Apparently, we Americans like our houses big. According to the United States Census Bureau, the median size of a single-family house completed in 2020 was 2,261 square feet. That is more than twice the size of the homes in most European countries. So, is bigger better, or is less more? Let’s take a looks at the advantages of each.
What are the benefits of smaller homes?
- Lower Expenses. A small house costs less to build than a large one, so it comes with a smaller price tag. The homeowner can use that savings to make the small house immaculately high end, or to put extra money toward less tangible luxuries such as travel, hobbies, saving for retirement, or even working less.
- Low or No Mortgage. Most people can’t afford to buy a house without taking out a mortgage, which only adds to the long-term cost. The smaller the loan is, the smaller the payment will be—and for those who put the extra savings toward reduction of their mortgage principal, the loan will be shorter as well.
- Lower Energy Use. Smaller houses don’t just cost less upfront; they are also cheaper to heat and cool. Bills for electricity and gas may be much lower.
- Easier Maintenance and Less Expensive Repairs. A small house has less space to clean, a smaller roof or HVAC unit to replace, less flooring to update, fewer walls to paint… you get the idea. Small-house owners can spend less time on chores and less money on big ticket repairs, having more of both to spend on their work, hobbies, and relationships.
- A Simpler Life. A small house doesn’t offer as much opportunity for accumulating excess stuff: giant wardrobes, knick-knack collections, and libraries of books, for example. Smaller spaces require homeowners to be choosier about their belongings, and owning less stuff means less time spent cleaning and caring for those things, as well as less money repairing or replacing them.
What are the benefits of large living?
- More Living Space. A large house has room for a full-size luxury kitchen or spa bathroom. The overstuffed sectional couch fits too. Not only is there a bigger layout for your design and furniture, but more space means room for the people in your household to spread out.
- More Storage Space. For most families, not all of their extra stuff is unnecessary junk. Perhaps you actually use your exercise equipment, sports gear, and surfboards on a regular basis. Maybe all that camping gear you own needs a home between your frequent camping trips. Lots of hobbies and interests require tools and equipment—and those items need storage space.
- Entertaining Capability. This may be the biggest seller of more space in a larger home. There is room for friends to hang out and family to get together—not only for dinners and holiday parties, but for overnight guests too.
- Larger Living. More square footage and more rooms mean more areas to create designated spaces: an art studio, a sewing room, a home brewery, a media room, a private gym, or a home office may be just what you’ve been wanting.
- Income Potential. When the season arrives that you are no longer filling up all your square footage, there is the possibility of renting out a room or two to tenants for a bit of extra money toward your hobbies or mortgage.
Go Big or Live Small?
So, which is best? Large living or simple savvy? The answer lies in personal priorities. Individuals have to ask themselves what is more important to them at this time in their life. Financial ease, social life, room to grow a family, hobbies and interest, upcoming retirement, proximity to others, simplicity, storage, saving money, entertainment—the list is endless.
Before you find yourself strapped with too much or trapped in too little, make a list of your priorities. Think about what you want to do and accomplish in life, what’s most important to you, and what interests you’d like to pursue. Knowing all of these things will make it easier for you to decide how your home can best fit both your personality and your lifestyle.