I am publishing this post on the anniversary of moving to a smaller house. I was quite apprehensive about how living in a smaller home would work for us, but I can say now that it was the right choice.
Don’t get me wrong, living in a small house with a family has not been easy all of the time. But, I realised just how monumentally my perspective has shifted after watching a home show on HGTV recently.
The new homeowner was super excited to be moving into her enormous house (3000 sq ft+) and although I could appreciate her lovely home my first thought was – THERE IS SO MUCH CLEANING TO DO! How would she ever finish cleaning that massive house?? She’d be in a constant cycle of cleaning.
I hate cleaning. If I had the money I would hire a cleaner and be done with the wretched task. So my small house suits me. It can be cleaned completely in those small bursts that usually strike me when I’m meant to be doing other things.
There are many other benefits of a small house. I’ve laid out some of them below.
12 Benefits of Living in a Small House
1. Cleaning time
I can vacuum all but the tiny second bedroom from one power point in my smaller home. We have black carpet (why did we do that to ourselves???) so we have to vacuum regularly, luckily it doesn’t take too long.
2. Forced decluttering
More stuff makes you look and feel like a crazy hoarder when your house is small. There are limited surfaces for placing things on, so anything not away in a drawer or cupboard adds to the overwhelm. It’s pretty much the best way to declutter – having all your shit laid out in front of you and just getting rid of as much of it as you can.
Yup, we’re minimalists. It’s oh so trendy to be a minimalist, but that’s not why. We were all for this life when it was just considered a bit off-the-wall. But now we have a trendy term for living with bugger-all stuff in our weird but comfy little house. Thank you, Internet.
4. Close family ties
You can’t help but be closer to your family in a smaller house. You are literally close to them, all the time. You can’t escape. So you just have to learn to like them. I’m kind of joking. I really like my kids. My husband tells terrible jokes and is obsessed with Conor Mcgregor but I still like him too. So yeah, you’ll get closer to your family living in a small home.
5. Cheaper to heat
We have one heat pump (split cycle AC style unit) in the living room which heats the living room and hallway. Then we just use oil fin heaters for bedrooms. In winter, the house is always comfortable and our electricity bill is around ⅔ what it was in our old house.
6. Cheaper purchase price
We purchased our unit for 195k in early 2013. At the time, a 3 bedroom house in a comparable condition in the same suburb was selling for between 290-350k. To be completely clear, this property was purchased with the intent of being a rental property but even if we were buying for our own purposes, we would have saved around 100k by moving into a smaller home.
7. More disposable income
Our last monthly mortgage payment in our bigger house was $1250/mth. In this place, it’s $788/mth and we are paying more than we have to. Our minimum principal and interest payment is under $500/mth. That saves us almost $500 more per month which we can use for travel!
8. Lower property taxes
Here in New Zealand, we call property taxes ‘rates’. Our quarterly rates bill is $380/qtr compared to $508/qtr on the larger house (we still own that house and rent it out, so I still have to pay that bill, but it’s now covered by rental income).
9. Lower environmental impact
For us, this is due to living in a more walkable location. Everything we need is within walking distance, and in summer I walk the kids home from preschool (I usually drive in the morning ‘cause mornings are nuts), walk to the supermarket and the park. We drive a lot less than we used to, which reduces our environmental impact.
10. Reduced commute
This might not be true for all, but for us, the choice to live in our smaller home was partly driven by its location close to employment. This has allowed us to remain a one-car family, as my husband cycles to work. He finishes work at 4pm and is almost always home by ten minutes past four (unless it’s Friday beersies).
11. You can not lose your children
My other thought about that HGTV woman was how frequently she’d lose her child in that massive house. The kid was crawling. I have a crawler. They get into some weird places. In small houses, you can hear them rustling pretty much everywhere so you can let them roam free.
12. You can be a bit fancy with renovations
I’m not talking over-capitalizing here. But when you have a small space, you can afford to spend a little more doing it up. Take my kitchen, for example, we are getting new units, appliances and maybe even a solid wood benchtop. If I was in an older house, a kitchen like that would be out of reach and I’d likely just paint the old units and make do. But here in our wee house, we can spend a little and have greater impact as our space is smaller.
Living in a smaller home can actually improve your life
Now I’m not one for forcing my choices on others, but if you’ve discounted moving to a smaller home because you think it’ll be too cluttered and you’ll be on top of each other, you are absolutely correct. All of those things are true.
But here’s the thing – you adapt. Living smaller means you learn to live with less stuff so you don’t have to feel cluttered. You only buy what you really need to buy for a baby. You get outside when you need space. Heck, you might even find that spending more time together in the same room is actually pretty awesome.
Living in a smaller home can make your life better. Initially, we only did this for the money, so we could have more $$ for travel and less house to stress about when we were away, but looking back, we’ve gained so much from living with less, I’m not sure I could live any other way now.
Have you considered downsizing your home? Or have you taken the plunge? Any advice or tips to share?