Negativity of small homes

gayle0000October 18, 2008

Just surfing the web looking at financial info, and came across this article called "10 Tough Ways to Boost Your Bottom Line".

The neat thing is the #1 way the author suggests is to downsize your home. What bugged me is how the tone of the downsizing section seemed more as it's not something anyone will like or want to do.

I read this and thought...this suggestion is good and right on, but it comes across as 'You're in trouble financially so here's where you're at. Suck it up'.

Just my opinion. Maybe I took it too personally because I'm an advocate for living small. Any thoughts?

Here is a link that might be useful: 10 Tough Ways To Boost Your Bottom Line

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Spending too much money on too much house has gotten a lot of people in trouble financially. Our society of "keeping up with the Jones," living beyond our means, instant credit = instant gratification, etc. has promoted all the huge McMansions that people think they must have to give them the self esteem that they are lacking. Until a person reaches the point where they acknowledge that they are worth more as a person than all their trappings and belongings indicate, they may have a hard time coming down from the lifestyle they think they should have.

Just my .02 worth.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 9:09AM
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We've really changed our thinking in recent years, taking pride both in being thrifty, and minimizing our impact on the environment. As we get older, we don't want to be saddled with a big mortgage, or a big house to take care of. Luckily, my wife and I began to make this shift 10 years ago, so we're in relatively good shape. When we bought our current house 15 years ago, we qualified for twice as much. I'm sure glad we didn't fall into that trap!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 4:00PM
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I have to give a speech in about two weeks about this very thing, the idea being; the housing crunch, while it IS hurting people, really is making everyone think of going smaller, and that IS a good thing.

I agree with you; but you shouldn't let it bother you. Reckoning in many aspects; heating prices, gas prices, material prices IS coming. There'll be some fluctuations, but the gold rush is over.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 9:26PM
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Perhaps you could point out the simplified and less time consuming upkeep (i.e. cleaning) of a smaller home vs. a large home. And how many people can actually justify the cost of maid/house cleaning service in this day and time?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 11:15PM
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When friends comment to DH and me that they will soon be 'empty-nesters' and will need to downsize, for both economic and upkeep reasons, we tell them that we've been downsized for years LOL. I grew up in an apartment during the school year and a small 'summer home' during the summer and I never felt that I didn't have enough room. Maybe it's because I had the great outdoors as my 'playroom'.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 3:25PM
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It would be wonderful to see the old neighborhoods of smaller homes turnaround. There are beautiful places all over my town which have gone down hill. The architecture from victorian to 50s and most are rentals. Perhaps these neighborhodds will become gold mines, akin to old business areas which have restored and created wonderful unique retail corners.

It will be interesting to see how/when this may happen and the prices evolve. My neighborhood is a mix of home styles and sizes, one of the older, sought after places to live. Am not sure if the real estate market here has figured out we have a downturn. A house 2 doors from me is a 50s cottage, 1100 sq ft and nothing done to it from original build. They are asking $299 and I can't get my head wrapped around the possibility someone would buy it at the price, even if it was remodeled. There continues to be a mind set that the land in my area is gold, any house sitting on it is second in pricing.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 9:52AM
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We have such a sad collective mindset in this country that bigger=better. That higher up=happier. That more stuff=more security. What an idiotic lie so many people have bought into.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 11:50AM
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I'm sorry the author used the term "tough" referring to the strategy of downsizing, and I'm not convinced that money is the main reason that people are downsizing, especially these days. We know that baby boomers are getting older and remain busuier than ever. So this large segment of the population appreciates having less house to maintain and, now more than ever, having less house to heat and cool.

I didn't find much helpful in that article. How realistic is it for most people to expect to live on 50% of their net income, or to give up cellphones, tv, computers and cars?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 2:02PM
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It peeved me that he blithely says "sell your house and move to a smaller one" - what's this guy smoking? Where I live there are houses still on the market, not overpriced and in fairly decent neighborhoods, that were up for sale a year and a half ago when DH and I were househunting. I don't even live in one of the worst-hit areas, either. And what if you'd have to bring money you don't have to the closing table thanks to the RE crash? That makes no sense.

