Today, we continue our interview with Julie S. who just moved her family of three into a Vancouver laneway house behind a main house occupied by her sister and two kids plus their mother living in the basement suite. It’s definitely a “full house” and Julie tells us about the real-life challenges and joys of living with the extended family.
What is the biggest challenge?
The biggest relationship challenge is helping the kids to navigate what is changing from a visitor relationship to more of a live-in sibling relationship. While this is a great thing, it has its bumps and boundaries which do need to be learned. (In other words, my son wants to visit at all hours of the early morning). Boundaries will come naturally living so close together. We have lots open dialogue and plan to keep it an ongoing process. We believe that as long as communication stays open, we’ll be okay.
What has been the biggest positive change since choosing to live in a laneway house?
It’s great to have a yard! We have lived in a condo setting for awhile now and it’s great to have a lovely outdoor space for our son and dog to enjoy. The parks, schools, and people in this neighbourhood are fantastic. We are very close to the Dunbar Community Centre and are able to enjoy all it has to offer.
One unexpected, yet very positive change is that downsizing to a much smaller home meant a huge decluttering process for us. It feels wonderful to get rid of most of our “stuff” in order to fit into such a small home. It has helped us to narrow down the things in our life that are truly valuable to us. It has been very liberating!
It is really, really neat living on the lane. As a visiting friend said, at night you can look out the window and feel like you’re somewhere in a forest. It’s so quiet and cozy. Some people may guess that living on the lane would be noisy, but it is actually very quiet. Also, these little houses are very well insulated and, consequently, very soundproof.
As far as the kids go, it really isn’t much different than how we lived before we moved here. We phone before coming over for a visit. It’s just more convenient now to send the kids across the yard, rather than drive them. The shared yard is great…and the communal street hockey net that Santa left for all the kids will provide lots of fun, shared play.
Our situation before living in the laneway house in a multigenerational situation was great, but I can honestly say that our happiness has increased exponentially. There is a true feeling of family community with the luxury of living in our own separate dwellings.