Tiny homes, generally defined as residences of less than 400 square feet, have become a huge topic—and for good reason. Downsizing, it turns out, comes paired with surprisingly positive effects on health and happiness.
And luckily, you don't need to move into a home on wheels to reap these benefits. Even a reduction of a few hundred feet could help out. Here are four reasons you should consider downsizing and a primer on how to do so effectively.
1. Less space means less stuff (and therefore less stress).
When you have a large space, it's tempting to fill it with stuff. However, the more belongings you own, the more your belongings own you. Humans are the only living things that build emotional relationships with stuff (ever seen a monkey petting a rock?), and if our possessions break or fall into disarray, we start to worry about them. The less stuff you have, the more emotional bandwidth you reserve for the things that can love you back, like loved ones.
The tiny transition: I suggest conducting a simple "time-use survey" of your own home to figure out which rooms you actually use on a regular basis. Using a calendar or journal, estimate how many waking hours you spend in the various spaces inside and outside of your house each day, noticing the most-used room after a few days. (For most Americans, it's the kitchen.) The process will illuminate the most effective floorplan for your next move or remodel.
2. Minimizing your space means maximizing your wallet.
On average, it costs 32 cents a month, above and beyond your mortgage payment and tax, to own one square foot in your house. (This accounts for the money you spend heating and lighting the space.) So if you take your square footage and multiply it by .32, that's how much you spend maintaining your home per month. This is money you could be putting toward the more important stuff, like travel and excursions.
The tiny transition: When you go shopping for your next place, factor in this 32-cent usage fee when you consider the mortgage or rent payments and taxes. This will be your true housing cost.
3. A small, open floor plan is a parent's dream.
Parents often find it easier to keep tabs on what their kids are doing, what they are watching, and what they are saying in a smaller home with an open floor plan. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise; it's much easier for your son to attach fireworks to slugs if he is 200 feet away and four rooms over.
The tiny transition: Prioritize open spaces when shopping for a smaller home or considering a remodel. Believe it or not, a tinier space with an open floor plan can feel more spacious than a larger home with lots of rooms.
4. A tiny home gives your relationships room to thrive.
When you're in a fight with your partner, where do you go? Probably into another room to brood, ceasing conversation and putting your issues on the back-burner to slow heat. But if you live in small space, you're forced to confront your problems head-on, which can actually be a really healthy thing for a relationship. After all, it's miserable to be inches from someone in a terrible mood.
The tiny transition: Once you downsize, make sure that every room has its purpose and there are no bat caves or hideaways for family members to inhabit.