When we were first married and up until we had three children, we lived in a 890 square foot house without a basement. We then moved into a small, older home for just one year which was maybe a little smaller, but had a basement that was partially finished. That gave us more storage, laundry facilities downstairs, and an office and sewing space. From there we moved into the house we have rented for over 14 years. It is 930 square feet. The basement was almost totally unfinished when we moved in, but with an agreement with our landlady, we have finished the basement over the years. We also had five more children over those years. That makes us 10 people in our little house....with often many friends over on the weekends! It is busy, loud and fun. The only way to survive with sanity is to have limited stuff.
I stress that point: Limited Stuff (aka: Crap).
As our family grew, I learned how to cut back and deal with limited space. It was indeed a process. While in some ways we were forced into simple living by our circumstances, it is something that we have embraced and delighted in along the journey: thus, Accidentally-On-Purpose Minimalists.
Wood heat was a natural choice since our new house is in the middle of timber country.
Propane over natural gas was a big debate for us. We finally settled on propane. The initial cost of getting propane set up is much less than bringing in natural gas. It would take a lot of consumption to neutralize this difference.
Lastly, water is a problem where our land is located. Most folks either a dugout for water with a water filtration system, or a cistern that you have to fill from a water station (there is one just 5 miles away). We plan on going with the cistern. The dugout is a lot of work and money to get set up, and there is regular maintenance required. Thy cistern will be fairly demanding as well as we will either have to get a trailer and tank to fill it ourselves, or pay someone with a water truck to come fill it. However, the initial cost is much less and we felt it would be the better choice since there is talk of a water line being installed down our road within the next five years.
We are looking forward to seeing how this all works out...and I've started packing to move!