Browsing around the internet a few days ago looking for downsizing-related articles, I ran across one that appeared in PT Money, written by Emily Guy Birken, an author, journalist, blogger, former English teacher and happy downsizer.
“It’s hardly news that downsizing your home will save you money,” she writes. “In addition to the lowered mortgage payment and taxes, you’ll also spend less on utilities and maintenance. But living in a smaller home can also improve your quality of life.”
Ms. Guy Birken goes on to describe the nine ways that living in a small house has improved her life:
- There’s less to clean. Living in a 1,400-square-foot house means that cleaning it is rarely a monstrous task. Instead, she cleans in “15-minute bursts throughout the day.”
- Enjoy better health. She dusts and vacuums up pet hair more often in her small house, helping keep allergies at bay. And once the cleaning is done, she heads outside for a walk or a bike ride.
- Own less stuff. The accumulation of stuff in a large house can be ridiculous. Fewer rooms means there’s less wall and shelf space, so she’s less tempted to buy something just to indulge a shopping habit.
- Get more free time. She spends less time shopping for stuff to put in the house, and less time maintaining what’s already there.
- Have more family time. In large houses, people can be spread all over the place and you rarely have “face time.” She understands that people living in large houses may like being in their separate spaces, but she prefers having more “together” time. It is usually more fun, and when squabbles occur, well, that’s life. You work it out.
- Optimize the space. While you may like the idea of having guest bedrooms and occasionally hosting out-of-town family and friends for the weekend, it’s often smart to eschew those extra rooms. They’re empty the vast majority of the year, but still require cleaning, heating and cooling year-round. With money saved from living smaller, buy those guests hotel rooms!
- Know the neighbors. Small houses are typically set close together, making it easy to be social: sit on the front porch and stroll down sidewalks to find people with similar interests. While you can’t choose your neighbors, maybe you’ll get lucky in your new small house and live next to (or near) people you really DO want to spend time with.
- Live in a ”hot” neighborhood. Ever heard the advice, “Buy the worst house on the best block?” Similarly, Ms. Guy Berkin suggests buying a small house in an in-demand neighborhood, to take advantage of good schools and high property values.
- Reduce environmental footprint. Small houses consume fewer materials to construct and require less energy to heat and cool. And because small houses are often built in the most-walkable neighborhoods, there are fewer trips by car to the grocery store. Consider buying an existing small home in an old neighborhood (“the ultimate in recycling”) rather than constructing or buying a brand-new home.
“Downsizing isn’t just for empty-nesters or those who bought more house than they can afford. If you live in a big house, think about how downsizing to a small one could improve your life, your relationships, and your bottom line,” according to Ms. Guy Berkin.