Since moving to Beijing in 2008, the gods of housing have decreed it necessary for us to move four times. Although moving provides a convenient time to reconsider what one owns in life and what should be sold or given away to an excellent charity such as Roundabout, the act of moving sort of sucks. Making the best of a bad situation, each time we moved we chose more spacious accommodations to make room for our increasing family. At present, we live in a 175sq meter apartment with three bedrooms, an office, and two bathrooms. It is not the nicest place we have rented, but it is the most spacious.
In the past, location and size of the apartment always trumped other factors. We looked hard and negotiated harder to stay within our set budget, but the ever swelling price of all things Beijing-based is threatening our financial capacity to remain in the city and rent is a major factor in that equation. We reached the point where I expected our next move would force us out of Beijing, but now I’m not so sure.
Over the winter holiday, my daughter visited the home of a friend and I tagged along to see where she lives and chat with the parents. The family is a happy one with four kids, working parents, and a bustling ayi to help out. It is a common scene among expatriate families in Beijing, with the exception of their home. They live at the top of a six-story walk-up in a two-bedroom home. Since they bought their 70sq meter home years ago, they simply continued to make it work with each new child that arrived. The result is a lovely family in an apartment that is packed in tight and filled with evidence of their love and affection as a family.
All of this got me thinking about our own home. When you really think about it, there is a great deal of empty space the bigger an apartment gets. Sure, you can walk, run, or even dance on empty floor space, but most of the time, it is a place for someone to sweep and mop. Reduce the space, save some money, and there is less cleaning work to do too. Another great thing about down-sizing is that it requires more thought about what to keep. Unfortunately, the more space we have, the greater the chance that we will simply hold on to something we don’t really need. Having moved four times in recent years, I can attest to the ever-growing size of the moving trucks too.
Rather than wait until we are forced to move again, I’m already looking at our home with an eye for minimizing possessions and maximizing the use of space. Our living room already sports a slide, perhaps I can build in a swing, some monkey bars, and a sandbox too. I’m sure the kids won’t mind.