There are a host of benefits to living in a small home, even with a growing family, that I am often surprised people choose 2,500 sq.ft. over 1,050 sq.ft. When our family chose to come off the road and anchor down in a stationary home, our primary goal was to find something manageable that would still allow us that intimacy and time together we had grown to love.
In no time at all we were at the attorney’s office closing on a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, house, that had just at 2 acres of land just waiting to be homesteaded. We know we aren’t going to have any more biological children but we remain open to the idea of adopting. That coupled with two sets of aging parents, and the idea of growing a family in less than 1,000 sq.ft. was a little off-putting. But we pressed in to the idea and remembered all we were advocates of during our time in a tiny house on wheels and all we still believe in. We wanted a small house with small bedrooms and limited storage space so we couldn’t accumulate “stuff” and we could instead invest in life rather than storage boxes. Our priority was our outdoor space and the ability to again, homestead.
The house in eastern North Carolina was perfect in those terms. The bedrooms both accommodate queen size beds with a little room to walk around and make the bed. They both have closets that can be storage for clothing and linens both. The dining room, kitchen, and living room, are combined into an open floor plan, living area. The outdoors is almost two full acres, almost totally cleared, with enormous potential.
But the best part? The closing cost. We walked away from the table having purchased a home for less than $90,000. That’s right. Your eyes are not deceiving you. Our mortgage payment (including the escrow for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance) is just $551/month. While that is a large portion of our small monthly budget, it is significantly less than rent would be for an apartment half the size or a home that would never be ours. Even with that expense our budget still allows for travel and adventure in our free time. We are far from house poor and that is a huge benefit to our mental state.
Having lived in our small house now for nearly 10 months, we realize that we got even more than we bargained for.
In the first month we changed out our lights to LED bulbs, replaced the hot water heater with a propane, on-demand unit, and re-sealed some of our windows and doors for maximum insulation. We also built a front awning on to alleviate the harsh, summer sun. Our utility costs are a fraction of what our friends and family pay. We keep our thermostat at 77º in the summer, choosing to use our ceiling fan to circulate air, and we have a propane, wall heater in the living area to help cut the chill on those early, winter mornings. Granted utility bills are directly proportionate to usage, we have found a way to be comfortable both physically and financially.
Living in our small home also means significant time together. We literally can’t escape each other. Most nights find one of us in the kitchen cooking supper while the other is in the “living room” reading or watching a little TV while our daughter colors or plays Kindle at the table. I’m not truly able to escape to a “man cave” while the girls are locked in another room doing their thing. We spend 85% of our time in the same room together.
Granted this might not work well for some families. We absolutely love it though. We love being part of each other’s minute-to-minute and it allows us opportunity to connect in deeper ways.
Our small house also means we have less cleaning to do than most. In fact, the most time consuming area of cleaning is the nightly dishes. Otherwise it is a little sweeping here, some swiffering there, and a bit of dusting on the fan blades. Nothing major though and nothing that eats up hours of time each week. Our time is instead used doing things we really want to do; spend time together, going to the beach, gardening, and even saving money!
The benefits of a small home truly do outweigh the disadvantages to my family. What about yours? Could you downsize to a smaller home? What benefits do you find in a larger home? Share your thoughts in the comments below.