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What’s it Like to Downsize to a smaller house?


My husband and I have owned 4 different houses in our 10 years of marriage. Yes, we are crazy. Like most people, we started out in a smaller 1000 sqft home, moved up to 1250, and then up again to 1350. We realized that we were only really using half of our living space. We also only have one child and are unlikely to expand our family. So why were we paying for all that extra space? (Point made–a family of six rents out our 1350 sqft house.) We decided to downsize and haven’t looked back.

What’s it like? Could you do it? Here’s what it’s like to downsize in your young-family years.

Redefine What Your Child(ren) Need(s)

First of all, you probably won’t have a playroom, or enough backyard space for a playset. Honestly, we haven’t missed it. Our son is only interested in a few things, so it doesn’t make a ton of sense for us to shower him with toys. We also find he plays much better when we keep things sparse. In this house and the last one we’ve had yards that were small and inconvenient to play in. We haven’t minded because in both locations we lived within walking distance to two parks. Yes, it would be nice to be able to let our son go outside to play in the backyard while watching from a window. However, he’s an only child, so he would likely get bored and want to come in again quite quickly. It’s much better for us to take a trip to the park where there’s a chance of playing with other children.

Be Selective with what you Own

Over the last 5 years we have done a lot of decluttering. I’m still not done. I long to get to the place where we only own things that we love and frequently use. For example, we only use 4 plates, 2 pots, and 2 frying pans. Kristen of 5 years ago would have called you crazy. But I really don’t miss having more.  Although I fought the Hermit long and hard on the only 4 plates thing, I realized that he was right.

Right now our main floor is close to that spot, but our basement is a graveyard of stuff that we didn’t have time to organize when we merged our households. (The Hermit lived in one house by himself until the school year was done and we could all live together again.)

See your main areas as prime real estate

Any seasonal items need to be shipped to storage, as you don’t have room to give up that real estate year round.

You need to be savage with your closets.  Each family member only gets two coats and two pairs of shoes in the main closet.  This is still an unrecognized dream in our house, especially in March and September when the weather can be really unpredictable.  We will get there.

Do you really read all those books on your bookshelves?  Does that ceramic bird really spark joy?  Sometimes we don’t even see our clutter anymore because we’re so used to looking at it.

Living Small Doesn’t Have To Feel Small

Even though our house is only 1050 square feet, it feels large enough to us.  The ceilings are very tall, which makes even our cramped kitchen seem spacious.  The layout of your house and flow and scale of your furniture is more important than your actual square footage.  Arrange your furniture for the way you live.  Create areas for conversation.  If a piece is too big or doesn’t seem to fit anywhere, sell it.  Your furniture is there to serve you, not the other way around.

Downsizing Benefits

The best part about a small home is that there is so much less to clean!  If you keep your clutter under control, your Saturday or Sunday morning cleaning session can be done in only 2 hours.

You likely have less yard space, so there’s less lawn care and snow removal to worry about.  30 minutes of mowing lawn verses 90?  Yes please.

Small homes are also cheaper.  Heating, power, and renovation costs are all lower when you have less square footage.

Do you live in a small space?  Let us know how you make it work in the comments!

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!