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Small Houses- Smart Living

Updated on August 5, 2012

If you live in the United States, you know the quote,

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable Rights; that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of a BIG HOUSE.."

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The pursuit of more...

Somewhere the pursuit of happiness became the pursuit of MORE. Bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger hamburgers. The problem is that most Americans can't afford the "more" they have. Where I live, there are streets and streets filled with gigantic houses holding three plus bathrooms, a bedroom for each person, plus multiple sitting rooms, dining room, eat-in kitchen, and a plethora of other rooms that I am not even sure what they should be called.

What happened to small houses? Surprisingly, with the turn of the economy, people are looking more at the advantages of a small house. If you are not convinced your family could handle the transition, think again. Here are 14 reasons why you should make the smart move to small house living.

1. Small houses hold less

Well this is rather obvious no? It is the number one reason people go big. "Oh I can't fit all my stuff in such a small house." Exactly. How much stuff do you really have that you use on a daily basis? Less stuff means less to clean, less to go through, and less to buy. Less stuff is a good reason to go small, not an excuse.

Here is a myth: People with bigger houses have more ability to organize. It simply isn't true. Organized homes are organized because the people in them know how to keep the "stuff" disease at bay. If you struggle to keep a small house orderly, it will not change when you go big. It'll just be more mess scattered about.

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2. Small houses are easy to heat up and cool down

Electric bills go through the roof in the summer when the A/C goes on. If you have a smaller house, one unit can cool an entire downstairs, verses the cost of central air in a large open house with high ceilings. The same goes for oil or gas in the winter. Smaller homes mean smaller bills.

3. Repairs on a small house are cheaper

So you've found out your roof needs replacing? A small roof will run you $5000.00. It's a lot of money, but not when you consider what it would cost to replace a large roof. Then you are looking at $10,000 dollars or more. The same goes for heating repairs, plumbing repairs, and electrical repairs. There is less to go wrong, and when it does- it doesn't break the bank.

4. Small houses have fewer bathrooms

This is another classic reason why people say they need a bigger home. "I can't imagine all of us sharing one bathroom!" I challenge that statement. If you have kids, there is no reason why one can't shower and the other can't wash their face and brush their teeth. Just make sure you have a curtain that isn't see through.

Fewer bathrooms means less water is consumed and there is less to clean. Who wouldn't want fewer house chores? As a family of five, we easily manage one bathroom by staggering showers between the mornings and evenings.

5. You need less furniture for a small home

Think about the cost of furnishing a room? Imagine if you only had one sitting room to decorate? Two couches, one television, and a couple other pieces. But with the addition of formal rooms, basement rooms, and other relaxation areas, the bill for furnishing these rooms goes up and up and up. Plus, it is more to clean.

If you hire a housekeeper, you might not care. However, a cleaning bill for a small home could run you $80.00 a week. For a large house, double it.

6. The taxes are less

Big homes usually have a lot of land, which means more taxes. Many people forget about tax costs when they house hunt, and while a large house might be in your price range, as soon as you add the taxes and insurance, now the payment is unreachable.

7. Less yard to maintain

A small yard needs a mower. A large yard needs a tractor. A small yard can be mowed in an hour. A large yard needs 2 1/2. All of a sudden, you decide to hire a gardener to help you and that is a monthly expense you have not factored in.

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8. Smaller houses have less "unforeseen" costs

A big house is beautiful. A big house is magical. A big house has more opportunity to provide you with costs you didn't anticipate. "Oh well, I'll just do the maintenance on the pool myself," or "I love this huge basement, it'll be perfect for a home fitness center!" The more space you have, the more ideas that enter your mind. While you wouldn't even consider an elliptical in a small house, a bigger home now gives you the option to buy and spend.

9. You will automatically collect less

A small house forces you to evaluate what you need and use, verses what you want. When and if it is time to move, the cost of going through rooms and rooms of stuff is twice the cost of going through a few. Collecting less may not sound fun, but it invariably gives you more time to "experience" life, rather than wade through crap to get to your free time.

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10. You will leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet

It is no secret that we are destroying the Earth. Large houses do not help this problem. Smaller ones do. Even if you can't go green with all your habits, just the fact that you lose less electricity, less oil, and less water, means you are saving precious resources for someone else.

11. Small houses teach families how to cooperate

When each child has their own bedroom and bathroom, it is feasible they could go through the whole day without interacting with their siblings or parents. Sharing a room forces children to learn how to share, how to cooperate, and how to compromise. It will be a shock when he or she goes to college and has to share a small dorm room with another student.

Giving your child too much individual space can set them up to be unprepared for real life. Think office cubicles.

You also are better able to monitor your kid's computer habits, cell phone habits, and homework habits when they are sitting at the kitchen table or in the living room. Large houses give mischievous kids a lot of places to hide.

12. Small houses force you to keep up

If you don't have a 400 square foot laundry room, you will be forced to keep up with the clothes. It may sound depressing, but motivation to not drag behind ultimately makes you more organized and flexible. The same goes for kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms. Without a whole lot of space, you learn to get into the day to day rhythm of picking up after yourself. Your kids learn it too.

13. Smaller houses are easier to sell

The rapid production of large homes coupled with the failing economy, has led to a glut in the market. Big homes are for sale everywhere and smaller homes are the commodity. Reselling a smaller home is easier simply because of population statistics. There are a lot of retiring couples who want to downsize, and far fewer families looking to upgrade. You will most likely make back what you paid on a smaller home.

