Live in a Smaller Space


According to statistics, the average house size in America has doubled since the 1950s—yet how many times have you heard someone complain their house is still too small? Chances are pretty good that our houses aren’t too small—we’ve just put too much stuff inside them.

For most families, a house is the costliest investment they’ll ever make—almost 40 percent of an average American’s expenses go toward housing costs. Being able to live comfortably in a smaller home provides far more financial flexibility and stability.

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. Tybee says

    While backpacking through Europe on our honeymoon, we accidently started a wonderful habit for limiting souvenir junk. We found that refrigerator magnets were small and meaningful memorabilia. I know many people don’t like the visual mess of refrigerator magnets, but one friend of mine keeps all of his on the downstairs freezer. In a relatively small surface, we can smile and remember many fabulous trips.

    • PP says

      Meaningful, maybe.
      I think they will become (most of them) worthless junk for the next generations. Stylish prints and postcards become valueable objects of the past.
      True only for quality items, which is not always easy to find.
      However, the inventor of fridge magnets was a brilliant mind. These are bestsellers on the souvenir market…

  2. Andrew says

    Currently we will in a modest 2 bedroom 1 bath 865 ft^2 above ground home.
    We are planning on starting a family and are looking at homes with 2700 to 3000 ft^2 above ground.

    Will it be possible to be some what minimalistic or will the space eventually scum to ones need to fill it up?

  3. Zain says

    I’m from Brunei and i have started living minimally ever since i read your blog earlier this year. I must admit it changes my life drastically and now i’m trying to convince my wife the benefit of doing it. But of course in Brunei (a country of almost 400k in population), minimalism is nowhere to be seen in any form. Maybe an opportunity to bring you over here Joshua, not just Brunei but Asia generally.

    Anyway my question for you, would be buying a house with 3,500 square feet can be minimalistic or is it too much big of a space? I think Andrew had the same question

    • says

      We are in Canada, and are looking at moving our family of 6 into an 800 sq. ft. cabin…imagine! We’re thinking creatively and openly about how we’ll downsize drastically so that it feels open and spacious. We always say, if we put our arms around all our kids, we’d take up about 4 square feet. So why do we need a house of 1500 square feet? :)

  4. Karen says

    I live in a city in Australia with my 17 year old daughter. A year ago we downsized from a home in the suburbs which had 2 living areas, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a double garage, into an apartment closer to the city. The space we had in our previous home seemed crazy for 2 people. We now live in an apartment which has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and an under croft carspace with no storage. Thankfully we have 2 balconies so we keep our bicycles on the back balcony. After downsizing our possessions we have more time for exercise, reading, baking, spending time together and basically, without all of the extra possessions life is a whole lot more stress free. Thanks for the blog as well!

  5. says

    Our family of 6 has lived full time in 350 sq feet for the past three years, purely by choice. A common comment I hear is, “I don’t know how you do it, we can barely handle living in our 3000 square-foot house”.
    There are many challenges to living in a fifth wheel, but space has never been one of them. Prior to living in our fifth wheel we did live in at 3000 square-foot house and there’s nothing I miss about it.

    • Jeannine says

      Kimberly I was excited to read your comment. We also lived in a fifth wheel full time for a few years. Ours was 33 feet with three slides and it was plenty spacious for us. I actually had empty drawers and bins. My husband stored essential tools in the “basement”. I thought the ample storage under the bed was a genius design. Kudos to you for showing that families can live in small spaces.

  6. Anastasia says

    I grew up in a tiny one bedroom with my mother and always either a guest, a boarder or other family around. I was elated to finally get my own room and pretty devastated when I lost it and had to share a room with my mother for a number of years. Let me tell you, that wasn’t a healthy arrangement.

    Now my family is about to grow to four people and we live in a two bedroom, two bath apartment. We desperately need another bedroom and a large office space. It appears there’s a limit to how much squeeze we can handle. Everyone needs their private space and a quiet work/play corner.

    Also, I’ve noticed that in small apartments, if you don’t get rid of TV and computers completely, it’s hard to keep kids away from technology. When there’s an office and a dedicated movie watching area, they’re far more controllable. But that’s just my experience.

