Selective Focus Makes Life Good

I kinda’ let the cat out of the bag the other day, when I told you that the hubs and I sold our big house and are now living in a tiny apartment.


But don’t cry for me. We are having the time of our lives.

Living in this tiny space is mostly tolerable because I know it is temporary. I know the exact day, date and time we’re moving out. I’m learning that I can handle just about anything challenging as long as I know it won’t last forever.

I’ve also learned the value and joy of choosing to focus on things that are positive for which I am grateful.

Kitchen. What’s not to enjoy about a kitchen (I use the term loosely) in which I can make dinner, rinse the dishes, load them into the dishwasher, put something into the fridge and move clothes from washer to dryer—without having to take more than two steps. That’s tiny. Amazing, too.

Parking. We have tons of parking, something I hadn’t considered much before in my life. With our tiny home comes massive amounts of parking. Go figure. I never worry about where I’ll park or if I need to move the car on street-sweeping day. It’s all so very convenient.

Quick and easy. It takes about 30 minutes to clean this place from top to bottom. And I laugh the entire time because it’s like cleaning a doll house.

No peer pressure. I don’t care what anyone thinks. This place is not mine. I’m not responsible for color choices or the decor of which there is none. I’m learning a lot about how freeing it is to not be under the weight of something called peer pressure.

Planning. A big part of this equation is the home we have waiting for us in Colorado. I never thought about how much fun it could be to play interior designer. That’s what it feels like because I have floor plans, paint color charts and … Pinterest. Oh, my. I have discovered so many clever and new ideas for our new home.

Angie’s List. We bought this house in Colorado. We live in California. How do we manage to get housecleaners, garage door servicer, painters and carpet cleaners in to look at the jobs and give us quotes? How do we select the right contractors when we are so far away? How do we let them into the house? Who inspects their work? Who can we trust? 

I’ll tell you how: Angie’s List. This company has worked well for us here in California, so I added Colorado to our membership (cheap). I went online and searched for the services we needed. I contacted only those Colorado providers with multiple A+ ratings who service the area of our property.

I contacted companies one by one. By phone. I wanted to talk to someone. I was up front in telling them I’m far away. I need people I can trust—not only with access to my home, but to do the work without me hovering.

Want to know what happened? Well, I hired Colorado’s finest housecleaning service, the best ever carpet steam cleaning service ever, a fine garage door servicing company and an extraordinary painter. Each one had many A+ ratings on Angie’s List. I gave each of them the 4-digit code to the garage door, which allowed them access to the house.

Each service providers sent pictures via their cellphones so I could see their work. We had that place sparkling within a week, as each of these providers coordinated their work with the others.

Our lovely tenants arrived, changed the code on the garage door, moved in and got settled into the community—all without us needing to set foot inside the state. Imagine that. Angie and her company saved the day for us and I am so grateful.

Less impulsivity. I am impulsive by nature, and it can be a problem. But I cannot be impulsive during this interim time in my life. I can’t decorate, I can’t shop for furniture or even arrange the furniture that we own already. Everything is in storage. The house is far away and currently occupied by tenants, who really have become caretakers. All I can do is plan–not such a bad thing. I’m focusing every day on patience, and pretty darn proud of myself for how patient I’m becoming.

Knitting. Oh, how I love to knit. I have precious little time to do that, normally. But this unique living situation has given me lots more time to do this crazy little hobby that I love so much.

Life is good.

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16 replies
  1. 2Vagabonds
    2Vagabonds says:

    Less that a year ago we did something similar; sold, rented, bought. And you are oh so right – the freedom that came with the rental was incredible. We took this step to allow us time to consider the best location for us as we approach retirement. The rental was a single family home, fully furnished, no property maintenance (not even mowing!) AND that included our small dog. We were so-o blessed. Agreed – part of the joy was knowing that even had we rented for an extended time, we knew it was not permanent. Thanks Mary for confirming our experiment. (Many just stared at us when we shared that plan.)

