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In Defense of Downsizing: 4 Reasons a Smaller Home is the Right Size

I live in a 1,500 square foot home with five people: me, my husband, and our three kids. Josh and I bought our cute 1930’s Cape Cod as a starter home back in 2006, imagining that we’d upgrade sooner rather than later.

Then 2007 hit and the real estate market went KABOOM. And we decided to stay for awhile.

Then 2009 hit and we had triplets. But they were very small so our little house was really no problem.

Then 2011 hit and I went back to work full-time and the most convenient child care option for three toddlers was to hire a live-in au pair. (Surprisingly, this was also the most affordable!)

That’s about the time our house started to feel really, really small.

But I soon realized something…

The problem wasn’t the size of our house, it was the quantity of our stuff.

We started minimizing in 2012, slowly shedding our excess possessions, and soon realized that a 1,500 square foot home could easily accommodate two parents, an au pair, and three kids, as long as we lived with just what we needed and loved.

We no longer need live-in childcare, so our home is back to just the five of us. But we still aren’t budging. And here are 4 reasons why:

Reason #1: Smaller Homes Are More Affordable

I’m not just talking purchase price, although that is something to consider. My property taxes are lower, my utilities cost less because there is less space to light, heat, and air condition, and we don’t need to purchase or replace furniture very often because we don’t have that many spaces that need furniture.

I get a bit giddy when I think of all the things I can do with the money I’m NOT spending on my home: travel to cool places, learn new things, see the sun set over many different oceans… the possibilities are endless and exciting!

Reason #2: Smaller Homes Are Easier to Clean

Several years ago, I started a Saturday whole-house cleaning routine. My children received this news with joy and rapture. (Yeah, right!) But nonetheless, I ordained Saturday as the High Holy Day of Dusting and Scrubbing and set the family to it. I wrote out a list of everything that needed done, assigned jobs, set a timer, and cranked some tunes.

We’ve been doing this for years now, and amazingly, it has never taken us longer than an hour to clean the entire house. And I’m talking every toilet scrubbed, every floor vacuumed, swept, or mopped, and every surface dusted. I can only imagine how much longer this would take if we had a home two or three times our size. We’d probably hire a housekeeper, which would only provide further proof of Reason #1. 

In case you’re wondering… I have nothing against hiring a housekeeper. I believe you should do whatever makes your life easier! I just never have because, seriously, it takes less than an hour to clean my house and it seems a bit ridiculous to hire someone for that small amount of time. (Also, I would consider myself derelict in my parental duty if I sent my children out into the world without the knowledge of how to scrub their own sinks and toilets. I’m sure their future college roommates are thanking me right now!)

Reason #3: Smaller Homes Promote Family Togetherness:

Now depending on your family, may not consider this a bonus… 😉 But I like my family and I like being close to them, and I’d miss my kids if they had a separate wing of the house to escape to. Yes, they have bedrooms where they can get some privacy, but typically, all the living in our home takes place in one main room–the shared living/dining space. It’s the space you walk into as soon as you enter my home and it’s where 90% of the talking, listening, playing, squabbling, and laughing happens. In fact, right now my boys are playing video games on the couch, while I sit at the table and type. Later tonight we are having some friends over and this table will be used for a big group meal, and then turned into a board game station.

I think we lose something when our homes are so big that family members can cross paths like ships in the night.

A little elbow rubbing on the couch makes for good memories down the road and being able to keep a closer eye on our kids can prevent a whole host of problems during the teenage years… which, with three 12-year-olds, are coming for me sooner rather than later!  

Yes, there are times I long for a larger space. Mostly when we have people over. But honestly, how often do we host large groups? Maybe once or twice per year. It would be ridiculous for me to buy, clean, and maintain a large house just for those few times.

And interestingly, I’ve noticed that when I’m invited to a large home for a party everyone congregates in one space anyway, usually the kitchen. So I wonder… what’s the point of all those extra rooms if they aren’t even used during a party?

Reason #4: Downsizing is Easier the Sooner You Start

I’ve helped my fair share of baby boomers with the downsizing process and let me tell you… your 70-year-old self will thank you if you start this process now. Downsizing can be hard physical work and the younger your muscles are, the easier it will be!

Downsizing is also emotional, and handling the feelings that come with downsizing is easier the sooner you start. I’ve talked to some seniors who view downsizing as the “final act.” This is most certainly NOT true, and I can only imagine how devastating it must feel to view it this way.

Because the sooner you start downsizing, you realize a really important truth:

Letting go of objects that don’t serve you is just a normal part of the process of living.

This is true no matter what age you are. It’s true for 5-year-olds letting go of toys from their toddlerhood and it’s true for 85-year-olds parting with hutches full of China. Letting go of our stuff is normal and healthy because it provides us the open space to be who we are NOW.

Life is nothing more than constant growth and change. In order to grow and change to our full potential, we must let go of the things that no longer support who we are.

If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on downsizing, I recently sat down with my friend Stephanie Seferian on The Sustainable Minimalists Podcast. You can check out our conversation about downsizing on Apple Podcasts here or on Spotify here.

I hope this post gives you some food for thought when it comes to downsizing. Because whether you’re 18, 80 or somewhere in-between, the time to downsize is now!

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PS: If you’re a busy working mom who wants to declutter your home, simplify your work-life, and calm your mind… Sign up for my FREE 30-Day Simplicity Challenge!

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