We did downsize house-wise for financial reasons; DH left a very lucrative but incredibly-high-stress job for his health (he was headed straight for a heart attack or stroke, do not pass Go and do not collect $200) for a job that made him happier but paid significantly less, and we could no longer afford our house without becoming extremely "house-poor". We sold it and moved to a much smaller, older house closer to DH's new job to cut commuting and housing costs. Market hadn't even hit bottom at that point and we underpriced the house but we still dang near lost our shirts. If we had waited until now to make that decision, we'd have been screwed six ways from Sunday.

I obviously hang around with the wrong people, but I don't know anyone at all who can save 50% of their income, or even 25% - they need it to, oh, I don't know, LIVE ON?? We're just about the only family we know IRL keeping their heads above water, and we're contributing heavily to keeping other family members' roofs over their heads and food on their tables (because to be honest I'd rather shoot myself in the face with a bazooka than have them camping out on my couch).

If you make long-distance/out-of-local-area calls, it's sometimes cheaper to have a cell phone than a landline. Most cell plans come with free long distance and free nights-and-weekends minutes these days. Pay attention to when you make your long calls, skip the texting and downloads and similar money-sucking extras, and you can actually save a chunk of money. We dropped our landline for this reason. Do the math and see what works for you. (Let's also note that cancelling a cell contract before the expiration date can cost over $150 per line.)

I love how you're supposed to shop and sell on eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle after you've given up your computer and Internet connection... can't sign up for a free Skype sorta-landline without a high-speed Internet connection, either.

Give up the car entirely... obviously written by someone living in an urban area with reasonable public transportation! I don't see mooching off others who DO have cars as a viable solution for more than about a week - carpooling and ridesharing are great but it does lock you into someone else's schedule. Ironic that further on in the article he says all food must be cooked in one's own kitchen - I wonder if he has ever hauled a full week's worth of groceries miles on foot in bad weather, or across a city with multiple bus and subway transfers? BTDT and it's a miserable experience. Reduce use of the vehicle by combining errands, minimizing long trips, and shopping mail order? Certainly, especially if it's a gas guzzler; if you only need to haul large things once in a while and you're in the market for a vehicle, get a small car with good fuel economy and rent a truck when you need it, instead of paying bucketloads to drive a behemoth of a truck/SUV every day. (Whatever happened to the days when our parents could fit two or three kids and all their associated junk :-) into a Chevy Chevette instead of having to have a big minivan or SUV?)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 5:04PM
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It would be extremely inconvenient, if not downright impossible to live in our area without a car. My job is 5 miles away, which wouldn't be too bad on a bicycle, but the only way to get there is on busy multi-lane roads. You'd be lucky not to be a hood ornament within the first month. There aren't any homes near my job- it's in an extensive industrial area. There is virtually no public transportation for workers around here- the buses will get you to the mall (eventually) at 10 AM.

We probably save about 25% of our income, but we bought our house before the current boom. Moving to a smaller house around here would cost us more, because our property tax has a cap, which you lose when you move. So our $1600 tax would likely double on a small house- it would triple on a similar house. Our house is already about a third smaller than the national average anyway.

We already cook about 99% of our meals at home, and we only buy nutritious food that's on sale. We don't go in for pre-processed foods. To cut our food budget significantly would be to not eat a healthy diet- you can't live on beans forever.

I love the way 'experts' write articles like that without thinking about if it's actually possible to follow their advice.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 3:41PM
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I am lucky being able to walk to both my jobs.Three blocks or so. There is a small grocery/hardware/feed store here(all the same store)LOL that is it for shopping. The next closest place is 10 miles one way and so expensive.Yuck food. The other shopping is 20 miles the other way one way and 40 miles to good shopping. We could not give up our car. We usually shop every two weeks in the summer and weather permitting in the winter.

