9 Benefits of Living in a Smaller Home
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My family currently lives in a 3,362 square feet home with 5-6 bedrooms and 2.5 baths.
The 5 or 6 bedrooms depends on who you talk to and what is truly considered a bedroom. But regardless of how many bedrooms we have, our house is just way more than what we need.
I have estimated that we rarely use 1,000 square feet of it now ... even with 3 children living at home. We could easily manage living in a home that was 2,100 to 2,400 square feet.
For the past year, my wife and I have been talking and planning our next move. This time, our goal is to downsize into a smaller, more efficient home.
Our oldest son is now in high school, so within the next 4 to 5 years ... it is likely we will need even less space than that 2,400 square foot home.
By planning out how to downsize our home in the next 5 years, we have realized several benefits of living in a smaller home. Some are financial while other benefits have more emotional characteristics.
Before we get into the benefits of a smaller home, let's take a look at what we are spending (per year) to live in our current home.
How Much Does Our Current Home Cost per Year?
Looking at our numbers from last year, we spent $22,639.17 on housing costs in 2017.
Here is a quick breakdown of our total housing costs -
2017 Total Housing Expenses = $22,639.17
And after 9 months this year (2018), I can estimate our housing costs will be within 1% to 3% +/- for the year compared to 2017.
2018 Estimated Total Housing Expenses = $22,300
For the most part, our annual housing expenses have been very predictable it seems lately. Once we finish the year, I will provide our final numbers and see how they compare to last year.
What Percentage Do We Spend on Housing?
On an average year ... I estimate we spend around $60,000 on our lifestyle.
This back of the envelope calculation is just a baseline to work from. Most years we spend closer to $58,000, but I like to round up to $60K to give us a little wiggle room.
This estimate includes everything we spend money on like - housing, transportation, food, vacations, entertainment, our children, etc.
Using the $60,000 annual spending estimate ... it helps us analyze what we may need one day to live on as we work to become financially independent.
It also lets us calculate where most of our money is being spent and where we can make improvements.
Like most Americans ... our biggest two category expenses are housing and transportation. And these are the areas for the most improvement in our budget.
Based on our simple calculation, we are estimated to spend 37.2% of our annual budget on housing alone.
% of Housing Expenses = $22,300 / $60,000 = 37.2%
Add on top of that another 21% for transportation ... and we are close to 60% of our overall spending!
So as you can tell, there are plenty of areas for improvement in our housing and transportation spending.
One opportunity to lower our overall housing costs is to downsize to a smaller home, which could offer tons of benefits.
Benefits of Living in a Smaller Home
Depending on several factors, selling our current home and buying a much smaller home (1,000 square foot less) could save us lots of money.
Of course, we could buy a smaller home in a more expensive zip code ... which means higher taxes and price of the home. So saving money is possible ... but not guaranteed.
Besides saving money, downsizing to a smaller home has many other benefits too.
9 Awesome Benefits of Small Home Living
We have lived in our current 3,300+ square foot home for the past 10+ years. At the time we bought it, we thought we were getting a great deal.
And while we haven't lost a ton of value on our home ... we certainly haven't been optimizing our housing expenses.
Downsizing to a smaller home could potentially save us more money. And it could provide a lot of other benefits as well, including the list below -
1. Less Maintenance Expenses
An obvious benefit of a smaller home is that it would likely come with much less maintenance and cleaning. Vacuuming or sweeping a 2,000 square foot home is just going to be quicker than doing the same thing in a 3,000 square foot home.
There would likely be less gutters to clean, walls to paint, floors to sweep ...
2. Lower Utility Bills
In our situation, a smaller home doesn't necessarily mean a lower mortgage or property taxes. We don't mind spending the same on another house that is smaller in a better location. So our overall mortgage and taxes might not go down ... and could even go up.
But one cost that I feel good about going down will be utility costs. A smaller home should be cheaper to cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We are not moving to a different state or climate ... so we expect lower utility bills with a smaller home.
Bottom line is a smaller home should be more energy efficient.
3. Fewer Roof Repairs
Guess what? Roofs don’t last forever. In our case, our roof barely lasted a decade on our current home.
We are the original owners of this home … so we knew exactly how old our roof was when we first noticed a problem.
Our roof lasted almost 11 years before it started leaking.
A year prior, we started noticing missing shingles and a lot of wear and tear to our roof. Multiple hailstorms, heavy wind, rain, and plain old weather finally had taken a toll.
In order to replace our roof, we will pay around $7,500.
That price (on a 3,300 square foot home) is actually very reasonable. We had other quotes coming in over $9,000 and one at almost $20,000!
If we would have purchased a smaller home, more than likely the cost to replace the roof would have been much cheaper.
Smaller Home = Fewer Roof Repairs and Lower Replacement Costs (pretty simple)
Another thing to consider when buying a home is the elevation. How many peaks and crazy angles does the roof have?
As we found out … ours has an elevation that is more complex than a basic roof.
For example, a neighbor is using the same contractor that we are to replace their roof. Their home is slightly larger, but has a simpler elevation. The quote from the same contractor came back $700 less than ours! All because of the elevation.
I’m guessing that this isn’t something people consider before purchasing a home … I know my wife and I didn’t.
In this case … a simpler home (and roof) is better (in my opinion). And it is almost always cheaper!
