12 Life-Changing Benefits of Living in a Small House

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Living in a small home with a family - we've done it for over three years now. Here's why we love it!

I’ve been living in a small house with my family for over three years now.

I was quite apprehensive about how living in a smaller home would work for us, but I can say now that downsizing was the right choice.

Don’t get me wrong, living in a small house with a family has not been easy all of the time.

But, I realized just how monumentally my perspective has shifted after watching a home show on HGTV recently.

The new homeowner was super excited to be moving into her enormous house (3000 sq ft+) and although I could appreciate her lovely home my first thought was – THERE IS SO MUCH CLEANING TO DO!

How would she ever finish cleaning that massive house?? She’d be in a constant cycle of cleaning. It would never end.

I hate cleaning. If I had the money I would hire a cleaner and be done with the wretched task.

So my small house suits me. It can be cleaned completely in those small bursts that usually strike me when I’m meant to be doing other things.

living in a small home pique your interest? Check out this list of benefits.

12 Benefits of Living in a Small House

There are many other benefits of a small house. I’ve laid out some of the reasons why smaller houses are better below.

1. Cleaning time

I can vacuum all but the tiny second bedroom from one power point in my smaller home.

We have black carpet (why did we do that to ourselves???) so we have to vacuum regularly, luckily it doesn’t take too long, especially with these cleaning hacks.

2. Forced decluttering

More stuff makes you look and feel like a crazy hoarder when your house is small.

There are limited surfaces for placing things on, so anything not away in a drawer or cupboard adds to the overwhelm.

It’s pretty much the best way to declutter – having all your stuff laid out in front of you and just getting rid of as much of it as you can.

Considering a smaller house? There are many benefits to living small.

3. Minimalism

Yup, we’re minimalists. It’s oh so trendy to be a minimalist, but that’s not why.

We were all for this life when it was just considered a bit off-the-wall.

But now we have a trendy term for living without much stuff in our weird but comfy little house. Thank you, Internet.

4. Close family ties

You can’t help but become closer to your family in a smaller house. You are literally close to them, all the time.

You can’t escape. So you just have to learn to like them. I’m kind of joking.

I really like my kids. My husband tells terrible jokes and is obsessed with Connor McGregor but I still like him too.

So yeah, you’ll get closer to your family living in a small home.

5. Cheaper to heat

We have one heat pump (split cycle AC style unit) in the living room which heats the living room and hallway.

Then we just use oil fin heaters for bedrooms.

In winter, the house is always comfortable and our electricity bill is around ⅔ what it was in our old house. 

6. Cheaper purchase price

We purchased our unit for 195k in early 2013.

At the time, a 3 bedroom house in a comparable condition in the same suburb was selling for between 290-350k.

To be completely clear, this property was purchased with the intent of being a rental property but even if we were buying for our own purposes, we would have saved around 100k by moving into a smaller home.

downsizing your home | benefits of a smaller home | living in a small house has made our lives and finances significantly smoother. If you're thinking about downsizing, check out this post.

7. More disposable income

Our last monthly mortgage payment in our bigger house was $1250/mth. In this place, it’s $788/mth and we are paying more than we have to.

Our minimum principal and interest payment is under $500/mth. (Update: we’ve paid off the mortgage completely!)

That saves us almost $500 more per month which we can use for travel!

8. Lower property taxes

Here in New Zealand, we call property taxes ‘rates’.

Our quarterly rates bill is $380/qtr compared to $508/qtr on the larger house.

9. Lower environmental impact

For us, this is due to living in a more walkable location.

Everything we need is within walking distance, and in summer I walk the kids home from preschool (I usually drive in the morning ‘cause mornings are nuts), walk to the supermarket and the park.

We drive a lot less than we used to, which reduces our environmental impact.

small apartment living

10. Reduced commute

This might not be true for all, but for us, the choice to live in our smaller home was partly driven by its location close to employment.

This has allowed us to remain a one-car family, as my husband cycles to work.

He finishes work at 4 pm and is almost always home by ten minutes past four (unless it’s Friday beersies).

11. You can not lose your children

My other thought about that HGTV woman was how frequently she’d lose her child in that massive house. The kid was crawling. I have a crawler.

They get into some weird places. In small houses, you can hear them rustling pretty much everywhere so you can let them roam free.

12. You can be a bit fancy with renovations

I’m not talking over-capitalizing here. But when you have a small space, you can afford to spend a little more on renovations.

Take my kitchen, for example, we are getting new units, appliances and maybe even a solid wood benchtop.

If I was in an older house, a kitchen like that would be out of reach and I’d likely just paint the old units and make do.

But here in our wee house, we can spend a little and have greater impact as our space is smaller.

