Minimalist-ish Family Series: Adrian Crook

Happy to share an interview with Adrian of, a single dad of five living in 1000 sq ft condo, with you today. Great thoughts here on how living with less impacts kids and family life. Also: those sweet IKEA hacked bunks we have were originally his!
1.) Tell us about your family, who you are, where you live and things that you love:
I am Adrian Crook, single dad of five kids (ages 10,9,8,7, and 5). We live in a 1,000 square foot condo in Yaletown, a neighbourhood in downtown Vancouver, BC. We don’t own a car, so one of the things we love doing is walking, riding bikes and taking transit. Our favourite pastime is exploring the city we live in, which we do daily. I work for myself, so I have the time flexibility to spend a lot of time with the kids, which all of us love.
Kids birthday party
2.) When did you first hear about minimalism and what was your initial reaction?

Minimalism, for me, is less about the dogmatic Dwell magazine interpretation – i.e. fashion – than it is about the sustainability and mental clarity. So to that end, I didn’t hear about minimalism as much as I just did it, then discovered other people referred to me as a minimalist. Life with five kids means that if I was focused on making my house fashionable, I’d be worried about my kids breaking things. Which to me is the opposite of the goals of minimalism, which are to free you up from worry and maintenance so you can focus on life, family, and relationships. I don’t want to be admonishing the kids for getting my fancy modular sofa dirty, for instance, so instead I have a Craigslist couch.

3.) What do you find most challenging in trying to live with less stuff?

Probably constantly re-organizing. When you have more space and more stuff, you can just bury it in the garage or the attic or big closets and forever put off having to organize it. But we have so little storage space that even our in-suite storage unit – or only storage in the world – has been converted to an art room. As a result, we have to think really critically about everything we bring into our house, which I love. Too often we’re tempted to buy useless quick-fix items in our consumption-oriented society, and being a minimalist simply forcing me to think twice before mindlessly buying something.

4.) What do you find most rewarding in trying to live with less stuff?

How much time do you spend maintaining your car, your yard, your house, myriad possessions that break or need replacement and so forth? It’s almost incalculable. I don’t have most of those things, and as a result the time I spend maintaining, cleaning, worrying, fixing, replacing and so forth is drastically less than the average person. The result is a far higher quality of life and a level of simplicity that rivals that of a kid-less 20-something, versus a single dad of five. Life doesn’t have to get more complex the older you get, we just choose to burden ourselves with extraneous things, believing we “need” them.


5.) Do you see any challenges (older, bigger kids, retirement, etc) to continuing on with this lifestyle in the future?

Kids are highly adaptable and will treat as “normal” whatever it is they’re raised in. My goal in raising them this way is to normalize small living, condo family life, car-free active transportation and a low-consumption lifestyle. Our way of life is objectively better for the environment and for their health than living in a house in a car-centric suburb. That’s a great quality of life. But the other factor, “standard of living” has been declining since it peaked with our parents generation. My generation is the first to have a lower standard of living (measured in what we earn and can afford) than our parents. And if you understand anything about late stage capitalism, our kids standard of living will be worse than ours. They won’t be able to afford detached houses or fancy cars. My goal with our current lifestyle is essentially to show my kids how to have a high quality of life in a world where they’ll have a lower standard of living than I do. It’s possible, we’re doing it now.
Instagram: @adriancrook
Twitter: @5kids1condo
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  • Yes, People tend to think that minimalism is a design type in fashion or interior design. But for us minimalists, it is something more. It is the door to lasting peace and freedom. I am always happy to see people realize that they can now downsize and feel happier about their lives.

  • This is really interesting. One of the reasons that I embraced simple living was because I knew that my children’s standard of living would be lower than mine; and that mine is lower than the generation before, in terms of earnings, housing and basic services and state of the planet. I wanted them to be prepared for that, to know that they can be happy with very little and that flexibility is so important – addition to all of the immediate benefits that living with less brings.

  • I love your comment about needing to spend time maintaining your possessions, and how it detracts from your life. I have been putting off purchasing new tires for my car, a necessary maintenance task. I hope to reduce this type of maintenance task in the future as I minimalize the physical elements in my life.

  • My favourite quote here is “Kids are highly adaptable and will treat as “normal” whatever it is they’re raised in.”
    Oh so true. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

  • Hello,
    I read your blog a lot but have never commented. and a few other blogs have been very inspiring and uplifting for me during a difficult time. I am really excited about the idea of simple living. We have moved around quite a bit and sold, trashed and donated a lot of our belongings in the process but we seem to accumulate things quickly as soon as we settle down. I’m relatively new to minimalism and we haven’t made a lot of big changes in our lives yet, but one thing that has been really great for us is using a budget to be mindful of every purchase. We have pretty much entirely cut out impulse buying and it is AMAZING how much we save every week. Those little Starbucks trips, cheap toys for our son, and eating lunches out really add up quickly. I’m excited to get rid of some clothes and kitchen gadgets next but just haven’t tackled those projects yet. I also really like the “busy boycott” from I also started my own blog at to track our own journey to a simpler life. Thanks for the inspiration!

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