Smaller Home Happier Life

The first house my wife and I lived in was 900 square feet. It was a two bedroom rancher with a beautiful backyard. The living room ran the length of the house so it seemed a lot bigger that it was.

Fast forward 13 years. We’re still living in a rancher. Only now it’s a whopping 2,400 square feet. Even though it was built in 1973, the landlord gutted and updated everything. Once we’re able to buy another home (we’re renting out our current home), I would like to downsize. Seems odd given that we’ve nearly tripled our living space.

Here’s my reasoning. Builders are starting to catch on that open floor plans actually make rooms look bigger. So, if we decided to hire one of these builders, we could actually fool ourselves into thinking our house is larger.

Translation: Less square footage = less cost. Builders want the business—the housing market is way oversupplied. Glut doesn’t begin to describe the number of homes on the market.

Below is a snapshot (map) of houses in the county where I live here in Alabama. These are single family homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, 3+ bedroom, 2+ baths. You know, the typical American house. These are re-sells only. No new construction.

House for Sale

There are 136 houses for sale within a 2 mile radius of my house. There are over 1,100 houses within a 20 mile radius. What does this mean? About $90 or less per square foot for a brand new home. Custom designed. Energy efficient. All the extras.

But cost is only one factor. Over at Becoming Minimalist (the post that got me thinking about this in the first place), Joshua Becker lists 12 Reasons why You’ll be Happier in a Smaller Home. Besides cost, Joshua lists 11 more, compelling reasons. Below are two of my favorite reasons:

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.

Hallelujah. I remember when my wife and I would clean our first home. It almost seemed to clean itself. A few things picked off the floor and voila, chores done.

Forces you to remove baggage. Moving into a smaller home forces you to intentionally pare down your belongings.

One feature real estate agents seem to enjoy bragging about is storage space. “Look at all the storage!” You know what? I’ve always managed to fill every space in every house we’ve ever rented or owned. It’s almost as if we feel guilty for not using the space. If you’re going to fill a smaller space, you’ll have to downsize your stuff.

Now, if I can only convince my better half of the same.

Read the other 8 reasons why a smaller home will make you happier.

6 Responses to “Smaller Home Happier Life”

  1. Yakezie September 11, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    I agree about a house being better smaller b/c of maintenance. Gosh, homes are so cheap in Alabama!


  2. Jerret September 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    I know. Houses ARE cheap. A lot of foreclosures too. I have a house I’m trying to sell in NM. So, it’s like having your cake but not being able to eat it 🙂

  3. Marc Rohde September 12, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    I agree completely with this. I have a house with a family of five under 2k square feet and have no complaints about the amount of space other than that I have too much stuff. It is sometimes hard with three kids to minimize the stuff coming in and maximize the stuff going up but the problem isn’t that amount of space I have.

  4. Jerret September 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Hi Marc.

    Yes, I always wonder – is my house too small or do I have too much stuff? What if I only had 100 things I could keep? I could have a yard sale and make $1,000!

  5. Nick September 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    I’m totally on board with this (living in NYC for 5 years and then another year in change right outside of NYC in Jersey has certainly helped shape my “I don’t need a lot of space” mentality).

    I just posted about a recent episode of House Hunters, too, and how out-of-control some “house shoppers” have become. (

  6. Dan @ pinhead costumes September 18, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    Hi Marc,

    I totally agree with a small house life is more happier. Aside from it has a less maintenance it is also enough space to contain a family. I think it can also save you some money compare to the bigger ones.