We buy nutritious food too and on sale ,staples, and usually eat out on our trips to town and then it is three tacos for $2.99 at a small Mom taco place and they are yummy.Splurge getting Chinese.Or we get one of those foot long subways for $5.00 and that is for the two of us.Usually only drink water because we are not pop drinkers.

I suppose we could cut back if we did not have our pets. Two dogs and two cats and we feed a herd of feral kitties. Sigh. We are doing ok and never got caught up in the Jones trend. Who cares what the Jones think or do. Certainly tough times for a lot of people and I am so sorry they have to go through this. I think some if it self injury but there are some that really got caught in bad times through no fault of their own.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 2:52AM
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Quoting: "What bugged me is how the tone of the downsizing section seemed more as it's not something anyone will like or want to do."

I could not agree with this more. Get this! For the past 15 yrs I lived in a small cottage home sitting on 1/3 of an acre. Ok, I had more yard than I needed or wanted, but I didn't bother to 'mansion-ize' my home for the sake of keeping up with the Jones'. Needless to say, I am only in my late 40's. My elderly neighbors who also had small homes on large parcels, sold their homes and or died one by one, and the money borrowing, credit card using couples moved in and soon began to get permits to build. One neighbor built a home in the back yard as well as her front yard only to pay her mortgage on the first home they upgraded which they could not afford to keep. This enraged the neighbors because that property became an eyesore. Some of the other new neighbors did away with the extra trees and also 'mansion'ized' their homes. Tired of the scene and tired of the neighbors with their toys (boats, RV's, ATV's, etc), I moved, leaving my property as the last available parcel on the street, soon to face bulldozing. Only one neighbor fears the future of my property because she doesn't want a two story looking down on her hot tub. I am glad I left.

How can people ruin small home styles with their big 'borrowed by the bank, no money in savings' ideas! Just because they have a huge credit line does not mean they are worth more.

While this might sound horrible to say, I am glad foreclosures (I am in CA) happened. It's the people's fault for borrowing money they could not pay and the bank's fault for giving them the chance knowing they could not pay it either.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 1:23PM
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This is a great thread.

DH and I moved into our little cottage in 1973. Friends and family said we ought to just bulldoze the place down. We did not heed their bad advice. We did have 1/3 of an acre, but after the county came through with imminent domain, we now have 1/4 of an acre. Still a nice size but our little cottage is closer to the busy 5 lane road out front.

I am reading a wonderful book right now that I got from the library. In case others might be interested, it is 'The Simple Living Guide' by Janet Luhrs.

What it boils down to is what makes us feel at peace, good and comfortable. We don't have to live like minimalists if we don't want to, but paring back and living with things we love and use makes a big difference. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is NOT where it's at. Trends are a joke, they come and go, and it's just to make you spend, spend, spend.

Here is a quote from the book on contentment.

"Contentment is one of the hallmarks of a simple life. One of the most difficult aspects of being human is to curtail our insatiable desire for more. We spend the majority of our waking hours wanting something and striving to get it. As soon as we get one thing, we're off wanting another. It could be tangibles, such as a new car, new house, new sweater, new job. It could be intangibles, such as more love, more perfect children, more this and more that. Whatever it is, we are rarely satisfied. One of my favorite quotes is "True wealth comes not from having more bunt in wanting less."

Focusing on the virtue of contentment can help us begin to learn to appreciate what it right in front of us."

It is so easy to be made to feel like you are 'not with it' if you don't live like the rest of the world, always having to have more and more.

Our small homes are our little havens from the craziness and hectic lifestyles that so many live. If we feel at peace and enjoy living in and decorating and learning to make do with what we've got with inventiveness, then more power to us. We live cheaper, appreciate things more, and enjoy the life we are living.

