COULD I live in 400sq ft of floor space? I’ve been mulling this over since watching an intriguing news report about something called the Tiny House Movement - an architectural and social crusade that advocates living simply in small homes.

There are various interpretations of ‘tiny’, but generally these are units with a maximum 37 square metres of floor, excluding lofts.

These houses were cute and cosy; with pretty kitchenettes and sloping roofs. The inhabitants (‘tiny dwellers’?) seemed content with this scaled-back lifestyle, which had led them to re-assess values and engage more with their communities and local environment. Saving money in affordable micro homes was a big plus too.

It all looked rather rosy, but then these homes were in San Francisco, where eye-wateringly high house prices have forced many people into extreme downsizing, and what works in sunny California - or Australia and New Zealand, where the Tiny House Movement is also embraced - might not be so ideal in a UK winter.

But it got me thinking about living space, and how much we really need. We have seen a lot of our homes over the past year, and

many of us have used the time for frenzied de-cluttering. As we prepare to emerge from domestic confinement, maybe we will reassess our priorities and whether or not we really need So. Much. Stuff.

I have lived in 18 different properties over my life, including student digs and house-shares. The place that will always mean the most to me is the lovely old house I grew up in, which I returned to at various times and always thought of as ‘home’. It broke my heart when we sold it, and no house will ever mean as much to me again.

Now I live an old house of my own, which I like very much, but I live in fear of something big going wrong with it, because I don’t have the funds for major repairs. Spending so much time here over the past year, watching damp creep up the walls and feeling the bitter wind hurtling through the living-room, I have begun to re-think what I want from my living arrangements.

We are, in this country, obsessed with home ownership, far more so than other European countries where people often seem content to live in rented flats. We’re encouraged to get onto the property ladder and keep climbing, but the older I get the more disillusioned I become with owning a house. It is, as they say, a money pit.

My niece and her boyfriend have been renovating their first home and are excited about moving on to the next rung of the ladder. When I was their age I lived in a shared flat with a tiny kitchen, manky carpets, a bathroom that flooded and a dodgy landlord downstairs who let himself in whenever he liked, often when one of us was emerging from the shower in a towel. It was grubby and cramped, and one of the happiest times of my life.

Home ownership didn’t enter my head back then. I don’t think I even knew what a mortgage was. I was too busy trying to get a career going to think about equity or fitted carpets.

Now I’m middle-aged with a house full of things - some I couldn’t bear to part with, some I could certainly live without. And I think I could happily live in a smaller place. As cute and appealing as it sounds, a Tiny House wouldn’t be realistic, but maybe a flat or even a caravan.

My priorities have shifted in this pandemic. I want to get out there and enjoy life, because I know how quickly it can change. And my options are limited if I continue to perch precariously on the edge of a money pit.