Over at getrichslowly.org, they’re discussing how people who live in big houses only use a small percentage of their total square footage when it comes to daily living. That wasn’t true of us.
Our big house had five bedrooms and an office. We ran two businesses from home, and I homeschooled our children. For many years, every single room of our house was used every day. I used to say that we got more mileage out of our mortgage payment than anyone else we knew.
But that was then. The kids are in their 20s and 30s now and on their own; we downsized to a smaller house several years ago. There are three of us living in 1000 square feet, and we’re quite comfortable. However, had we stayed in our old house, we’d be rattling around with more space than we’d know what to do with. I can easily imagine that, like the people mentioned in the link above, we’d be spending most of our time in just a few rooms of the house.
Thinking about how you use the rooms in your house is a really valuable exercise. Unless you have more money than you know what to do with, you might want to consider whether your current house is really larger than you need it to be. A smaller house means lower costs; lower costs equals more freedom because you don’t have to earn so much money to support yourself, leaving you more time to do the things you really want to do.
I suspect that for many people, the big house ties them to their jobs. If they love their jobs, that’s fine. But many people don’t love their jobs. Living in a smaller house might free them to work somewhere that pays less but offers work that they love.
Some people love the status that a big house confers on them. If status is your goal, then you probably don’t care whether you use many rooms in your house or not. You’re more concerned about what other people think.
I certainly enjoyed having all the space we had in our big house (the master bath was bigger than the master bedroom in our current small house). But that house took a long time to clean, cost us a fortune in property taxes, and maintaining it would probably wear us out now, since we’re a little older (ahem) than we were when we built it 30 years ago.
I loved that big house, and I miss it. But I love this little house, too. Ultimately, some people actually need and use a big house, as we did, but only for a certain stage of their lives. After that, I think most people will find that living efficiently gives them more freedom.