10 REASONS A SMALLER HOUSE WILL MAKE YOU HAPPIER
Australia has the biggest houses in the world.
Averaging roughly 215 m2, they are almost 10% bigger than in the US, and nearly three times the size of a house in the UK.
However the tide is turning…
House prices continues to rise, and land is increasingly at a premium in our major cities.The traditional dream of a large and spacious home is becoming a thing of the past, as more and more people find themselves priced out of the market.
In the search for affordability, smaller houses (ranging from under 100m2 up to around 150m2) are becoming the new normal.
Living in a small home, whether by choice or for purely financial reasons, should not be seen as a compromise, however. Small house living has been proven to make you both happier and healthier, and here’s why:
1. They are more affordable
The easiest way to save money on any construction project is to build less. That part is easy.
Each unnecessary square meter not only costs you thousands of dollars to build, but every year it also costs you more and more to light and heat.
Not only do smaller houses use less energy, but they are also usually cheaper to insure and their owners pay fewer taxes and rates on the property. From a financial standpoint alone, it makes sense to think carefully about how much space you really need.
2. Small houses make better homes
Having less floor space does not necessarily mean your house will feel smaller.
The ‘sense of space’ has much more to do with things like volume, access to daylight and views, material choices and functional separation than physical dimensions.
Living small does not mean you have to squeeze into a shoebox either. You just need to think a bit more about the layout, ensuring you use space as efficiently as possible.
There is also something to be said for that ‘cosy’ feeling when it comes to home design. Our homes need to be built at a human scale. It is easy to feel lost in large, cavernous spaces, and we are naturally pre-programmed to seek the protection of smaller, more defensible areas.
Large houses may be impressive to look at, but small homes are better to live in.
3. It is Better for the environment
Small houses are not only cheaper, they are better for the planet.
Occupying fewer square meters requires less resources and materials to build and maintain. You are also far more likely to be able to source materials locally, reducing emissions associated with transport and haulage.
Compact housing forms are also more energy efficient in cold and temperate climates because there are fewer exposed external surfaces for heat to escape through. Similarly, shallower house plans work better in high humidity climates, as they facilitate passive cooling and natural ventilation.
Whether you subscribe to green principles or not, a healthier planet is something we can all benefit from. Besides…. doing the right thing makes you feel good!
4. Discover Your Creative Side
The challenge of designing a smaller home is to squeeze out every last drop of useable space, while still meeting the needs of your brief.
You need to make the design really work for you and your site, so you are going to have to get creative. There is no room for wasted spaces or occasional rooms purely for special occasions.
You will have to rethink how spaces are used at different time of the day, and reconsider your priorities in terms of materials, glazing, storage and circulation.
Anyone can produce a sloppy house plan, adding a rumpus room here and a home cinema there, but designing a small home is tough. You will be forced to take a far more considered approach to design, and the eventual building will be far richer because of it.
5. More Cash in Your Pocket
Perhaps you are downsizing baby-boomers, selling the family home, or a young couple reaching for that elusive first rung on the property ladder.
Whatever your situation, paying less money to the bank each month can only be a good thing.
Reducing the size of your mortgage (or eliminating it altogether) by spending less on your home, frees up cash for the nicer things in life. You might choose to travel more or take the opportunity to work part-time. Perhaps you simply want to save for your kid’s education.
The important thing is that less debt gives you more choices.
6. Live in a better location
There’s a trade-off to be made.
Smaller houses and building plots tend to be closer to the city centre, while larger houses mostly occupy suburban areas. Living in an urban area you are more likely to be able to walk to work, or to socialise in bars and cafes, utilising public transport links. In the suburbs you are going to rely on your car a lot more.
When you can walk to the gym you don’t need a treadmill in your spare room, and when you can easily nip to the shops for a few ingredients do you really need a huge walk-in pantry?
Living in a small house can decrease the need to travel by car, reducing fuel costs and keeping you healthy.
7. Enjoy a life outdoors
When you live with less space indoors, you are more likely to spend time outside.
Reducing screen time and engaging with nature has proven physical and psychological benefits, and where better than Australia to spend time in the great outdoors.
Siting a smaller house on a standard sized block also allows for more area to be given over to garden. More space for the kids to play and a spot to read in the shade of a tree. You might even grow your own veggies.
Sounds like a recipe for happiness to me.
8. You need less stuff
Having a larger home simply makes you buy more stuff to fill it.
You don’t want the place to feel empty, but furniture can be expensive. Trip to Ikea anyone?
Living in a small house means you need less stuff. You can invest in fewer, better quality, more durable items instead. It’s time we filled our homes with things we love, rather than simply the only ones we can afford.
Reducing your stuff-pile it is liberating. It will simplify your life and declutter your brain.
Its a cliche but its true. The fewer things you have, the happier you become.
9. Get your weekends back
Anybody who has owned a home knows the amount of time, energy and effort that goes into simply maintaining it.
Theres painting to do, leaky pipes to fix and lawns to mow – not to mention the cleaning!
The larger the house, the more toilets and tiles there are to clean, carpets to vacuum and furniture to polish. It can easily take a whole weekend just to get on top of it, with little time left to spend with family or friends.
Small houses give you your weekends back. With fewer chores and less maintenance, you will have more time to pursue things in life that really matter to you.
10. Become closer to your family
Sharing a small house means more social interaction. It is unavoidable. You will become closer to each other, simply because you will spend more time together.
There is nowhere to hide.
When you live together in a small space, you learn to work around each other and diffuse problems before they arise. You are forced to face your issues and discuss your differences, creating better, stronger relationships as a result.
Whatever size your house, it won’t directly make you happy. Happiness is about relationships and experiences, shared laugher and special moments.
A house is just a backdrop for your story. Its up to you to make it a good one.
Do you live in a smaller house, or are you considering down-sizing? Share your story in the comments box below – Id love to hear from you.