Time for some real talk. Most people want a bigger house. I don’t. Our home is 1200 square feet, which feels absolutely perfect for our busy family of four. Here’s why I think less equates to so much more…
Having a home with a smaller footprint means a smaller monthly payment for mortgage, taxes, insurance. Because we have chosen to live within our means, we don’t feel the financial strain that comes with investing in a bigger or more impressive plot of real estate. Living small means we need less of literally everything (house paint, tools, cleaning products, furniture, organizing products – you name it!). Being able to comfortably pay for our home and maintain it leads to less overall stress and relationship strain, and frees up resources we can use towards eating out, travel, personal development, and philanthropy.
Less to Clean and Maintain
To be perfectly candid, I’m not a fan of cleaning, and there are a million things I would rather do than spend my time on household maintenance and upkeep. A smaller home enables us to spend less time cleaning, decluttering, and organizing, and more time relaxing and enjoying our home and our lives. I’m even relieved we don’t have a backyard because the thought of having a lawn to take care of fills me with dread – I can barely keep a houseplant alive.
We Can Invest in Fewer, Better Things
Years ago, when we decided to retile our bathroom, I realized that we could afford to pick out any tile we wanted because our single shared bathroom is the size of a small postage stamp (not even a regular stamp, People. It’s tiny). With less rooms to furnish, paint, and style, we have the luxury of splurging on high-quality products, furniture, and finishes that we absolutely love. I also love to splurge on fresh flowers, fancy candles, and other little luxuries to elevate our home, and having a small home enables me to go big and make our home feel good without breaking the bank.
It’s Better for the Planet
I’m always looking for ways to reduce my environmental footprint. A smaller home uses less energy and resources, and produces far less waste than a larger home. Heating and utility bills are smaller because there’s less space to heat and cool. Cleaning products can be reduced because there’s less to clean (we use this single all purpose cleaner for our entire home!). A smaller home requires less furniture and decor, so small space dwellers can consume less, which also means less packaging and less waste.
Quality of Life
I am restless by nature and love traveling, eating out, going to meet friends, and having city adventures and day trips. We love spending time together at home, but it can sometimes start to feel a little too cozy. The good news is a smaller home can be a catalyst to connect with friends and neighbors, be more creative and resourceful, and get better acquainted with the world outside of your four walls.
Sure, sharing one tiny bathroom is no picnic, and occasionally I daydream about having a spacious mud room, but we love our home, and don’t feel weighed down by our things or the responsibility that comes with managing and maintaining a larger property. Overall, having a small, minimal home has resulted in more time, money, energy, and freedom for our whole family. File that under win-win.
I’m curious: Where do you stand on the great house size debate? Do you think bigger is better or opt for the less-is-more approach like me?
Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson
61 comments on “5 Reasons I Don’t Want a Bigger House”
Ooo tell me more about the single all purpose cleaner!
We use Branch Basics – a non-toxic cleaner that can be combined with water to create every cleaning solution you could ever need as well as laundry soap. One and done! Xx
I feel the same way you do. Our house is about 1900 square feet and I would love a smaller home. Unfortunately my husband is very definitely not a minimalist.
And I love your book!
My husband wants a bigger home – ha! Xx
My house is also small – 1400 sq ft – and I feel the same. We’re a busy career couple with 3 dogs and both of us work from home 100% of the time. As with you, I sometimes dream of just one more room, but that goes away. We have wonderful neighbors, easy access to NYC and a small yard that doesn’t need a lot of work. Perfect!
Love it. That does sound perfect! Xx
Shira, Love this article!! We stand on the small size. Our home is 1250 square feet with a full length patio, back yard and a large shed we had built. PLENTY of space and up-keep!! Now that our son is married with children of their own we have OUR time!! It takes less of everything!! We redid our bathroom two years ago and we were able to pick anything we wanted!! We are able to do so much because as this point our home is paid off!! You can do that sooner too!! Our heating and cooling cost less!! It’s the perfect size!! Smaller is better!! Plus with the lower cost our son went to college and is debt free!! He worked for the school to pay for his Master’s Degree!! He set that up!!
This is so inspiring – thanks for sharing!! Xx
Smaller all the way! I admire larger homes, then follow up the thought with, ‘It’s beautiful, but I wouldn’t want to maintain it, especially when I’m older.’ I live in a cottage that’s <700’sq, and if it were bigger I’d feel like I needed to fill it with more stuff. The smaller footprint of my space forces me to get creative with decor and enables me to do more, save more and get out more often, so coming home feels sweet and cozy, not restrictive and cramped.
