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Why I Like My Smaller House

smaller homes

Guest post from Rachael of Mumbling Mommy

I had a strange dream after my husband and I signed paperwork to buy our first house. I dreamed I was standing in our new master bathroom and the walls began closing in on me. In reality, it IS a small bathroom — my dream only exaggerated that fact.

When my mom came to visit and first saw the bathroom, she wondered if it had originally been a closet (it hadn’t.) However, despite its diminutive dimensions, our master bathroom works for us.

The rest of our house isn’t big either. At approximately 1,050 square feet, some people might consider our house to be on the small side, but we don’t plan to upsize. Our house served us well when we were a young couple with no children, and it has accommodated our growing family, with adequate space for our two daughters. We are happy at the prospect of spending our retirement years here, too.

I like my house so much that I sometimes feel sorry for friends who live in larger houses.

Here are the top reasons why I like small houses:

1. Smaller houses cost less to own and operate.

Everything about smaller houses is smaller, like mortgages, heating and cooling bills, electric bills, and taxes.

We were able to pay ahead on our mortgage and refinanced so our home will be paid off in 15 years, which wouldn’t be possible if we lived in a larger, more expensive home.

We also only need one furnace to heat our home, compared to larger homes that function most efficiently when they have separate furnaces for lower and upper floors.

2. Smaller houses are more environmentally friendly.

I recycle, compost, and try to leave a small carbon footprint. I like smaller houses because they are built with fewer natural resources like wood, and they require less electricity and gas to heat, cool, and cook with.

3. Smaller houses can make remodeling projects more affordable.

You need less paint and carpet and fewer wall cabinets in smaller houses. When we had ceramic tile floors installed in our bathrooms, we saved on labor costs because the rooms were small. I can paint a bedroom with only one gallon of paint and still have paint left over.

4. Smaller houses help keep clutter to a minimum.

We need less furniture and fewer things like decorations and curtains to fill our space.

Small houses also are motivation to pare down excess belongings. We keep only what we need and are less tempted to buy toys or gadgets that would clutter our home.

I feel less pressure to “keep up with the Joneses.”

5. Smaller houses are easier for families with young children.

Our open floor plan, which makes our house seem bigger than it really is, allows me to stand in my dining room and see almost every room in our house. I can cook in the kitchen and keep tabs on my children playing in the living room or their bedrooms.

If my children wake at night, I don’t have to walk down a long hall or up or down stairs to their bedrooms.

The bathroom is never far away during potty training, and when accidents happen, the laundry room is nearby, too.

6. Smaller houses take less time and effort to clean.

This is my favorite part about my small home! Less square footage means less space to clean.

Our bathrooms are so small my children frequently stand in the hall while brushing their teeth, but that also means I can clean our bathrooms in a short time.

We have friends who have two or three times as much house to clean, and some of them hire house cleaners, which brings us back to my first point about all the ways smaller houses save money.

For our family, having less space is a good tradeoff if it means we save money and sanity.

What do you like about smaller houses? On the other end of the spectrum, have you experienced benefits from living in a large house?

Rachael is a wife, mom of two daughters, and associate editor for Mumbling Mommy, a blog about the challenges, pitfalls, and triumphs of parenting. In her spare time, she can be found gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels.

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  • Shirley M says:

    Couldn’t agree more! I sent this post to my hubby. We have a small condo (1280 sq ft which includes the 2 car garage). He wasn’t that happy about it, but it’s what we could afford. And it was definitely downsizing from moving out of my parents home which was 2700 sq ft. We have 2 young kids and our small condo fits us perfectly. I feel like everything has a home, so there is little room for lots of clutter. I also feel like it keeps us closer as a family, we talk more about everything.

    We do plan to move in a couple of years just because we don’t want shared walls, but I am definitely not going to go big. Thanks for the post!

  • Brandy Fisk says:

    We rent a small house and it is way easier to keep clean. It isn’t much bigger than our old apartment. Sometimes I wish we had a second bathroom or my 3 year olds room wasn’t the size of a small computer room but, most of them time I like that it’s easier to clean, affordable, and that it reduces clutter.

  • Becky says:

    We own all 875 SF of our smaller home 🙂 Our 14 year old grandson lives with us. It is 3 BR, 1 & 1/4 bath. We LOVE our small home. I have a fabulous kitchen. We use oak filing cabinets in the living room for end tables and of course filing cabinets. We try to use everything we have for multiple purposes, since space is at a premium. Our back yard is fantastic. Great garden area, plenty of room for the grand-kids to play in. No carpet, super easy to keep clean and clutter free!

    • Deanna says:

      We are downsizing from 2100 to 1700 sqft. We are excited since we are gaining an open floor plan and that means more family time. The kids at the old house were on a different level (split level) and I felt disconnected to them often.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have lived in both a smaller home and a larger home. I see benefits to both and certainly agree with all the points made here. It is interesting to note that with seven kids, my girls all want to sleep in the same bedroom and my boys all want to sleep in the same bedroom. We bought this bigger house and although some kids would still have to share bedrooms, because they all cram into two rooms we have a guest bedroom and a guest bed in a different room with a family of 9! Go figure!

  • mandra says:

    If only my husband would agree on a smaller home. He wants a large log home. I want a unique yet small (tiny-ish) where everything has a place.

  • Lana says:

    Once upon a time we had seven in 1475 sq. feet and it was nuts trying to find space for everything and our house always just felt crammed even though we were not pack rats. We moved to a 3000 sq. foot house when the kids were ages 3-14 and we were so much more comfortable and had room to store everything without the house being cluttered. Also since we home schooled and six of us were home all day everyday it really helped to have more space. Yes, the small house was easier to maintain and clean but I would not have gone back unless it was really a need to keep a roof over our heads. We are empty nesters and still live in the big house. We will downsize at some point but the house is paid for and we like our location and still enjoy our lifestyle here so for the time being we will stay. It is also nice that we have 3 guest rooms when our kids and grandchildren come to visit.

  • Of course we rent, and we live in a place where housing prices are high, and we do at least have a small back yard area and a small garage – but our 2 bedroom home is about 650 sq. feet. For a family of 4. I used to work from home too.