A lot of people, maybe most, would not be able to live like we do, and that's their choice. But, please don't ask or expect us to bail you out for your choices when they go bad.

America really needs to wake up. Money does not grow on trees. Plastic money is NOT real, and the more people use it the deeper in debt one becomes if the bill isn't paid monthly. You end up paying exorbitant prices for things you bought because of the interest. The banks and credit card companies are to blame for a lot of what is going on in this country right now. Shame on them!

That's it from my peanut gallery.

Happy living in your small homes.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 7:48PM
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"While this might sound horrible to say, I am glad foreclosures (I am in CA) happened. It's the people's fault for borrowing money they could not pay and the bank's fault for giving them the chance knowing they could not pay it either."

Okay, let's get something straight here. Not all foreclosures are the result of shady lending practices and people knowingly borrowing money they couldn't afford to repay. In fact, I would wager that that situation doesn't even make up a majority of the foreclosures right now with the economy in freefall. Layoffs and employer cutbacks, exorbitant increases in other costs of living (food, utilities, insurance), illness or death in the family, divorce, natural disasters, other unexpected major expenses can easily send a family's finances into a downward spiral... and none of those can be blithely written off as "bad choices". Too many people in my life are IN that situation now. They bought houses they could afford when they bought them, they purchased with every expectation that the mortgage and taxes and insurance would be paid in full every month without fail and they'd still be able to put food on the table and gas in the car, but then the rug was yanked out from under them. If we hadn't given up our previous house and rather significantly changed our lifestyle when we did, as I noted above, we probably would have ended up in foreclosure by now - but when we bought that house our budget could handle the payments easily, we had no idea that 3 years later circumstances would change so drastically.

Did you know that the #1 cause of bankruptcies is medical bills, NOT indiscriminate spending?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 1:30AM
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This reminds me of people who slam welfare recipients (with kids) as being lazy, etc. and saying you shouldn't have kids if you can't support them, but they completely ignore that the single mom wasn't single when the kids came along and that you can't get blood from a stone (the deadbeat).

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 7:26AM
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Gayle, I totally agree with you. For us, our small house was a conscious choice. I'd had the big house etc etc and left it behind after my divorce. Wanted a mortgage I could pay on my income alone if necessary. In the 17 years we have been here, we have paid 75% of the mortgage. Except for that, we have no debt. Tiny closets and no guest bedroom, true, but no debt. I LOVE finding stuff in my house that I can donate to the thrift store; I always joke that it is the only way to get a roomier house.

We used to get comments because this is a "starter" home size and we were well established in our careers. But being close to town and public transportation, having less space to clean and heat, and having a tiny mortgage is priceless. We also joke that we can do WHATEVER we want to the house because the next buyer will tear it down to build a McMansion. That is happening all over this area (N. VA just outside of DC) Maybe the housing "correction" will stop the McMansionization of modest neighborhoods like ours.

Our other joke is that we save a ton of money because we see things we would love to buy but have no place to put them!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 7:44PM
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Johnmarie asked "(Whatever happened to the days when our parents could fit two or three kids and all their associated junk :-) into a Chevy Chevette instead of having to have a big minivan or SUV"

Legislation, that's what happened. It is now mandatory to have certified car seats for every child up to a certain height/weight/age. And that mandate is way higher than common sense would dictate. Plus legislation that makes it illegal to have said car seat or a child (heaven forbid) in front seat.

Back then a friend and I could pack our 5 little ones in the car or even the back of a station wagon and set out for the day. Now you pretty much need one vehicle per family. Not to mention all the heavy duty paraphanalia they all haul now.