    • Mandi says

      My husband and I live in a 1050 sq. ft. home that has 2 beds and 2 baths that sits on over 1 acre of lakefront property. It is more than enough room for the two of us and the best thing about living in a modest sized house is it doesn’t take very long to clean and upkeep. We also have a 750 sq. ft. covered carport with a storage room with 150 sq. ft. of storage space. At one time, we actually considered buying a storage barn to house our stuff, but we sat down, thought about it, and realized that instead of spending $5,000 or more on a storage unit to keep stuff in, we could easily de-clutter our home and make use of the space we already have!

      For those wondering if moving to a larger house might tempt you to buy more things to fill it up, you should sit down and think hard about how much space you actually NEED to live in, or be extremely dedicated and don’t give in to temptation to fill your new house with stuff because you have extra space. Make sure every space and piece of furniture has a functional purpose.

  7. Sara says

    Through a series of mives in the last few years we have gone from a married couple with two large dogs in 960 sq ft to a family of four plus the dogs in a 2400 sq ft home. our lease is up in a few months and we are excited to downsize and hoping to purchase a sweet little 865 sq ft home on a large lot.
    We never did fill up all these rooms, and when we looked around at what we used every day it was this: 800 sq ft of our 2400 that was used every day. After moving a dozen times in the last ten years we’ve been good about not accumulating much- but now it’s a thrill to think that the pressure of filling those empty spaces will be gone. I’m looking forward to paring down even further, and leading my kids by example that we don’t need things to be happy. After all, nothing is better than sitting down to a good meal with family and friends, laughing well into the night and cleaning up in the morning. That’s what life is all about!

    What a great blog so glad I came across it

  8. Marilyn says

    My husband and I have lived in a 1600 sq. ft house for the last 40 plus years. Certainly not a big house by most standards, but it has served us well over the years and we have been content here. However, when I look around I realize that we have managed to fill the unused space with 40 years of ‘stuff’. Stuff we don’t use; stuff we don’t need; stuff that doesn’t make our lives happier; stuff that ultimately has ended up in closets, cupboards, or the basement. We recently bought a 1000 sq. ft. ‘retirement’ home in a small rural community, and I am looking forward to purging ourselves of all the ‘stuff’ we don’t need, and living a simpler life, in a smaller home. Less money spent on utilities, less time spent cleaning, and more time spent enjoying family, friends, and outdoor activities. I am so glad I found this blog! It inspires me, and validates my need to turn away from a materialistic lifestyle and find peace in simplicity.

  9. Alaina says

    Interesting to read these comments and reflect on my own experience. In the last 6 years, my husband & I have lived in 3 different places. We’ve downsized to some degree on each move, and are currently in a 800 sq ft place. Thinking about when we had twice the living space, there were rooms (3rd bedroom, living room, dining room, basement storage) that we barely even touched. We complained about lack of space when we moved, but really, we weren’t using it anyway.
    Even in our current place there are areas we don’t use that much. We’re comfortable here, but I think we could go down to 650 sq ft and barely notice a difference.

  10. Cecilia Coutinho says

    Just love reading this blog. Our family too downsized from a 28oo sq ft home to an 1800 sq ft bungalow, and I just love it. We have purged quite a bit of stuff but still have more to do, and I can’t wait to let it all go. There really is freedom in less!!

  11. Cat says

    This past weekend my husband and I began toying with the idea of moving to my previous bachelorette pad of 850 sq ft and downsizing from a 2,100 sq ft home on a 12,000 sq ft lot. We got inspired after reading a book focused on finding more margin in your life. We were very excited about the idea, until we shared it with some of our friends who think we are absolutely crazy to give up our home. Although I hate to admit it, it has put a bit of a damper on our excitement of living a more “lean” of stuff type of life. Have any of you encountered negative reactions from those you valued when you decided to change to a minimalist lifestyle? If so, how did you reply to their comments? Thanks in advance for your candid feedback.

  12. adriane says

    I live in a large three story home a family of five with two dogs the clutter is quite distressing on a daily basis I keep trying to convince my husband to live smaller and off the land I would be content in a trailer on a large piece of land life is to short to be wasted on the illusion bigger is always better

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