Considerations When Buying a Home -
4. Fewer Windows to Clean (and Replace)
Our (too big of a) home has 29 windows. Just writing that makes me want to cry!
You may be wondering ... what happens to all those windows over the years?
Well, one by one they all eventually start to deteriorate. Especially the windows that get the most sunlight. It’s amazing how the sun (over many years) can wreak havoc on your home … windows included.
The windows in our home that face the afternoon sun are really starting to deteriorate. A few of them will need to be replaced within the next 5 years if I had to guess.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a smaller home wouldn’t likely have as many windows. I remember the house I grew up in (around 2,000 square foot) had about 15 windows from what I recall.
Replacing 15 windows seems a little more reasonable and cost effective compared to 29!
Of course, we probably wouldn’t need to replace all 29 … but you get the picture.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a home is the cost of window treatments.
I can tell you that our windows facing the afternoon sun absolutely need to have some heavy duty blinds. Without any window treatments, our house would be much warmer in the summer months.
Even if you spent $50 on window treatments (which is probably low) … you’d still spend about $1,500 on a house like ours!
One last thing about windows …
If you are buying a bigger home, I’d assume you have kids (several of them). We have 3 kids ourselves.
While I love them to death … kids like to touch windows and get them dirty.
It probably sounds a little silly … but the more windows you have … the more time it takes to clean them.
Just as we saw with a roof … the bigger your house, the more windows you will likely have. And more windows = more cost.
5. One Furnace Instead of Two
Not only do larger homes have bigger roofs and more windows … they may also require multiple heating and cooling units.
For example, our 3,300 square foot home has not one but two furnaces.
And yes … we also have two air conditioning units.
I bet you know where I’m going with this one. While that may not seem like a big deal ... when it comes to maintaining these multiple units, it is a big pain.
I’ve even seen some homes larger than ours have 3 and sometimes even 4 air conditioners!
If my wife and I had to do it all over again, we’d hope to buy a home that can get by on just one furnace. And just one air conditioner.
In general, bigger homes just need more things to keep them running efficiently. More windows, a second furnace, an additional air conditioner, etc.
Over the past decade, we’ve had a lot of work done on both of our furnaces and some work done on the air conditioners. At some point (as the house ages), these units will need to be replaced.
That is just double the amount of cost, future maintenance, and sometimes headache!
6. More Time for Family
Our family of 5 can often times get lost in our 3,300+ square foot home!
Of course I am exaggerating a bit, but often times the kids are hanging out in their own rooms for hours and hours by themselves. And my wife and I could be in separate rooms and not see each other (or the kids) for hours.
I like the idea of having a quiet space to go and relax in the house ... but there is also something nice about having a smaller home and being closer to your family.
A smaller home can create the opportunity for more quality family time.
7. Environmental Impact
Not only should we have lower utility bills in a smaller home, but the environmental impact will be much less. This goes beyond any financial gains ... as we won't be using up as much of our planets limited resources.
Having a smaller home will help to cut out waste. And in this case that can be the fuel to heat our home and the energy to cool it.
Plus we won't need as many materials to build or maintain our home like an extra furnace, air conditioner, wood, windows, drywall, plumbing materials, etc.
8. Less Clutter
A smaller house means less square feet and fewer rooms and storage. There won't be the space to keep as much clutter in a smaller home.
This is one area that I look forward to the day we downsize. We can sell or donate a lot of things we have right now and even some of that clutter we just can't seem to get rid of.
9. More Sleep and Less Stress
How many times have you laid awake in bed thinking about all the chores and work you need to do around your home? I have done this a bunch.
A bigger home has more responsibilities, more things to clean, more maintenance, just plain more work and probably more money.
On the other hand ... a smaller home takes less time to vacuum, less things to fix, fewer windows to clean, probably one less furnace to worry about going out.
A smaller house is just less ... which should lessen your stress and just maybe let you sleep at night.
Why You Should Buy a Smaller Home
Housing is one of the Big 3 expenses for most Americans.
This is true for our family and the home we purchased over 10 years ago. We’ve been able to keep our housing expenses between 25% to 30% of our overall spending … but that is still a lot.
And it’s not all about having a mortgage … owning a home comes with a ton of other expenses that add up. From insurance to property taxes, the cost of housing can take a huge chunk out of your paycheck.
That is why I feel so strongly about not purchasing a home that is too big … which is something my wife and I did.
There are just so many benefits of owning a smaller home.
I have written plenty of articles in the past about the high cost of home ownership. I am not necessarily against home ownership … but rather opting to buy a smaller, more efficient home.
Buying a home that was too big for our family even made it as one of our - top 10 financial mistakes.
Purchasing a smaller home can save you a ton of money on your mortgage, taxes, utility bills, and maintenance.
Your home won't need as many windows to fix, floors to sweep, shingles to replace, and furnaces to maintain.
There is also a huge environmental and emotional impact of buying a smaller home.
And the most important reason to own a smaller home ... you will be less stressed about cleaning and all the chores you need to get done.
I believe your health is the most important investment you can make and managing your stress is a big factor in that.
And maybe if you consider a smaller home … just maybe you’ll have a bit more time in your day to spend with family or have more opportunity to travel, volunteer … or just spend your time doing what makes you happy.What do you think about owning a smaller home? Are you looking to downsize like our family is planning on?