Within the past 6 months, our small family of four downsized from about a 3,000 square foot home to one nearly half that size. As my husband and I are both “doctors” (orthodontist and pharmacist, hence the joking air quotes), we felt societal pressure to live in said 3,000 square foot home.
It was just this unspoken feeling that we should want to live in as big a house as we could. Seriously, it was unspoken. We didn’t ever really talk about it all through our home buying process and in our first years in that large house. Not until I finally approached him with this idea that I had a feeling I wanted to move, and to a much smaller house.
This feeling was born out of a variety of factors, including our shared tiny house YouTube video obsession, a serious lack of baby-friendliness in our 2-story with a pool, and financial reasons. I’m so glad we finally talked about it because that conversation led us down the road to our current cozy abode which we absolutely adore.
There are obvious benefits to living in a smaller house, like less to clean, a smaller house payment, a smaller electricity bill, the immediate need to declutter, and consequent need to buy less stuff. But I would like to share a few more benefits that people may not think of when they think about potential reasons to live in a smaller space. And hopefully they will make you feel good about smaller houses if you either already live in one or have ever entertained the idea of downsizing.
1. Less Guilt About Rooms That Barely Get Used
Every family is different, and larger families than ours may find themselves perfectly happy in larger homes that meet their needs and that is absolutely fine. We lived in a house that was too big for us as just a couple for a few years before even having our first baby.
We used our large dining room a few times for large family gatherings, like when we had visitors when we got married and after our first baby was born. A Thanksgiving that we hosted. But it was just not an everyday room for us.
When we first moved into our large house we envisioned doing all kinds of entertaining. But it never turned out to be our lifestyle to be throwing parties and having people over all the time.
When we started looking for our next home, I paid a lot of attention to the spaces in potential houses and how we might use them. I didn’t want rooms that didn’t have a real purpose. I wanted our house to make sense for our lifestyle.
We love having one dining table and one couch now in our smaller home, and all in one room. We now have one guest room (not three) that we are happy to have available when we do have guests. Our house makes sense and I don’t have this nagging feeling that we should be utilizing our dining room and extra bedrooms more regularly. It’s nice.
2. Less Need to Yell
I tried to make it a point not to yell for my husband when dinner was ready in our large house because I didn’t want raised voices in our house. Thankfully he isn’t a raised voice kind of guy, so it just seemed unnecessary to introduce any kind of yelling into our home.
But he often spent time in the loft that was his den, and I could more easily call up to the loft from the foyer rather than going all the way up the stairs to tell him dinner was ready. Especially with a baby in tow.
Now his den is a short hallway away from the kitchen and it’s not a problem taking a few steps to tell him whatever I need to tell him. No need to decide whether to save time and “yell” or to take the time to walk all the way across the house.
3. You Realize Less is Okay
When you have less storage spaces at home, I think it starts to change how your brain works. When I’m at the store and considering a purchase, I can mentally see our storage spaces.
In the complex mental equation of whether or not to buy something, I now factor in where will it go in our smaller house. Which often very quickly leads me to the conclusion “we don’t need that.” It is such a freeing feeling to be able to look at stuff in stores with so much more clarity, and to more easily be able to say no to unnecessary purchases.
4. Opportunity to Teach Your Kids About Minimalism
I might need a disclaimer on this post, and anytime I talk about this topic, because I certainly don’t want to come across as if I believe that we are somehow better than people who live in bigger houses because there are all these benefits that we have identified about living smaller. This is simply what we have found to bring us joy.
Probably the majority of people I know live in bigger houses and maybe they love their homes and have no intention of moving ever. If you live in a bigger house and love it, I don’t judge you. I support your choice and I’m happy for you that you like your big house.
But I also feel compelled to share my thoughts on the matter for people who might be intrigued by living smaller, or maybe those who are being forced to do so for financial reasons. It’s not a failure. There are good things to be found.
One of the beautiful things that I am looking forward to is teaching our girls that they aren’t somehow disadvantaged because they live in a smaller house, or we don’t have a pool. These were choices that we made.
They will inevitably have friends with bigger houses as they grow, and I will always make sure to help them see the reasons we love our house and that they don’t feel bad about having less. I will help them to see the benefits of less and to feel good about what we do have. I have no idea how this will all go, but I certainly have peace about it being okay for us.
5. You Might Realize You Don’t Ever Want a Bigger House Again
This is my most life-changing epiphany when it comes to our house. Even if we won the lottery, even if we were millionaires, I would not want to move. I LOVE our little house so much, I can’t stop talking about it and I probably should because I’m sure I’m annoying people. So now I’m writing about it!
I’m so glad that we did things backward and bought our too big house first because it helped me to see that I don’t need to be a person who aspires to live in a bigger house “someday.” Someday when we have more money, maybe we can live in a huge house will thankfully never be a thought I have. Now.
When we were kids my husband and I both had those thoughts, that it would be so cool to live in a big house someday when we were grown-ups. I guess maybe that’s why we both thought a huge house would make us happy.
6. You Start to See How Other Areas of Your Life Can Be Simplified
This is another life-changing benefit I have found that I wouldn’t have known about until we moved. Moving to a smaller house has allowed me some mental space to see how problems can be solved more easily, how backlogs of stuff can be cleaned up, and how to let go of things (like physical clutter) more easily simply because we no longer can spare room for stuff that we don’t want, need, or use.
Make no mistake, I’m not perfect – I still have over 700 unread emails in my personal email inbox that I’ve been meaning to deal with since giving birth to our second baby girl six months ago. But I’m starting to feel this peaceful feeling that I am going to get to it. I am going to find the time to deal with that, and decluttering our garage, and planning a sweet second birthday for our first baby girl.
Moving to a smaller house has opened up our lives to more possibilities in so many ways that we haven’t even fully realized yet. It has been freeing, to say the least.
We still have a ways to go when it comes to getting our lives together the way we always envisioned when we first started dating, got married, and bought our business. It has certainly been a long road filled with twists and turns that we never would have anticipated or wanted, but we are finding our way into becoming the people that we always knew we could be and that feels good.
I hope this post made you feel as good to read as it made me feel to write it! What are your thoughts on smaller living? I would love to hear them!