12 Reasons Why You’ll Be Happier in a Smaller Home

Recently, my parents bought a smaller house. And this past week, while on vacation in South Dakota (yeah, I vacation in South Dakota), I got to see it for the first time. During our stay, I was surprised at how often my mother commented that “they just love their smaller house.” I wasn’t so much surprised that she felt that way (I am a minimalist after all), but I was surprised at the frequency. It was a comment that she repeated over and over again during our one-week stay.

Toward the end of the week, I sat down with my mom and asked her to list all of the reasons why she is experiencing more happiness in her smaller house. And this post is the result.

12 Reasons Why You’ll Be Happier in a Smaller House by Joshua and Patty Becker (I get top billing because it is my blog).

People buy larger homes for a number of reasons:

  • They “outgrow” their smaller one.
  • They receive a promotion and raise at work.
  • They are convinced by a realtor that they can afford it.
  • They hope to impress others.
  • They think a large home is the home of their dreams.

Another reason people keep buying bigger and bigger homes is because no one tells them not to. The mantra of the culture again comes calling, “buy as much and as big as possible.” They believe the lie and choose to buy a large home only because that’s “what you are supposed to do” when you start making money… you buy nice, big stuff.

Nobody ever tells them not to. Nobody gives them permission to pursue smaller, rather than larger. Nobody gives them the reasons they may actually be happier in a smaller house.

So, in an attempt to break the silence, consider these 12 reasons why you’ll actually be happier in a smaller house:

  1. Easier to maintain. Anyone who has owned a house knows the amount of time, energy, and effort to maintain it. All things being equal, a smaller home requires less of your time, energy, and effort to accomplish that task.
  2. Less time spent cleaning. And that should be reason enough…
  3. Less expensive. Smaller homes are less expensive to purchase and less expensive to keep (insurance, taxes, heating, cooling, electricity, etc.).
  4. Less debt and less risk. Dozens of on-line calculators will help you determine “how much house you can afford.” These formulas are based on net income, savings, current debt, and monthly mortgage payments. They are also based on the premise that we should spend “28% of our net income on our monthly mortgage payments.” But if we can be more financially stable and happier by only spending 15%… then why would we ever choose to spend 28?
  5. Mentally Freeing. As is the case with all of our possessions, the more we own, the more they own us. And the more stuff we own, the more mental energy is held hostage by them. The same is absolutely true with our largest, most valuable asset. Buy small and free your mind.
  6. Less environmental impact. A smaller home requires less resources to build and less resources to maintain. And that benefits all of us.
  7. More time. Many of the benefits above (less cleaning, less maintaining, mental freedom) result in the freeing up of our schedule to pursue the things in life that really matter – whatever you want that to be.
  8. Encourages family bonding. A smaller home results in more social interaction among the members of the family. And while this may be the reason that some people purchase bigger homes, I think just the opposite should be true.
  9. Forces you to remove baggage. Moving into a smaller home forces you to intentionally pare down your belongings.
  10. Less temptation to accumulate. If you don’t have any room in your house for that new treadmill, you’ll be less tempted to buy it in the first place (no offense to those of you who own a treadmill… and actually use it).
  11. Less decorating. While some people love the idea of choosing wall color, carpet color, furniture, window treatments, decorations, and light fixtures for dozens of rooms, I don’t.
  12. Wider market to sell. By its very definition, a smaller, more affordable house is affordable to a larger percentage of the population than a more expensive, less affordable one.

Your home is a very personal decision that weighs in a large number of factors that can’t possibly be summed up in one 700 word post. This post was not written to address each of them. Only you know all the variables that come into play when making your decision.

I just think you’ll be happier if you buy smaller—rather than the other way around.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Leah says

    Small is wonderful, but I don’t think you can determine what is small for each person or family by square footage alone. My parents lived with five kids in a one bath, three tiny bedroom house for four years and while we managed, it was miserable. We moved into a medium sized house with 2.5 baths and four bedrooms and added a sixth child. That house was big for some people but just perfect for us. It varies on whether your kids are older or babies, etc. so I think each person and family should just take stock of what allows them to live reasonably and joyfully without placing their whole loves and happiness in “stuff”.

    • says

      Our family of four just moved into a 700 square foot home this spring. I love living small for all the reasons you mentioned. I think the key to living in small spaces is to have good storage solutions. Our house has no space for any extra stuff which means anything that is seasonal (clothes, camping gear, sports equipment) is stored in our shipping container.

