5 Reasons Why Smaller Homes Can Save You Money and the Environment

18 Apr
Image: Creative Commons, mission-sustainable.com.

Image: Creative Commons, mission-sustainable.com.

With Earth Day just around the corner many of us are thinking about ways to create less impact on the environment. We will remember to do little things like bring our own reusable bags to the store, recycle our paper and plastics or turn off the lights when they’re not in use. While these are all points to consider, one thing most of us don’t really think about is how our homes can potentially leave a carbon footprint.

Home ownership has always been part of the American Dream. To some this means buying biggest, best house one could afford. While house size is a matter of preference, it may not be a practical reality for many. With larger homes comes more responsibility in terms of time, money and resources, which many of us don’t have with work, family and other life obligations.

This spring, the real estate market is expected to rebound and buyers can expect sticker shock as home values rise according to Realtor Magazine. While more square footage is desirable, it may not always be the best solution.

Here are five reasons to consider a smaller home:

1. Less Expensive Mortgage  Have we learned our lessons from the 2008 housing bubble and credit crisis? Many were reduced by circumstances to move from McMansion-sized homes to smaller spaces which caused us to rethink our home owning options. Want to read up on extreme cases small living? Check out this one family affected by the crisis who went from a large home to a less than 700 square foot sized cabin. For even more extreme cases, read up on the Tiny House Movement where people opt for less than 200 square of living spaces.

2. Less Maintenance Costs While HGTV has great profiles of beautiful dream homes, one thing it fails to present is the cost to maintain. Let’s say you buy a 7000+ square foot home filled with massive, chef grade kitchen, eight bedrooms, six baths, tons of living space, a pool, sports complex, beautiful gardens. We don’t live in the age of Downton Abbey where you have Carson the Butler and Mrs. Hughes the Housekeeper and their staff on hand. That’s fine if that’s really your dream and you have the resources to make it work, but most people find it more cost effective to either themselves. With a smaller space you can maintain your own house and save money on labor.

3. Less Hoarding With less space, you can’t hoard or have a collection of rarely used tchotchkes. Have you ever seen TV shows like Hoarders or Clean Sweep where people have tons of junk and keep accumulating stuff? Not to say that people don’t hoard in small homes too, but if you wanted to be able to live comfortably in your space, you’d have to get rid of stuff you don’t need or use or you’d literally be consumed with all your stuff.

4. Less Clutter Having little space will require you to ruthlessly edit your possessions and keep only those things that you truly need. You are forced to rethink buying habits and make decision about what you need versus what you want.

5. Eco-friendly By default, smaller home means you will use less natural resources. You won’t need a large sprinkler system for the large lawn. You will spend less time and energy mowing the lawn and general yard maintenance. Your heat and electricity bills will go down as you won’t have a lot of spaces using energy. If you’re building a new home from scratch and opt for a smaller sized home, you’ll use less building materials as opposed to if you were to build a larger home. It’s a win-win.

What are your thoughts on small home living versus living large?

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3 Responses to “5 Reasons Why Smaller Homes Can Save You Money and the Environment”

  1. palmtreesandpeas April 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Love these reasons! I’m looking to buy in the next few years and I will keep all this in mind. Even in my 700 sq foot apartment, I find that I only really use part of the apartment…so do I really need an office, formal dining etc…

    • Lori April 19, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Thanks for commenting! I’m glad these tips could come in handy someday when you do go house hunting. Have you heard of the Pareto Principle where 80% effects come from 20% effort? I feel that applies to our living spaces where we only use about 20% of our home 80% of the time. It’s funny how it works out that way, yeah even in your 700 square foot apartment I could see how that could happen.

  2. Just Me With . . . April 21, 2014 at 1:10 am #

    The cost of maintenance in time and money for a large home should not be overlooked. I am struggling a bit with my small home now, but it is mostly because the location isn’t ideal. You often see on HGTV couples rejecting a home in a desired location because they can get more for their money by moving farther away. Rarely do they show buyers who question whether they want more, or what “more” will cost in maintenance. People should figure the costs of paying for lawn maintenance or the purchase (and maintenance) of lawn equipment so you can do it yourself. And if your house is two or three stories outside maintenance must be done by the pros or even if you’re set up with vinyl siding and tilt in windows, you can’t hand Christmas lights without a pro grade ladder. Don’t get me started on shoveling snow. Back breaking work, or pay someone or buy and repair snowblowers, etc. Heating and cooling large spaces with high ceilings is very expensive. And though folks enjoy and should entertain, I wonder if the scale and expense of entertaining is directly correlated with the size and the grandeur of the home. Meaning, but for weddings, graduations and birthday celebrations most people have at some point, do the larger homes beg for fancy catered parties — to kind of to justify the space? are homeowners less likely to have a simple barbecue when they have room for a ball? I wonder.

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