Renae and I have lived in one apartment and three homes during our marriage. The apartment (right after we got married) had two bedrooms and one bath; about 900 sq ft. Our first home was 1350 sq ft. Our second home was 3500 sq ft, and our current home is 1927 sq ft. We have experienced all sizes. Now that we are about to build our empty nest home, we are thinking of going small again.
Instead of a McMansion, we are thinking of a McCottage.
I like the idea of a smaller home. In fact, we both embrace it. I think a smaller home can improve our lives. Not only is it less expensive, it provides a lot of unforeseen opportunities to enrich our lives.
Here’s a few:
1. Simplicity. Small house living is an opportunity for us to scale back and simplify our lives. We can take a good hard look at where we are and where we want to be. Are three sets of dinner ware that important? Do we really need seven boxes of Christmas lights and three flat screen TVs. And what about all those boxes in the attic that I haven’t seen in years?
2. A smaller house is easier to keep clean. Vigilance is still required if you want a clutter free-house, but when the house is small there are fewer places for clutter to pile up and dust to collect. A small house can be cleaned from top to bottom in 30-45 minutes. A larger home takes the better part of a day to clean.
3. A smaller house encourages outdoor activity. When a house is big, especially on a small lot, it’s easy to spend all your time indoors. A smaller home will encourage you to go outside for relaxation, chores, or interaction with neighbors – not to mention enjoying the fresh air and open spaces. In spring, for instance, the back porch can become your office space.
Renae and I spend a lot of time outdoors (it’s our lifestyle), so a smaller home makes perfect sense for us. Plus, a smaller home will free up money so we can build outdoor living spaces (such as a porch, patio, arbor, etc).
4. Family bonds and social interaction are greater. In a large house, family members can isolate themselves in rooms or separate wings and never see each other. In a smaller house, family members are likely to have more interactions, which is the glue that keeps families together.
5. Less expensive, less maintenance = less stress. A smaller home costs less to build, less to maintain, and less in utility costs. You pay less in property taxes and insurance costs. Remodeling costs are lower too. Less money being poured down the funnel is more money in the bank. Getting rid of any unnecessary stress is a must-do for us when it comes to restructuring our lives.
6. Home security. I feel safer (especially at night) in a smaller home. I know every nook and cranny and can hear noises in every part of the house.
7. Less Consumption of Consumer Goods. A smaller home controls the amount of stuff coming into the home. When we had a larger home, we bought furniture just to fill up the rooms and spaces. This is another savings in money.
8. More comfort. A bigger house can feel “too spacious”, open, and impersonal. High two-story ceilings, for instance, are cold. Oversized rooms with hard surfaces have the acoustics of a parking garage. The advantage of a smaller home is that the living spaces are built to human scale. The rooms feel warmer, cozy, and more inviting.
9. Decorating is easier and less expensive. Decorating a big house is expensive and professional help is often needed. A real budget buster. In a smaller home, decorating can be accomplished if you follow a few basic rules.
10. Financial Freedom and Peace of Mind. There is a very real sense that everything you own, owns you. By downsizing, we are liberating ourselves from the chains of materialism and the costs associated with it. Decreasing our monthly expenses will free up money. More importantly, we’ll have peace of mind, less to worry about, and the freedom to live a more culturally rich life. We’ll be able to pursue experiences rather than merely consume things.