    Luckily, we have a super-close Ikea 🙂 and I’ve learned how to utilize space however I can. At some point, I’ve thought of writing a blog pot with pictures on how we live in a very small house. It’s definitely doable.

  • Cynthia says:

    The condo we rent is 882 square feet. With 5 of us (my husband and I plus 3 kids) we feel a little cramped. The funny thing is – when we do finally move, I’m pretty sure my two boys will still want to share a bedroom! I’d love another bathroom and another bedroom and a separate dining room! But, I don’t want anything huge because I’m terrible at house keeping 🙂

  • Naomi Stewart says:

    Thank you for this post… our family lives in an older 1200 sq ft ranch home, and while it’s perfectly adequate for us, I sometimes struggle with contentment when many of my friends and aquaintances have larger, newer and much more stylish homes. The reasons Rachael gives are all excellent – thanks for your encouragement in this area!

  • Kristen Bukowski says:

    We have about 1500 sq. Ft. With 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. I love it but do hope to someday have some additional space. Our girls share a room (which I plan to continue!) And we have a guest room, but that also serves as my hubby’s office. Our formal dining room is my office and also houses our school supplies. We have a great open concept. I like having everything on one level, but my ideal would be to have a boys room, a girls room, a dedicated guest room, school space/corner/room, and a dedicated office (anything with a door. Lol). I don’t desire an extra living room or even formal dining room. But it’s important to me to welcome people who’d like to stay with us and to have our offices and homeschool areas organized and accessible. Anyways, that’s why I couldn’t see us in a smaller house, but I don’t need jumbo size either. I think everyone has their happy medium

  • Olivia says:

    I always had my own room growing up, so when I went to college dorm living was quite an adjustment. With a family of 8, our kids will always be sharing rooms in our 3 bedroom 1,500 square foot home. I tell them and myself, we are preparing them for dorm life.

    • I grew up in a family of nine and we always shared rooms. Talk about great practice for future situations in life where you have to learn to get along with people — even when they irritate and annoy you! 😉

  • Kim Anderson says:

    I love to see posts where moms highlight the fact that they find contentment and joy in a home with smaller square footage. I was reading one of Ruth Soukups posts when she went on her journey the Dominican Republic and it really hit home when she said the families there live in literal shacks and find contentment and pride. We can do the same with the home we have. Love your post.

  • Amber says:

    I agree with most of these points except for the cleaning part. I find our small house with 2 little kids and a dog gets so much foot traffic in a concentrated space that it looks dirty much faster than most big houses. So anyone with a large house who drops by would think I hadn’t cleaned the floors in weeks, but it’s been at least once a day.

    • Lana says:

      I so agree! I felt that way when we lived in our smaller house with seven of us. I found keeping a larger house looking good much easier with five kids.

    • Amy says:

      Yes!! I disagree about the clutter part too. No matter how vigilant you are about paring down and having a place for everything, more people will bring more stuff. At some point even the necessary stuff feels like clutter if you’ve got too many people in too small a space.

  • megan says:

    I just had my 4th child so 6 of us live in a 800-something sq.ft. 2 bedroom apartment. I absolutely hate it and we need to get the heck out and into something bigger! I have all boys and these bundles of energy need more room!

    • Rachael says:

      How much square footage you need corresponds to the size of your family. In your case, you can definitely justify moving into something larger. Congrats on the new baby, too!

  • Amy says:

    I live in a small house too and have done so for the past 18 years while I raised my two kids. I agree – it’s so much easier to keep clean and the utility bills are great. My only problem with my house is that the neighborhood we live in has gotten older and gone downhill over the years – I would stay if it wasn’t for that.

  • Laurie says:

    I loved this post. I also agree with the reasons you listed for loving your smaller home. THANK YOU!!! Our home is a 1960’s ranch. We have around 1200sq. feet with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths. We have lived here for almost 28 years and have no plans on moving. We love this house and have put our heart, soul, sweat and tears into this place. I, too, have had people make comments (jabs) like….oh you are still in your starter home….are you still in your small home….how can you live with only 1.5 bathrooms….oh you don’t have a fireplace or a garage. I used to be REALLY sensitive about the comments and felt like I had to defend our lifestyle. I struggled with feeling inadequate because many of our friends lived in huge, excessive homes. I recently turned 51 and I’m getting to the point where I care less and less about what people say or think! People are floored when they visit and see how big this little house lives. My husband is a genius when it comes to remodeling and the use of space. To me there is no better compliment than when I am told how comfortable my house feels. Small homes rock! Thank you again for this post!

    • Rachael says:

      Thanks, Laurie! My home is also a 1960s ranch like yours. We live in a suburban area that was really booming 50-plus years ago when all the houses here were built, and back then they were most certainly not considered starter homes. People were really “moving up.” I find it very interesting to see how everyone’s preferences and standards have changed over the years.

  • Laura says:

    I am content with our 1400 sq ft 3 bed, 2.5 bath. The only times we wish the house was larger is when we have guests over (our son & daughter give up their beds) and for our businesses. For the most part, our work just requires a computer and some filing space, but sometimes projects take up the entire living room. Having a basement, spare room or even an empty garage where the kids could run free and we could clutter with boxes would make entertaining easier.

    The benefits I most appreciate are keeping tabs on our teens and finding lost items easily.

  • Jill says:

    Our home is just under 1000 sq feet and we will soon be welcoming baby boy #5. So our family of 6 will soon be family of 7 living in a small home. We do have a basement, had a shed installed in the yard, put pull down steps in for attic access and we don’t use the garage for our car (the home is circa 1955 and we have a Chevy suburban). The 1 1/2 baths can be an issue at times, but 2 of the 3 bedrooms are decent sized and the tiny one works for a nursery. We also have an IKEA close and I’m hooked on those cube organizers. I think having a small home is fun. I enjoy the challenge 🙂

  • Diana says:

    As a family of 6 (kids ages 5-12) we live in 1100 sq. feet. This is a downsize from our first home (of about half) from our last home, because we moved to a beautiful town, which is more expensive. It’s been freeing. We are crowded but there is so much more to experience when we’re not consumed cleaning, organizing, remodeling, etc. with our house. We’re so careful about what comes into our house- even hand me downs. No space means less clutter, more time for what really matters in life.

