More and more people seem to be coming around to the idea of simplicity and minimalism these days. For some, it’s about the lack of ‘baggage’ and the sense of freedom it gives. For others, it’s about reducing their carbon footprint by consuming fewer ‘things’. Then, of course, there are the financial benefits of buying and owning less. This is especially true of housing, which, for most people, is by far the biggest ‘baggage’ and expense they will ever have.
If you are seriously analysing your finances and wanting to make big changes to your life, it is worth thinking about how much space you really need at home, and what value it gives you. Perhaps the smaller burden of a more humble home would be better overall than having a more spacious, but more expensive, house. These considerations were very important to us when we were house hunting a few years ago. We wanted to be able to have a stay at home parent while our children were very young, and this ONE decision meant we could make that happen.
These are some of the benefits we have found of living in a small home:
It costs less.
Let’s start with the obvious. A smaller house costs less money, which means the mortgage you need is lower and so are the interest payments. A smaller mortgage can give you more choices in life. It may mean you can work less, or take a lower paid, but more enjoyable, job. It can also take a weight off your mind by lowering the essential expenses you have each month and giving you a bit of a safety cushion with your finances.
A smaller mortgage can also offer advantages when it comes to getting a good mortgage rate, by lowering your Loan To Value (LTV) ratio. Most lenders have different rates for customers depending on the LTV they need. If you can get your LTV low enough, you can qualify for better mortgage rates. The best deals are given to those with a LTV of 60% or less (meaning that your mortgage amount makes up less than 60% of the cost of the house).
A smaller house generally means smaller bills. The house costs less to heat. There are fewer rooms to decorate, a smaller roof to replace, less wiring and pipes that can go wrong.
I’ll be honest – I’m lazy. And cleaning is BORING! I’d rather be playing with the kids, or having some rare quiet time reading a book or (gasp!) actually getting out and seeing friends. I don’t want to live in a dump though. Despite my laziness, I have standards. Having a little house means I can keep it clean, without spending ages doing it.
Decorating, repairs, gardening… they’re all marginally less dull than cleaning, but still fall way down on my ‘stuff I want to do’ list. A smaller house means there is less that needs maintaining, and less that can go wrong.
In a smaller house, space is more valuable as you just don’t have room for as much stuff. This can be good or bad. It can mean that you don’t have room for all the things you would like to have around you but, personally, I like it. It forces me to think about what I value. I now consider my belongings to be a carefully curated collection of things I really love. Everything from books and clothes, to photos and sentimental objects have been pored over, more than once, and all that remains are those that are beautiful, special, or useful. The bonus of having less stuff is that there is less time and money needed to clean, maintain and repair it all.
What about you?
If you ever feel trapped in life because of your finances, it’s worth considering how much space you really need. No, not what you WANT, but what you NEED. In fact, scratch that. Our essential needs as human beings are actually very few, but we often end up convincing we need this or that because of some bullshit reason. Instead, think about what it is WORTH to you?
Is it worth working that job you hate, just so you can afford to have a house with a dining room you never use, except as a place to pile up the laundry and assorted clutter? Couldn’t you cut back your working hours if you hadn’t bought the house with the garage that you can’t fit the car into because it’s filled with crap? Are you sick of cleaning your multiple bathrooms, or trying to keep the weeds at bay in your huge garden?
If any of this rings a bell with you, then give some serious consideration to what you could gain by downsizing your house. Look at prices of some smaller houses in your area. What could you do with the extra money you would gain by downsizing? Would you change jobs? Go part time? Pay off your mortgage sooner? Dare to think a little differently, and see where it could take you.