14. Smaller houses are easier to redecorate

If you decide you want to redo a room, you will need less paint, knick knacks, pictures, and throw rugs. Everything is smaller and so the little touches will make a bigger impact. You might be able to afford the smaller dining room table rather than the enormous 12 seater meant for a giant room.

Are you convinced yet?

Have you thought about the reasons behind wanting a big house? Are there ways to make a smaller home work for your family?

Oftentimes, we forget that we must re-evaluate what we think we can live with. Tragedy and financial hardship can force these issues upon us, and the lessons learned are usually quite valuable. Rather than waiting for hard times to hit, consider preventing hardship by buying a home that is under your budget. Think of all the ways you can spend the extra money on vacations, family experiences, and education.

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About the author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mom of three. She lives in a 1200 square foot home in CT with her husband, kids, and animals. Her yard is .14 of an acre. She knows small!

Are you interested in writing for Hubpages? Come join a great team of writers!

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    • elizabethanne.gun profile image

      elizabethanne.gun 4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      This is a great article. It's easy to forget what we really need versus what we think we need. Thanks for the reminder!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I live in an older house that is not considered big by most people, but is too large for me at this stage of my life (1900+ sq. ft. plus 1/2 acre lot). Unfortunately, the housing market is so bad in my area that I'd lose much of my equity if I sold it now. Many of us are caught in a lose/lose situation...hoping the real estate market will improve. I would like to downsize--believe me! In the interim, my aim is to decrease the amount of "stuff" inside my house. At least there will be less to dust and (try to) organize.

      I really enjoyed your hub and the photos. Voted UP, Useful and Interesting.

    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 4 years ago from United States, Illinois

      We sold our home a few years ago and bought a smaller house. It took some getting used to but it is actually much cozier and has a homier feel. Of course our move also involved relocating to a all town of 1200 people so that helped cozy it up as well. Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 4 years ago

      I have always wanted either a medium sized apartment, condo, or just a small home. I am not a huge fan of large living spaces (trust me from experience). You definitely convinced me to live in a smaller home, Julie!

    • Billionaire4545 profile image

      Billionaire4545 4 years ago

      This is an excellent hub, I can understand why some people might have bigger houses because of their family size, however theres always a limit to how big your house really needs to be.

      Why have a 26,000 home when what you really need is 1,000 sq feet.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I am planning to downsize when my youngest girls decide to move out. I love the tiny houses! I also love the homes that are in different floating communities - I would probably like to do something like that.

      I was just looking for a bigger house and decided not to make that move because I don't really need more room! It would be nice but with 2000 square feet I don't need it and it kind of seemed obscene! lol I admit I love huge houses too though:) Fun hub!!

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 4 years ago from Finland

      This hub makes me feel really bad. It's a great hub, but I'm building a big house. That's what makes me feel bad. I've never had much space. I slept in my parents' bedroom until I was nine years old and my oldest sister moved out from our home. I have always lived with just a few things in small apartments. I need space now. Maybe it's because of the cold climate in Finland. We can't spend hours outdoors most of the winter. We need some space inside. I don't know... I really like the way you think, Julie.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 4 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Interesting Hub!! With 6 of us, our house is just right!! This is definitely something many may find useful before purchasing their home!!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Julie so very true on all points about having a smaller house, especially the lower taxes. Seriously, in this economy it only makes sense about buying a smaller house if not just for the taxes alone. You hit every point and so nicely too indeed. Have voted and shared too.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      Julie you have an uncanny ability to write so concisely. You're right about less is more. I just packed up a trash bag full of toys we are going to sell. Downsizing is better. Thanks! Kelley

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Jules, you are such an amazing writer. So clear and concise. You say it, I read it, I now know it!

      The whole time I was reading this I had this funny thing happened. John Mellencamp kept singing in my head,

      "Oh but ain't that America for you and me

      Ain't that America somethin' to see baby

      Ain't that America home of the free

      Little pink houses for you and me"

    • lauramaryscott profile image

      lauramaryscott 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Julie DeNeen, my home and lot are a little smaller than yours--perfect size and location. My house is just large enough to accommodate my hobbies; sewing etc. I enjoy my home and it is paid for. I have two raised garden beds for tomatoes, asparagus, and strawberries. Thanks for writing the article on smaller homes. However, the doll house images shown with your article are cute but way tooooo small for me.

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great Hub Julie. This is part of our retirement plan too, get rid of our "stuff", move to a smaller house, save money by not buying more "stuff" since we don't have much room. We once had a house with a formal living room that didn't have furniture in it for years because we didn't need the room in the first place.

      The Amish in Ohio make this great dining room "hutch". Pull out the "drawer" which is really a table top, add table leaves, and you can expand it to seat up to 12 people for those once a year family get-togethers. It would work perfect in a small house potentially avoiding the need for a formal dining room.

      You forgot one more advantage of a small house, probably the most obvious. The price of a small house is less that a big house. Smaller mortgage payments, less money wasted on interest, and maybe even able to be paid for with cash from the proceeds of selling your big house.

      Voted up, useful and shared.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Small houses require less cleaning and less clutter. I'm claustrophic and wouldn't be able to live in a small house, but I'm willing to connect three of them together to make it a bit larger. That probably defeats the purpose :)

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      I would only buy a small house. I can't imagine cleaning a great big house. That is a personal nightmare. If I win big in the lottery, maybe. I live in an apartment with my husband, and it is about 1200 sq. ft. I have a hard time filling it and am thinking of downsizing. We have a lot of empty space here. Great read. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I wrote about this a couple months ago...Bev and I are going this route in three years....it is the only way to go for the future as this country keeps heading down the economic toilet.

      Good read Julie!

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