    • Marianne Baer says:

      I just sold my big 2400 sq foot “dream house” to downsize to 1750 sq foot house like we used to have. After being in this big house only 3 years, we’ve spent all our time on DIY projects and cleaning!! I haven’t really been able to “live”. I’m looking forward to going back to a normal size house. My grandmothers house is 1000 sq foot and we were always able to fit everyone in for entertaining. She’s from the generation that did the best they could with what they had. Wish I’d listened more to her wisdom ?

  • Beth says:

    Our house is 1265 sq. ft. Although I wish I had a dining room (my husband uses that for his office), a smaller home means less “stuff.” Sometimes I am very discontented with our home (usually after spending too much time on Pinterest) but then there are times I actually miss our tiny apartment. It was SO easy to keep clean and we were always in the same room together.

  • There are pros and cons to every situation. We moved from 2,260 sqft home to 1,245 sqft home last year. When we moved we we lost a half bath, indoor laundry area, dining room, and space. The biggest loss being space. There have been benefits to this move, primarily the ability to hit student loans hard because of lessening our living costs. Cleaning is quicker. Our kitchen is tiny, which has made cooking more difficult, and less enjoyable. Homeschooling is a bit more challenging because everyone’s noise distracts everyone else. The hardest thing has been giving everyone time and space for quiet which is important for spiritual and mental growth. I think that this size house would be much more doable if we were a family of 6 or under, but being a family of 8 we all feel like we are always stepping on each other’s toes. It will also be much more difficult as kids gets older because there is not space to get all 5 girls in one room, while my son has a room to himself. The closets are small and there is not space for a dresser in the smallest room where we have a bed and a bunk bed. All that to say, that we’ve been thankful for this opportunity to live closer, continue to purge things we don’t need, all the while making great strides towards our financial goals.

  • kariane says:

    I love this! We’re currently working on simplifying our lives to make staying in our small house work for us.

    I’m writing about my efforts here:

  • Mary Beth Elderton says:

    We have about 850? or so sq ft and love it. We own it. When we remodeled the kitchen I got to go for things like cherry cabinets with no-slam doors and drawers, and pullout in cabinets, a lazy susan cabinet. I got to choose quartz countertops and a beautiful carbon-something sink. All of these are very pricey upgrades that would cost a fortune in a big kitchen. Here in my small home, I have very nice draperies, too–fewer windows to do.

    • Rachael says:

      Yes! All those projects and nice things cost so much less in a smaller home!

    • Kadee says:

      Our first home was 865 sq ft. We bought it pre-kids, and now have 3. When we moved to our 1280 sq ft house, I felt like we moved to a mansion! However, many days, I miss our first house. It was much, much less expensive to maintain and update like you said. The main reason we moved was not size, but neighborhood. Sadly it was headed in the wrong direction.

  • Julie says:

    6 of us lived in a 1061 sq ft home. We moved for a few reasons…the neighborhood was going down hill, we didn’t have a garage and we had a small yard. My kids live outside. We homeschool so, 5 of us are home almost everyday, but the kids do their homework and out they go. It doesn’t matter temp, even in below zero temps they are out. When we moved we did get a larger home, but I wish we could have found a home the same size, but with a larger yard and garage. We now have a living room and a family room and while we use them both. but, rarely at the same time. I would prefer only the living room. For a very stylish 665 sq ft home that is occupied by 5 people and a large dog check out this blog. I don’t have any affiliation with her, just found her because of her smallish home.

  • Angela says:

    I grew up in a smallish house. It was supposed to be temporary, but 40 years later my parents are still there (& it’s the perfect size for them). For me having two bathrooms (more than the size of the house) really helps – whether it’s with potty training or teenagers or just returning from a trip often having more than one bathroom keeps the peace!

    • Rachael says:

      Yes, two bathrooms were important to us when we bought our house. At minimum, we wanted one full bath and one half bath with toilet and sink. We ended up with one full bath and one three-quarter bath (toilet, sink, and walk-in shower). I grew up in a house with five people with one bathroom. Having that extra bathroom, even if the rest of the house is small, makes such a difference!

  • Lindy says:

    Hi. We live in remote Alaska in a VERY RARE 4000 sq. ft. house. This is state housing and is not the norm, but due to mold and health concerns from our last house, we were forced to move and this was the only option available to us. We are very lucky and blessed to have landed in this house for a family of 6 (4 kids ages 4-1 -including twins and mom and dad). However, I must say that I have now learned I NEVER AGAIN want to live in a house this big. I’m a stay at home mom who is dabbling in the early years of homeschooling toddlers. I cannot keep up with this house. We have mega loads of laundry and tons of space to clean. It’s wonderful that we have big open spaces for the boys to run and play, but I am constantly on my feet and running in circles to put everything away and to clean. It takes me a full day just to sweep and mop the kitchen and living room and not do anything else! God has shown me through this blessing of an amazing house how materialistic we (our family) are and that we don’t really need all this space and the junk that comes with filling it. We are glad we had this opportunity, but we look forward to downsizing in the near future and actually moving into a 300sq ft. fifth wheel RV for a house! We plan to travel and go into ministry. Yes, we are extreme, but very thankful for God giving us both opportunities. I appreciate your story and thoughts on the subject. I agree with your line of thinking. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ashley Bean says:

    We currently live in an 1100 sf 2 bedroom, 1 bath house. I was comfortable in it when we only had 2-3 kids, but now that we have 5, its too small. We have my 15 year old sister, our boys (ages 4, 3, and 17 months), and our newborn daughter. The 15, 4, and 3 year olds sleep in one room and the 2 youngest sleep in our room. We homeschool, have 4 dogs, 3 cats, and a guinea pig, plus I run 2 businesses from home. Even though we’re very much a minimalist family, the walls are definitely closing in and its driving me crazy. We don’t have a yard that the kids can play in either. That alone would be a huge help if we had outdoor space we could use. I do agree with all these benefits and cherished our small space for years, but there’s also a limit to how many people (and pets) you can cram in a space all day comfortably. We’ve been looking at houses for over a year and I’m reaching my limit with this house, so we’re now looking at land to build a place on. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be buying a gorgeous 15 acre lot that we’ll be turning into a farm and building a 6 bedroom, 3 bath house on. We do plan on adopting more children, so we will use the space, but more than doubling our square footage will feel huge. I can’t wait to get moved in =D

  • We started out in a 900 square foot duplex with two bedrooms. When our second child was two, we decided it was important for them to have their own rooms (boy and girl) and moved to the house we are in now (1969 square feet). Funny thing was …. they still slept in the same room. Now that they are teens, they are grateful for their own rooms. We probably didn’t need to move as soon as we did though.