    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Retire? What’s that?! Ha. If you read my new book, “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement” you know I don’t plan to ever do that. But the human body being what it is, I know that there will come a time that I need to wind it back. I don’t know when that will be. But we will have everything in place for that to happen seamlessly. I just pray my health cooperates and make it easy. Here’s a link to the book. Read it. Writing it changed my life. Here’s a link:

  2. janie
    janie says:

    What made you chose Colorado? How did you find your new home, on line and then made the trip and viewed? I have many many questions! You are brave and it sounds like fun. But I would love to hear the answers to my first two questions. Janie

    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Weather, believe it or not, was our top priority as we thought about where we would be able to buy a home with cash (pretty much ruled out southern Calif. for us).

      Next, culture. We know that anything east of Colorado would become a culture shock long term. Yeah, we’re westerners. So that was the next consideration.

      Had to be near a major cultural center as we enjoy the city life when it comes to the theatre, symphony and so forth. So we didn’t want to be too far away from civilization.

      Had to be near a major airport as I will continue to travel a great deal.

      Had to be an easy trip back and forth to So Calif as our one son will be here as well as one of our businesses.

      So put that all together and out popped Boulder/Denver CO. The climate there will be a big change as we will get snow/winter. But it’s an amazing place. Many many sunny days every year—more on average than here in So. Calif. Snow comes and evaporates so quickly because it is a very very dry climate.

      We have visited many times and in all seasons. We made four house-hunting trips, and on #4, found this house. It was love at first sight. We closed the deal, locked the door and flew home. That’s when Angie came to the rescue.

      Love you Angie, and your LIST!!!

  3. Quilthappy
    Quilthappy says:

    I love all your positive-ness on your situation. Thank you for sharing this and your awesome, infectious attitude. I could be your new neighbor; welcome to CO when it’s time. Say, would you possibly disclose just who the “the best ever carpet steam cleaning service ever” to a fellow homeowner in need? Thanks for all you do. Been following you since the days of the Tightwad Gazette. 🙂

    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Liberty Carpet Cleaning
      8378 S Upham Way
      Littleton, Colorado, 80128
      (720) 262-6469
      [email protected]

      Jason Demichelis

      Did a fabulous job!

      What’s your zip code? Jason services a large area … we are not in Littleton. Closer to Boulder 😉

  4. Katie F.
    Katie F. says:

    Mary, During a time when most would whine and complain about their plight, instead, you choose to see the good in the situation. YOU GO GIRL!

  5. lisette
    lisette says:

    Now granted, i am single, so i do not have to have room for another person and their stuff. That said, i love my tiny house. When i lost job and house in the recessiin, i was determined never to be so vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous ecobomic forces again. I refuse to pay rent for something i will never own. I used salvaged materials and built myself a 117 sq ft tumbleweed and have been very happy with the freedom a simpler life gives me to choose work i love, as i need less money, and to use free time creatively, not being enslaved to cleaning and yardwork every weekend. I physically cannot fall into the trap of buying stuff with no space to cram it. Which is good for my cheapskate resolve. Bow, i have been able to save enough after five years to buy 25 acres, and i am building a cob house, doing the work myself, no debt. It will still only be 400sq ft, plenty for self and two dogs, three elderly cats. Off grid, no utility bills, ever. Large garden, almost no need for a grocery store. That is real security and safety. If i lose my job tomorrow, i can still provide for myself and my critters with mibimal odd jobs if necessary. In five years, i have gone fron broke, homeless and scared to almost entirely self sufficient and almost independent of the money economy. The tiny house life can be realky liberating.

    • tinydogpries
      tinydogpries says:

      You are living the life I have dreamed of! My biggest obstacle is that I am physically unable to build a home of any kind. My actual dream home would be a “hobbit hole”, built into the side of a hill. No roof maintenance, low heating/cooling costs, no or very minimum painting/exterior maintenance. I would love to have either the ability to do this or the money to have it done. Congratulations on your wonderful home.

      • lisette
        lisette says:

        Dont give up on your dream! The tiny and natural building community is full of people who want to kearn the building techniques and will pitch in free labor in exchange. Find a cob or rammed earth builder who will give a workshop on your land and use your home as the demo project. Google green building, cob building, earthbag building and see what you get. I recommend the blog thiscobhouse for one….

    • Guest
      Guest says:

      “Ecobomic” … you’re killin’ me, Lisette! Seriously, your story is amazing. I want to write it … in more detail, to inspire others. You’ve made my day, dear Lisette.

  6. bryan
    bryan says:

    We went from a big house to a large apartment to a smaller apartment to an RV. Been very painless. Nice to focus on what matters each other.


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