Sorry this one part is perhaps OT but its a pet peeve of mine.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 1:28PM
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I will make some enemies now, I'm sure... but... In my little mind, I think there are an awful lot of people who are so unsure of themselves, have a bad attitude- there are other ways to call this- but words escape me tonite... so, they make themselves look 'good' by the big house, expensive car, lots and lots of expensive clothes- to make THEMSELVES look important/rich. And those of us who know better, just shake our heads and say how stupid can they be?? The smart one is the one whose modest home is paid for, there is money in the bank because we didn't even buy a house until we could pay for it outright.
I have a middle sized house (to me) and want to go even smaller- I have a well taken care of 11 year old Dodge Ram, and a new small foreign car. Everything is very modest. But I have no worries- no bills. I am satisfied with myself- I don't need/want 'things'. I enjoy my friends, my dog, my little day-trips. I just don't get the bigger to impress you attitude. Maybe I'm just too simple.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 1:00AM
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I think that's true in many cases. It takes a certain level of confidence and maturity to not worry about what the 'Joneses' have, and be satisfied with what you have. There are also a surprising number of people who have quite a bit of money, but live in very ordinary houses and don't flash their money around. As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that I already have everything I need, and much, much more.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 7:31AM
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"It is now mandatory to have certified car seats for every child up to a certain height/weight/age."

You can fit two fairly-standard-sized (not the gigantic ones) baby seats in the back seat of a compact 5-door hatchback and get the children in and out pretty easily. Know someone who does it daily with her two toddlers. Folding double stroller (again, not one of those massive "SUV strollers", but a reasonably sized one that's actually maneuverable in stores and among other people) and all the associated "stuff" fits in the hatch.

"Plus legislation that makes it illegal to have said car seat or a child (heaven forbid) in front seat."

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 36 out of 50 states have absolutely NO laws prohibiting children of any age from the front seat, with appropriate restraints. Out of those 14 that do have such laws, virtually all do permit children in the front seat under certain conditions.

"Not to mention all the heavy duty paraphanalia they all haul now."

Sorry, not really buying this either. My folks would schlep two or three girls around with horseback riding gear (including saddles, boots, helmets, clothes, etc.), camping equipment (I was in Scouts and my folks often got suckered into transporting us to camp), bulky science projects, etc. in the aforementioned Chevette hatchback from age 9 when they got the car right up until I inherited it when I was 16. (Before that they had a tiny Subaru, and before THAT an ancient Volkswagen Bug.) The joys of carpooling! One of our neighbors has two kids in youth hockey and hauls them both and all their gear in some kind of small foreign sedan that looks to be about 7-10 years old - a Hyundai maybe? Most vehicles with a bench-type back seat are still made with a center belt in the back seat, so until they're quite big you can put three in the back seat of most cars for shorter trips - of course the one in the middle will whine that they have to have their feet on the "hump", and someone will snivel that "so-and-so is touching me", which my parents would have tolerated for about a minute and a half! (I've put three adults, none of them petite, in the back seat of my Subaru Legacy - a small station wagon, dwarfed by minivans and SUVs - quite a few times for a drive of up to 45 minutes, and somehow we cope with it, so kids half their size can surely manage to survive such a thing without being permanently emotionally scarred.)

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 6:23PM
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Great thread. I thought I had answered this awhile back but sometimes after writing a post, I jump somewhere else and forget to actually post the thing. Sheesh!

Lots of great food for thought here.

When we first moved into our little cottage here in 1973, family and friends told us we should just tear it down and build new. Sure glad we ignored them. They all live in newer, bigger and better, while we are not in debt and we are happy with our quirky little place.

We've made improvements to our place. We've built a workshop, a barn and a storage building all with permits. Now we are working on getting rid of accumulated junk, as we tend to pick up too much from curb-side shopping. : -)
Although DH read me a quote this morning from the paper, by Thomas Edison. "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." So we will be keeping some stuff, organizing it better and getting rid of the rest. We have put to good use a lot of found items, and can't resist slowing down to see what's beside the road. :-)


There are some great lines in these posts:


I'm an advocate for living small

We've really changed our thinking in recent years, taking pride both in being thrifty, and minimizing our impact on the environment.

the housing crunch, while it IS hurting people, really is making everyone think of going smaller, and that IS a good thing.