Agreed – I’ve always loved cozy spaces. Less house, more home! Xx
Thanks for sharing! I would love to see pics of your cottage. Is there anything better than living in a cozy cottage? ❤️
We just bought a 900 sf 2 bed 1 bath. At first I felt like I should be embarrassed that that’s all we could afford (we are in Marin which is a very pricey market!) but now I feel exactly the same way you do. I’m grateful I don’t have to paint a house twice the size. That I do not have to buy more to fill a bigger house. This is all we need, truly (though we have a large yard and for us that is like doubling our living space!).
Yes, the outdoor space makes such a big difference – I feel like our patio has practically doubled our home. Congrats on your new home and cheers to less! Xx
Congratulations on your new home! May it be filled with love, lots of laughter and meaningful memories.
We also have a small bathroom (although it may be a little bigger than yours). I’d love to see a post on bathroom storage/organization in a small space.
The key is really just paring down to the daily essentials. We don’t store back stock and share a single shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Happy to share details in a future post. Xx
I used to live in New Orleans where many homes were small “shotgun” style buildings. The inspiration of those homes has stuck. There wasn’t room for clutter or multiples or “someday” usage. You fit what you needed, and what you had was your favorite of that item. Rich or modest, the houses were filled with the owner’s treasures, and often were feasts for the eyes and windows into the owner’s ideas of beauty.
Love love love this! Xx
So interesting – thank you for sharing!
We’re a family of 5 people and 1 dog in 1600sf. It’s perfect for us. There’s no wasted space but we aren’t on top of each other. I love that every room gets used every day.
Lovely. I’ve never understood huge homes with extra rooms that just sit and collect dust! Xx
Agreed on every point! We have a 1,100 square foot, two bedroom, one bathroom home and I don’t want a bigger house…maybe my own bathroom so I don’t have to share it with two boys, but that is all I would change. 😉 We do have a nice yard with a big lovely deck and we use our outdoor space a lot. I have gardeners that come twice a month to keep things tidy and most of our plantings are native and/or drought-tolerant so we don’t have a lot of yard maintenance we have to do. I love my little sea shell of a home. <3
So sweet! Enjoy your sea shell! Xx
I live in a 2200sq ft house with my teenage son, office space, and rent out two bedrooms to help pay for the home. We have often longed to have a smaller space that was our own! And I’ve felt burdened by the time and energy it takes to manage it all. This formula was *how* I could buy a home, but I often feel larger spaces aren’t that well utilized.
Thank you for pointing out all the advantages to a small space. It feels like a contrarian narrative compared to what most people aspire to — and I love it!
Absolutely! The pervasive American narrative of “bigger is better” has never really appealed to me. I feel super grateful to have a small but comfortable home filled only with things we love, need, and use. Xx
I enjoyed your post! We have always lived in a small apartment and sometimes I love it but sometimes I just want my own space. Do you have a basement or storage unit where you keep things like off-season clothes and Christmas decorations ? Do you keep any memorabilia? I’m currently apartment hunting in my new city and trying to figure out just how tiny we can go before it gets uncomfortable.
So glad! We have a very tiny basement beneath our kitchen that I use to store our few bins of memorabilia and our house paint. We also have one small box of seasonal decor I keep above the fridge. I prefer to decorate our home with greenery, fresh flowers, and candles so we have very little to store! Xx
I love your thoughts and your reasoning. We recently bought a small house in the northeast after being away in Europe and Puerto Rico for 25 years. We will live in Puerto Rico part time. My husband wants a bigger home, I don’t. We are at the point in our lives that we will be living on a very fixed income very soon. I don’t want the stress of a bigger payment, or as you said the stress of cleaning more.
We have 1 1/2 baths and that seems to be his problem for when company visits.
Shira, our kids live in Europe – they come maybe once a year if that.
In our home that we rent in Puerto Rico we have 3 full baths – yet we wait for the other to be finished to shower in just one of them!!!
Yes sometimes it feels a bit too “cozy” but for the most part it just feels right to me.
I am going to send him your article and hope it will do some good.
Thank you for addressing this – after living in an apt in Europe for many years we Americans and our “bigger and huger is better” attitude is just wrong to me. We had a small apt there and the family downstairs raised 3 kids in one the same size!!!
I agree! I’m on the small home team! And small homes, can hold just as much love and laughter, as big ones. Win-Win ❤️ I am enjoying your book, it’s beautifully done, and I’m looking forward to your next one!
Thank you so much! Xx
This resonates so much with me! Definitely believe less is more too.
You had me at walking distance to Trader Joe’s. Really what else do you need? Ha! Xx
Yes this is so inspiring. You have articulated my thoughts exactly. My family of three currently live in a two bedroom condo and I’ve been grappling with the decision to purchase a single family home or townhouse for the benefit of more space. The location where we currently live is unbeatable I mean it’s walking distance to Trader Joe’s need I say more….along with my children’s school, amazing shops and parks etc. After reading your post…I feel good about my decision to stay put, redecorate and travel with the money I will be saving.
