From downsizing empty nesters and young professionals looking for affordable housing to eco-minded folks wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, small homes are in. But just what is “small”? And is it for you?
Small is relative. No one would argue that the current crop of tiny homes and apartments that come in under 500 square feet are small, but what about a 1,000 square foot home? Does that qualify as small? There is no set size for a “small” house, but one commonly accepted gauge is 450 square feet plus 100 square feet per family member; which would put a couple in just 650 square feet. The tiny house movement and micro apartment trend puts people in even smaller spaces than that. Smaller space means a smaller carbon footprint, so the little movement is a big green trend. But could you do it? Is it right for you?
Storage is often the first thing that comes to mind when talking small spaces. Where do I put all my stuff? Most of us have too much stuff to begin with, and small space proponents say going little forces us to whittle it down to bare necessities. Are you willing to adapt your life to having fewer things? Can you give up the one-trick-wonder tools that take up kitchen space? Can you give up the giant shoe collection? Living small means reducing clutter, a lot!
Privacy is the next big question in small spaces. Less square footage means everyone is closer and getting away from each other is tougher. Can you handle the proximity, or do you need your space? Realistically asses your need for personal space and adjust your minimum square footage to account for the needs of each family member.
Another challenge can be lifestyle – do you like to entertain? Will you frequently have guests stay over? Do you work from home? Those are all aspects that need to be considered when calculating your minimum square footage requirements. If a super-small space isn’t for you, maybe you can simply go smaller than your current space.
Those are really the biggest challenges of going small. If you can handle those, then small living might be for you. Smaller spaces require fewer utilities – they’re easier to heat and cool. You’ll reduce your impulse spending – you just don’t have space for lots of stuff. If you’re buying, smaller spaces tend to have smaller price tags. Most folks who live small find they get out of the house more often as well. Whether they’re in a rural environment and enjoying the great outdoors, or living in the city and hitting the museums, they’re seeking their entertainment outside their four walls.
Small is also easier to clean (if you keep it clutter free, that is)! And home maintenance will be easier as well, so you’ll have more time on your hands to enjoy the outdoors or the museum. Then there’s the environmental impact. Smaller spaces take less energy to heat and cool, and tend to go hand-in-hand with other eco-friendly lifestyle choices – like getting out and walking more.
Ultimately, going small, or smaller, is a personal choice. The options for small spaces range from tiny, rural retreats to urban micro-apartments. It’s your life; it’s your lifestyle. Is living small(er) right for you?