Living in a smaller home can actually improve your life

Now I’m not one for forcing my choices on others, but if you’ve discounted moving to a smaller home because you think it’ll be too cluttered and you’ll be on top of each other, you are absolutely correct.

All of those things are true.

But here’s the thing – you adapt.

Living smaller means you learn to live with less stuff so you don’t have to feel cluttered.

You only buy what you really need to buy for a baby.

You get outside when you need space.

Heck, you might even find that spending more time together in the same room is actually pretty awesome.

Living in a smaller home can make your life better.

Initially, we only did this for the money, so we could have more $$ for travel and less house to stress about when we were away, but looking back, we’ve gained so much from living with less, I’m not sure I could live any other way now.

Have you considered downsizing your home? Or have you taken the plunge? Any advice or tips to share?

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About Emma

Hey there! I'm Emma. When I'm not wrangling kids I like to walk aimlessly around hardware stores and watch HGTV for hours on end.

30 thoughts on “12 Life-Changing Benefits of Living in a Small House”

  1. I completely agree with you Emma, smaller houses are the way to go. I’ve lived in apartments overseas and in nz now for 14 years and I love the fact that it’s lower maintenance; that I have to make a conscious decision not to fill my space up with unnecessary crap; and it’s given me time to enjoy my local parks and suburb more. Less cleaning means less stress. Great article.

    • Thanks, Liz. It seems to be easier for us former expats to keep living small after returning from overseas. NZ houses look enormous after some of the tiny apartments in Europe!

  2. Agree with you too Emma, small places are the way to go. We live in a 2-br apartment that we rent and it costs us half what it would be to buy along with all of the other costs of ownership (rates, body corp, insurance etc). The only thing I miss is secure storage for all of those things you can’t throw away or use infrequently, like camping gear, as we have a shared carpark. So, we do rent a nearby storage unit for all of these things at $89 a month which is way cheaper than getting a bigger place with storage.

    The secret is to have regular de-cluttering sessions. If it’s not needed, out it goes, usually onto Gumtree.

    And you know what?? We can complete the vacuuming of the entire apartment from one power point (with the help of an extension cord).

    • Great idea, Martin! We were thinking of building an office/storage space in the back garden, but a storage unit would be a fine alternative.
      Also, well done for achieving total house vacuuming from only 1 power point! #lifegoals 🙂

  3. We downsized from 1,450sqft to 600sqft last year. I was already on the path to minimalism, but this gave me a huge push! I told my husband that we work great and look tidy in our new space, and once we build our home it is going to be scarce! I am so thankful for this downsizing experience! It has definitely change my perspective in life!

  4. I so agree with all of this! I hated to clean my small 3-bedroom house in the US, because even at 1200 square feet of space, it took time! Now, in my tiny 1-bedroom apartment, I can clean all 355 square feet so quickly! Plus, with wood floors, it all goes so smoothly. And although it took a LOT of time and energy to get rid of all the stuff I had acquired, in the end it felt so feeeing to not have a huge basement stacked with stuff I never use. In our current apartment, I only have the things that bring me real joy, the things that are essential for feeling like I’m HOME. It’s a wonderful change!

  5. I to have downsized and have a small home my children are grown and so that is easier to keep things a little tidier but we do have three dogs so that requires a little discipline but they are part of our family so we adjust accordingly, I feel that our home is clutter free we have the things we need and I really embrace that..

    Previous to this I lived in England London Three Bed home terrace home I had way to much stuff and it was not until I was clearing out that I finally realized we do not need all this !

    So I slowly gave away to charity friends and family over a six week period it was liberating and I was sort of embarrassed by how much I did have I always thought I lived a simple life but I was wrong there..

    Great Blog..

  6. Thanks for this article. I have been thinking of downsizing for the last year. We bought a house that was way too big for us on the promise that extended family would be staying with us to help with our two very young kids. It didn’t pan out and now I am wishing we had stuck to our guns and followed our instincts. We are renovating to flip but I cannot wait to move to something smaller. But even a lesson learned late is worth learning. Cheers happy NY’s

    • Gemma, you know what? My biggest concern when we downsized was where will our guests sleep? But we have not had any problems so far and I figured it was actually cheaper to spring for a nearby motel for them than pay a larger mortgage just so we could have a spare room on the odd occasion it was needed.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and all the best with your flip.

  7. We downsized our home on retirement to 60 sqmt. We had 50 years of “stuff” to sort!! What a wonderful liberating experience it has been. We looked at ‘stuff’ that had not been used for many years, just tucked away “in case of”. We have kept only what we are using and have a few storage containers, under a lift up bed we built, for family keepsakes/photos. Storage has been a challenge but we have learnt to be very creative. It is fully cobbled outside and a lock up and leave concept while we continue to travel.