    • June says

      Well said, I so agree with your statement, “I think each person and family should just take stock of what allows them to live reasonably and joyfully without placing their whole loves and happiness in “stuff”. While I appreciate many points in this article and I personally feel more peaceful and less stressed living with less, I cannot take stock nor decide for others what is too big or reasonable for them. More importantly, to assume the reasons they may live in a larger home are based purely on vanity, unintelligent decisions or not wanting to be a close and loving family as was suggested in this article would negate the peace I am trying to create. Judging others in that way is a sign that maybe someone is not honestly happy with what they have (or don’t have) if they need put down how/why/where others choose to live. I personally think that’s a negative way to live and think and defeats the purpose of trying to live minimally. Physically things are not the only “things” that can weight us down if we don’t/can’t let them go.

    • Devrie says

      I definitely depends on family size, location, and income. My family lives in a rural area in an 1100 sq ft home with a teenager, a 5 year old and 3 year old. We all share the living room, dining room, kitchen and one bathroom. It’s not easier to keep clean, especially with sticky hands and care-free people tossing things about in the same spot. There’s a lot of wear and tear that happens more often due to the constant demand of all five of us frequently using the same spaces.

      A smaller home is relatively subjective. A three person family moving from a 3000 sq ft home to a 2000 sq ft home is definitely downsizing, but if we’re talking about really small homes…1000 to 1500 sq ft, then…

      5 reasons not to get a smaller home:

      1. A much smaller space could eliminate privacy for people. We all need our own space at some point in the day, and while shared spaces are wonderful for family connections, we sometimes want to watch our own shows, read a book or do school work with few interruptions.

      2. A smaller home may be easier to maintain in terms of big things (like roof repairs and painting), but a if too many people are constantly using the same spaces, things wear out much more quickly.

      3. A smaller space might make family visits from out of state a little awkward when there is zero space to let them sleep.

      4. A smaller home can become much more cluttered more quickly, not looking as clean as one imagines less home to clean might look. So even if you scrub the tile grout and wash behind the toilet diligently, scattered toys, mail, books, homework, coats, shoes, handbags and gifts from family can easily become overwhelming, especially when rooms are so small that people don’t want to haul the stuff to their small private spaces. Not to mention, regular cleaning, if left unchecked for even a week, of walls, grout, etc. can very quickly look pretty gross in high traffic areas (which are pretty much in the entire house if the house is small).

      5. A smaller home can be less inviting for daily visits from friends and neighbors, especially when shared spaces such as living rooms are shared by all.

  2. tracey says

    Four years ago we moved from a 3500′ house in Montana to a 2100′ in AZ. Other than my son’s small bedroom the rest of the living space is workable, though I do miss having large rooms. Storage is another issue. This is the first place I have lived that had neither basement nor attic storage. This year I have been working hard on doing a good purge. it will take the full year, maybe two but as we have less stuff the house feels better.
    It is not just the size that matters but how it is laid out and utilized as well. this year I finally figured out how to configure our open floor plan living room/dining room into a play area with storage and a combined living/dining area that we now use daily as opposed to twice a year. And though this house is smaller it is more work and money to maintain. Stucco vs brick, a pool, pulling weeds out of rocks vs a quick mow etc. When we buy our forever retirement home I will be a lot smarter in knowing what to look for as to ease of life!

  3. says

    Love this post and the reasons listed, mirroring what I hear around our house over the last couple of months since moving into a significantly smaller home in our same neighborhood. Best move we’ve ever made, don’t miss anything about the big “dream” house we sold. Redefining what the dream is, and it’s about less which allows for more.

  4. Brink Brink says

    Raised 2 boys in 1,100 square feet with one bath. It was okay. Transfers kept us renting small condos until we retired 18 months ago. Bought a 3,000 square foot home. Finally we can have a real dining room, 2 living areas,,,,important for retired folks such as us who like some solitude. We each have our own bath. It’s heaven!! Housing size depends on peoples needs,,,,,,whether they still have kids at home or are retired and need their own space at times.

    • Jen says

      These points absolutely apply to living in an RV. My spouse and I (both retired) are getting a 24′ Class C and living in it fulll time. Who needs stuff when you have this whole beautiful country before you?

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Being a Minimalist | August 9, 2010
  2. Smaller Home Happier Life | September 7, 2010
  3. And Cue Contentment | | May 24, 2013

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