Now here’s a downsizing story for you! This amazing family of 5 bought their 7,000 foot dream home after the dad’s military retirement, when a visitor from Denmark and sudden illness inspired them to make a change. Within 10 days they put their giant home on the market and moved into a 1,200 square foot Airbnb.
That’s when they started sailboat-shopping, at last landing on a new-to-them Leopard 48 Catamaran which has even less square footage than their Airbnb. Now the family is spending more time together than ever during their sabbatical year on the sea.
Where will life take them next? Who knows! But for now they are finding that having less space truly does equal more family time. I love seeing people intentionally choose to downsize and minimize, because it shows that we can all benefit from tinier living, even if we could afford to go bigger to keep up with the Joneses.
Mom, Julie, shared their full story at the end of the photo tour below. Don’t miss it!
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Family of 5 Intentionally Downsize from 7,000 Square Feet!
Their three teen & pre-teen kiddos.
It takes all hands on deck to keep their boat running.
The kids get to do remote schooling on the Catamaran.
Cleaning the bilge!
Most of the family’s time is spent in the kitchen/living area in the middle of the boat.
Cleaning up goes much more quickly on the sailboat.
That said, laundry is always an adventure!
An itty bitty Christmas tree brings some holiday cheer.
Getting creative with dry good storage here.
Each kid has their own stateroom (and mom & dad have one too).
There are also a few itty bitty bathrooms on board.
Who needs more space than this?
Cooking is a bit more of an adventurous on a boat.
And there’s even plenty of space to go outside.
Now that’s a remote classroom if I ever saw one.
Oh yes, and their dog joined them!
Here’s an example of the catamaran layout for you.
Julie Shares Her Family Downsizing Story:
Hey! Thank you so much for being interested in our crazy sabbatical year on the sea story! Our names are Julie and Bill Boucek and our kids are Hendley (13), Boss (12) and Anna Bea (10). Our sweet yellow lab is Brandy Beth. We all live on our new (to us!) Leopard 48 catamaran. This is a BIG change going to a LITTLE space as our old house was almost 7000 square feet. My husband is retired military so we had gotten into the cycle of each move meaning time to get a bigger house. The ultimate plan was to purchase our dream home upon his retirement. And we did! And it was a beautiful home in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, overlooking a picturesque golf course. We absolutely loved living there, but it was a lot of space. In fact, it was so much space that we realized we had more than we needed so we started hosting international soccer coaches in our home. One day, we had a coach from Denmark walk into our house and he said, “You Americans are crazy. You all have these huge houses but you have to work all the time to pay for these houses so you are never home to enjoy them.” And that really struck a chord with me.
Fast forwarded to June of 2020. I was recovering from a crazy and sudden illness, Guillain Barre Syndrome, which left me temporarily paralyzed and we were right in the middle of COVID.
Our family was taking an overdo vacation to the Florida Keys. We were sailing on a Morgan 44 Monohaul Sailboat and one of the kids joked about how cool it would be to live on a sailboat. And it was funny then, but as the trip unfolded, and I saw how much fun we were having in such a tiny space, a seed was planted.
Long story short, we called a realtor friend on the way back to Atlanta and a SOLD sign was in front of our house within 10 days.
We moved into a tiny Air BnB on Anna Maria Island for a couple of months while we boat shopped and absolutely fell in love with tiny living. The place was so small that I could take the clothes out of the dryer and put them onto the kitchen island to fold without taking a step. The kids loved the fact that less room seemed to translate to more game nights!
Seeing how well we did there gave me hope that we would do ok transitioning to a boat, which is much smaller than the 1200 square foot Air Bnb.
We moved into our Air BnB at the beginning of August and onto our boat in October.
My husband is a consultant. He spent years traveling during the week, but since COVID travel restrictions, he can work anywhere. I am a stay at home mom.
We started this adventure for more family time, and I have to say that tiny living has given us that and so much more. It’s been fascinating for me to watch the kids learn to live with less. It’s been seamless. They are so much more resilient than the adults in this family. I miss my bathtub. Boss is ecstatic that he only has two drawers of clothes because “it makes it so easy to clean my room”.
The lack of bathroom space has been the hardest for me. We do not have outlets in our heads (what you call bathrooms on a boat) so that makes it difficult to use a blowdryer or hair straightener. The shower stall is also ridiculously tiny. It would take a PhD in boat yoga to shave your legs in there, but I’m determined to figure that one out before shorts weather! The kitchen (or galley as its called on a boat) is also tiny so we had to really analyze each pot or pan that we brought onboard. I’m far from a gourmet cook so that wasn’t too terribly hard for me, but people did make fun of me that I didn’t bring a frying pan initially but I did have 2 corkscrews! You definitely have to learn to prioritize with tiny living!
I think my favorite part of tiny living is having the people I love the most always close. In our old house, our kids could easily get lost in their rooms or the basement or the screen porch. Here, we all kind of congregate in the salon (living room on a boat) because it’s the room with the most space.
I, in no way, think this type of living is for everyone, but I am a huge advocate for trying it if you think you would like it, because chances are, you will! For so many years, I believed a bigger house translated to bigger success, but since moving to a tiny space, I’ve come to realize that the size of the house is irrelevant. Success comes from working together as a family to achieve a common goal. For our family, that is learning to live in a tiny space so we can sail together.
Find us on IG @theboucrew.
- Retired Couple’s Tiny Life on a Catamaran: From Croatia Around the World
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Our big thanks to Julie for sharing! 🙏
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