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. Suzy says

    I bought a small house one some acreage. I sacrificed house size for more land. I thought it would work, but it’s pretty cramped. It’s 1082 sqft, 2 bed, 1 little bath, no basement or garage, and 3 of us. The bath is in the middle, and there’s no privacy. Having guests over is even worse. We each have out own hobbies that have their own equipment and no where to put it. I think the main thing is income. For us we bought our house, but we have a very limited income. We bought a small old house, that had been abandoned for a long time, and lipstick-renovated, and it turns out it has a lot of problems and is eternally costing us lots of money. Perhaps a newer house built properly, with current efficiency building requirements would have been better. I know a lot of tiny house people are usually well to do, and are able to partake of enrichments like travel, museums, concert, ect. We can’t even afford to go on a trip, so we just hang around the house, and property. We also can’t afford gymnastics, dance, or those kind of things right now. I just think depending upon who you are, if you have hobbies, work from home, have a low income, sometimes a small house can become kind of suffocating. I like to paint, sew, make puppets, and do video and photo projects, my husband is a musician, my daughter likes art and won’t give up any of her toys. As you can guess a small house for us becomes cluttered with out stuff pretty fast. You can see all the rooms from the main living space. So the clutter in my daughters room, the dishes in the sink, the “stuff” everywhere just drives me nuts! I just wish I had been more realistic and honest with myself about who I am really and what I really need, not want, or the latest trend, or my mom trying to live through me. You know? It’s just not the house I need at this stage in my life.

    • Eric B says

      Sorry to hear the smaller home has brought you so much chagrin, but I can’t help thinking, if you can barely afford this small house all the while maintaining outside activities and a good quality of life, how could you afford a larger home to start with ? What’s the alternative here ?

      I think the point is about purchasing a house of a value below one’s means, so that one can avoid the heavy burden of a larger than truly required home.

      I might be wrong here but perhaps in your case the small home was already more than the family could afford comfortably.

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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