By Noah Henry • September 01, 2014
Sometime in the past few decades we equated living in a big house with reaching the American dream. When we think back as youngsters and imagine the perfect house to raise a family, we envision that huge three-story home with a white picket fence.
It’s time to rethink this line of thinking. Especially now, Americans are suffering financially at an unprecedented level. The average household has nearly $16,000 in credit card debt and more than one third of adults have nothing saved for retirement.
When it comes to housing, saving via downsizing doesn’t exactly strike a chord in America. In 1973, the average new single-family home was 1,660 square feet, according to the US Census Bureau. Today, the average new home is 2,500 square feet. Across the pond, England enjoys a new home size of 950 square feet. Europe, in general, somehow finds a way to live in smaller spaces. When’s the last time you heard of Germany’s crippling debt?
Photo Cred: Life Edited
The Bronx has it bad, with the average household spending 66 percent of their monthly income on renting a three-bedroom house. And this is replicated in cities such as Baltimore, Miami, Philadelphia and Brooklyn, where the average person pays 50 percent of their income on rent. And I haven’t even mentioned New York City.
There’s no shame in going small. It’s not even accurate to say it’s “downsizing.” I would consider it simplifying and streamlining your lifestyle to live a smart, affordable, psychologically fogless life.
The Benefits of Downsizing
You will spend a lot less
Obviously, the rent or mortgage will be easier to manage. Beyond that, the energy costs will be drastically lower. Everything from heating to cooling to water will turn into financial breezes because living in a smaller abode means consuming less. To me, running an unnecessarily big home is like renting out a five-story building for a five-person business. It makes absolutely no sense.
The emotional benefits of downsizing are real
Minimal is beautiful. It forces us to enjoy the finer things in life. It brings clarity to the idea that family, activeness, and appreciation for the world at-large are what we live for. We weren’t meant to play the status-jockeying game of Who Has the Bigger House? We were meant to live a simple, mentally free existence.
Plus, smaller homes bring together families. You are more likely to run into each other. You are more likely to come out of your isolated holes and enjoy each other’s company. It brings you closer together, literally and metaphorically.
And never think you can’t still live fabulously in a smaller home. Because you can.
You won’t buy unnecessary things
A large home means large spaces to fill. You don’t have to squat in a minimalist, Neo-Luddite existence like Tyler Durden; you just have to lose impedimenta—the Latin word for baggage. It’s easier to maintain. There’s less risk. There’s less to clean. You won’t stack up credit card debt filling rooms with paintings, window treatments, or lofty Persian rugs. It is an organized life, one that requires only what is essential.
It will be easier to leave behind
If you ever choose to move, the little castle you leave behind will be easier to sell. A smaller home invariably translates to a more affordable home, which is appealing to a wider margin of the market.
The traveling lifestyle becomes much easier to adopt as well. A big home requires a lot of work, whether that is monitoring exterior and interior lighting, keeping your garden maintained, or ensuring your security system is up to snuff. Needless to say, a big house can be a burden when you have a passion for travel. It’s simpler to escape for extended periods of time when your only concern is whether you left the bathroom light on.
If you live in a home that is financially eating you inside, it might be time to enter a new chapter in your life. Let go of what society considers impressive and live by your own accord.
Your wallet (and mind) will appreciate it.
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!