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Four Advantages of Living in a Smaller Home

For years I dreamed about the simplicity of living in a small cottage. It seemed so romantic, comfortable and easy. It’s been a long journey, but now that I’m living in my 700 square foot accessory dwelling unit (ADU) I realize some of the true advantages to living small.

A small sampling of my teacup collection.

1) A small house makes downsizing an easier process

In the last two years I've purged more than two-thirds of my possessions. It didn't happen all at once. It was a process over the course of moving from a 2,400 square foot house to an 1,800 square foot house, and then to my modest backyard cottage. Downsizing is a process that continues today. But it wasn’t until I moved into my ADU that the “keep or toss” decision-making process became easier and less stressful. Why? Because I simply don’t have the space.

When you live small, space is your most precious asset. Every square inch matters. And that's a big incentive to purge. Why waste space on something that doesn’t “spark joy” like Maria Kondo says or that you don't have to hang on to for legal reasons.

Clearing away a box of old paperwork I've been tripping over for weeks is liberating. When I sell something on craigslist, give a bag of magazines to a friend, or donate a dress I haven’t worn in ages — it’s a victory. And it feels great!

I still haven’t started the difficult process of going through old photos, letters, articles I wrote and videos I produced, but it needs to be done. I don’t want to stash them in my overly stuffed attic only to face them a decade later when I sell the house.

2) A small house keeps me from accumulating more

I love yard sales, estate sales, Good Will, flea markets, antique malls and finding a great bargain at Ross. I’ve got that collector, accumulator gene. But now that I live in a small house, I like keeping my space minimal and less cluttered. And the fact is, there simply isn’t enough space for displaying even a fraction of the dishes and tchotchkes I still own.

So now when I see some eye-candy in a store, I simply enjoy it or take a picture of it. In this way, living smaller keeps me from accumulating more than I need in the moment. I’m still a collector, but no longer an accumulator.

3) A small house frees up more of my time

Less house means less house to maintain and repair. There's less furniture to clean and restore and less appliances and gadgets to service. With fewer rooms to clean it takes me a fraction of the time it took to clean my larger homes.

Building my ADU took up a large chunk of my yard, so now I have far less yard work. I swapped my front lawn for a flower garden with a soaker line and timer. The yard between the two houses is wood chips, berry bushes and vegetables. And the stone patio for my ADU is surrounded by shade loving plants in large containers. No more lawn to mow.

With less time devoted to maintaining my home, I have more time to spend doing what I love: writing, blogging, seeing friends and enjoying cultural activities and events in my city. And traveling of course!

4) A small house helps me stay on budget and live more sustainably

I spend far less living in my small house than I have in decades. Yes, building my ADU was a huge expenditure, but now that I have a newly constructed home, my maintenance costs are next to nothing. And even though I enjoy air conditioning and I cook a lot, my utilities are a fraction of what they were. Best of all, renting out the main house provides a steady stream of relatively passive income. That certainly lets me breathe easier.

As I said earlier, I’ve stopped accumulating items I simply don’t need. No more buying sports equipment that sits in the garage never being used. Now I rent what I need just for when I need it. I question each possible purchase: “Do I really need one more kitchen widget or can I get by with what I already have?”

I’m buying fewer clothes too. So many times I’ve come home with a blouse that’s almost identical to the one hanging in my closet. Now before I go shopping, I peruse my wardrobe and make a list of just what I need.

Fewer expenses, less clutter, more freedom and less stress are just a few of the advantages of living in a small home. If you’ve downsized recently to a smaller home, I’d love to hear about your journey. Please comment below.



Hi, I’m Lori Cronwell. As a writer and frequent traveler, I admire the values most Europeans embrace: choosing quality over quantity; residing in smaller, more sustainable homes; working less and spending more time with friends and family.

Those values were key in my decision to drastically downsize to a 700 sq. ft. accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with the goal of creating a simpler, more sumptuous life with time for travel.

Slow travel, that is. Spending more time in one place — even if it’s just a week. You'll not only spend less, you'll discover a deeper and more meaningful travel experience.

Please subscribe below and join me on a journey to find affordable ways to explore Europe in the slow lane and to live a more European lifestyle every day of our lives.

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