet happy we left, for the kids, but I am also really glad when I hear that new employees at awi choose to give Bremerhaven a chance 🙂


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