We've owned our house for nearly a year now, and I feel like I can finally share WHY we bought this house and HOW it's been so good for our family. It was a gamble, an experiment really, to see if we could be happy in a home with only 135 sq. ft per person. And it's worked out so well!
Although this is our personal list of reasons why a small house makes us happy, you might find that these make sense for you too. Whether you're considering downsizing, buying your first home, or just exploring the idea, living simply and small is an alternative, but such a valuable approach to choosing your abode.
Inexpensive Living | One of the biggest reasons we chose to go small was the allure of having a more realistic mortgage. Since we live in the middle of the country, we were able to find a house that cost less than some of the new Airstreams we had been looking at (when we were considering traveling full-time.) We live exactly 4 miles from the beach, 4 blocks from downtown, and our neighborhood is safe and friendly. Basically, we hit the jackpot (at least in our eyes.)
A larger house would, of course, have a larger mortgage, but also increase other costs. For example, when we were trying to figure out what size home to buy, we would often think about what the cost would be to replace a roof on a larger house, to install a new air conditioner that needs to cover more interior square feet, or to landscape a suburban lot. We simply weren't comfortable assuming those kind of financial costs.
Our utility bills are insignificant and even in the heavy, cold snow season of winter that is so typical of being in a lake-effect snow area, we did not experience the astronomical heating costs that many with larger homes do. Score!
For us, we were so willing to trade off having more space to have extra money each month for travel and personal projects. And for some of you, you may live in an area where a little house costs a half-million dollars or more. It may help to choose a smaller home, but it's still expensive. I get it. But for the rest of us living in cheaper real estate markets, this can be a really smart financial move. Every month when I pay my mortgage, I giggle a bit and do a happy dance. For real.
Less Maintenance | You may have already picked this up about us if you've been reading this blog for some time, but Kirk and I are no Chip and Joanna Gaines. We don't live for house projects, we struggle to complete regular house maintenance, and we would rather be outside than in a house redoing a bathroom or painting walls. Sure, we get done what we need to get done, but having a smaller house is a natural way to reduce those responsibilities.
If you love consistently working on a home (and let's face it, ALL homes need regular work), perhaps a small house isn't for you. We've gotten most of the projects done on the home that we wanted to and now we just enjoy being in this space. And having less maintenance to do also means more in our pocket, if you know what I mean.
Physical Boundaries | Even though we are fairly minimalist, we are normal people and still amass clutter fairly easily, especially now that we're parents. It just happens. But when you have only 4 tiny closets for 5 people, it's impossible to hold on to more than just what we need. We chose this home because we knew that the physical boundaries of the space would be a positive challenge and encourage us to maintain a minimalist lifestyle. Know thyself, right?
Easier to Clean | Again, less is truly more. We have only one tiny bathroom, which I can clean in less than 10 minutes. We have 5 rooms total in our house (kitchen, living/dining space, 2 bedrooms, and a bathroom), and we make quick work of cleaning it. I can consistently deep clean the home because there is less of everything--floors, knicknacks to dust, linens to wash, etc.
We value DOING and LIVING over cleaning. So while some may cringe at having only one bathroom and a tiny kitchen, I saw the bonus of more free time to do things I love. I say YES to my kids more often because I'm not overwhelmed with housework. This is just one of the freedoms of having a small space.
Connection to the Outdoors and Community | And along those lines, since we're not constantly cleaning and maintaining, we're outside playing, walking, biking, exploring, and getting to know our neighbors. A small house can feel claustrophobic at times (although not as often as I had imagined it would) and so it pushes us outdoors. That may not be appealing to you if you prefer to stay indoors; a larger home would make more sense then.
Time Together | A few weeks ago, the girls were playing in the living room, so Kirk and I grabbed some coffee to go sip and chat on the front porch together. Within a few minutes the girls realized we had stepped outside and came outdoors, trying to sit on our laps. We joked how it wouldn't matter if we had a 3,000 square foot house, our kids always seem to want to be rightnexttous!
Most of the time, we value that the small space creates meaningful and consistent interactions. We work out fights quickly because there is no where to hide, and we share everything. Our communication skills as a family have improved because living this way requires daily effort. But I love that my kids are with me (most of the time, haha), that we aren't living separately in different rooms. If you're seeking deeper family connections, then a small house may just do the trick.
Sustainable Lifestyle | One of the unexpected benefits of living this way is how it supports our desire to create less waste and live more sustainably. Because I know I have little to no storage space, I carefully consider the longevity and purpose of an item before buying. We only have space for a small garbage can in our kitchen, so we compost to reduce our waste and say no to freebies as much as possible. With fewer appliances, less light fixtures, and only one small bathroom, we use less energy and water to run our home. And since we chose a walk-able neighborhood, we use our car sparingly and walk as much as possible instead.
We know that our lifestyle isn't right for everyone, and we definitely wouldn't want to push it on others as the only way. Living small has its own drawbacks, and I will write about that another day. But if you're desiring to live more minimally, to seek a greener, zero-waste lifestyle, and to reduce your financial burden, a small home might be just right for you.
Do you live in a tiny or small home? Would you ever consider it?