Hi Shira! I discovered you through the book Living Small. I totally agree with all of the points you mentioned. We are a family of 3 living in a 1300 sq ft, 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath twin home in a northeastern suburb. It feels like everyone else around us believes that bigger is better. I grew up in a house that was 2000+sq feet. I just can’t imagine living in a home like the one I grew up in as an adult.
I am a fan of the larger house, I must admit. My house is not huge, but it has a number of different spaces. At the top of my list, I love having more than one bathroom. I enjoy the function and storage that extra rooms provide, and I like knowing I have rooms for guests. I don’t find it to be that much extra effort to maintain a larger house, inside or out. In the interests of full disclosure, however, we bought this house a very long time ago, so there are virtually no financial encumbrances.
Less is more, I live in about 847 sq ft, just wish for one more closet(for vacuum,cleaning stuff), but I definitely need to declutter, which is why I bought your book!!!
Love small houses! We have had all sizes but now bought some acreage and built a 600 sq ft white cottage and a matching 200 sq ft guest house. It’s perfect for my husband and me and we have a place for guests. Our front porch is a nice size and that’s where we tend to hang out three seasons out of the year!
Less for sure!! We have just under 1,000 square feet in a rental. My only complaint is some quirks we cannot change because it is not ours. I am considering buying and the house is 1400 square feet with a backyard. Feels like a mansion! 🤣🤣 Ultimately I would love to design the perfect 1,000 square foot home. Just so much simpler!!
Ok, now please tell us what all purpose cleaner you use? Thanks for helping me feel better about our small space.
Oh agree completely! I was not in love with our small raised ranch at all! But over time it has grown on me..walking distance to beach, surrounded by woods, room for our gardens which I see out nearly every window, my children can’t really disappear the way they do in a big house. 1/2 the heating bill of most. Also I do not like cleaning and really do not want more to clean.. tho I wish the entry was bigger. A work friend came over for the first time and told me our house had a happy, homey minimalist vibe that suited me.. best compliment ever!
I’m in a Facebook group for one-and-done families, and I’m so surprised by how big so many people’s houses are. Several of them say they have 3500 sq ft. For 3 people! I could get it if you were constantly hosting other families, but otherwise it just seems as though half of the house must be going unused most of the time. Which seems wasteful.
Another advantage of a small home is mobility/agility. It is a pain to pack up even a 1200 sq ft house. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to pack up a 3000 sq ft house full of belongings. That anticipated pain creates a huge disincentive to move, even if moving would really be best for your family. In other words I think a lot of people are kind of trapped by their homes.
Finally, I read something interesting recently that was pointing out that homes are bloated now because we’re trying to bring all of the outside into our homes–the giant home movie center (instead of just going to the movies), the workout room (instead of going to the gym, or the park), the playroom (instead of going to the playground), etc. I think that must contribute a lot to the growing isolation and loneliness amongst Americans, and to the breakdown of communities.
Yes, such a good point about trying to recreate the world in our homes instead of leaving our homes to enjoy the world! Xx
What is the ONE cleaning product?
We use the Branch Basics non-toxic cleaning solution for everything in our home – windows, floors, counters, you name it! Xx
LOVE this post. I’ve saved it to re-read everytime we do a house search as a reminder that bigger doesn’t always mean better!
I love my 1200 sq ft home too! I think another benefit is the closeness you develop as a family, simply because you’re always in close proximity to one another. There is no hiding or escaping. Sharing living spaces requires learning how to compromise, share and be considerate of others. Skills that are so very important to learn.
I long to live in a smaller home having sent three out of four kids into the world. I agree with everything you said and would also point out the advantages of having less to sort out and maintain as we get older. Having more free disposable income gives us the ability to adapt as life changes.
Hi Shira, I just discovered your book and it’s just what I need to be reading. I have a family of 4 in 920 sq feet without a garage in Oakland! Areas of challenge for us: my husband is a musician with multiple instruments who laments not having space for a piano, storing growing boys sports equipment, and not having a space to store “in-process” stuff – like laundry, etc. for when guests might stop over. I am hoping that maybe being even more precise/ruthless in my culling of our items may help. Having grown up in a house with multiple china sets, rooms in full Laura Ashley decor, formal living room/dining room with vacuum marks on the carpet as no one went in there, I am trying to chart a new path! Thank you for your perspective.
Love that you are charting a new path. The instruments are always a challenge to store, but I’ve seen some great wall mounted options. So glad you are enjoying the book! Xx
I lived in a tiny house for three years and never quite beat the clutter. (I think it can work well when designed with your specific stuff in mind, but I needed more accessible storage.) I now live in a 900sq foot home and it is perfect. I can’t imagine wanting or needing more space. <3
I really relate to this post! We live in a two-bedroom appartement, but since it’s just the two of us we don’t need more space. We’re very happy just as we are! 🙂
Had a 3000 square foot home when our kids were little. When our daughter moved out 8 years ago we downsized to 1800 square feet in our same neighbourhood! Best decision ever! Like you said … less to clean and decorate!
