Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Benefits Of Living In A Smaller Home

Jessi and I are contemplating moving. Nothing is official yet, we haven't even starting looking, but it's got us thinking a lot about housing options.

The classic American Dream is to buy a small "starter" home when young, then as your family grows, along with your income, trade up to bigger and better homes using the equity in your smaller home as the down payment for the bigger home. Even our tax code supports that notion since you'll get dinged with a capital gains tax if you don't buy something of equal or greater value.

I'll admit to having this dream. It totally included a wall-size fish tank, a model train that traversed the entire home, a Lego room, a gorgeous home theater system for movies and games, and yes vertical storage containers.

Though recently, I've been re-thinking that eccentric list of wants. Perhaps I should give up some of those dreams and embrace the idea of living in a smaller home. Here are some of benefits of living in a small home:
  • Smaller houses tend to cost less, which equal smaller monthly mortgage payments, lower properties taxes, lower home insurance, and lower heating/cooling costs. Plus, you don't have to save as long for the down payment since it's smaller.
  • Homes want to be filled with stuff. The smaller the home, the less stuff you'll tend to buy. I'm not saying buying stuff is bad, but you tend to be more discerning and purposeful when space matters. A hilarious music video about buying stuff
  • Housework, one of the most loathed activities*, decreases with a smaller home since you have less space to cover and stuff to clean/maintain.

Let's not forget about some of the indirect benefits too:
  • More money and time for travel, entertainment, socializing, and giving. Which, if I had to be honest about what makes me happy, these are more important than sleeping in a big bedroom next to a gigantic fish tank.
  • You don't need to keep a higher paying job to afford it. If you do lose that job, it's not as big of an emergency.
  • You can save for retirement faster. Not only will you need less to retire, but you'll have more to contribute.
  • I'm sure it's better for the environment in some way too.

I'm sure if I looked, I could probably find a study saying that kids who have to share rooms are more emotionally healthy too. That's the claim the Mint article makes, and even though I didn't love every day sharing a room with my brother, I fully believe I am better for the experience (though my college roommates might disagree...).

Given that list of benefits, it sure seems like living in a smaller home is a more worthy dream to pursue. So, stay tuned! When we move (some time next year?) it should be to a smaller place.

For fun, I saw this video today about a Tiny House that was made on the back of a truck. I'm not talking about going this extreme (no bathroom? OK...), but it is fun to think about what you can do.

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