There is no doubt that there has been a trend the last few years to downsize from a truly huge suburban home to something smaller. For quite a while, Netflix featured several versions of the Tiny Home movement – my kids were fascinated with these smaller houses.
But the shows they saw led them to ask “what would we do with all of our stuff?”
Whether you downsize into a smaller suburban home with fewer rooms and living spaces, or you end up in a tiny home, those who have managed to make the transition have not done so with any regret left on the table.
At least I haven’t heard anyone regret doing so.
Although you would be hard pressed to find a tiny home in the Phoenix area, I’m sure there are a few – in the East Valley houses seem to be growing in massive size. Sixteen years ago we started our home buying adventures with a relatively huge house – after all, it seemed like it was the norm. Some of the houses I see now are mansions – five, six and even seven bedrooms if not more, with a wrap around driveway that has a myriad of new, expensive cars.
The bigger the better, or at least that’s what we (and many others) believe to be true.
Our home had more space than we knew what to do with – and although we were child-less (at the time), it didn’t take us long to realize that it wasn’t what we really wanted. Over the years, we continued to downsize and we believe we have quite a ways to go. There hasn’t been day that we have missed our larger starter home with umpteen bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a myriad of living spaces.
If anything, we regret not downsizing earlier.
When we sold that house and sought out a move into a much smaller place, friends and family thought we had lost our mind – they weren’t sure why anyone would want to give up a relatively new, ginormous house with everything we could have ever wanted.
They mentioned that we would miss having a place to put all of our stuff and we would end up being cramped into a smaller space, especially if we started having kids.
What most people didn’t understand is that we didn’t want more stuff – we didn’t want more rooms or space that we would fill with things we didn’t need, and I certainly didn’t want more space because that meant I would have to clean more than I already did.
Which was all the time.
Y’all, I truly don’t want to have to clean more than I already do.
We wanted a space that we could have exactly what we wanted or needed, and nothing more. For us, that meant a home that we could afford that didn’t require two incomes, long hours, and a commute that required us to sit in bumper to bumper traffic in the heat of the summer.
In the end, it basically came down to a few basics:
More house = more rooms to fill with stuff we didn’t need = more stuff = more cleaning = more work and more headaches
Less house = less space to fill = things we needed = less cleaning = less work and less headache
Downsizing definitely doesn’t mean living without – it means eliminating all the junk/extras in your life that you don’t need and finding the things that you really can’t live without.
Downsizing hasn’t been easy but so far, it has been an incredible feeling – here are 5 things we hae learned:
#1 -A smaller house doesn’t mean an unreasonable living
First, we could never go from a ginormous house to a tiny house, especially given that we wanted to start a family. What we did is find a space that had the space that we needed or slightly less, and worked from there.
For some people that might mean going to an apartment or a condominium, or eliminating the extra dining and living areas. Do you really need a dining room and two living rooms, and a den? Do your kids really each need their own rooms AND a loft and family room? Extra space means more heating/cooling, more to furnish and more to clean.
#2 – Eliminate extra stuff
One of the biggest reasons people want a larger home is because they have stuff – we need space to put our things, store things and enjoy things.
But what if you didn’t have all that extra stuff – – do you really think the space is necessary? When we downsized, we realized that we simply had too much unused stuff. Over the course of a year we sold, donated, and threw out stuff that we didn’t need, use or things that were sitting around collecting dust. Once we started to purge, we felt like things were much more simple.
All the money earned from the things we sold was put in our emergency fund, and so it was a win-win for us – simplicity lead to security.
It’s easy to get back in the habit of purchasing after you purge – so when you start tossing, make sure that everything that comes in is truly a necessary purchase.
#3 – Avoid unnecessary purchases
Most families buy to much stuff, too often, for the wrong reasons. In many households, the house payment and the car payment are two of the largest expenses each month. Avoid making a car payment by saving up for a used vehicle and downsize your home.
You might find yourself working less to pay less in expenses, and finding more enjoyment in your time. Buy what you need, not what you want, and save yourself the headache of extra hours and extra stress.
#4 – Avoid the need to keep up
It’s crazy to say but it’s true in many cases – keeping up with the neighbors, family and friends can end up being a regrettable purchase over time. Comparisons can be costly – and trying to keep up with others is only going to make you waste more money in the long run.
We picked up a relatively large big screen 15 years ago – it was heavy. It was a pain to move from home to home, and while it was nice, a few years later we couldn’t even manage moving it out of the house. Family and friends didn’t want it and we had trouble getting rid of it – that was $3,500 that we could have saved and invested that we thought was better spent on entertainment.
Instead of making those impulse purchases, wait it out and determine if you really need it. In most cases, the urge to buy will end up wearing off.
#5 – Keep living spaces open
One of the best secrets of having a smaller place is keeping living spaces wide open. An open floor plan is an incredible way to feel like you have more space.
We recently got rid of our huge sofa in our family room – and while it was handy to sit down and watch TV, we realized that most of the time, the kids jumped on it and used it as a trampoline. We were scared that the room would seem bare without a sofa, and we hesitated to let people come over because the truth is, there isn’t anything IN this room.
And if you have an unfurnished room, people often think you can’t afford to furnish it. Right?
But the truth is, since we eliminated it altogether, we LOVE the room even more.
You heard it: we love this empty room.
Now, that room feels open and airy, and somehow, we feel less stress walking in – though there is nothing in there but a wood floor, our kids seem to have more fun now than they did when there was a trampoline sofa (see my sarcasm?!)