It would be wonderful to see the old neighborhoods of smaller homes turnaround

be satisfied with what you have

having less space to clean and heat, and having a tiny mortgage is priceless

We know that baby boomers are getting older and remain busier than ever. So this large segment of the population appreciates having less house to maintain and, now more than ever, having less house to heat and cool.

Enjoy living in your small homes, and let's think of ways to improve and improvise with what we have. We have much to be thankful for.

May 2009 be mighty fine for all of us.


    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 10:45AM
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How about "live and let live"? Or, "keep your nose out of places it doesn't belong"?

This is an interesting thread, as I sit here in my 1536 Ft^2 home, looking for the next pile of stuff to dontate to charity. What is not so good about the thread is how mean and judgemental some of the comments are. There should be a way to debate the merits of one versus the other w/o saying that "I am better than you because you are different."

Until this week, I had not posted on the site for 3+ years. Too bad that it has changed for the worse.

Then again, there's nothing like a good, long, deep rececssion to curtail people's excesses and bad behavior.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 1:10PM
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So many great thoughts! I can't tell all of you how shocked people are when I tell people that our house is 480 square feet, which is funny because I would never want to live in a huge, huge house. We don't collect clutter because there's no room for it, and we certainly have low utility bills (I especially love that!). Cleaning is a breeze.

Don't see how living small is sucking it up, though. :)
It's inspired me to start blogging, though. I love my home!

Here is a link that might be useful: our tiny little kitchen

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 12:19PM
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I thought my house was 850 sf when I bought it... but when I measured it for new floors, it turned out to be 650 sf! That's tiny!

It doesn't feel small, though. I tore down walls and made the first floor into one large (relatively large, that is!) LR/kitchen combo. I'm careful about picking colors; the kitchen is all white, the walls are a pale color, and the LR is a mix of light and dark.

Much of my furniture also works as storage. The ottoman opens, and in the LR I have a wall of cabinets that I haven't even filled yet. There is a tall armoire, the top of which contains the TV and electronic equipment, and the bottom of which contains kitchen appliances like the toaster and rice cooker. I try to avoid carbs, so keeping those things out of the way is not a hardship - I rarely use them anyway.

Every closet is maximized with hooks and extra shelves, and I also put those battery-operated push-on lights in those areas so that it's easy to find things. I do not clutter the walkways or have furniture too close to any closet doors, so I don't feel cramped when I move throughout the house. That's the only downside -- I can't buy all the furniture I want... which is also an upside.

Upstairs there were three small bedrooms, which are now 1 bedroom, a workout room, and a closet. The closet room is 9x6 -- that's tiny for a bedroom, but it's huge for a closet.

I have all the space I need, and a bit extra.

I love my house. The size is perfect. Just yesterday, I was fantasizing about my perfect house, and the square footage is something I wouldn't change. I'm very comfortable here and I don't feel a bit deprived or crowded. On the contrary, I wake up every day and can't believe I own my own house outright.

So, in short, here are my small-house tips:

1. Keep it bright: Let in natural light, choose pale paint and appliances, and add artificial light where needed
2. Choose furniture that doubles as storage and think outside the box - my LR cabinets are actually sideboards, but they don't look like sideboards
3. Keep walkways clear -- all doors must open fully and easily
4. Avoid clutter in general -- put stuff out of sight

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 1:14AM
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I wouldn't be shocked by this article. Lots of people eventually come across some bit of wisdom that looks like the common sense people have had for centuries, and they act as if they're Colubus discovering the new world.

I spend more time being amused by the "sudden" discovery of common sense things people have always known, the kind of things that get recycled as some kind of new wisdom.

I guess I was just lucky, being brought up in a household where we took the obvious for granted.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 9:28PM
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Armisteadgardens - your place sounds lovely!
Penny G.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 10:08PM
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Thanks, Peegee!

