In January of 2017, we sold our 2200 sqft home and moved into a home less than half the size. And (spoiler alert) we couldn’t be happier.
Downsizing has turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, and I want to share with you exactly why.
But first of all, let’s backtrack a bit so I can explain what prompted us to make the decision to downsize our home so drastically.
In October of 2011, a month before we got married, my husband and I bought our first home.
It was located in a new subdivision in Tennessee, surrounded by beautiful trees and backing onto a lake. The home was 2200 sqft, had 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a large bonus room downstairs.
While the home was large, it wasn’t above our budget so we felt comfortable that we weren’t overextending ourselves. And while we didn’t have much “stuff” at the time, we felt like we’d grow into the house, have a family, etc.
We were so excited to move in, start decorating and make the house feel like a home. We painted the whole house, decorated every single room, stocked the kitchen, bought new sets of towels for each bathroom… the list went on.
And slowly but surely, we both started to feel overwhelmed with THINGS. Every set of drawers, every storage cabinet, every linen closet was full.
We’ve always been careful with money, but we started to realize that having such a large house meant that we felt obligated to furnish it and buy things for it. And it cost so much more. Unless we wanted a completely empty bonus room, we needed to purchase two living room sets (one for upstairs and one for downstairs.) If I wanted to decorate the house for Christmas, I needed to buy double the decorations. It took me SO LONG to clean the house (3 bathrooms every week is NO fun.)
Then I got pregnant with our first child, and my husband (who’s active duty military) got orders to North Carolina.
We were faced with a decision…
We knew we were going to sell our Tennessee house, but what kind of place were we going to get in North Carolina?
I mean, we had a child now. Didn’t that mean we’d need all that extra space..?
Despite that concern, we couldn’t shake the feeling that we wanted something MUCH smaller. We wanted to have less THINGS. And having a smaller house would mean that having less stuff was a necessity.
So we made the conscious decision to downsize.
We held a massive garage sale and sold probably 75% of our possessions.
Then we move into a home that is just over 1000 sqft. That’s less than half the size of our previous home. Our new home has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and one living space. It’s single story, which means there’s no bonus room. There’s no huge storeroom downstairs (because there’s no downstairs!)
We’ve lived in our smaller house for over a year now, and we LOVE it.
Here’s What We’ve Learned From Downsizing
1. Things Don’t Make You Happy
I went through a period of feeling lost and lonely while we were living in Tennessee. I had just moved there from Australia, didn’t know a single person, and because my husband is active duty military, he was gone a lot.
Because I had this big, beautiful house, I would often fill the void I felt with going shopping for decor, towels, new bedding, etc. I loved choosing out pretty things and envisaging them in my home.
I’d purchase them, go home and make everything look beautiful, and then…
I still felt lost and lonely.
While there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in the appearance of your home (I still do now!) I eventually realized that I was buying all of this stuff for my home for the wrong reasons.
No amount of “stuff” can fix your heart.
2. Too Much Stuff Can Be Overwhelming
Not only do things not make you happy, they can also make you feel overwhelmed.
Have you ever walked into a hoarder’s home? Or not even a hoarder, but just someone who’s house is full of trinkets, ornaments, photo frames, etc.
If you’re anything like me, it almost makes you feel claustrophobic.
While my house certainly wasn’t cluttered, I owned so much stuff that the mere thought of it made me feel overwhelmed. So much stuff I’d accumulated over the years, so many sets of towels and sheets, 2 different shower curtains for each bathroom, etc.
3. Baby’s (and Toddlers) Don’t Need a Huge Playroom
Initially, I had plans to set up our downstairs bonus room as my son’s playroom. I thought he’d need all that space for his toys and books, and he’d have a jolly old time playing there.
And while it was handy having a bit of extra space for large baby items like his jumperoo, we found that you really don’t need as much space as what is often made out.
My son doesn’t have his own playroom now. He has his bedroom and the living room to play in. We’re clever with storage and I simply don’t buy him every single toy he sees and subsequently, “needs.” I feel horrible saying no to him when he has tears streaming down his eyes and he’s pleading “pwease Mommy, PWEASE.” But I also know that he doesn’t need another Thomas the Tank train and he’s forgotten about it 1 minute after we’ve walked away.
Our son is certainly not deprived of toys, by any means. He has everything (and more) that a child his age could ever need, but I don’t buy him a new toy every single time we go to the store.
4. Cleaning is So Much Easier and Quicker
Hands up if you love spending the entire day on Saturday cleaning your house. Nobody….?
When you have a 2200 sqft home, it’s not a 1 hour job cleaning it. Scrubbing 3 bathrooms, vacuuming the stairs, all the bedrooms, living spaces, bonus room, mopping, etc… It used to take me a good part of the day to clean the house.
I loved having a clean house which is why I did it, but I definitely can’t say I enjoyed the process. And I felt like I was missing out on enjoying my weekend because I had this big house to clean.
Now it takes me maybe an hour to completely clean my house from top to bottom, especially when I use my genius cleaning hacks. I set a timer and just get to work and before I know it, the house is clean, leaving me the entire rest of the day to actually ENJOY.
5. Smaller House = More Money In Your Pocket!
While finances weren’t the reason we decided to downsize, the extra money we have from living in a smaller house has been a welcome change.
When you have less space, you buy less stuff. Buying less stuff means you have more money. Simple, really!
Additionally, it costs a lot less to maintain a small house, and the heating and cooling costs are substantially lower. (I did manage to cut my electric costs in half while were living in our old house, but they’re even lower now.)
And since we’ve downsized, we were able to pay off all of our debt and become 100% debt-free even faster. We’ve also been able to increase the amount of money we contribute to our robo-advisor investment fund.
6. Who Gives a Crap About the Joneses?!
We didn’t buy our first house to “keep up with the Joneses.” We had just moved to Tennessee, we didn’t know a soul, so there were no “Joneses” to keep up with.
But when we announced we were selling our home and moving to a much smaller one, there were definitely a few people that seemed quite, for lack of a better word, “surprised…”
There were questions as to whether everything was ok financially (it is) as if that must be the “real reason” behind us downsizing so much.
But honestly, we made the decision that was right for us, and it’s made us so much happier. So really, who gives a crap what the Joneses might think?
Now that we’ve lived in our small house for over a year and loved it, we’re considering spending a year or so living in an RV and traveling around the USA when my husband retires from the military in 5 years. That’ll mean downsizing even more, which to be honest, doesn’t phase me in the slightest!
What do you think about downsizing? Is it something you’d consider?
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