    I liked the mortgage of the duplex much better, however, it was older and the electric bill was huge. I was shocked that a much larger home had a lower electric bill.

    As we contemplate moving again, these are good points to consider!

  • Delorise says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post and agree with all the reasons listed for liking a small house. There is a upscale housing area where I grew up that is known for the very large houses–it is also known to have a high rate for utilities being disconnected for non payment and workers that have entered these homes (satellite and repair people) have repeatedly talked of these homes having very little furnishings. House rich and nothing left over– it is sad. Give me a small house and smaller carbon footprint any day.

  • Beth says:

    Interesting post-I just wonder if the part about needing two furnaces is really true. I’m sure utilities are still lower for a smaller house, but I haven’t seen a lot of homes with two furnaces/that needed two furnaces.

    • Nancy says:

      We live in a 2400 sq. ft., two-story house, built in 1995. After we moved in (1998), we realized the 2nd floor was COLD in winter and hot and humid in summer. The furnace/AC simply didn’t circulate efficiently from the basement to the top floor. We had dampers installed, which pretty well solved it, but the HVAC guy who did the work said it’s not at all unusual to have that issue and the preferred solution in new construction is to have separate units for the two floors.

    • Maryalene says:

      That jumped out at me too. I’ve never heard of a house with two furnaces before!

    • Kadee says:

      My husband is in heating and cooling. He says that larger two stories do need two units to work better. All newer homes in our area that are larger two stories are built with 2 HVAC units. Some older two stories have put in a second unit. We do have temperature extremes in our area – 90+ summers and winters under 20 degrees.

  • Jenni says:

    I love my small home, 1000sqft. But I struggle mostly because I love to host. When it was just the two of us it was nice. But with 3 kids and a dog, it feels like we are always on top of each other and having parties is hard unless it’s summer~ The best way to beat the winter blues is to keep active, but not being able to have get together’s is hard on me. But you are right, it is small and all of the benefits you listed are good ones!!!! I have to keep those positives in the forefront!!! Thanks for the reminder that there is always something to be thankful for!

  • Christy says:

    I wholeheartedly agree! My husband and I recently became empty nesters. We just sold our 2 yr old 1875 sq ft home and bought a 1950’s cottage that’s approximately 1350 sq ft. I could not be happier. It’s just a 2 bdrm 1 bath, but it is perfect for us. We can afford much more, but we just choose not to. I don’t miss our new big house at all. I’m sure some people wonder what we’re doing, but this doesn’t concern us any.

  • Kristine says:

    We don’t own a house; we rent a three-bedroom townhome (for our family of five) with probably 875 square feet. It has been a struggle for me because I grew up in a much larger home, and earlier in our marriage, my husband and I lived in larger houses as well. Where we live now, housing is very expensive, and we can barely afford what we have even though it’s relatively cheap for this area.

    There are some advantages, such as lower utility costs and no maintenance costs (besides what we pay indirectly in our rent). We have no yard work to do either; on the other hand, we have no private yard, which is hard for someone like me who values privacy. (We have no garage and no basement either.) I guess another good thing is that we can’t accumulate too much stuff because there’s nowhere to put it; we were able to weed out a lot of junk when we moved here.

    However, I haven’t actually found it easier to clean because although there’s not a lot of space to cover, it seems to me impossible to keep it from looking cluttered, and it’s hard to keep the floors clean when most of the traffic goes through one path, and the entry area is very small. It’s a challenge to keep shoes and jackets and things stored neatly and out of the way. Also, with one very small bathroom, it’s hard to keep it well-ventilated to prevent excess moisture.

    Another thing is that I wish we could have people over, but there’s just not enough space. There’s barely enough room for our family as it is. And if family from out of town came to visit, they would have to stay in a motel. It’s hard for me not to be able to offer more hospitality.

    I’ve really struggled with this because despite the few advantages, I see so many more disadvantages, and I usually have a more positive outlook on things. I really hope to be able to afford a somewhat larger home someday (not huge, just modestly larger, maybe something with two bathrooms). For now, I try to make the best of things and be thankful that at least we have a home.

    • Jessica says:

      Kristine, I feel the same way, too. My husband and I live in a small one bedroom apartment with our 20 month old. We are going to be moving into another apartment in the same building that has two bedrooms but would still be too small to really entertain in. I would also like to have another baby, so the crib would be going right back into our bedroom again.

      I’m in the middle of decluttering our space, and you’re right, when you have a small space it feels cluttered even though you don’t really have a lot of possessions.

      I just try to stay positive and cherish all of the precious moments we’re having as a growing family. A while back all I could think of was having a house. Everyone in our families has a house (or if they’re renting a bigger space), and it’s hard not to feel like you need to “keep up with the joneses” and when people know you’re struggling financially you feel like they’re pitying you. But then God had to remind me that He is enough for me, and I realized that I was putting having a house higher than Him. Also, I find that when I stop comparing my situation to everyone else’s I have a better, happier attitude.

      I would love to have a yard to walk out into or just sit on a porch and relax. But I can’t let myself miss the moments that are happening now wishing about these things. So I try to have a grateful heart (don’t always have one, that’s for sure) and enjoy my life. I know that my husband and I will eventually have a house. We have a lot of work to do financially before that happens.

      Stay positive! Enjoy the moments you’re having now. Do things that make you happy, and keep your goals going. Know that there are families out there going through the same things. You’re not alone!

