Recently, my parents downsized their home to a smaller house.
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 about living small (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.
Some people decide to start living small once they find that there are many advantages to downsizing. A smaller home means smaller bills and a smaller set of responsibilities.
People buy larger homes for a number of reasons:
- They “outgrow” their smaller home.
- 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 that nobody 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 if they downsize their home.
Here are 12 reasons why you may be happier if you downsized and bought a smaller house:
1. Smaller homes are 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. You spend less time decluttering. And that should be reason enough.
3. Smaller homes are less expensive. Smaller homes are less expensive to purchase and less expensive to keep (insurance, taxes, heating, cooling, electricity, etc.)
4. Living small means you go into 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. Owning a smaller house is 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. That’s one of the benefits of minimalism.
6. Smaller homes have a smaller environmental impact. They require fewer resources to build and maintain. And that benefits all of us.
7. You free up 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. Smaller homes encourage 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. Downsizing your home forces you to remove baggage. Moving into a smaller home forces you to intentionally pare down your belongings.
10. Smaller homes lessen the 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. You’re less obligated to decorate. 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. Smaller homes are in a 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.
Downsizing your home and living small is a very personal decision that weighs in a large number of factors that can’t possibly be summed up in one 800-word post.
This post was not written to address each of them nor was it written as a “how to downsize your home” article.
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.