Thursday, March 22, 2018

Living On One Income

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.


  1. You always have such interesting information to share! Thank you for your efforts. Lisa in CO

  2. You're correct that it is a choice. It also depends on where you live in the USA. Last summer we bought a 4400 sq. ft. Victorian Mansion on one and a quarter acres in a small town in Minnesota for $123,500. When our adult children visited they exclaimed, "Why didn't we have this house 20 years ago when we were growing up?" Well, 20 years ago we were living in the Washington DC area and a house this size on this much land would have cost about $5 million. So, where you live and work and buy a home makes a huge difference. We wanted a big house at this stage of life so we could host all of our five children, and their spouses (only one is married currently), and grandchildren as they come along. Not only that we wanted to host neighborhood and church events and gatherings. Furnishing the house is a slower process as we look for just the right things on Craigslist and at thrift stores. Wages in our area are competitive, house prices are low, so it's possible to live better here than in a large city on one income.

  3. Lisa, you are welcome!

    Rozy, oh, I know. In some German villages you can buy a huge house very cheap. The problem is, there is often no work/poor wages. If folks have a big family, of course, it's logical they'll want to have a spacious home. I guess my point is that if you live in a big city and are committed to be a one income family, you'll often have to compromise. Living in a small house can be a challenge, but it can be done + easier to clean.

  4. I should say it also depends on how much the husband earns. I just don't think it's wise when a lower-income couple both keep working and acquire a tremendous debt to keep up appearances.


    I am a big fan of that^web page. People are starting to realize that since world is not very safe place, having life-long mortgages is not the very best idea. Even some families with 2 kids and a dog can live in tiny house or "caravan". And I am not talking about some trailer park white trash people but people who have nice, tidy homes and a decent life.

    Obviously it depends on where you live; on these latitudes one simply cannot live in a caravan and it would also be illegal here. Well, I have read about some hippies who do live in their caravan and have only poste restante address.

    I think that smaller house is actually very healthy thing: it forces kids to spend more time playing outside.

  6. Thanks for the link, there are also tiny house videos on YouTube. There was a guy from Sweden who lived in an off-the-grid cabin in the woods, btw. Isn't allowed in Finland?

    Officially it's not allowed to spend the whole year in your caravan, I guess, though some parks allow it plus if you are out of the country for a couple of weeks it's enough to satisfy the law. Actually why does the law exist at all? To force everybody to get a mortgage?

    I read that in UK they already suggest 3 generation mortgages which eerily reminds me the medieval serfdom system.

    Agree about children.

  7. Please do not call anyone 'trash'. Please.