Saturday, January 29, 2011

When Small is Better

When Mark and I lived in Banff we heard from a number of our friends that they just couldn't imagine living in such a small house. Unfortunately, Banff is an expensive place and buying an actual house (we own a townhouse in Banff) is out of the reach of most. But it's not just price that's the issue, it's the fact that Banff has no new building space. As a National Park the townsite has been regulated to a small footprint. If you have ever experienced Banff National Park you can sympathise, when you have a majestic view you don't want to hide it in smog or behind high rises. Yet, there are many who would. Progress and urbanization aren't dirty words to everyone. My father (bless his free market soul) would drain the Vermillion Lakes, just west of town, to put in multiple-family housing. In fact, he is aggrieved it hasn't been done yet.
But all these factors have conspired to do one wonderful thing for Banff - they have made it a walkable town. In 15 minutes you can walk anywhere. Take that in - anywhere. Any restaurant, the gym, the bank, the grocery store, all can easily be accessed by using bipedal motion. Even in a town of 8000 people. The next time you are stuck in traffic ask yourself how valuable that is. Would you walk if you could?

Because according to Maclean's Magazine we spend an average of 63 minutes a day in traffic. Which equals a staggering 32 days a year spent in traffic. I'm sure some of you are starting to question if you can continue to live that way. While you stew behind the wheel you can't help but imagine a life without gridlock. I know we did and it was one of the main reasons we decided to take positions with a small rural college, where we could live in a small, if not totally walkable community. The drive from our new house in Didsbury to Olds College takes us 9 minutes and doesn't even include traffic light. We made the decision to live small. This seems to be an idea that is catching on for a number of reasons. I think the video below gives some great explanations.

I think The small living movement has come along because an increasing number of people caught in the endless in their car are starting to weigh in on what lifestyle means. Is it a big house in the suburbs with a huge commute? Because as some said, our place in Banff was small, but it was but we made adjustments and found we actually liked that it was easier to clean, cheaper to heat and was located in a smaller, but eminently livable town. It makes me wonder if people would be willing to spend more for less space if they could reduce their commute time?

I won't lie when we moved to Banff we were appalled that we would be living in a MUCH smaller space then we had before, except in University. That's not the dream. The McHouse is the dream. A garage, master suite, room for kids and toys; and where are you going to get it? Unfortunately, for most, a long ways from either the city core or their job. So it seems that if you want to spend less time in the car, hopefully, even walk more and embrace a less cluttered lifestyle, you have two choices: move closer to your work which will most likely mean high costs for smaller space, or move to a smaller community that can offer you a job and lifestyle that is more balanced. I know this is not for everyone, but there are more and more companies that have sprung up to provide those who live in smaller spaces with the furniture, idea and accouterments they need to make that 400-800 sq ft place a palace of livable space. If your interested check out some of my favourite sites

Posted via email from Completely Barking Mad

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