We rent our flat, and it’s tiny. We’re saving up for a deposit on a place of our own, but that will be tiny too. That’s central London for you. Everyone else wants to live here too, and the laws of supply and demand are unforgiving.
Property is an obsession in London, and even those lucky few who own a decent-sized family home worry about keeping up with the giant mortgage. Or they hanker for that extra step up the ladder which climbs inexorably towards Hampstead Village. I’m as captivated by the “property porn” online as the next feeble human, but envy is not a good look. Never mind the property snakes and ladders, I can live like a property millionaire wherever I am, with my three step system for happy small space living:-
1. Have your dreams anyway
I kept daydreaming about a garden, wishing that I could plant herbs and vegetables, imagining myself relaxing outside on a sunny day. We have a balcony which is half the size of the average kitchen table. But I thought, why not do it anyway? So I asked for this book for my birthday, and planted the balcony with herbs, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries, all of which are well-suited to growing in containers. I killed about half of them, but the half that survived tasted great.
2. Get into minimalism
Not the design trend, the philosophy. I started out by reading Zen Habits then Becoming Minimalist then The Minimalists and now I check about a dozen minimalist blogs for inspiration every week. Inspired by Dave Bruno’s brilliant 100 thing challenge and this blog on 28th December 2010 I resolved to have 365 less possessions in one year’s time – by Christmas 2011. Every Saturday I check around the flat and find seven items that we can either sell, donate or throw out. Today we’re donating a black bag of kids clothes to charity, giving another bag of kids clothes to friends, and I’ve set aside some plates and cups and a pair of i-pod speakers to put in the next car boot sale we do. Our flat looks so much better. Having less stuff means that however small your space is, you can still experience the luxury of space. Funny how the less you own, the more luxury you enjoy…
3. Go out
There are so many things to do in London, why would you want to stay home anyway? I love to get out onto the Heath, go to a free talk, or a gallery, or take my son to the park. And when he’s playing at the park (instead of in that dream garden that lives in my head), he makes friends, or bumps into friends he knows already. And I see my neighbours walking their dogs or watching their kids play and we have a chat. Maybe if we lived in that palace in Hampstead I wouldn’t have the same quality of life I do now.