I totally agree. I needed this today! Our 1500sqft home is perfect for us and our two kids. The one bathroom has been a bit tricky with my youngest potty training and someone always waiting for the bathroom. 😀 But these were great reminders to be grateful for what I have.
We moved from a 4800 sq ft ranch with an 2900 sq ft finished basement to a 2400 square house because of health issues. I had a brain virus which completely changed my lifestyle. I call it my tiny house. It has been a big adjustment. One I wasn’t fully prepared for and am still adjusting 5 years later. I do love the fact that we can literally lock and leave our home. And, that we have someone that takes care of the outside (we had a commercial landscape company at our last home because our yard was so much work). I plant in containers and play in the side yard when I’m up to it. I do feel that you need less as you get older but . . . I miss entertaining “big”. ❤️
We just sold our 1332 sq ft home and are buying a new 1365 sq ft home. The main reasons for our move include a first floor laundry, a shorter driveway that is not nearly as steep, new everything, hopefully resulting in fewer maintenance issues, and our new neighborhood offers snow removal and lawncare. We are getting older and creaky and look forward to having some of the more physical, tedious, time-consuming tasks taken off our plates.
I cannot wait to downsize! We have 1800 square feet which is admittedly not giant but our old house was 1300 and I could clean it so much more quickly! I also think “if you build it you will fill it” so I’m working on getting rid of storage pieces. Unlike you though I do want a back yard with a outdoor furniture, it’s my happy place.😊
As Queen Victoria famously said, “Things taste better in small houses”.. .How can that be? Why would things taste better? Less stress and strain, more resources for great food and life is better, for all the reasons you listed above, in a smaller home.
Our home is 1220 sq feet, and we raised our three children there. Granted, it felt small when they were teenagers, but now that it’s just hubby and me, we are perfectly happy with it. We did a small bump-out in the main bathroom, adding about 24sf, and now we’re talking about bumping our living room out into the space where our front porch is (it’s wasted space due to poor planning on the builder’s part). That will add about 40sf, so we’ll grow to 1260. Ha! We are fortunate enough to have a large yard for a chicken coop, garden, berry bushes, and fruit trees. I’m new to your blog and looking forward to reading more!
The right size home is the one that allows its occupants to live their lives. We’re in our third and hopefully last home, and while we understand the reasons for a small(ish) space we went big, from 1550ft2 of finished space in our home of 18 years to what will be around 6,000ft2 (once the second floor is finished). We didn’t move in order to upsize but we wanted to include what was missing in our first home: 1) A kitchen with ample workspace and storage for cooking from scratch, and room for 2+ people to work; 2) A pantry, especially now for storing grains and other staples (and foods I’ve canned) in bulk as we’re out in the country. 3) A dedicated guest room so nobody sleeps on the couch. 4) Space for my husband’s Lego collection – including a place to build. 5) Space for his woodworking shop. 6) Space for my own home projects. 7) A laundry room with a dog wash and a sink. 8) Interior walls, for furniture that can’t be “floated”. I’m all for making the most of each space but the dining room table can only multitask so much. Accessible storage is also important if things are to be used, and as one can only pare down so much having nowhere to put things away creates visual clutter which is distracting (as you know). Cleaning is also much easier when everything is put away (although the robot vac does help and the cats keep most surfaces dusted). Our second home was manufactured, i.e., a trailer (with two outbuildings), and during this temporary downsize I realized that other trailers had so many things sitting out in the yard because there was nowhere to put them inside. Fortunately I’m very picky about what I bring into my home and do not impulse-buy, and as a biologist I researched sustainable construction materials before and while we were building, as well as low-maintenance features like wall-mount faucets and large-format tile. Between recycling and composting waste is minimal. We’re also both introverts and don’t go out much so we enjoy spending time in our home and working in the yard, which will eventually be filled with native plants and a vegetable garden. And even if we decide it’s more space than we need we’ll probably have family living with us eventually. The other homes here sound fine and I’m glad they work for the people who love them, but we’re grateful that we were able to build our dream home.
Oh and grove.co also has a line of concentrated cleaners (including AP) in little glass bottles. 🙂
I think your family is wise, practical and financially savvy.
My parents, owned a 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom large home in the 70’s.
My ex-husband and I owned an extremely large home in the 90’s.
Now, my wonderful “Love of My Life, Husband” and I own a condo in a beautiful setting. Plus the yard work is done through the H.O.A.
“LESS IS MORE” in our opinion❣️😉