Smaller Homes: Half the Space and Twice the Happiness

smaller homes

“It has been a liberating and good experience to get rid of all that stuff, and start living in a smaller space.”

– Morten Storgaard of Go Downsize

It’s been almost four weeks since we moved to a much smaller home. We left a house of about 2200 square feet on an acre and half of land and moved to an apartment, which is about 1000 square feet.

In another couple of months, we’ll be moving to a townhouse, which is a bit bigger (1250 square feet) and, while we’ve been looking forward to the townhouse all along, we were somewhat apprehensive about moving to the apartment.

My husband and I have been happily surprised to find that not only do we not feel cramped here, but we love living in this small space. In fact, we like it so much, we both feel motivated to move to a still-smaller home once we no longer need any kid-space.

“Less space gives us more of everything we value most.”

– Jen Smith of Millionaire Mommy Next Door

So what do we love about living in half the space?

1. Having a smaller place makes it easy to be mindful about purchases. The reality is, there’s nowhere to put a new item unless we get rid of an old one.

2. It’s also incredibly fast to clean a small space. Half the space, half the cleaning time.

3. Smaller homes cost less. Unfortunately, we’re not saving much yet, because having only a 3-month lease raised the monthly rent to nearly the cost of the mortgage on our house, but that will change when we move to the townhouse.

4. It costs less to heat (and cool) a small space. Our last electric bill was less than half of what it would have been in our house.

5. Smaller homes encourage family togetherness.

“What we need are not bigger homes that complicate our lives with debt and duty, burden and bondage, but smaller homes that coddle us, enrich us, give us sanctuary, emotional and spiritual comfort, and peace of mind.”

– Michael Walsh

I know that for some people, 1250 square feet – or even 1000 square feet – is downright huge. However, the average size of a new home in the US in 2013 was 2600 square feet, and we were used to 2200 in an area of mostly 3000 square foot homes, so it’s a big downsize for us.

We expected to miss our old space, at least at first, but neither of us has. At all. We both find that a tad bit odd, having expected at least a brief period of difficult transition while we got used to such a big cut in living and storage space.

Instead, we’re overjoyed. We look at each other with goofy grins and talk about how happy we are in a smaller home. We use much of the time we used to spend on home cleaning and maintenance for long walks together through the neighborhood and nearby parks.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

– Karen Lamb

Take some time to this weekend to consider whether you might be happier downsizing your living quarters, whether by moving or by renting out part of your current home. If you’re hesitant, try emptying a room – or even a closet – and see how comfortable you are without it.

Remember, there’s no rush to change. It took us a couple of years to move after we began thinking about it. This gave us time to plan as well as to slowly declutter half our stuff.

Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed. Remember, as Lao Tzu says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

4 thoughts on “Smaller Homes: Half the Space and Twice the Happiness

  1. Christy, I am very happy for you and the move to the townhouse will feel so good now that you know 1000 sq ft works for you. I do find smaller homes to have more advantages than larger homes. For me I’ve never been comfortable in a large home. That said there is a point where you can go too small. When I moved to my studio apartment it was perfect but as the little ones grew and wanted to craft and restore furniture with me the space felt too small and became harder to clean. Now I have a home with three rooms I use and it’s perfect. I have space to work and space for the children to be creative plus there’s enough room to pull out furniture and clean whereas in the studio it was hard to pull things out.

    • Thanks, Lois. Your point is an important one – how much space a person needs will vary depending on many factors, so none of us should feel compelled to downsize to a particular square footage. It’s all about getting the most value (in happiness).

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.