I thought I would do a “Top ten awesome things about living on campus”. Then I thought it would be “Top ten things about radically downsizing”. Then I realized that I could have sliced up a Top Ten list about 100 ways (logistic improvements, finance changes, community engagement, environmentalism, work life balance, etc).
I guess that’s just how life is – refuses to be easily categorized.
So, here are the 10 Ten things I love about our crazy living situation.
- Yard work and Maintenance – better than I could ever do: In our old life, I had to worry about grass mowing, spring/fall clean up, gutter cleaning, snow removal, tree issues, pool care, weeding. Door hinges, window screens, fence repair, garage door issues, water system problems, heating and cooling systems, pool pumps, roof repairs were concerns. Basically everything that comes with owning a house – and in our case a rather large house. Of course if we rented an apartment that would mostly go away, but here on campus it’s all done by professionals who do better than either I or the people we used to hire could or even in an apartment complex.
- Massive financial savings. Mortgage, utilities, services, repairs, reduced driving, overall reduced stuff. Do I need to elaborate?
- 9 vs 110 lightbulbs. In our old house we had 110 lightbulbs. Now we have 9 light bulbs. Incredible electricity reduction. Granted, we don’t pay for it, but that’s not the point. Have you counted how many you have lately? And it’s not just that, it’s heat, air conditioning, cable tv, etc.
- Three washing machines and dryers. Family of 5, being able to do 3 loads of laundry in the time it takes to do 1. Awesomeness.
- A vibrant, living community. You might not think of students on campus as a community per se, or if nothing else a transient community, but it really is a community. We live here together, we play together, we work through challenging world issues together. After having lived out in a country setting with little interaction in our community and honestly, a bit of lonlieness, it’s incredible to have an engaged group of people around who you interact with daily and build meaningful relationships.
- Proximity to lots of things: work (2-5 min drive or 15 min walking), restaurants (2-5 min), shopping (2-10 min), airport (12 min), lots of other activities (2-20 min). It’s less drive time, less gas and less of an obstacle to life.
- Overall reduction in all material things. Not only did we get rid of 2/3-3/4 of all our earthly possessions when we moved, we also just buy less now. A lot less. It’s not just that we don’t need to fill our space with stuff, it’s that we actively have to keep at bay the purchasing of things. I went into a Lowes a couple months ago and said “gosh, there is nothing here I could buy even if I wanted to”.
- Eating in the dining hall and having it be fun. It’s not just that Heather’s cooking load is lower. When we eat in the dining halls, it’s like being at a restaurant with 100 of your friends. There is no pressure to be on your perfect behavior, you get to have great conversations together or with others all over a really good meal.
- Living in a smaller space is just good. Everyone is closer together physically and emotionally. Our rhythms are more noticeable, how we dovetail into each other is more pronounced and it feels good. When our kids are playing around us they don’t feel far away and that feels really good.
- Reconnecting to my wife and kids. All that logistical and financial overhead and stress, the missing social interaction, the energy it required to sustain our own little community, the energy it took to psychically fill a large house all took its toll. Heather is much less stressed, I am much less stressed, our kids are much closer to us. This unique solution has brought me back to my family and I deeply appreciate it.
In the months leading up to moving, we noticed over and over again, that our whole family would all be in one room in our large house. We’d all be in the kitchen, or the living room, or the family room, or the bedroom or the dining room, or the garage but we were always in the same 200 square feet within a 3200 square foot house. That is, except when we put the kids to bed – then they were upstairs and we were downstairs. They seemed so far away. Now our life is tightly together in so many ways.
Now our family feels tight and mightily alive. There is a lot that contributes to that sense.