Why We Choose to Live in a Smaller Home

Not too long ago, unhappy with our rapidly deteriorating carpet my husband announced that he was thinking that maybe we should move to a larger home. His desire for a larger home also stemmed from the fact that we were running out of room to store his growing collection of action figures.

I’m not overly fond of the idea of moving into a bigger home. We have a four-bedroom home, and our family only consists of three members; we only use two of the bedrooms for sleeping. One bedroom serves as my home office, and one is a guest room.

small house

A smaller home is often considered a lifestyle downgrade, and many people prefer to get the largest home possible. However, we chose this home (which is “only” 1760 square feet) because it fit our needs. And because it cost less than the monstrosities we were approved for.

Why I Like a Smaller Home

There are a number of reasons that I prefer the smaller home. The first reason is that, in raw numbers, it cost less to buy than a larger home. We were approved to borrow an amount that was more than twice what we ended up with as a mortgage. However, over time, we are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars, just by getting a home that doesn’t exceed our (fairly modest) wants.

Some of the reasons that I like living in a smaller home include:

  • Lower utility costs
  • Lower property tax costs
  • Easier to keep up with the cleaning
  • No expectations about a more expensive lifestyle we’re “supposed” to be living

On top of that, I find that the smaller house helps us limit what we buy in many cases (my husband’s collection excepted). If you just don’t have the room, it’s easier to say no to a purchase. That has been a real boon to me, since it has allowed us to avoid filling up the house with unimportant clutter.

Money to Do Other Things

Perhaps most importantly, though, is the fact that having a smaller house — and the small expenses that come with it — provides us with more disposable income. Instead of spending money on a high mortgage payment, or on other costs related to having a bigger house, we can spend the money on what’s really important to us.

Our low cost of living allows us to eat out more, and it also means that I can travel a little bit, and my husband can buy the collectibles he wants. We have a more comfortable lifestyle, and are able to do more of what we want, because we don’t have to worry about housing costs sucking up our income. Our housing costs amount to less than 1/5 of our monthly income, rather than accounting for a major portion of our expenses.

How We Got around the “Moving” Issue

Instead of moving to a larger home, my husband and I decided to pinpoint what was bothering him about the house. Lack of storage space, as well as the state of the flooring, were the two main complaints. We decided to address those issues.

In our room upstairs, we had a captain’s style bed, with drawers, built to store some of the clutter in the bedroom. We also had the carpet replaced upstairs, and the flooring on the main level (front room and kitchen) replaced with high quality wood laminate. We’re hoping to replace the carpet downstairs in the basement as well, but that will require a little more planning, since it involves moving a large fish tank and a piano.

Because we have nice, new flooring, we decided that we should go through and make sure that the rest of the house matches to some degree. We cleaned out closets and the storage space under the house. “Let’s get rid of everything without a purpose,” my husband said. The result is that there is a lot more room, and a lot less clutter. Now, with the new flooring and the lack of clutter, the house feels bigger. And we’re happier with it.

No more talk of moving to a bigger house.

The whole situation has been a learning experience for me. We spent a little bit to make our home more enjoyable for our situation, rather than “upgrading” to a new home. We knew, intellectually, that a bigger house was unnecessary, but now we know emotionally as well.

What do you think? Smaller home or bigger home?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.



Author

By , on Oct 14, 2012
Miranda Marquit Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

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{7 Comments}

  1. I love smaller homes. I like the cottage feel and all the reasons you listed.

  2. We bought an older, smaller home and It’s perfect. It’s got plenty of rooms for our small family, and is just enough that we can manage. It keeps us from being “inside only” people, and keeps our family interacting.

  3. A very thoughtful article. I agree smaller houses are the way to go. I featured your article on the Frugal News Review podcast episode 15.

  4. Dave:

    What a great topic to discuss! I completely agree with the author that there is no need to change the house into a bigger one (just because) as the advantages of a smaller house are really numerous. I would also opt for a smaller house.

  5. Pam:

    Our home is 80 + years old. We are in the process of painting and doing some face lift work on it. It just seems like fixing what you have is a much better of an idea than taking on more financial burdens. The more we fix it up the more we are falling back in love with it. Funny how that works.

  6. Kris:

    Good for you! It is sad that some many people think that you always need bigger, faster, fancier, more expensive – and if you don’t do the same that something is wrong with you. We live in a relatively affluent town in New England, and we live a nice life in our modest 50 yr old, 4 bdr cape. It sure makes us different than so many others, but it works for us.

  7. Deoxy:

    I love to see someone discussing this topic! We currently have our 2400 sq ft house, in a very nice suburb, up for sale and are planning to move to smaller house, with a smaller yard, in a safe but not affluent area.

    We’d been complaining for a while about how much work it takes to maintain this house and yard, when we don’t even use large parts of it. Plus, having affluent neighbors pressures us toward consumerist goals that we don’t want to share. This summer we finally decided to do something other than complain. We had been saving up to refinance, and realized that if we were ever going to move, this was the time.

    Most people either think we’re selling to move to a bigger house, or, on finding that we’re not, assume that we can’t afford this one. We can, but we’re choosing not to. We do look forward to doing a bit more traveling once we have a smaller mortgage.

    We got rid of multiple car loads of stuff when getting ready to put our house on the market and it felt so good! I am looking forward to a smaller house forcing us to declutter more often. I really hope this house sells soon, so we can start on our re-prioritized life.

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