  • Yes! Yes! and again, Yes! I found this post to be so refreshing. We hear so many messages each day telling us that we need the new ‘this’ or or the new ‘that’ in order to be happy. It is good to take a step back and to appreciate what we already have and to understand what really brings us happiness so that we can prioritize these things in our lives. Thanks.

  • Sheila Smith says:

    I do not understand the function of a designated guest room. If it is used as an office I can see a need. Seems it would be cheaper in taxes, heating, cooling, upkeep to put the visitors up in a motel.
    As a kid, overnight guests got Mom and Dad’s room. Mom and Dad took our beds. We slept on the floor. Parents called it camping and we had a blast. As my kids leave the house I will use a room as a guest room, but I would not purchase a home to have an extra room just to sit there empty 95% of the time.
    We have a sleeper sofa and camping gear (3 twins, queen single and queen double high/covers 7 people) that we use for visitors. Works for us.

  • J. says:

    Here I’m going to be on the opposite end of the spectrum! 🙂 We went from 1400 sq ft to 2500. As two only children with an only child, we very much value having individualized spaces, and having actual space with no one else in it! Sometimes personality dictates a little more space simply for comfort. 😉 We also are the family members that host all the holidays, and are now involved in a church where get togethers in members’ homes are common. It will be relatively easy for us to handle that.
    Now, all that being said, I do think at 2500 we have hit our absolute max on size, and maybe gone just a bit over.

  • Karen says:

    I agree that smaller houses typically mean lower utility bills. But our experience is the opposite when it come to the cleaning. We are a family of six. My husband works from home and we homeschool so we are all at home more often than not. We have lived in houses about 1600sqft, 3400sqft, 2800sqft, 2400sqft and 1000sqft in size. By far the worst two houses to clean and keep straight (or to get anything accomplished) were the smaller ones. For us, having a place to come in and drop wet or muddy items (mudroom!) with a bathroom close-by makes life MUCH easier. We really do not have “knick knacks” or even much toys, but we still need space. My husband and I each need office space. My girls and I need creating space (sewing, crochet, knitting, drawing, painting, jewelry making, bead weaving, etc.) where everything can be organized and be used. We need space for books (LOTS!!), and storage for the equipment for all our outdoor activities (sleds, ice skates, skis, canoe, kayaks, baseball, basketball, football, soccer, archery, biking, hiking, backpacking, camping, etc.). We also like to host get-togethers at our house for up to around 30 people, whether it is family or church fellowships. Our time in the smaller houses were constant cleaning and frustration.

    • Kristine says:

      I agree. I’ve found it more frustrating, too, to clean a smaller house. We don’t even have any outdoor equipment such as bikes because we have nowhere to put it.

    • J. says:

      With everyone being home like that, I would see a larger size as a necessity…

  • Elizabeth says:

    We just moved our family of four kids, one dog from 1300, 3 bedroom 2 bathroom square feet in a rural suburban community to a 1070 square foot, 3 bed 1 bath in an expensive-for-us but awesome college town.

    I love our small house! Mainly, though, I love where we live.

    I’ll add, though, that when you live where you have lots of access to parks and other amenities, it feels like there is less need for space in the house. We are outside or walking/taking the bus to do things all the time, and I’ve found that we just don’t need space in the house to do things as much! There’s always something interesting going on. In our old community I felt like the walls were clising in, even though it was a bigger house.

  • Hi – I live in the UK and we don’t really know the square footage of our houses but I’ve read that American homes are getting bigger (doubled in size since the 50’s?) and the opposite is happening in the UK. Since the 1920’s our house sizes have halved. Found this stat: Terraced houses have shrunk from three bedrooms and 1,020sq ft to two bedrooms and 645sq ft.
    We are all quite used to living in small spaces here! It is interesting though that in the USA (where you can have a huge house if you want) minimalism and downsizing is on the rise.
    I like reading about the tiny house movement but sadly in the UK it won’t catch on as there is nowhere to pitch them. More and more people here are having to make do with studio apartments (bed, living space and kitchen all in one room) which just don’t seem so nice.

  • Jessica says:

    I grew up in an 800 sq ft house with only 2 br and 1 ba. My only sibling is severely handicapped and it was really difficult. Our shared room only had space for my twin bed, her mattress/boxspring was on the floor due to a slanted ceiling. The one closet was the household storage area, with the holiday decorations, Christmas tree and our clothes in it. There was one small dresser for my underwear and pajamas. There was no attic and no basement. No linen closet. I hated it! No privacy, not enough space to have anyone come over, we couldn’t even all eat at the kitchen table at the same time. My husband and I bought our home before we had kids. We have 2,054 sq ft four level split with 4br, 2.5 ba, an attached 2 car garage. While I’d prefer a more open floor plan, The amount of space is just right for us and our three kids.

  • Linda says:

    We’ve lived in our 1875 sq foot colonial house for over 17 years. We have two boys, ages 19 and 12. I struggle with them not having a place to entertain friends without my being so close to the noise. Growing up in a family with 4 siblings, I see the appeal to having a basement. I continue to fight clutter in our home and I know if we can win that battle, then we will find more space. Sometimes it takes awhile too to get to know your house. Oversized furniture that’s very popular today is not ideal for older homes. Finding the right arrangement for the space makes a big difference.

  • Dawn says:

    We live in 1640 sq ft and have for 21 years now. Our 2 oldest children are married, but we have at one time been a family of TWELVE in this space. So currently, there are 10 of us here. We do homeschool, so it’s me and the kids here all day every day.
    I think the sq footage matters a bit less than HOW it’s laid out. Our living room is 28×15, so it’s a great size for all our birthday parties, everyone to come here for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    The kitchen is a galley style, but it’s 14 ft wide, and has a huge dining area at the end, with tons of cabinets.
    Now the bedrooms, they are smaller. But we still have 4 boys in the one that’s 12×12. Our 4 girls divide the other 2 bedrooms. Our master is huge- 14×18, with a very large walk through closet and large bath.

    The kids’ bathroom is small, and the laundry “room” is just the machines inside the back door. But I have a large walk in pantry in the kitchen.

    It stuns me sometimes to hear people say that 1800 sq ft is too small for a family of 5 or 6. But I do think it is all in the layout. Our space is laid out perfectly, so we rarely feel cramped.

