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How Small of a House Could you Live in?

September 1st, 2011 · 1 Comment · Trends

Big Ideas

  • Downsizing the size of your home can save you money and time.
  • It is likely that you could live in 1/4 of the space you currently do.
  • Smaller designs can still be beautiful.

Tiny Houses in Japan

Average home sizes in the U.S. have increased from 983 square feet in 1950, to 2,430 square feet in 2006, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Over that same period, the average number of people per household has declined from 3.37 to 2.57. (US Census) With record high foreclosures in the U.S. in recent years, perhaps Americans in particular have been living in too large, for too long?

Trading up to a bigger house is expensive. There are reality fees on the new and old home, moving costs, new furniture. Then the monthly costs of a larger mortgage, higher energy costs, more cleaning and maintenance, larger yards and expensive entertainment equipment. Keeping up with the Jones’s is expensive.

How small of a house could you downsize to?

Here is a video of an 89 square house, that could be bought ready made for $46,000. Now this is extreme and not feasible for most, but it is a good starting point for consideration.

Smaller houses don’t have to be ugly either. Check out these designer micro-houses in Japan.

The best part of downsizing your lifestyle is that you purchase much less of everything. It is hard to buy new things if you don’t have room to store them.

My Experiences in Japan

I lived in Japan for many years in apartments and houses of all sizes from a one room apartment to a 4 bedroom house. One thing I can attest, is that the number of possessions I owned increased relative to the amount of space I had to store it. Now that I have sold most of my possessions and live location independent, I have very little need to buy any physical goods.

The End of Shopping

The money savings are significant, but more importantly, I am no longer a shopper. I don’t have any interest or need to buy anything other than food. That is a huge mental release. So much of our lives are spent thinking about things. We are jealous when our peers buy a car nicer than ours. We then spend time shopping for a new car or at least thinking about it. If we buy a new car, we spend more time cleaning it. We worry about it getting scratched. We pay more for insurance because it a more expensive vehicle. Maybe we worry that we paid too much or made the wrong choice. When newer models start coming out, we feel that our ‘old’ car is no longer adequate and really regret our decision. Then the process starts all over again.

Our possessions really do own us.

Of course, living smaller also means you will be using much less energy to heat and cool your home. Not only is it good for your wallet, it is also good for the planet.

Action Items

  • Don’t up-size your house or apartment. The money you save in real estate fees, a higher mortgage and moving costs can easily be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of your home.
  • Can you move to a smaller home? You might even find some prime real estate for cheap if you can squeeze into less land area.
  • How much better would your life be if you spent 10% or 20% less per month. I cut my living expenses by more than half, so it is definitely possible.
  • Think about how much of your free time is dedicated to the stuff you own. What else could you do with that time?



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1 Comment »

Comment by Nicole
2013-02-03 00:22:19

I moved from Texas to Hawaii and I lived in a small house there. We did not actually measure the house until we left but our 2 bedroom house was 457sq ft. I really liked it and did not think twice about living somewhere else.

Like the video said, when living in a small place you have to think about storage space. The 2nd bunkstyle bed without the bottom bunk. It was perfect because you could fit a desk under the be. Additionally, we used it as a closet.


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