Do you choose a house size to accommodate your stuff or your lifestyle? Most people choose a house that will be big enough for all their current and anticipated further belongings.
By following this common rationale, your stuff dictates the size of your house, the size of your mortgage payment, the size of your utility bills, the size of your home insurance premium, and the size of your workload to maintain it. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
If you choose a small house instead you cut all of your expenses dramatically. You also greatly reduce the amount of time that is needed to keep it clean and functionally sound.
Another popular rationale for choosing the size of a house is in the anticipation of the possibility that you may feel obligated to host a party, family gathering, or meeting. Again your decision on your finances, freedom, and lifestyle is being dictated by social norms and pressures.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hosting a party. But it’s also a lot of work, produces a greater likelihood of accidents that cause damage, and the traffic can contaminate all the surfaces of your home with germs. I know that sounds antisocial, but there are alternatives that allow you to have better parties without buying a big house to have them in and all the headaches that go with it.
You can have your bashes at public parks, community facilities, restaurants, hotels, and more. Some restaurants will provide a free private room when everyone in the group is going to buy a meal. And you could arrange for a set menu of three or four meal options and get a lower fixed price and have everyone pay their equal share. Drinks would be paid individually. Although more pricey, hotels are an ideal place to hold celebrations especially if they involve people coming in from out of town. If the group is big enough you can negotiate lower pricing if it’s a fixed menu and lower rates on sleeping rooms.
So there are no solid reasons to allow your choice in the size of your house to be dictated by perceived future social obligations. Let go of those advertising images of gatherings with family and friends in the big house and create your own visualizations designed to your specifications.
Ego & Competitiveness
The last barrier for some people is the attachment of their ego and sometimes their self-worth to the size, location, and amenities of their house. I’ve heard people say, “I’ve got to have a house that’s at least 5,000 square feet, with a gourmet kitchen with an island, formal dining room, living room, family room, office, 5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms, 4 car garage, pool, hot tub, and a gated entrance to the community. As I listen to them describing their “must have” house with such lust I know that it is their ego and weak self-value that is driving them to want it.
How is the attachment of a house to ego and self-worth created? I believe it is created by consumer products and homebuilder advertisements that we’ve been exposed to since birth. Television, movies, and the news media also play a role. And if a person is married or living with someone who has been seduced by these advertising messages, the pressures to have the big house become much greater. I discuss the influence of advertising in more detail in this article, “Downsizing: First Step To Tiny Living.”
How do you escape these attachments of ego and self-esteem to the size of a house? By recognizing how your concepts of the ideal house may have been created, identifying the huge advantages of a small house over a big one, and learning about tiny living. You need to get to a place where your enthusiasm for the rewards of having a small house cancels out any ego or self-worth issues that were cleverly implanted in your subconscious by advertisers. And you need to disregard the opinions of unenlightened people who insist on living large – materialistically!
Tiny living and small houses go against established social traditions that were created for the most part by consumer products and homebuilder advertising. But economic downturns, creative people seeking a better way to live, and large numbers of baby boomers who are at or nearing retirement are leading to a peaceful revolution toward small houses.
One of the things I like about small houses and tiny living is that it is non-conforming. I enjoy beating the system and creating a more intelligent way to live. Doing what everybody else is doing is unimaginative and boring.
For you, will it be your stuff, perceived social obligations, or ego that dictate your decision regarding the size of your house? Or will you choose the size of your house based on your principles, financial goals, needs for freedom, and desired lifestyle?