On Buying a Small House

The house my husband and I bought is big for us. We don’t even have enough furniture to give it that cozy, “lived in” look. Instead, it has something of an “empty” look about it with its bare spaces and empty cupboards.

In actuality, though, it’s only a three-bedroom ranch with no basement and only a garage for extra storage. To many folks, that’s rather small when you start talking about working from home and hoping to have kids someday. 

But to us? Well that was one of the things we loved about it.

You see, I don’t want a house that I feel like I have to fill up. I don’t want rooms that go dormant and gather dust. I don’t want spaces that beg for clutter and more stuff. 

Instead, I want a house that gets used. I want a house that is snug and that commands that we be careful with our purchases. I want a house that challenges me to use every inch wisely. I want a house that is small enough to maintain so that I can spend my time doing other, more enjoyable things. I've daydreamed about those benefits of a smaller home for awhile now.

Originally, when we were thinking about how large of a house we wanted, we thought four bedrooms would be ideal: One for us, two rooms for our someday children and another for an office/guestroom. But with one less room, we’ll be forced to get creative to make do when the time calls for it. 

And that part? I like it, too. 

I’m excited to see what lies ahead for this humble little abode of ours and how it will transform over the years. Because for me, bigger isn’t always better. 

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  1. Wait til you have children. It seems your house takes on a mind of it's own. They have toys, books, furniture, clothes, diapers - inside toys, outside toys - just wait. Ask Anne and TG - they also have 3 bedrooms. You're gonna need an extra bedroom. Enjoy your space now !

    1. Ha, thanks, Aunt Phyllis! Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I'm hoping that it's not too bad. :) I guess we'll see when the time comes!!

  2. I agree with you here. When I get a house I want less than 1,500 sq. ft. I really don't want to feel like I have to fill it.

    If ever I have to get more stuff (for kids, for example) I want to be forced to be creative. That and I believe that when I have kids I want them to learn to be content with what they have, not always wanting more like I did growing up.

    1. Our house is just under 1,500 square foot, so I'm right with you on that! Also, I really do want to try to keep kids' stuff to a minimum. It seems like so many kids have WAY more stuff than they need or even have time or energy to play with. I think it'll be hard to teach them to be content with what they have, but if we can start the process earlier in life for them, all the better! It can be such a struggle even as an adult!

  3. There is for sure a balance! Rather than think of having fewer rooms, I'd think more in terms of a square footage to room ratio balance. We moved to our current (small) home from a nice large 3/2 with two living rooms in an effort to control our rent and pay off medical debt faster. I've NEVER hated how small our place is, and it definitely has many of the benefits you've mentioned.

    Initially I loved having the smaller space and being forced to organize. We have less "junk", don't buy junk (where would I put it?), and I DEFINITELY spend less time cleaning (and when is that not a plus?!).

    However, Aunt Phyllis has a point. I have two kids (almost three) and we live in what equates to a 1 1/2 bedroom house (probably about 800sq ft). While I realize our small space is pretty extreme, I feel like I've had time to find some balance between knowing I don't need a huge house, and understanding that having extra rooms can really be a blessing. For us, having two rooms for kiddos (we plan on having at least the 3 of our own, then more later or adopting), one for us, and having a room for guests/office/homeschooling would be ideal.

    Sometimes having a lack of rooms can hinder you from doing things you wanted to. Guests rarely enjoy sleeping on a couch or taking over a family member's room (even if it's just a kid's room), though close friends and family will do it cheerfully if it means spending time with you. Some church groups prefer to have host housing where their group members will have their own rooms, AND their own bathroom. And if you ever plan on fostering/adopting/hosting foreign exchange students there are often strict guidelines regarding room sharing. Just things everyone should think over when making housing decisions!

    1. Wow, Megan! That IS quite a feat to squeeze all that into a 1 1/2 bedroom, but if you think about it, it wasn't too long ago when probably a lot of our ancestors lived in homes that size or smaller. So it's not really like it's NECESSARY to have tons of space.

      But it is a good reminder that having a smaller home can have its own share of hindrances. I guess with EVERYTHING, there's always a cost associated--as well as its own share of benefits. It's just a matter of figuring out what works for each person, and that can look different for each family or even for each season of life. Maybe someday we'll end up in a mansion. I mean who knows? But I highly doubt that :) I'm content living the small-home life for now!

    2. re: fostering/adopting

      When we have looked into it (talking with social workers and hosting an orphan for a summer program), foster/adopted children require their own beds but not their own rooms. May depend on the state? It's probably wise to be selective about age/gender related to children already in the home (especially shared rooms) when a family expands in this way.

  4. We live in a 4br/2ba home with one open living area (lr/eat-in kitchen) that is just under 1500 sq. ft. That's for two adults, four children under 9, two dogs and a cat.

    There are times I wish we had more room, but in my mind we'd be giving up more than we'd get to move into a large house.

    We've had as many as 14 people squeezed into our home for holidays with no complaints (yes, overnight). Families we invite to dinner seem to have fun, even when the kids get the table and adults get the couches. I homeschool from the kitchen table, and my husband's "office" is in our bedroom.

    We spend a lot of time together and our kids are friends. Everyone can get alone time if needed, but I really think the smaller space fosters close family relationships. My husband and I always know what's going on in our home. Our utilities are lower. We have less "stuff" therefore a smaller footprint.

    I've learned contentment in this home in a way that just wouldn't have been possible in a large home.

    It would be nice to have one more room. Maybe an office/family room so I could get some sleep at night when my husband is working! :) But even without that extra room, our little home is a blessing!

  5. This post and the associated comments were a perfect read for me today. My husband and I are looking at purchasing our 1st home and simultaneously hoping to start a growing family. We've focused our search on homes with 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths that are in the 1500 sq foot realm and I think that having that space will be perfect. I want to be close together, I want to conserve resources, and I want children that are content and creative. I hope that it all works out... and honestly - we'd be blessed to have 1500 sq feet. There are still way to many families with far less... or no homes at all.

    1. Congrats on starting your home search! And I'm glad this post was encouraging for you as you get started. Sometimes it can be hard to buck the trend of "bigger is better" but I haven't regretted it one bit! And you're totally right that there are so many who don't even have the luxury of anything even close to a 1500 sq ft home. Very humbling... We need to remember that even our "little" is so much!

  6. I think that living in the Atlanta area, your future kids can play outside almost year round, or at least 8-9 months out of the year.....so that is nice. When the house is smaller, the kids are kind of "forced" outside, so they have room to play. Which is good for them. (on that note, I did see pics of your yard....watch out for ticks! Lyme disease is in your area, and other tick-borne diseases exist too. I had a yard like that growing up and had multiple tick bites and got fevers...ticks are in the fallen leaves, brush). Sorry to get sidetracked.

    Anyways, outdoor space is good.

    Also, I think there is something to be said for floor space. Right now hubby and I are in a 500-600 sq foot 1 bedroom apartment....and I miss being able to just lay on the floor to stretch or exercise. The furniture we need takes up most of the floor space. We will have to move before having kids so they'll have room to crawl around.

    I think you can certainly keep "stuff" to a minimum, but once you start having kids, it IS nice to have floor space for playing legos, etc. Those are the things I think about when I long for a bigger place and think about my future family. By the same token, I don't want "too much," like you described.


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