Everywhere you look, there are signs – people are re-evaluating their lifestyle choices and choosing to live more frugally. Our latest world-wide recession has transformed people who once lived at the edge of their budgets into born-again savvy savers. And the trend can be seen in housing as well…
Until recently, Americans have been in the habit of steadily increasing their square footage, year after year. The average single-family home grew from 1,780 square feet in 1978 to 2,479 square feet in 2007. But this upward climb came to an abrupt halt when the National Association of Home Builders announced in 2009 that the median size of new homes fell for the first time in 30 years, with new housing starts averaging 2,094 square feet.
And while new construction is still at lower levels than in years past, builders who specialize in smaller, greener homes have seen an uptick in business. Take, for instance, Jay Schafer, author of The Small House Book. Schafer has received attention from Oprah, CNN and the New York Times for the success of his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, which specializes in small house plans, as well as ready-made tiny houses that can be delivered to your door.
Indeed, it appears that the small house trend is truly gaining momentum, and for good reason. Having a smaller living space can send ripples of savings throughout your lifestyle. Here are some ways a small house can equal big savings:
Building or purchase cost reductions
It’s a no-brainer that big houses have big price tags. The most obvious financial advantage of a small house is that it’s less expensive to build (or purchase, for existing homes). Less materials, less space to cover, less square footage – all result in a smaller mortgage payment.
Naturally, less space to heat and cool means smaller energy bills. And when you have a smaller abode, efficiency upgrades – like new insulation or windows – also costs less.
When you have less storage space, you tend to collect less clutter. When we have big rooms, we feel the need to fill them with things we don’t really need. Having smaller areas encourages more thoughtful and purposeful purchases – equaling less frivolous spending.
All homes require ongoing maintenance – from painting to cleaning to re-roofing. When there’s less area to cover, there’s less expense involved in these inevitable tasks.
Simply put, scaling down your living space means spending less. And more people are discovering that small and charming is more desirable than grand and showy when it comes to saving money for other goals (like paying off debt or taking vacations).
But beyond pure economics, the movement to smaller living spaces also reflects a shift to a simpler lifestyle – one that encourages spending one’s personal energies on more than just material gain. Find out more about the movement to live large through living small by checking out the Small House Society, whose motto is, “Better living through simplicity.”
The Tiny House – Save Big By Living Small was provided by Zing!, Quicken Loans’ blog about mortgages, home ownership and personal finance.