People often think that they'll be happier if they live in a big house with a big garden. Perhaps they want to impress their friends and family. Perhaps they just think it's the right thing to do after climbing the career ladder. Or maybe they just hold fast to the idea that a larger house will offer far more regarding practicality. But despite increasing the square footage of their estates every year for the last fifty, Americans are no happier.
So what's going on? One of the problems is that large houses come with more responsibilities. And a lot of those new responsibilities were not anticipated and are not wanted. It can become an expensive chore to maintain a large household, especially when you don't have an army of people ready and waiting to help you.
For some people, there is a compelling case for downsizing. Some of the reasons are personal. But there are wider concerns at work too. So without further ado, why will you be happier if you downsize?
Smaller Houses Are A More Liquid Asset
One of the problems that dogs owners of large houses is the difficulty involved in selling. Yes, you might have a large house that's worth a lot on paper. But there are fewer people with the type of money you want out there to buy it.
Smaller houses, on the other hand, have far wider appeal. Because they're within the budgets of most people, there's a greater chance that you'll make a quick sale.
This can work to your advantage in several ways. The first is that you'll incur fewer expenses when your estate is ultimately inherited by your kin. The second is that you're more able to access the liquidity in your house if a remortgage specialist believes the house is easy to sell. And finally, it's likely that you'll avoid paying death taxes on your estate. But it all depends on how carefully you manage your wealth.
You Don't Have To Do So Much Decorating
When your house has more than twenty rooms, decorate, decorating never stops. As soon as you have finished one room, another falls into a state of disrepair, and the process has to start all over again.
Decorating causes a lot of disruption and doesn't allow your home to feel truly lived in.
What's more, decorating doesn't become something that you spend money on for fun or as a treat. It becomes something that you spend money on like any other household bill. This spoils the magic and reduces decorating to a chore.
You Have Less Space For Stuff You Don't Need Or Want
It's an unwritten law of the universe that if there is any spare space in your house, it must be filled. If you have a big house, have a look around. I bet that every nook and cranny in which something could be stored, there is something stored.
This is one of the many benefits of downsizing. There's simply no space for you to put all that pointless stuff you've accumulated in your big house. And when you move, you'll have to be ruthless about what to keep and what to throw away.
In a smaller house, you have less space to put new things. So it acts as a constant barrier to the temptation to buy objects you neither need nor want. A small house forces you to focus on the material possessions that really matter to you, and get rid of that clutter that's ruining your life.
It Fosters Closer Family Relationships
Large houses often don't feel all that cosy. Why? Because people are off in different parts of the house doing their own thing. Dad is in the study, sending emails on the computer. Mum is in the living room watching soaps on TV. One of the kids is in the garden reading a book under a tree. Another is in their bedroom playing video games. It's as if the whole house was set up to drive people apart.
But a smaller house brings people together. It makes for a more sociable atmosphere where everyone is just a stone's throw away. It's easier to strike up conversations once you've downsized. That's because people are naturally sharing the same space.
Many people admit that downsizing helps their family relationships. And they find this surprising. Often they only moved to a larger home because they thought that it would make for a better family life. If everybody had more space, they told themselves, people would be able to do the things they wanted to do. But too often, with all the distractions of modernity, more spaces translates to more isolation.
Just like decorating, cleaning a large house can become an endless chore. There are a thousand more jobs that need to be done in a larger house. Multiple bathrooms need cleaning. Multiple bedrooms need cleaning. The living areas tend to be larger and have more things waiting to get dirty.
And the kitchen is probably the worst part of all. No matter how hard you try, you' never seem to return it to quite how it looked in the magazine.
What's more, house cleaning services and prices are lower when you downsize. That means that if you do get somebody else to do your cleaning for you, you'll have more money in the bank at the end of the month.
You Get More Time To Yourself
Have you ever noticed that you never seem to have any time let once you've done the housework?
Besides the cleaning and the decorating, there's always a thousands little jobs that need doing on a large house. Perhaps your house has old-fashioned features, like a period range cooker. It sounds like a lovely idea, but that cooker needs servicing every 12 months if it's to carry on working as it should.
These little jobs all add up and eat into your time. You can often spend a couple of hours a week doing odd bits you'd never envisioned before you bought your house. And considering that you probably only have a few hours spare each week, this seriously cuts into your free time.
But if you downsize you'll have far more time to yourself. If having time to yourself is super important, you could consider renting a smaller property. That way any additional work that needs doing on the house is the responsibility of the landlord.
You Lower Your Environmental Impact
I said at the beginning that there are wider concerns that come into play when downsizing. And one of those is the environment.
Back in 1950, the average American household had a total of 290 square feet of living space per resident. But over the following decades, that number continued to rise. Having a large house in leafy suburbia was the American dream and the goal to which we all aspired. By 2003, the average square footage per resident had risen to 900 square feet. Houses, in other words, were more than three times as big.
At the same time, the number of bathrooms per house rose. In 1970, there were only a handful of houses built with more than three bathrooms. In fact, there were so few, that they don't show up on government statistics. Now, though, one-quarter of all new houses built has a third bathroom.
The manufacture and transportation costs associated with new housing have increased. More wood is used in the construction of houses. More road miles are used transporting the material. And more concrete is poured into the foundations. It all adds up to increasing the carbon footprint of the household.
If you're somebody that cares about their environmental impact, downsizing has many benefits. You can stop worrying about the environmental impact of having that third bathroom and know you are doing your bit for the planet.
You Save On Bills
The ongoing costs of running a large house tend to rise faster than the square footage. As the area of your house gets larger, you end up paying more for each additional unit of space. And that's not a good thing.
Downsizing not only means that you'll save on bills, but it also means that you'll be making more economical use of space. Council tax will be a lot lower. But so too will heating and utility bills.
You Can Travel Without Worrying
Big houses are inevitably a target for criminals. They are, in effect, an advertisement for wealth. And, as a result, they attract criminals of all stripes.
Many owners of large homes suffer frequent break-ins and become a regular target of criminals. It means that when you go away for extended periods of time, you're inevitably worried about a burglary. It means that you never have the opportunity to relax.
But downsizing frees you up from all that baggage, particularly if you move from a house to a condo. Have the security taken care of by somebody else and stop letting the material things get in the way of having a joyful life.