Why I Chose To Live in a Small Home

Our homes tell our stories. They tell us who we are, what we value, what we care about, who we love, and what we dream about. Our homes expose who we are.

About a month or so ago, I finally admitted to myself that our one-bedroom condo is a perfect place for me. It probably comes as a surprised to some of you because you know me as a spender and a shopaholic. Most people think that those who like to spend money, like to live in grandeur houses. Some of my friends definitely thought so. I’ve been asked a numerous times why we bought a one bedroom condominium.

Social pressure of our consumerist society has never been a determining factor in my life. I never thought that bigger is better (well… unless it is my handbag.) I never tried to maintain a status quo, a social position by getting myself into a big house and thus into a big mortgage. Do I want a bigger closet? Perhaps. But at the end of the day, I am happy to have a small closet because it prevents me from overstuffing it and overspending.

I grew up in a two room apartment (back home we did not count bedrooms.) There was a period of time when we had five people living together. Years passed, and our family got smaller: we went from five family members to four, and then just to three.

My relationship with small spaces was defined back then, when we were all confined in a small apartment, and thought it was the way to live.

During that time I learned that: 

  • Family togetherness has a different meaning in a small space.
  • A notion of privacy is a joke.
  • Over time anyone is capable of developing a maximum tolerance for intimacy.
  • You become very selective who you invite for a visit.
  • You have to be content with minimal belongings.
  • Nothing you own was yours to actually own. You learn to share and you learn to accept sharing.

Years and years later, in the United States, I never felt that I needed to compensate myself for what I never had. A big, spacious house was a nice idea but it was never my goal.

We can reap some big benefits by simply living in a small place.

  • We have a much smaller mortgage than some of our friends who decided that bigger is always better.
  • Our utility bills are low. The place is simply more energy efficient.
  • Over time we developed more conscious spending. We deliberately consider to buy less furniture, create less clutter and preserve light and open space.
  • When we need to upgrade, we can spend more money on better quality upgrades.
  • We try to have a clutter free home. Clutter is more visible in a small place, and it makes any place to look even smaller. We want to de-clutter and organize as much as we can.
  • If you are like us and don’t like to entertain a lot of people, your small home gives you a great excuse.
  • We have more free time on our hands because we don’t have to spend endless hours on cleaning, lawn mowing and weeding.
  • We can live large in a small space. It all depends on your definition of large. My definition involves a lot of travel.
  •  Our carbon footprint is small. It makes us feel environmentally responsible.

Have you ever considered downsizing? 

This post was featured in the following carnivals:

Yakezie Carnival at iHeartBudgets
Finance Carn. for Young Adults at 20s Finances
Carn. of Financial Camaraderie at The University of Money
Wealth Artisan’s FinCarn at Wealth Artisan
Y and T’s Weekend Ramblings at Young and Thrifty
Canadian PF Happy Hour at Canadian Personal Finance
Carnival of Retirement at Term Life Insurance, Inc
Carnival of MoneyPros at Vanessa’s Money

25 thoughts on “Why I Chose To Live in a Small Home”

  1. Our family of five lives in 90 m2 flat. Three bedrooms, kitchen and a living room. Living in apartment instead of house and making the kids to share a room means we have very small mortgage and my husband can stay at home with our toddler. We live comfortably on my salary – which isn’t that good, since I’m social worker.

    I have no intentions ever getting a house. Too much work, too much debt!

  2. I’m divided on this one as I grew up in a large home and I love space. I also love large gardens even though they are work.
    I think my spirit is happier when it has room to roam but I live small…for now!

  3. We live in a 2,200 square foot, four bedroom house. This might seem large but with our family, it’s just about right, and there are areas where it does seem ‘small’, though I have no need or plans to upgrade anytime soon.

  4. We live in two bedroom 1,000 sq ft condo. It’s good for the 3 of us. If we have another kid, we probably will move to a bigger place.
    I think a small condo is perfect for a shopaholic like you. You won’t be able to buy as much stuff because you don’t have a place to put them. I hope you don’t have a storage unit…

  5. Mrs PoP @plantingourpennies

    We live in a 1100 sqft house, which might seem big to city and condo people, but where we live it is TINY!! We love it though, and it is plenty big for the two of us, plus a cat. Even a kid or two if we decide to go that route.
    Like you, we consider our purchases before buying, making sure that we have room and that it really works with the space before buying even if it ‘s super cheap!
    I jut saw pictures of BFS’s new house and while it was beautiful, I just kept imagining the utility bills!

  6. We live in a 1200 sq ft 2 br 1.5 bath townhouse which is small for us. It works though and we rarely go in one of the bedrooms. I wish the living room and kitchen were a but bigger but other than that it should work for us for the next 5 to 10 years at least.

  7. Our house is 2000 sf. I do have 3 kids, though, so it definitely doesn’t feel very large at times! Also, I’m in the Midwest where this size of home is very average and even pretty affordable compared to other areas.

    1. Phew, Michelle, I was starting to think I was going to sound bourgeois with my 1850 sq ft house – and the fact that we tried to sell it to move into a bigger place! I have two kids and a dog, AND I work from home – I actually wish I had about 2500 square feet.

      That said, when I was a newlywed, my husband and I lived in a 750 sq ft walk-up, and we adored it; coziness is great when it’s only adults. When you add kids into the mix, GIVE ME MORE ROOM!

  8. Until recently we had four of us living in a 1500 sq. foot rancher to some it is very small and to some its big….I lived in a 900 sq. ft. home for 9 years of our marriage and I loved it! Now we have a bigger home but its very efficient and functional! Great post!

  9. It’s all relative, isn’t it?
    In areas outside of North America, 1,000 square feet is considered adequate for a 4-person family.

  10. I also actually prefer living in a large house with my family. My wife and I decided to get a big house after we got married for the reasons that we always wanted a big house and a big yard. Also, we don’t like to do the moving around game. We bought our house to grown in and to keep for no less than 15 years. Our home is roughly, 6k square feet. We bought during the housing crises at a 50% hair cut (2009). We also, bought a newer home.. our home was built in 2005. The notion that larger houses aren’t energy efficient may be true for older homes, but not for the newer built homes. Our Utility bills for last month were: $40 for Gas, $160 for electric and $117 for water. The water bill was that high b/c we have a sprinkler system. I wouldn’t trade my space for the world, it’s nice knowing I can go to the office or to the basement and get away if I want to.

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  12. Great post Aloysa. My wife and I currently live in a 2-bedroom house and plan to stay here for a while. I think we would only move bigger if/when our family grew and we had children. I agree that a bigger house makes more space to fill it with things you don’t need!

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  14. Lena @ WhatMommyDoes

    I have never considered downsizing, but I am reconsidering our idea to upsize in the near future. We live in approx. 2,300 SF with three kids. Because I’m home all day every day with them, at times 2,300 SF doesn’t seem like nearly enough! 🙂 We have rooms we don’t use much, though. Our formal dining room is really a wasted space except around holidays, and our bonus room (which serves as a guest room) doesn’t get used unless we have visitors. Right now our toddler daughters share a room, which I imagine they would like to change when they get older. So, I guess I’d say it’s just the right size for now IF we have family visiting (which happens about 8 times a year).

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