  • Heather R says:

    We our a family of four and currently live in a 980 sq st house. We do use our partially finished basement so you could say we live in 1960 sq ft house. We are currently looking for a new house with the same sq footage. The layout of our current house is just not working for us anymore.

    We thought long and hard if we could fix what was not working on our current house, but they things we are wanting (and they are wants) just can’t happen in this house. The biggest is a second bathroom. We have had lots of bathroom issues that have made it unusable.

    Funny story, while we where out looking at open houses this past weekend we ran across a large two story that wasn’t on our list of houses to visit. We know we don’t want a house this big, but we stop just to look at what a two story house has to offer. The house was huge and the space is not layout the way we want. When we were leaving the realtor asked what we thought. I told her it was just too big for our family of four. She looked at me like I was nuts and didn’t know what to say to me.

    • Susan in St. Louis says:

      Love it! When we were house-hunting there were definitely homes that I wouldn’t even consider b/c of size or layout. (Such as a 2-story entry. Lovely, yes…but how on earth would I clean up there?! 😉 ) Keep searching…

      • Rachael says:

        Regarding two-story entries, you also need to ask, “How on earth would I paint up there?” One of my friends has a house with an entry like this and she once did her own painting there. Heights make me dizzy and I cannot even imagine trying to paint that space …

  • Susan Fowler says:

    I grew up in a super tiny house. We tended to have more clutter than nessary at times, but the one thing I might add that I liked about it- SMALLER HOUSES GET YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE! The house itself does not close in on you . you are forced to get outside and play, say hi to neighbors, go to the park, and be all around relational with people.! What a blessing that was to us as little kids!! None of our own rooms (2 bedroom house with 4 girls), cousins had to sleep with us (good funny bonding moments and heart to heart talks), and everyone had to eat at the table since there was only one couch.

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Yes, we can make small spaces do! People have done it for centuries, and still live contentedly in tiny spaces throughout the world. Perspective like this helped me so much when we were living as a family of 6 in a pretty small house.

    However, just because we can does not mean we need to stay small. It’s so neat to see God’s leading for each family. We recently moved to a house double the size of our former one, with a much larger yard. However, it took 9 months of constant house-hunting to land here. But guess what? The house was exactly in our original price-range (rather than the higher range we started looking in when we couldn’t find anything), and friends from church live right across the street! I am still amazed by God’s provision of this property, and we look forward to sharing this lovely piece of earth with those we can host in the coming years.

    My encouragement would be simply to follow God’s leading for your family and pursue contentment each day you are in your home, wherever and whatever size that may be.

  • T Sharpe says:

    I agree that our first priority is contentment. Whether we live in a mud hut or a mansion. Whether we walk everywhere or drive a brand new car. Whether we live in a communist country or a free country. God wants us to be content where he has placed us, as well as generous and wise stewards with what he’s gifted us. But I’ve got to be honest. I can’t pretend that I like a small house better. My family of six lived in a tiny house with one bathroom for the last 12 years. We got by just fine. But I’ve got to tell you that while I was thankful where I was at, I am loving the house that we just moved into which is 2600 square feet. Suddenly life seems a lot more peaceful with our 4 crazy kids because we aren’t so cramped. My husband and I are in full time ministry and we love to have people over, both large and small groups. In the last 6 months since we have moved to a large house, it has made it so much easier to have company over. We’ve got a place that the adults can hang out and have good conversation while there’s a separate space that the kids can play and be noisy and not interrupt the adult time. One thing I really value is being able to spend time with my family. Between my parents, my 3 siblings, their spouses and all our kids, we have 21 people. When we used to try to get together for a family meal, people didn’t really want to stay long. Everyone was on top of each other and it was just not relaxing having that many kids in a small space. Now we get together more often. My family stays for the day rather than just a meal because it is a relaxing place to be. Someday when my kids are grown and have families of their own, I hope I am still in a big house like this because I want to be a place that all the kids can come home to for Christmas and actually have the space to house all of them and maybe a dozen grandkids :). So, yes I would be content if God moved me back to a tiny house again, but for now I am thanking God every day that I have the space to enjoy my family and to host people in my home.

  • Jen says:

    I used to dream about having a bigger house, one with a family room and dining room. At least 2000 square feet (we have 1100). Somewhere along the way I have decided that I really don’t want to furnish, keep up and clean a big house. My oldest has moved out and now, 1100 feels just about right. We have a dining room but we really didn’t eat in it, so now it’s a craft room/office. We have space for the stuff we really need, and a smaller house is a good encouragement not to accumulate more. I’m pretty sure there would be no point to having a bigger house when the kids all move out either.

  • Krista says:

    We’re a family of 6 in just over 1,000 square feet with a single car garage (that’s so full of storage we don’t ever park the car in it!). It’s almost the exact mirror image of the house I grew up in so that’s kind of fun!
    I love having a small house for ALL the reasons mentioned above. My in-laws are coming this week and I literally cleaned my entire house today and had time to spare. 😉
    The only downside to it is one bathroom and no space for guests. That makes me sad as I would love to be able to have friends stay with us when they come visit and it’s going to get a bit complicated in the bathroom in just a few years! So, maybe an extra 400 square feet for one more bedroom and bathroom, but I wouldn’t want to go any bigger than that!

  • Sarah says:

    What a refreshing post and wonderful comments. We have been in our 1700 sq ft. town home here in South Florida since before children. Seven children later we decided to look for our “dream home” which included a yard, at least one extra bedroom and family room so that our homeschooling didn’t have to share space in the kitchen. However, after spending months calculating and reading this blog about being out of debt…we decided to live a different American dream and live below our means, get out of debt, and make our small space work. And now we are going to welcome baby #8 and are very happy with the decision. Bigger for us would have meant a lot more stress…..Now we have so many more options financially. It is wonderful to hear how many people actually live in small places. It’s all in perspective and in not comparing! Thanks for the post

  • Stephanie says:

    Yep small houses work for us. We have 1500 square feet (400 is a partly finished basement) and almost 6 kids and it works. I can clean in just a couple of hours, I can hear everything going on in the house, and I love that we aren’t ever stressed about paying our mortgage. And we homeschool so we are home all day but it works!

