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Old 02-07-2020, 08:28 AM
Location: Living rent free in your head
35,219 posts, read 16,281,256 times
Reputation: 25833


I have no use for large houses, the house we had before this one was nearly twice the size and I don't miss it at all. Try heating and cooling a house with 11 foot ceilings and rooms that you rarely use, it's an idiotic waste. Our house is a little under 1500 sq ft and is perfect for us. When I was a little kid we lived in an 800 sq ft 2 story house. It was only one bedroom so my brother and I slept downstairs in the dining room, I don't think either of us felt traumatized by the experience.

Last edited by 2sleepy; 02-07-2020 at 09:21 AM..
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:13 AM
924 posts, read 919,236 times
Reputation: 438
Well fortunately I don't need a palace and fit my stuff in a tiny 600 square foot apartment so even a 1200 square foot 2 bedroom home with a garage and a pool would be quite luxurious for me! All my stuff and car would fit in garage easily. For me, being central and super close to work is a priority as I hate long a$$ commutes. I work downtown for the state and know folks who have 2 hour daily commutes from Elk Grove, Folsom and Roseville. That would suck bad.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:59 AM
Location: San Diego CA
6,204 posts, read 4,081,700 times
Reputation: 10604
Small homes were pretty much the standard for the California middle class right into the 70’s. 1300 sq ft. One story tract house. No where near the coast. Bought with no down payment VA mortgages. In the 70’s purchase price around 25K. The older ones back in the 50’s had swamp coolers on the roof. I know many people who worked, raised families and are now retired still in these homes for 50 plus years.
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:19 AM
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
16,130 posts, read 19,080,792 times
Reputation: 33069
We are a consumerist society. A huge sector of our economy is reliant on people of almost every economic class buying huge piles of cheaply manufactured, non-essential plastic Chinese junk and clothes.

That and egoism/excessive individualism. There is social pressure for a lot of Americans to make sure each of their elementary school children has their own large bedroom with walk-in closet and private bathroom.
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:59 PM
924 posts, read 919,236 times
Reputation: 438
I actually have way less stuff than before. I got rid of a lot after moving to Sacramento for work.
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:29 PM
8,356 posts, read 15,106,659 times
Reputation: 4111
Energy used to be a lot more expensive and difficult to produce, so a smaller house was easier to build and keep warm. Middle-class homes of the early 20th century were maybe 800-2000 square feet: the two-story "foursquare" homes you see in older parts of Sacramento were practically mansions in their day but they're generally no larger than 2000-2500 square feet, which is barely an average modern starter home. And homes then were only that big because they were often occupied by extended families--not just 2 parents and kids but grandparents etcetera, and often a bedroom for servants in the larger examples.

Mid-20th century houses got smaller, in part because of a shift from extended families living together to the "nuclear" family, and in part because of Federal Housing Administration financing during the Depression, which mandated minimum house sizes to get the new federal financing, about 500 square feet. This brought forth a style called "minimal traditional," little stucco boxes with galley kitchens and 1-2 bedrooms with hipped roofs of moderate pitch, 500-700 square feet using standardized plans. In the 1950s, just as the postwar housing boom got started, the average new home was around 600 square feet--that's the size of the homes in Levittown as pictured above. With the advent of greater wealthy and cheaper electrical power & natural gas supplies to all these new suburbs, homes started to grow. The basic materials of a house have a fairly set cost (land, plumbing, electrical etc.) but drywall, 2x4s and OSB are relatively cheap, so it became easy to add more square footage to the same basic house and sell it for more money. Often this square footage was nearly useless for practical function, like big, cathedral-like entryways that encourage people to gasp when they come in because there's so much space, but don't really serve any purpose. Having extra room also encouraged sloppier design.

