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I’ve spent the last few years meandering around the world and I’ve stayed in places both large and small. I’m currently settled in the US for a little while and I’ve come to a rather obvious conclusion: small homes are a very thrifty option.
When I first got back to the United States, I lived in an actual “tiny home” of 320 square feet. It was awesome and everything was designed to make every niche of space count. Unfortunately, the owner of the home I was renting did not have the proper permits from the city and I had to relocate FAST. I had 15 days to find a new place.
I’m currently in an urban area near my daughter and rentals are costly. I chose to rent a 600 square foot studio apartment because I was conducting research for my other website on small-space prepping. But, I’ve realized that living in a small home can save you a lot of money.
I’m not suggesting you immediately pick up and relocate. But if you are moving, especially if it’s due to financial reasons, consider downsizing.
Little living spaces usually cost less.
This is not always the case. If you choose an outrageously expensive neighborhood, you’ll pay as much for your small home as you would a larger home in a middle-class neighborhood. My current apartment is considered a studio because the bedroom doesn’t have windows or a closet. However, I have plenty of room for me, the dogs, and guests. It’s about $400 a month less expensive than the other apartments in the complex, yet I still have access to all the nice amenities.
The same is true when you’re buying. Depending again on the neighborhood, a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house is nearly always going to cost less than a place with 4 bedrooms, a family room, a fully finished basement, and three and a half baths.
It’s cheaper to furnish a small home.
When I had to move in a hurry, I went from a fully-furnished tiny house into an empty apartment. I needed furniture FAST. I had sold all mine or given it to my daughters when I left for Europe three years ago. I still had some preps, some art, and my books in the storage unit, but I needed some basics.
I spent less than a thousand dollars furnishing my whole place. I got a sofa, two shelving units, a TV console with storage underneath, a coffee table, 2 bar stools, 2 random cabinets, a bed, 2 nightstands, 3 lamps, and a dresser. Everything was either found in an interesting-looking roadside trash pile on garbage day, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. Normally, I’d hit some yard sales, but there aren’t many going on this year, perhaps due to the pandemic. As well, I was in a hurry to get settled because taking more time to do so was taking time away from work.
Anyway, I managed to furnish it at a good price with used things and decorate with items I already owned that were in storage. My biggest splurge was printing off some of the travel photos I took to hang on the walls.
Less square footage means less area to heat and cool.
Obviously, this depends somewhat on the small home. If it’s reasonably well-insulated, though, you’ll find that your utility bills are lower if you’re careful with your use of water and power.
In my apartment, I get the air conditioning fairly chilly at night because I sleep better in a cold room. As soon as I get up in the morning, I turn it up to 78-80.
I keep the blinds shut in the morning when the sun hits directly on my wall of windows. This keeps the apartment cool all day. Later, when the angle of the sun has changed, I open the blinds to let more light in. In the winter, I’ll do the opposite because I’ll want that solar gain in the morning to heat the apartment passively.
My utility bills are a fraction of what my local friends with larger homes pay.
Small homes are less time-consuming to keep clean.
Time is money, and in a small home, you’ll spend less of it keeping things clean and tidy. I can vacuum my entire place in 15 minutes and as long as you put things away as you go, you tidying up doesn’t take long either.
It’s essential in a small home to be organized. You need to keep like items together so that you won’t be frantically searching for what you need and stuck with a bunch of clutter.
You buy less for a small home.
I’ve always been one of those people who can’t resist seasonal decor items…until now. There’s no space in my little apartment for a lot of autumn or holiday decor. I don’t have room to add a single piece of furniture to what’s already here. I have two sets of sheets and 3 sets of towels. My closet has clothing on one side and shelves on the other side.
At this point, my rule here is the same as it was when I was traveling. One thing in means one thing out. Otherwise I’ll end up in the uncomfortable position of climbing over stuff (or let’s be honest – tripping over it) instead of walking freely through the space.
Gone are the days when I would just browse and buy a few new throw pillows for each season or little doo-dads that are purely decorative. If it’s not useful, organizational, and I don’t know where I’m going to put it, I don’t buy it. Period.
What do you think about small homes?
Do you live in a small home or a big one? Do you find a small home to be more cost-effective? Do you have additional reasons why small homes are cheaper? Which do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments.
8 thoughts on “5 Ways Small Homes Can Save You BIG Money”
I live in a 680 sq ft condo….1 bedroom. When I first retired, I started going through each closet/drawer & got rid of so much stuff….mostly to Goodwill or such…..it felt really good to be minimalizing…..then I started prepping (approx Aug 2020)…..I have a relatively large walk in closet in the bedroom (and a rather small kitchen with not much cabinet space) – so I started using my bedroom closet as my prepper pantry…..then acquired some prepping stuff, so now my apt is a little more cluttered than when I was minimalizing…..I would not mind having a little more space….a 2nd Bedroom would be good so I could store prepping things out of sight….but overall, I like a small space, this is enough to have to keep clean.
My family of 4 lives in a 1600 sq ft home. I have lived in larger but I like a smaller home because it is less to clean! I recently visited the home of an acquaintance and her family of 4 lives in an even smaller house–I think 1200 sq ft. I am not an entertainer so having a formal living room or dining room is really not necessary. I do have plenty of storage space for seasonal items and preps. I guess the cost savings for me is time. I save time not cleaning a big house to do other things I enjoy more.
Thank you for this article. My housing circumstances changed significantly 3 years ago. It is a battle to be content with the space I am now in.
Appreciate the positive perspective.
Daisy: Finally able to give payback for the information you provided when I couldn’t pay you for it. Keep the information coming. Thanks.
My family of 3 (two adults and a child) lives in 646 square feet and we have to be minimalists in a way, but it is very comfortable and affordable. We can’t just buy new stuff if we don’t throw something first, so we buy less.
My family of 8 lives in a 950 sq. ft. home in Tampa. We spend a fair amount of time outside – even during the summer. Granted, we did buy a trailer (that has some bookshelves, a pull-down King Bed and fridge, and we have a work-shed. I work remotely and my wife is a stay-at-home mom and we can afford to eat healthy, so we’re good at present!
Oh, did I mention that we can afford to keep our house at a cool 70 F. since it’s so small? Yes, worth every penny here in Florida!
Instead of the trendy “tiny home” format, why not a mobile home? I know, there’s a certain stigma attached to trailer parks, but it is cheaper in the long term. You actually pay a premium for buying a tiny home, largely because they’re trendy. Once you sell them, though, you won’t recoup much. Mobile homes (or “modular homes” as one of my engineer friends calls them) may be a little larger, but actually have a higher resale value. They also come with every amenity… real toilets, stoves, built in HVAC.
Nota bene: I lived in a trailer during my senior year in college. It wasn’t bad at all, although there were only parking spaces for two cars.
Long ago I had been trying for a little over 2 years to get out of the USAF base BOQ (bachelor officer’s quarters) but had to wait until USAF had more applicants than space available before I was given the freedom to move off base and buy a very used 10‘ by 38‘ mobile home to live in long enough (a year or more) to be regarded by that state as a resident to qualify me for in-state tuition when I was freed up to work on my master’s degree. When that time arrived (although I had to sell to move into an apartment which was on the university’s bus line for daily to and from transport), I had been a property owner long enough to qualify for that vastly cheaper in-state tuition rate. The point is that sometimes the financial benefit of living in smaller quarters is additionally dependent on issues well outside of the purchase cost and monthly expenses of small quarter — even when the benefit lasts years after selling that property.