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Simple Tip-Spread The Fancy House Around


Here is Ian playing at the park by our apartment

I would like to think I live big.  I also live small.

Let me explain.  Within my grasp of walking or driving I have access to a nice pool, several parks, shops, a great library and even a world class zoo.   The great thing is that I don’t have to pay to maintain any of it.  (The small membership fee for the zoo is nothing compared to what we get) 

Our living is much bigger, smaller:

First off the library.  Sure we used our local branch on the edge of town, but we also housed several hundred books in the house.  Our whole family are readers (now even my 4 year old, I am so proud).   They usually didn’t cost much, especially the kids books because we got them at garage sale or gifts.  What they did cost was space and clean up time.  The kids had books all over their rooms and playroom all the time!  My son would also come into my room and clean off my book shelf.  We got rid of over 90% of them.  As a family we have access to 160 books at a time from the library, and it is only a mile away.  Sure, we still have piles at the house, but they are smaller piles and they are different books every week.

 That stack of books next to Lily.. that is just her getting started 🙂

Here is Ian showing me what books he wants to look for.

Second the pool.  I really wanted to make sure my kids learned to swim a few year ago, and they need practice a well as swim lessons so we got a 15′ above ground pool for the back yard.  We spent hours trying to get that thing to work.  Our first problem was that the yard had a gradual slope so we went at it with shovels.  We ended up with a hole in the yard and it was still not flat.  Second, I hated messing with chemicals.  Third, we couldn’t keep the leaves out of it.  Fourth, it was cold…. you get the idea.  Now we have an awesome warm, clean, indoor pool and hot tub at our apartment without even a gym membership cost.  Even if we needed to pay a gym membership it would be less money and stress than all that maintenance.

Just in the last week he has been practicing without his life jacket.  He can’t really touch that well, even in the shallow end.  He is a nut though.  He has been practicing with the jacket so well that when we took it off he could swim about 10 feet on his own.

Lily is a fish, she spends more time under the water than above it.

Third the parks.   We had a gym set in the back yard for the kids… we got it for free and we gave it away for free… it wasn’t that great.  Now we have a few parks within walking distance and some really good ones just a short drive away.  The great part for the kids is that they even come with playmates most days.

Lily at the park

Forth, we are much closer now to the zoo and stores which saves time and gas.

I thought this looked cute.  Looks like he is trying to get the tiger to bite his ear, but he is probably just trying to hide behind it as soon as daddy pulled out the camera.

Both kids love bounce houses.  This one was set up at the zoo when we went.

Fifth the yard care.  With the apartment I have no yard maintainance …except throwing out the dead plants off my porch (my thumb isn’t as green as I want it to be). 

When I look at this list it and remember all the work we did it makes me tired…. it represents so much time and work I put into bringing the world to us when it wasn’t all that far away. 

Many people have asked me how we can manage to live in such a small place, and this is really the reason.  In our bigger ‘real’ house we still had the same access, but we didn’t go out and take advantage of it as much.  Now when we do go play, or sit down and read, or swim it is way easier and much better.



  1. Maggie Maggie

    Linked over from Miss Minimalist. Very interesting. Beautifully written.
    Count be as a reader.

    • Thanks so much for coming by! Glad you liked it 🙂

  2. I definitely love the idea of no yard maintenance, but I have this insatiable thirst for gardening, and I don’t know if I could give that up. I know that you can still have plants at an apartment…but definitely not the same thing 🙂 But, I wouldn’t mind living in a house the size of an apartment on a couple acres of land!

    • I planned on gardening a bunch on our deck. We picked our apartment because it has an almost 20′ long south facing deck that gets lots of sun. In the end, we ended up traveling most of the summer and I never got anything started… and what I did have for house plants, lots died. Definatly a small house on a bunch of land would be nice too 🙂

  3. Love the life changes that you’ve made! Way to go! Linked from Miss Minimalist too. Since you’re already homeschooling your kids and like to travel, I thought you might be interested in the trips I took with my three kids via motorhome to 29 countries (we called it “roadschooling”) Not sure if it sparks ideas in your travel-loving life, but wanted to share just in case. Also, there’s a great Yahoo group you might find encouraging called Families on the Road. They have meet-ups with their homeschooled kids, etc. Just some resources to help in your journey.

    • Awesome. Thanks so much! I will definatly check it all out. Our goal is to travel with the kids to different countries. The culture, language and family experience would be amazing. The more resources or help I can find the better.

  4. Judy Judy

    Lorlilee, I just want to say that I admire what you are doing and how your children are flourishing. The fact that you gave up your cats has caused quite a stir over at Miss Minimalist . I have pointed out, as have others, that this is your choice and that your children are happy and loved. I understand where you are coming from in what you are doing and applaud your downsizing and traveling freedom, etc. Keep up the great job and God bless and use you.

    • Thanks! … I will have to go check out the comments and see if I can defend myself 🙂

  5. Sarah Sarah

    I love your logic, and I love that you’re teaching your kids the benefits of minimalism. Loving your writing!

    • Thanks!

  6. Kari Kari

    Hey Lorilee–you’re doing a great job and I thought your post at Miss Minimalist was great. I know you guys made the best decision for your animals even though it was hard to let them go. I can’t believe all those crazy comments!! Way to stir it up! LOL! 😎

  7. Hi Lorilee,
    I just wanted to pop over from Miss Minimalist and say I too support your decision regarding the cats. The emotional hyperbole going on over there at the moment is all a bit much in my opinion.

    • Thanks you guys!

  8. Karen (Scotland) Karen (Scotland)

    Just popped over from Miss MInimalist to say hope you don’t stress over what’s been said there. From my comments there, you’ll have seen that I don’t see anything wrong with relocating pets.
    Although travelling isn’t my thing (definitely not with my four kids!), I understand the feeling of freedom your new lifestyle has brought you and respect you for making that decision AND putting in the work to make it possible.
    Good luck with your travels!
    Karen (Scotland)

    • Thanks so much Karen! Traveling with two is hard… four would definatly be interesting 🙂 The deciding what life one wants and acting to make it happen is what I love. Thanks for seeing that too!

  9. Lisa Lisa

    Hey Lorilee,

    Just popped in from miss minimalist and you go girl!! Ignore what they are saying. I to had to give up a pet but it was best for our dog. So keep homeschooling and living life to the fullest. you only live once. I homeschooled for 9 years and it creates the most wonderful family bond. Mine are grown and gone so i’m trying to talk my husband into the minimalist lifestyle and start enjoying life. Wish me good luck he is a tough nut to crack!!!!

  10. Lisa Lisa

    Oops forgot to say I love your site and you are now in my favorites. So I will be visiting you everyday.

    • Awesome. Thanks! Minimalism is a process probably not that different than homeschooling. Some days are steps forward, some don’t work as good but the big picture and where you end up at the end of the year makes it worth it.

  11. Hmmm…I LOVE being at home with my girl’s and my hubby and dog. We lived in apartments for our first five years of married life and FINALLY have a house with a yard and a garden. I will admit the yard is a lot more work than I realized but, I find it really satisfying. Also, the garden I feel for me is a way of reducing my dependence on the grocery store and need to drive around. It also connects to my love of cooking. Couldn’t reducing the need to go out as much be a way of minimalism? For me it makes my life more peaceful and I LOVE our yard sooooo much but, my girls are so young, I guess bigger kids need a bigger world to explore. So much to think about. In a few years my husband will be finishing his residency and we will have a lot more options than our little house we rent now but, this makes me think twice about the “big fancy house” that society expects we should want.

    • Yes, there are lots of options and lots of different things could be considered minimalism for different people 🙂

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