Actually, while I love my house, it's not a lovely house. It's a concrete rectangle with no architectural detail. But I have to work with what I have. It's a decorating challenge. I long to own a house that has a portico or french doors or an interesting stairway. Something!

To complicate matters further, the house is entirely concrete -- walls, floors, etc. And a lot of drunk handymen seem to have had their way with the place -- for instance, when I moved in, the upper trim all through the house was entirely random -- 6" of one kind, a foot of another, and nothing butted together straight. There was even baseboard up there.

The plumbing is insane. I can't even describe the maze of pipes. When I moved in, pipes emerged randomly from the kitchen walls. There was no actual kitchen -- just a sink and an oven. I want to put a pedestal sink in the bathroom but I can't, because the P-trap doesn't go back into the wall, it goes sideways and joins the toilet waste pipe. So the tiny vanity that someone put in has a hole cut out of the side to allow the pipe to emerge. I have to keep the vanity because I can't find one small enough and affordable enough to replace mine; I thought about using a wall-mounted sink and replacing the exposed pipes with shiny silver ones, but that seems like it would just highlight the craziness of the plumbing. It makes my head hurt just to think about it.

The stairs are molded steel. They even have the bullnoses molded in. Right now they are covered in disgustingly filthy teal carpet while I figure out what do with them. Laminate won't work because of the molded bullnoses. If I can get the carpet glue off (there's tons of it on there, the metal is covered in a thick coat of it), I'll paint them, but there's a LOT of glue on them. I may have to re-carpet, which I really don't want to do. I like hard surface floors. If anyone has any ideas on how to handle this staircase, I'm all ears.

Despite the lack of architectural charm, the house has a good feeling to it. I think houses have personalities - this one one has a good one. I feel very comfortable here. You know how some houses give you the creeps? This place is the opposite. I wish I could pick it up and move it to a nicer neighborhood in a state with cheaper taxes onto a plot with a water view, but alas -- it's a rowhouse.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 12:30AM
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My "Small House" is the "starter house" we purchased in 1969, a small 3 bedroom ranch on a concrete slab. It was built in 1962. The starter home will be our retirement home and we are almost to that phase of our lives.

We have lived here a long time now and have added a room on, built a garage in the back yard, updated the heating, added central air, replaced windows, covered the patio and totally remodeled the kitchen. The one and only (tiny) bathroom has had some updating but it needs a new tub and surround before we start living on retirment checks.

If I could add a walk in closet and that much needed second bathroom on to my bedroom I would think this house was perfect, well for us anyway.

Still, if we had to pay today's prices for the improvements we have been making since back in the 1970's we would have quite a bit of money in this home and not nearly enough house for the price. Today just adding that family room would cost 3 or 4 times what it did back in the late '70's!

While I know that for us, staying put, improving what we had and paying as we went was the right thing, it wasn't the right answer for everyone or even an option for all. For some, if you want a job you have to move to where the job is and make the adjustments that requires.

My (humble) opinion is that we are all dealt different hands in life. Each of those require us to make choices and we make some good ones and some not so good. While greed and the need to "Keep Up With The Jones" has caused some to have the problems they have today to say that is the whole problem is over simplifing.

I too thought the article came across as slamming small affordable homes but the entire article seemed to have been thrown out there with little thought to the practicality of the recommendations.

I feel blessed to have my little house but I am OK with those who need more - or think they do. Keeps life interesting!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 11:25PM
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread. I live in a 1960's split level size tract house, and everytime I have had to buy furniture for it, nothing will fit the rooms. I recently had to pay a fortune to get a LR chair re-upholsterd because I couldn't find a new one that would fit the room to replace it. A new chair would probably have cost half the price! I'm reading a book right now called "House Lust" by Daniel McGuinn and it covers how and why America moved from reasonable sized homes to McMansions Plus! Facinating exploration of the dicatates of our society. Now a kitchen must boast two dishwashers
to be considered OK ! Thanks again.

