Ever since we found out baby R was a boy, we’ve been thinking about real estate.
We own a 650-ish square foot two-bedroom condo in North Cambridge (and about 40 of those sq ft are unheated enclosed porch). Our approximate plan when we bought the place two and a half years ago was that if our hoped-for second child was a girl, the kids would share a room indefinitely, and if that second kid was a boy, they could share a room for at least 8 years or so, at which point we’d likely be able to afford more space for separate bedrooms.
When we were shopping for our home, we made the conscious decision to give up space in order to live in close proximity to work, transit, and our religious community. While we certainly still stand by that choice, I’d be lying if I said that having two kids in this space doesn’t make me fantasize about that affordable 3 or 4 bedroom place in the burbs sometimes.
After we found out R was a boy, we started to think through what it would really take for us to get more space, even if it was many years down the line. We’d love to share a two-family house with Angela’s mom (who currently lives at 15 min walk away in Davis Square) and we started to think maybe we could get more space sooner if we pooled resources with her. Then we took a sobering tour of single and multi-family home prices in our neighborhood and realized that even 8 years hence, that’s probably a pipe dream. More space would almost definitely mean a move out of our beloved little corner of Cambridge.
As we imagined years strapped to such an outsize mortgage, our tiny very affordable place started to look nicer and nicer. We crunched some numbers and realized we’d have some hope of paying this place off sooner than later, not as soon as 5 years, but well before the end of our 30 year mortgage. We’re desperately in love with our neighborhood and shudder at the thought of living somewhere else. The financial freedom and community that we’d get from staying put started to seem like a nicer idea than more space.
We’re beginning to believe that 650 square feet is actually enough (after all, 1200 square feet is enough for 12). If instead of saving money towards more space, we put some money into making this space really work for a family of four, perhaps making a more efficient and streamlined kitchen, opening up and insulating our porch to have more useable work area, and dividing the space that currently houses two bedrooms into three small ones (you don’t actually need much space to sleep, after all), we really could stay here. It’s not firm yet, but a plan is being hatched. Just like living without a car has made our lives richer in ways we didn’t expect, continuing to live with less space, even as our kids grow, might open up new kinds of freedom. This feels like the kind of thing that is right up our alley.