I live in a 110 year old house. It's around 900 square feet, not counting a "ground floor basement" which is part dirt floor, part concrete utility room. For two people, it's almost too much space. The rooms are small, designed with lots of doors to close off parts of the house that aren't in use so you don't have to heat the unused space, and windows that open at the top to facilitate letting hot air rise out of the house and cool air to enter via vents in the basement--passive cooling. There is no hallway, the entry corridor is about 25 square feet, and the bathroom is basically just big enough for toilet, sink, and tub. And this was considered middle-class housing in its day. But it's bigger than my last place--a "minimal traditional" house that was around 700 square feet. And in both cases, that's what I wanted: my wife and I had a revelation of sorts visiting a friend's parents in Gold River. The two of them lived in a 4 bedroom house that they had purchased after their kids had grown--3 of the bedrooms were storage. Backyard with pool and big front yard were equally bare and unused. They had a formal dining room that they used twice a year and a formal living room that they probably used less often. 80% of their waking time in the house was spent in the den next to the kitchen, where they had a couch and a TV. If you're going to spend pretty much all your time in two or three rooms, why do you need all that extra space? We decided to get a small house for less money in a neighborhood we liked--and if we wanted to do some serious entertaining, we could rent a banquet hall with the money we saved, and if we had visitors from out of town, we could afford to put them up in a nearby hotel.

Apartments and working-class housing were even smaller: there are plenty of old 1900-1930 era studio apartments around here that run 250-400 square feet. SRO hotels and boarding rooms downtown, pretty much all destroyed now, could be as small as 100 square feet, with a sink in the room if you were lucky and bathrooms down the hall.

But yeah, in general, people had less stuff, and spent more time outside the house. The new "micro apartments" and such built in the central city and nearby are really a throwback to that sort of lifestyle--own less stuff, spend less money heating and cooling, and live in your neighborhood instead of cocooned at home.
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Old 02-08-2020, 04:56 PM
924 posts, read 919,236 times
Reputation: 438
I may eventually get married and have kids one day so keep options open.
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Old 02-08-2020, 05:11 PM
Location: SoCal
18,157 posts, read 8,612,449 times
Reputation: 14957
Older home are not energy efficient, you might need to redo them. My moms house is very cold, my brother went to New York for medical school and he said it’s much warmer in NY for him.

Last edited by NewbieHere; 02-08-2020 at 06:02 PM..
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Old 02-08-2020, 05:32 PM
Location: North Scottsdale/San Diego
667 posts, read 315,485 times
Reputation: 1942
Originally Posted by Vision67 View Post
I grew up in a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom house like that built in 1951 on a slab in Phoenix.

The 3 boys shared a bedroom with bunk beds and the 2 girls had the other bedroom. We had one 40 gal water heater. We learned how to share.

Our living room had one 19 inch monochrome TV with a rabbit ear antenna. There were 4 channels. We had one AM radio and one telephone with a long cord.

We spent most of the time being feral children riding bikes, exploring, playing games, and solving our own problems. Our "Google" was a trip to the public library or reading the World Book Encyclopedia.

We had one car that dad drove to work. Mom spent the day cleaning and cooking. We walked or rode bikes everywhere.

There were few processed foods beyond Campbell soups and a McDonalds hamburger was a very rare treat. Almost nobody was fat.

In summer we went barefoot. We had no AC, just a swampbox cooler.

By todays standards, we would be called poor but we didn't know that.

Modern Americans work way too hard to buy a lot of stuff that they really don't need.
Wow. This is my story as well except it was Tempe and Burger Chef instead of McD’s.
A really BIG night was Dairy Queen on Mill and then a trip to the SRP fountain. We felt wealthy because my mom had her own car.

Youngsters: Keep your nose in your own bag and you won’t feel like you’re missing a thing.

I miss the simplicity and innocence of the ‘60’s. Getting teary; gotta go.
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Old 02-08-2020, 05:55 PM
924 posts, read 919,236 times
Reputation: 438
I was spoiled then since my father worked for a wealthy guy who gave us free rent and we lived in a large ranch house 1500 square foot on an acre of land! I love open space but that is just me. Having a pool is a big plus too in hot as hades saca-tomato!
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