  • mariah says:

    We just recently bought a 2200 sq. Ft house. It’s an open floor plan, with a huge living room in the center of the home. What I like about our home is all of the neighborhood kids come over and we have enough space to host them. A 4 yr old boy is currently driving his RC car in our living room. We also have stained concrete flooring, so it’s very kid friendly.

    The bad thing is I do think it’s harder to keep clean. It’s a 4 bedroom and 3 bathroom. There are never ending projects to take care of. When lived in smaller homes, there was breathing room before the next repair.

  • Dana says:

    My husband and I , and our 2 daughters moved into my inlaws house after my mother in law died suddenly. We went from 1100 sq ft, 1 bath, to 5000 sq ft. 4 bdrm., 3.5 bath beautiful home. We don’t really use an entire floor of the house, (so I don’t have to clean it). We loved our smaller house, and in the future my husband and I think we would be very happy with around 900 sq ft.

  • I completely agree with this!
    We spent the first 5 years of our marriage in 600-1,100 square foot houses, but now live in a much larger house. My dad (who is a bigger is better kind of guy) was shocked when I told hime I’d take the smaller house back in a heart beat. Not that I’m not grateful! And I do hope to be able to use this larger house for hospitality.
    You know what this BIG thing for me is? The kitchen. Every small house we’ve lived in had a very efficient kitchen, and I LOVED being able to reach everything from one spot when I was making dinner!

  • Kristen says:

    Kuddos to you for being able to live in a smaller, more intimate home. For me personally, I couldn’t do it. My house is the comfortable, kid friendly house where we can watch the game in the living room while the kids are in the backyard playing. It is not uncommon for us to hold dinner for 20 people at my house (generally people all contribute). I have two young kids who stay in the master bedroom with my husband and me. Our upstairs is used when kids are playing or when we have guest. Our house is around 2100, not huge but fits our growing needs.

    • Mikel Bass says:

      Totally agree with these…We have been living in an 1100 square foot house for 11 years now with our four little girls under the age of 7…Three of them share a room and the baby shares our office/guest/nursery room…They do not know any different and it makes my “minimalist heart” happy because I am constantly throwing out/passing along the things we don’t really need or use anymore…It also helps that my husband is a woodworker (by hobby) and can build me awesome storage pieces that I find in fancy stores!!

      • Emily says:

        How large is the bedroom that they share? I’m trying to find ways to fit a baby and toddler in a small bedroom 🙂 I am amazed by families that can do that!! I need to learn the secret 😉

        • Laura says:

          Our secret is that the bedroom is just for sleeping and dressing. The toys are all stored in the main living area. They get taken into the bedroom and the girls play in there, of course, but it’s not their home.

  • Lee Tyndall says:

    Excellent article! I couldn’t agree more. My home in Ocean Isle Beach was entirely too large, even though I enjoyed it, the neighborhood, and the views. However the upkeep and maintenance kept me busy almost daily. I downsized three years ago, and am so thankful I did. Smaller truly is better when it comes to real estate.

  • Christina says:

    We live in 1100 Sq ft. 2b 2ba…The only downside for me is no yard…I do t mid the size for the 4 of us…and luckily we have 2 girls who share….but my wish is for a yard….otherwise I love our small house, the affordability and the great school district it affords us.

  • My husband, myself, and our three kids live in an 1,800 sq. ft. home. Not huge by some people’s standards. My husband and I have been discussing getting a smaller home for much of the same reasons mentioned in the article.
    We have a sitting room (we call it that because we don’t know what else to call it) that it’s only real use is to collect dust. The one room I absolutely love is the extra room we have to homeschool. It’s perfect, but the house is just to much too clean. It’s a pain.
    I have a love-hate relationship!

    Very valid points in this post.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Ronnie says:

    Downsized from 4000 square feet to1800. Love it!!!

  • Melanie says:

    Great article, this helped me see my house a little differently. I’ve been struggling with the “my house is too small, others have larger” syndrome. All your points are right on, thanks for the encouragement. I know for us living in a smaller home has freed up funds for other areas like giving our kids opportunities in extra curricular activities.

  • Mary says:

    We recently bought a 720sq ft home for our family of 4. We wanted a smaller house for all of the above reasons. Our house has good outdoor space and we make the most of it. I can honestly say, while at times it is a little tight, we love living here and don’t plan on moving ever.

  • Esther says:

    I live in a 55 sq/meter home. It’s a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom quad house.
    I live alone, and find it’s the perfect size for me.
    If you think about it, you only use certain parts of the house anyways. It isn’t even a challenge to find a place for everything any more.
    It takes some rearranging, and a bit of soul searching, but it’s possible, and I am very happy in my little home.

  • Ann S says:

    I’m going to going to go against most people on here and say that a small home is not enjoyable for me. I don’t want a huge home either (anything over 3000 sq. ft. is too big for me). We were living in a 1090 sq. ft. home with 2 kids and 1 on the way and a year ago moved into a 2700 sq. ft. home. I am so much happier in our new-to-us larger home. There is room for us to spread out when needed. As an introvert, I need my alone time to re-energize and having a quiet space in our larger home really helps with that. In our old house, I had nowhere to go to be alone, except maybe the bathroom, which is not ideal when you want 15-30 minutes to yourself. My kids now have a spot to play with their toys, spread out, and not have people trying to walk through the area. We don’t own a lot of stuff, but I found a smaller home was harder to keep clean because I was constantly moving stuff from one spot to another and tripping over things. I tried to be creative with storage, but without the space, there wasn’t places to put the storage either. People mention having everything conveniently close, but I felt things were more inconvenient as I didn’t have storage in the small rooms and so stuff was stored in the basement or our crawlspace attic, both inconvenient when I constantly had to get things out of storage and then put back in when done. Our old house had one tiny closet in the master bedroom, so my clothes were kept in the larger closet in the nursery. I had to make sure to get my work clothes out the night before and occasionally I had to get to my clothes in the morning and I had to try and sneak into the nursery, which hardly ever worked without waking my child. Our kitchen was tiny and I’m one who doesn’t buy many kitchen gadgets, just the basics. But because of the lack of storage there was hardly any counter space for preparing meals. And if more than one person was in the kitchen, you were constantly bumping into each other. We did have a good sized yard and a large deck, which was bigger than any single room in our house. Summer time was nice as we spent most of our time outdoors, so it felt like there was breathing room. But winter, I would start feeling claustrophobic by the end of winter. When it was just my husband and I the small house was great, but adding kids, it seemed to get smaller and smaller. Also, we rarely had company come visit as there wasn’t much room. My kids all have winter birthdays and we never had parties at our house because we didn’t have room for everyone. There wasn’t enough much room for chairs, so if we had extra people over, half of us were sitting on the floor. Which is fine for younger people, but for some of our older family members that was not happening. I just didn’t like that at all. I’m much happier and more content now that we have a larger home. The kids and my husband say the same thing. And we have an even larger yard now too. I find it easier to keep clean and feel much less stressed. I guess people feel differently, but for me a larger home (not too large) is better.

