Can you live on one income? Can you buy a house on one income? Many people will tell you, no, that's not possible. Yet what about millions of single/divorced men and women? It's not like most of them are living with their parents, though some probably do. Most, however, can afford to buy or rent a house. The problem is, for many of them, this house won't be big.
I went to IKEA several times in the past few months because I was looking for new furniture for our bedroom. I'm not sure about other countries, but our IKEA has several show apartments which they use to demonstrate how their furniture fits into small living spaces. So far they have a 55, 35 and 25 sq.m. apartments.
Now, of course, a 25 m2 apartment is tiny, so I'll leave it out. A 55m2 one they divided into one lounge and 2 bedrooms which should be basically enough for an average family since the average family only has 2 children who can share the bedroom, especially if they are either both boys or girls. (The strange thing is that just as families get smaller, the houses get bigger.) In fact, it was fairly normal in not-so-distant past. I know families like that and I'm not talking about 1930s, but rather late 1990s and even the present day so it isn't some "Dark Age" stuff.
A 35m2 apartment is a tricky one. It is small, but IKEA folks still divided it into a living and a bedroom. Guess what, the same store and many others sell convertible sofas, like that. So you still get you 2 bedrooms. Come to think of it, a convertible sofa can change a 2-bedroom one lounge apartment into a 3 bedroom one at night, which mean that you can live in a 55sq.m. house with 3 or even 4 kids!
Is it convenient? No, not really. Could it be done? Not only could, it's actually a reality for many people. This site offers a comparison chart between different countries. Notice how an average USA home is more than 2 times bigger than in most Euro countries.
I always chuckle when I read bloggers from the Right complaining how women are "forced" to work nowadays as opposed to the Golden Age of the 1950s, when everybody was incredibly wealthy. Except that that their houses used to be twice smaller (3 times in the case of the US).
As a couple, you can choose to work with both of you for your mortgage and bring your children to daycare/granny/nanny. Not only you are free to chose such a lifestyle, you'll be lauded for it by the media and your relatives will be able to brag about your material success. Just let's be honest about it, having a big house is a want not a need. It's a choice.