  8. We live in a 875 sq. foot home and we love it! Been here for 20 plus years. My motto is “If you don’t use it lose it!”
    I agree with all that you have said and appreciate your tips. I should send this blog to my step daughter and her husband as they look for a house. I keep saying you do not want to be house poor.

    • Hey Kathy, thanks for commenting! Great to hear you’ve had longevity in your wee house. I know both of my boys are going to be big so I’m worried about what I’ll do when they’re older. I’m sure we can make it work though, as our mortgage is super affordable and, as you say, we don’t want to be house poor!

  9. Hello Emma! My family and I downsized about 4 years ago. We went from a 8,000 sq ft house to a 3,000 sq ft home in Northern Virginia (USA). We moved because we can no longer afford to pay the mortgage at $5,500/month. Now, we pay a little bit over 1/3 of that. Anyways, I agree with you on all the points. One thing that I did notice, the smaller house brought my 3 children closer than before.

    • Hi Cindy, thanks so much for commenting. Wow, you are saving so much money! Well done! Closer kids are a definite plus! Mine are too young to be sharing a room yet, but they will be once the baby is out of our room. I sure hope they get on 🙂

  10. We are currently downsized weekdays to a commuter residence half the size of our primary home and love it because it is closer to family, easy to clean and is in the middle of a very energetic metro with lots of access to activities indoors and out and the lovely influences of a melting pot. The yard is currently too small to hold our toys(camper and boat) and so we are changing it to accommodate those, creating an eco-friendly gravel yard surrounded by pollinator-friendly plants instead of the current water-guzzling lawn. We are hard working middle-income people enjoying life back in urbania in a tiny house because husbands job here pays twice as much with better benefits than the one he had in our more rural community, allowing us to potentially retire earlier. We rarely go back to the larger home on weekends and when we do, it just feels too big.

    • Your weekday home sounds fab, Angie! I can understand why you feel the larger home is too big when you return to it. Like you, circumstances (financial) forced us into a smaller home but it’s worked out great and now I’m really keen to live like this long-term.

  11. We bought a house requiring renovation but in a great location. The renovation ended up being major and what had been intended as a holiday/retirement flat required us to choose between our 4 bedroom end terraced home and the more than half the size two bedroom ground floor flat. We only really had one child still at home, and she was already showing signs of travel/independence that we reckoned that in a few years it would just be the two of us. So we sold the 4 bedroom family home and moved to beside the sea. Bit by bit I have been de-cluttering and we love our flat. Whenever I feel it is too small, I look at tiny homes on the internet and then it feels huge. Our daughter moved out as expected and is married. My eventual goal is to have the house simplified to one 1 hour blast of house work, with daily routines of essential’s as suggested on fly lady. living with less is freeing and gives you space in your head and schedule for what you really want.

    • That is so brave and sounds like it was a smart move. I’d always choose to be by the sea and YES!! Living with less does give you more space in your head, not just your home. It just makes everything easier! Thanks for commenting, Evelyn.

  12. I appriciated your comments on living in a small house. We raised 4 children in a 1000 sq.ft. home. You learn to be patient and share, ie: 1 bathroom. I dreamt that we moved to a bigger home and I couldn’t find my kids, LOL. Once we became empty nesters , i started filling up space with stuff. It seems we have less space than ever! I appriciated you comment on surface space; now that I’m downsizing furniture I am loosing that, so I have to choose what to display.Your article has steered me in the right direction. Thanks 😊😊

  13. We purchased our home before we had children, and now it feels a bit small at times. But it has forced us to declutter and become more minimal, which isn’t a bad thing at all!

  14. Love love love that you are into smaller living and even more so that you are based in NZ! You made awesome points and I can’t wait to live them out when we go tiny in 2 months.

  15. Love this article. My girls (7 and almost 2) and I are 6 days out from moving into a tiny house on wheels that we’ve had built and put in the side paddock on my parents property (in Australia). I’ll be sent free, 5 min drive from school and there will be less financial pressure on me to provide for my girls as they grow. 👍👍

    • Amanda – that’s amazing. What a fab way for your girls to grow up, especially with mummy not being stressed about money. All the best with the move!

  16. We raised our 2 now teenaged girls in 1000 square feet 3 bedroom/ 1 bath home. We live in an awesome walking community- restaurants, coffee shops, movie theater, grocery and library all a 5 minute walk from our front door. It’s funny because we are the hangout house with usually 3-4 extra kids over, despite the size. You have to be deliberate with what you bring into the home because of its size, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s our first home and will be our amazing retirement home. Our daughters make us promise never to move😊


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