Four people, 282 square feet.

Of all the not-so-mainstream ideas my husband and I have had over the years, this may be most difficult to comprehend. For all of us.

We’ve lived on five acres inconveniently situated 25 miles north of where most of life takes place. We’ve planned a wedding on  those five acres with no church in site (still a sore spot with my grandmother), we’ve grown food, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. We’ve milked goats. We’ve built a tree house tethered with ropes, high in the cottonwoods that everyone said was too tall. But we needed a place to launch the zip line. We’ve built a wood fire hot tub and spent many a winter night soaking it in after the kids went to bed. We’ve taken our little girls on really long road trips that seemed improbable, even to us as we loaded the car. Even though we’ve lived on one income for most of our married life, we somehow managed to buy two houses and have been really, really lucky to be able to move between them.

So we’re going to again. We’ve moving to Missoula in a few weeks to take advantage of proximity. Seth is going back to school. We feel as though we need to be close in. One wildcard is enough so we’ve rented the farmhouse and we’re packing our stuff. But, this time, we’re not packing that much stuff because we are moving into a space the size of a large bedroom.

It used to be a garage. Now we’re calling it an apartment. It’s a slat roof, coragated steel sided structure that we’ve slowly turned into a bright flat with skylights, a kitchen and a bathroom that is barely big enough to turn around in. I’m not kidding. It’s tiny.

The whole apartment is 282 square feet, corner to corner, side to side. It has wide French doors that lead into the backyard of the house we own in Missoula. We’ll be seeing it everyday but from a different view.

Our neighborhood in Missoula is possibly the best one on the planet. It’s funky. It’s old. It’s full of character and, sometimes, characters. It’s where we come every Christmas Eve to celebrate with dear friends, it’s a place that’s kept us even when we chose to leave it and head back to five acres in the country. They both keep us. And that’s okay.

The only thing that makes leaving Arlee alright is that we’ll settling back into the Northside.

We’re not choosing to live in 282 square feet because we’re uber environmentalists, though we do care about such things. We’re not doing it because we masochistic, though some have suggested it. And we’re not doing it just so I have something to write about, though I’m going to.

We’re moving into 282 square feet with our two daughters, our two dogs and our two bunnies because we are sick to death of being poor. We’re tired of credit card debt, we’re wary of crushing student loan debt, we’re ready for a little bit savings and a positive balance in our checking account. Because we have this amazing privilege of having an option to do so, we’re moving somewhere where we won’t have to pay for housing, where we might send Seth to school without paying for it for the rest of eternity, where we have a shot of escaping the middle class debt trap so many us are stuck in.

We have no idea if this going work. Some days I think we’re crazy. But, as with all of our hair-brained ideas, we’ll be in it together.

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