Bigger and better seems to be the American way, but many these days are thinking small rather than big and reaping the benefits of fewer expenses, less upkeep, more freedom, and life not tied to possessions.
Despite the housing and economic crisis of 2008, people rebounded, and things were off and running again. In 2015, the average size of a new house built in the United States reached an all-time high of 2,687 square feet, according to the Census Bureau. The median house size also hit a record high of 2,467 square feet. Compared to 1973, the earliest data from the Census Bureau houses both average and median were roughly 1,000 square feet more than 42 years earlier.
A bigger house means a lot of things: A larger mortgage, higher utilities, more expensive property insurance, more costly and more time-consuming upkeep. And all that extra square footage means it’s likely you have a lot more stuff.
Downsizing means you will have the less square footage for your occupants and belongings. But experts say many of us have more space than we use or need.
According to one expert, even among families, occupants tend to spend 80 percent of their lives in 20 percent of the house, US News reported.
One thing you’re likely to have more by downsizing is money. A smaller dwelling generally means less expensive mortgage, insurance, utilities, and maintenance costs. The money saved can be invested to generate more savings, build for your retirement or add supplemental income.
Downsizing early means the money saved can accumulate more years of earned interest, and that can give your retirement fund a significant boost you may not have achieved otherwise.
The other significant benefit of downsizing is that selling your larger home will free up equity, which can put a substantial chunk of cash in your wallet. This can be used for investment, a retirement fund, or even assisting with early or semi-retirement.
Another thing you’re likely to have more of will be time. You’ll have less space to clean and maintain indoors and potentially less area to maintain outdoors as well.
Generally, older people tend to consider downsizing after children have grown and moved out of the house. At that point, the remaining couple likely no longer needs the extra space. And as they move toward retirement, it is often difficult to maintain a certain lifestyle with less income.
However, younger people are considering downsizing as well. They’ve had less time to accumulate belongings in. Millennials have also led the trend in moving into tiny homes. Although, to a certain degree, part of the tiny home trend has been driven by the lack of affordability for traditional homes.
Experts say people spend eighty percent of their time in the kitchen and adjoining room. When downsizing, don’t focus on the square footage. Think about the floor plan.
A large kitchen and adjoining room open and bright will feel less constraining. Homes with nine-foot ceilings or higher and large windows will feel less claustrophobic than eight-foot ceilings.
People spend far less time in bedrooms, so put your focus more on the rooms you will occupy during most of your waking hours. A bedroom is a place to sleep.