Small Space Living (with Your Significant Other): Our Seoul Officetel
Living with your significant other can take some getting used to. You’ll often hear advice along the lines of “open and honest communication” and “setting clear boundaries and expectations”—generally good advice in any living situation.
Moving in with Andrew (now three years ago) was easy, even without setting explicit boundaries and expectations. He did the dishes, took out the trash, and cleaned the downstairs bathroom and kitchen. I vacuumed, did the laundry, and cleaned the living room, upstairs bathroom, and bedroom. It just happened that way. It felt natural. And it didn’t matter if he left dishes in the sink overnight or if I skipped laundry day one week. And we weren’t bound to ‘our chores,’ and never minded picking up for each other. In fact, our cat, Luna, was the only one who didn’t adjust well. She was terrified of the vacuum, first of all, and she developed a terrifying habit of precariously jumping onto the ledge of the lofted space in our apartment that looked down at a fifteen-foot drop.
Downsizing from our gorgeous Providence loft to our one-room Seoul officetel, though, where the entire space, kitchen, bathroom, and all, is just a touch bigger than our downstairs bathroom was, took some getting used to. When your home is ‘one room,’ anything outside of storage becomes clutter. And if you turn too quickly, you find yourself stubbing your toes on corners or smacking into walls. (And if you’re me, every stub and smack is somehow Andrew’s fault for taking up so much more space.)
But you do adjust, and over time, you realize how little space one actually ‘needs.’
So after one year of living in our small Seoul officetel, this is my advice: open and honest communication and setting clear boundaries and expectations. :) Really all this means is is airing out day-to-day annoyances, having designated spaces for things, and tidying often.
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For those of you wondering—how can you spend all that time together in that space?—I don’t have much advice to that point. We do spend quite a bit of time apart due to our work schedules and commutes, but even though we’re both loner-types, we’d always rather be together in our free time than be alone. I can’t spend enough time with Andrew! I will say we are respectful about giving each other time and space to unwind or decompress, and are quite good at being in the same room but doing our own things for even hours at a time. Andrew will go to the gym and I’ll catch up with the girls. We each have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. But even without these, we genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and that’s what makes it work.
We also moved house this week and the new space is just bigger enough that the bathroom feels like its own apartment. What a luxury!