Last year, Karen bought a sign that said “Live Simply” and we put it on the wall in our house. It’s just two words but, in many ways, it seemed like the antithesis of the manner in which we were living in Los Angeles. Spending countless hours a day in the car. Working at 2 in the morning. Accumulating more and more stuff than it seemed like we needed. Nothing about it seemed, well….simple, and so we set out to try and change this with our move to Spain. We left our cars behind (✔️), put an end to writing grant proposals in the middle of the night (✔️), and rented an apartment a fraction of the size of our one-story home in Los Angeles (✔️). This required purging lots of clothes and belongings, and it has been pretty liberating to realize just how little you need to live, live simply, and live well. We each brought to Spain only what we could fit in a small roller suitcase. That’s all we really have room for here, and it has been enough. So where do we actually live?
We live in a lovely, furnished 2 bedroom flat in Realejo San Matias in Granada. It is very small. I would estimate 600 sq. feet. This does not include our rooftop deck. Karen and I have a very modest bedroom and Jackson and Cassius share a tiny (6×8) bedroom. We have a lovely little kitchen area, one bathroom, a breakfast table, and a couch. That’s is literally it, and it’s great. We have everything we need. In fact, I would argue that our small space has actually been one of the keys to helping us “live simply” over the past year. In many ways, it has also been the catalyst to helping us live differently. Here’s how…
We spend less time cleaning.
We spend more time together.
We have less stuff.
We go to the market on a daily basis.
We spend less time working on our home.
We spend more time going places and doing things.
Of all the adjustments, Jackson and a Cassius have made the biggest one in terms of our living space–going from having their own bedrooms to sharing a tiny one. Although they lived in the same room when they were younger, it has been awhile. They are different kids with different personalities, and this was a change for them.
Although the outcome was unintended, I can only say that this is the best thing we have ever done for them. They have always gotten along well, but they have become so much closer this year. Of course, this also has to do with going through the experience of moving to a foreign country, new school, etc. But it is more than that. They now gravitate to each other, confide in one another, and are as thick as thieves. They also walk to and from school together, go get a bite to eat together, and stay up in their room talking at night. Karen and I often hear them laughing and joking across the hall, and this increased closeness is clearly a function of their living quarters. It seems so obvious and so simple, but it’s been great for them.
Karen and I have had to make a few adjustments as well. For starters, Karen has 2 drawers and 10 hangers. I have one drawer, but my wardrobe is barely worthy of that. There are also 62 steps to get to our apartment. This is a real commitment, but it is the price you pay for our view. We spend a good deal of time on our rooftop deck, and that has been well worth it for us. And speaking of the rooftop, people don’t have dryers here in Granada. We dry the laundry “old school” by pinning the clothes up on the roof and letting the Granada sunshine do the work. It is a full family affair, and we all pin up and take down the clothes. This is all just part of our life here in Granada.
Lastly, let me say that we do love our apartment. It has been perfect for us. Although it is not big, the owners Joao and Maria did a wonderful job remodeling it. It has exceptional light, is modern and stylish, and we couldn’t be happier here. We have included some pictures of our place for those of you who might be interested.