From the Blog

Moving. Yes Again, Okay?

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So it’s been right around a year, and it’s about that time that Dave and I get itchy scratchy to move again. We’ve relocated right around the holidays for the past two years, which by all indicators, means we ought to have our heads examined and/or screwed on tighter. The compulsion to up and move is baffling even to us.

Over the summer, we casually looked at condos downtown. We just got married. It seems like a requirement, once you get hitched, to go find a permanent nest to feather. But we weren’t really in a hurry to rush into the market. Considering our track record, we’d have to really be in love with our purchase to be sure we stayed in it for more than a year. And we weren’t willing to spend every last dime on buying a condo when we could still rent for less. By the end of the summer, we didn’t see any condos that really piqued our interest. And in the meantime, our attention became focused on other options besides buying property. Because we have the attention span of fruit flies.

Our last move a year ago was a tremendous pain in the ass, even though we hired movers. We squeezed from a 1100 square foot loft down to a 863 square foot one bedroom. That’s still plenty big, but we had a lot of crap to move. We underestimated our stuff, and the amount of time it would take to load and unload everything. I also overestimated what we were paying for when we hired professional movers. We had a few pieces of furniture that got dented or scratched, and a couple of dressers that were practically destroyed. We were so tired and frantic to finish that we didn’t notice until later.

So you’d think we would be rather sour about moving again. You’d think. We’ve enjoyed living in the N. Mississippi area, but we knew we wanted to be on the west side again. I miss being able to take the streetcar to work and leave the car parked for weeks at a stretch. Dave missed being downtown where it’s just one bus trip in any direction to catch happy hour with friends. We both wanted to be able to walk to groceries, library and credit union, something we are unable to do right now.

When we moved into our current place, we signed a 15 month lease, wisely thinking ahead to the holidays. We didn’t want to get stuck with weather like two years ago, where we got held up twice by snowstorms. Our current lease is not up until mid February. But as I said, itchy scratchy, we started casually looking at apartments in the Pearl, downtown, and in NW Portland. But we don’t need to move until February.

I was minding my own beeswax, when a good pal mentioned a sublet she knew of downtown. A mutual friend from our book club put an offer down on a condo and needed someone to take over her lease in her shwanky downtown apartment. The timing wasn’t perfect, since the sublet would be over in May. And this apartment was 533 square feet. *Gulp.*

Wow. We were looking for a smaller place to save money, but 533 sq ft is really small. Dave and I are definitely downsizing, but we are doing it at a leisurely pace. We would need to be ruthless in order to fit into this place. That amount of space doesn’t afford much sentimentality for old trinkets or lazy storage, never mind furniture, or four seasons of clothes. And shoes. And blankets. And camping gear. And a litter box.

I brought Dave to see this apartment, since I had been there for book club once before. I knew he’d like it. A small sleeping “nook,” separated by a hallway to the main living area, a tiny kitchen/living room combined into one space. Did I mention tiny? It’s very, very small. However. It’s on a high floor, with a wall of windows, and a sweeping view of the city. With a balcony, also. That wall of glass and the city below makes the living area seem not so tiny.

Downtown! A block to groceries! Streetcar, MAX and bus mall! Walk to work! Library! Timbers matches! Stuff!

We’re taking the apartment.

533 square feet.

Wish us luck.


  1. My husband and I shared a 500 sq ft studio when we first moved in together. I’d already been there for over a year, and I’m a total packrat so it was pretty tough. However, if we had less stuff it would’ve been totally doable! We also had a nook that we could have used for sleeping, but unfortunately just ended up being a storage room. It seems like you guys will be fine in that size space!

    Congrats and good luck!

  2. Wow…I lived for 3 1/2 years in 640 square feet with my husband. It did not work for us, and our quality of life has much improved now that we moved into a larger space.

    That being said, 533 for a few months is definitely a kick in the ass to clear out, and you should have a good feeling after those few months if you can make 533 work (or not). When you find something after sublet, your experiment with 533 will definitely make clear if you need/want more space or not.

    I would just encourage you not to feel bad if you can’t live in 533. I’ve been there, and it was really, really hard :( I finally got over the fact it wasn’t because I wasn’t decluttered enough or minimalist enough (obviously, I wasn’t, but I was thinking that more in a negative connotation), but that the lives we lived (hobbies, home offices, cats, alone time) just didn’t fit in that small of space.

    I’m very interested to see how this goes for you.

  3. Oh I do hope you’re planning on letting us peek into your process! It sounds like quite an adventure, and I’ll be living vicariously through you! I wish sometimes that walking to work was an option for me. Things are so spread out around here! We feel closer to nature with all our open space, but I see it from a car window most days.

  4. You can do it! My brother and I lived in a 400 square ft. apt. for six months, and we had a Fender Rhodes piano and several guitars and a huge record collection. Then again, I slept on a futon and my bro slept on the couch, the only other piece of furniture. And we didn’t have a cat. And my bro’s bike was stolen from the basement. But when we moved to another apartment in the same building that was 550 square feet, it felt like a miracle! 533—It’s freaking tight, but doable. It will certainly encourage your downsizing behaviors! Think how much easier it will be when you decide where you’re going next.

  5. You bet I’ll tell you all about it! I won’t be able to shut up about it!

    I’m not too worried about the small space. When Dave and I were first dating, we spent a lot of time in my little studio that must have been less than 450 square feet. Of course, that was back when we REALLY LIKED each other. Now we’re married and we’re merely required to tolerate each other.

    But we’re both on board to downsize, get rid of stuff, and live smaller. It helps if you are unified when making huge directional changes in your lifestyle.

    I will still very likely be the one to change the little box. Probably much more often when we live in 533 square feet.

  6. brave, very brave. i will wish you luck. i too have lived in a tiny space, 400 sq ft and 550. it was tight. the 400 was mine alone and was awesome!!!! had a little backyard, a clothesline, half a garage and a back 40. the yard was bigger than the living space. the 550 was in lawndale after jake and i split. sharing with my mom. tight. i, personally, could have used more private space, but you deal with it. i love my big fucking house, now, though. 1300 sq ft. glorious. good luck.

  7. “Feather”? Is that what the kids are calling it these days? ;)

    Its great that you have made the change gradual from 1100 to 800 to 500 sq ft. I think that’s important in that it gives you time to assess what you really need and not make you feel like you are throwing everything out the window in a fire sale.

    Also, there will still be plenty of room for old trinkets, lazy storage, furniture, four seasons of clothes, shoes, blankets, camping gear and a litter box. We live in a bit over 400 sq ft and we still have all that stuff. ;) Its just when living small you have to use more vertical space and chose the best of the pile to keep. Yay! No more “cute” shoes that give us blisters! ;)

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