5 Surprisingly Big Benefits of a Smaller Home

Downsizing Your Home

Could you live in a small(er) home?

It’s hardly news that downsizing your home will save you money.

In addition to the lowered mortgage payment and taxes, you’ll also spend less on utilities and maintenance.

But living in a smaller house isn’t just a smart financial decision.

Deciding to downsize can also improve your quality of life.

Here are five ways that living in a small house has made my life better:

1. You have less to clean. I’m not known for my housekeeping abilities, but living in a 1,400 square foot house means my lack of a clean gene doesn’t show so much.

I grew up in a 2,500 square foot house, and cleaning was an all-day, all-family affair. It was exhausting even just thinking about it and we didn’t do it as often as my mother would have liked.

Now, I do my cleaning in 15-minute bursts throughout the day, and cleaning the house rarely becomes an overwhelming horror that I avoid. If we had more house, that would mean more rooms to clean and more places for clutter to gather.

2. You have more family time. One of the selling points for big houses is that everyone gets to have his own space. And while I would never want to give up my me-time, I don’t think I need an enormous separate room to have it.

Families in very large houses don’t have to spend time together, because each person has a space to retreat to. When everyone is all thrown together into a small living area, that allows for more fun family time. (It also allows for more squabbles, but isn’t that what family is also about—learning how to handle conflicts?)

3. You’re more likely to know your neighbors. Big houses are often on big lots. You can easily wave at your neighbor while you’re both getting in the car in the morning, but it takes a little more effort to actually spend time with them.

Small houses are often set closer together. Spend an afternoon sitting on your porch, and you’ll have the chance to see children playing on the sidewalk, neighbors doing yard work, and the nice couple down the street walking their dog.

It really is easy to be a good neighbor when you don’t have to walk a quarter mile to get there.

4. You become less focused on stuff. Just as a goldfish will grow to fill the size of a bowl it lives in, a regular family’s need for stuff will grow to fit the space it has to fill.

Average Square Feet of Homes in US

Average Square Feet of Homes in the U.S. - Source: Journalstar.com

Living in a large house means more rooms to furnish and decorate. But it’s more than that. When you live in a small house, it’s easy browse at stores without buying because you don’t have room for new stuff.

Small living changes how you view making new purchases. In a large house, there’s always room for more, so you might as well indulge.

5. You’re reducing your environmental footprint. Small houses consume less energy and use less materials in the building process.

But in addition to these environmental benefits, small houses are also generally built in more walkable areas, which means you don’t have to jump in the car just to get a gallon of milk. And since buying a small house will often mean buying an older home, you will be preserving the environment by not building new—which is the ultimate in recycling.

Downsizing isn’t just for empty-nesters or those who bought more house than they can afford. If you live in a big house, think about how downsizing to a small one could improve your life, your relationships, and your bottom line.

Do you ever have the desire to live in a smaller (or bigger) home? Why?

Image by mrkumm

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Last Edited: April 16, 2014 @ 12:05 pm
About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher, and an excellent freelance writer. She's also a stay-at-home-mom. She resides in Lafayette, IN, with her engineer husband and son. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.

Terry Pratt
Terry Pratt

One HUGE Dis-Benefit of living in a smaller home:

TOO DARN CROWDED AND NOISY when five people live in the house.

I'm renting a room in a house that claims to be 1,200 square foot house (at least the city makes this claim in its property records). There are four bedrooms, each of these is small and one of which is a makeshift bedroom within the basement. (The house was built just after World War 2 in an older working class neighborhood.)

Every bedroom is either next to, directly above, or directly below the living room, which is the only social space in the house (the claustrophobic kitchen is not conducive to gatherings).

So all day long - only one person in the house has a job - I gotta listen to yak yak yak, stomp stomp stomp (hardwood floors), woof woof woof (barking dog), yell yell yell (human yelling at dog to shut up), cough cough cough hack retch belch (drunk smoker in living room all day). Actually, even two people would be too noisy for me, since the drunk would still yak (since his idea of getting out of the house is to run to the liquor store to buy another half gallon, he doesn't go out and his friends come to visit him), stomp, yell, cough, hack, retch, and belch if the other three moved out.

There is literally no place in the house where one can go for a little peace and quiet.

Travel Broker
Travel Broker

Living in a small home has the benefits of lower insurance rates, less hassle, and less overall cost to own. A small home packs plenty of perks, and generally means a lower asking price.

PT Money
PT Money

Jo Turner That's inspiring to have lived in a small place (any place for that matter) for 30 years. Impressed. It's a constant battle for us to keep the stuff at bay, and kids really make it tough. Not only because we don't have time to clean up now, but because we're clearing out stuff for 4 people now. Thanks for the comment. :)

Jo Turner
Jo Turner

It's only me and my husband..it was pretty tight when our daughter was little! My husband has wanted to add another bedroom & bath for years..maybe someday. We paid off our mortgage about 8 years ago! It's ok for 2 people, but we don't have room if our daughter and grand-daughters wanted to come stay.

Jo Turner
Jo Turner

We live in a 700 sq. ft. house..have for 30 yrs. It's easier to keep clean, but I constantly keep "stuff" cleared out by taking it to Goodwill, etc., otherwise it would REALLY be crowded. It's cozy, but I have wanted a house with at least an extra bedroom for company. We have a very large back lot, but as my husband & I get older, it's hard to keep up with it. I sometimes have a co. come spray the weeds, which helps!

Heat Dziczek
Heat Dziczek

I often want to live in a smaller house.


I've really got to agree with Number 1 and Number 4. We were so excited to move into our 2400 sqft house 8 years ago. The first thing we noticed was that the stuff from our apartment didn't fill it up! For a year, we had almost nothing in the "other" living room. Then came the cleaning. Ohh, the cleaning. It makes me wish we were still in an apartment again (but not really). If I could do it all again, I'd focus on more yard and more useful features in the house rather than just square footage.

Jeffrey Trull
Jeffrey Trull

I'm really looking forward to living in a smaller home to save on energy costs. I'm confident it can make a huge difference over the years (especially if you live in the Northeast, like me).

Other than that, I like having less wasted space. There isn't much of a need for formal living rooms or dining rooms anymore, and I'd rather not have to furnish those spaces or allow the possibility that it gets cluttered with junk.


I live in 400 sq ft and would never go back to big! Obviously not big enough for more than one person but I love it. Tiny house living is a lifestyle that includes embracing living with less. Easy to clean, easy to furnish, practical, cozy...what more could a person want?!

Philip Taylor
Philip Taylor moderator

Awesome. I once lived in a 400 sqft apartment. It was all I needed at the time. I was actually paying down debt at the time and I think not having to furnish it was helpful in my efforts.