    • Halli says:

      I agree with you. We just built a 2100 sq ft home and have been living in it for 6 mos now. We absolutely love it! We came from a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom mobile home (not sure on the sq footage, but it was very cramped). We have two kids, a boy and a girl so when the time came that they wanted privacy we had to section off an area of the living room abs turn it into a make shift bedroom for our son. It was not an ideal situation. I love that you mentioned the birthday party thing….our kids have Fall/Winter birthdays and it was so inconvenient to have guests over. We could never host a Thanksgiving or Christmas. It was definitely easier to clean, but it never felt completely clean because of the lack of storage space. Things were cluttered even though we tried to keep only what we really used/needed. Now we have 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms to maintain, but it is totally worth it to me! I’ve gotten really good about delegating chores to my kids and getting rid of the “if I want it done right I’ll do it myself” attitude. 🙂

      • Kristin says:

        We went from 1100 to 2400 when we got pregnant with our 4th and it was the best move ever. Our bedrooms in the last house could not fit 2 beds and the ceilings were low, so bunk beds would be doable but not ideal. Plus, there was no good spot for toys. We tried putting them in a closet, but then we were tripping over them to get to the clothing. Now, we have a homeschool room and a seperate playroom and I love that I can keep the living room and their bedrooms toy free. Then, my hubby got a work from home job and took the 4th bedroom as his office. If we were in the other house, there would be no way for him to work at home. So it definitely wouldn’t work for us anymore. I understand the positives, it just isn’t for everyone. Everyone has a different set of circumstances.

    • Monica says:

      Yes! ! I totally agree with this! We are currently in a very small living area. It’s stressful with 4 children and no storage.
      I don’t agree with the part where she says that there is less clutter with small houses. I have clutter (which I hate) because there is simply no where to go with some of our stuff. ..and it’s things we use, not just useless trinkets for decorating!
      I am dreaming of the day we can live in something bigger. ..I don’t want a huge a house, just something that I can comfortably have friends over and birthday parties for my children.

  • Daniela says:

    Small or not, you have a master bath…I live in a home that I pay $10K in taxes a year on with no master bath…just one bath upstairs…I’ll take your small home any day! Sounds a lot more functional!

  • Janice says:

    My hubby and I just “right-sized” from a 3000 sq ft to 800 sq feet. The 800 sq ft place is an addition to our son’s home. We added a new shared laundry (which is part of square footage). I have the best kitchen that I ever had because we love cooking for son, daughter in love and 2 grandchildren . We have 2 bedrooms so we can have our own guest as well. We have small living room and 1bath. The highlight is a 15×8 storage room with built in shelving. Excellent and organized storage! Getting rid of stuff was so freeing! We live here during summer and school vacations to care for our precious grandkids! We were able to also purchase debt free a small town home in Florida where we will live during winters. Our daughter lives in New Zealand and we have just completed week 8 of a 12 week stay. (New grand daughter.) If we still had our large house we would not be able to enjoy our family as we do!!! LESS is More!!!

  • Katie says:

    All of these are spot on. After 12 years and two kids we are still in our small starter house. Now we are ready to look into some renovations and we can afford to upgrade to nicer materials because we only need a little bit. 🙂 Great post.

  • Susie C. says:

    Well stated, and I could not agree more. My small home is the center of life for myself, my husband, three kids, two dogs, and – for a year or so – my father in law. We have a very close family, even as the kids are growing through their teenage years, and I credit this, at least in part, to our small home. We have one television and we all have to agree what to watch. We have one family room to gather in. I guess we have no choice but to spend a lot of time together, and it has really made a difference in the depth of our relationships.

  • Christina says:

    We have a 1600-square foot rancher, and I would not want anything larger. The main reason for the space is that it does not have an open floor plan, so the hallways need to be large enough for my hubby to navigate his wheelchair through. It can be tiring to clean, and at times, clutter does pile up, but on the whole, it’s not nearly as overwhelming to clean as a two-story house with more room. As an introvert, I find it has just enough space for me to get my daily dose of quiet time while my hubby and daughter are still asleep (they are the family “night owls”). When my son arrives, we will try to have both children share a bedroom, but if it doesn’t work out, we can always rework my hubby’s workroom and give our son his own space. For a family with two and eventually even three children, it seems to serve us very well, and I wouldn’t want anything much larger!

  • Shelly says:

    We built a 2700sf home thinking we would grow into it. Four years in, we realized we weren’t using a lot of it. It’s a beautiful home, but was too big. We intentionally downsized. We sold it and built another, smaller home. We are so much happier with this home. It is less expensive on every front and we use every room every day.

  • Daniele says:

    Our house is 1500 Sq feet. We have set up our house in a way that works for us. I always think about having a larger house, but with two small children, some times this house is tough. I think the key is to love your home and make it work for you, whether is 10,000 Sq feet or 500 Sq feet.

  • Maureen says:

    Our first house was 1000 square feet with a finished basement. It had a great kitchen. We sold it and upgraded to a 1700 square foot home. The new home also has a bigger yard. Now that my boys are grown up and gone. I miss that smaller home. It was so much easier to clean and very little yard work. My goal is too sell my current home and to find a smaller one like that one again .

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