Here is a link that might be useful: House Lust

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 6:14AM
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I'm so glad I didn't overextend myself when I bought my first place. It was small, but so was my mortgage.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 9:42PM
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My little house is A-OK. Build in 1972, it is only 1295 sq ft, 3 bed/1 bath on a 100x130 lot. I have been here almost 20 years. I moved in when I was 22. Raised my daughters here. I have done lots of improvements, inside and out. When I moved in, it looked like a little house on the prairie, no trees, no flowers or shrubs. It had the shag carpet, each room different colors, like orange, bright blue and pea green. The kitchen had harvest gold counter tops with painted cabinets, and some really wild looking vinyl flooring. Outside I have planted trees, shrubs, dug up many a flower bed, and still planning more. My tallest tree is now nearing 50 feet and shades my house from the south. There have been many improvements over the years and I am still making lists for more. When I first moved in, I took pictures and have done so every couple of years and it is amazing to see the changes. It doesn't even look like the same place.
Those who live in LARGE houses think they have to in order to have all the fancy things. Who says you can't have the same things in a smaller place? Besides, with a smaller house, I had smaller utilities and smaller house payments. I love my $282 payment with only 3 years to go. Smaller is better. Those who want bigger houses are welcome to them.
And as mentioned above, I also wish that people would look around at the older homes that have been neglected. When I see places like that around my town, I am able to look past the disrepair and see what it could look like if it were given TLC. They also do not have the "cookie cutter" look to them like so many new neighborhoods do now. All that said, I love my little house.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 1:46AM
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Yes, and one thing I have seen over the years remaining in my little house is how much the cost to pay for all the utilities i.e., air, heat, electric, gas, water, cable not to forget property taxes have gone up. I can not imagine what it costs to heat and cool one of these mega homes today. In these very scary times, I'm glad I dodged that bullet.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 7:47AM
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I also haven't posted to this forum for a year or so, but this thread got me thinking.

I agree with everyone who has pointed out that foreclosures are often due more to life events like a long-term illness or losing a job than they are to greed. Also, many simply had the bad luck to live in areas where housing values dropped dramatically, and weren't able to make up the difference between the home value and the mortgage owed.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 1:26PM
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Interesting thread. I would like to have seen the sq. ft. on each post. Is there a cut off of sq. ft. that most people consider small house?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 12:57PM
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eandhl, please see thread linked below to answer your question.

There are now five houses in foreclosure within a few hundred yards of my house. I know two of the people who are being foreclosed on and both of them were laid off from their jobs. When they bought their houses they could afford them pretty easily, but their employers downsized or closed. When we bought here in a rather crappy neighborhood we were expecting that it would improve (getting in on the ground floor so to speak) but it's steadily getting crappier instead, and will probably get worse when the two latest foreclosures join all the other vacant houses. It's just about all we can handle to keep our own house and yard maintained, weeding and mowing lawns for the two soon-to-be-vacant houses next door is not an option to be considered.

Here is a link that might be useful: how small is considered small?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 4:35PM
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johnmari, thanks I did read the link and it was interesting to see the different thoughts on "small" homes.
As for your neighborhood I really want to believe we are at or very close to the bottom and by the end of this yr we will a turnaround.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 11:23AM
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re: how small is small. We have four school-aged children and recently purchased and moved into a 1400 square foot, 4 bedroom home. It seems quite spacious to us because unlike our previous home, it was built in the 1970's and not the 1870's, so it actually has closets.

The folks who sold us the home were moving out of it because they were expecting their second child and felt that they needed more room.

So clearly, there is a lot of variation to what seems small to people.

Financially speaking, we could have purchased a larger house, but we didn't want to.

When we were looking for houses our agent seemed bewildered by the fact that square footage and vast expanses of granite weren't at the top of our wish list. Even after we moved in and had been living here a few months, she kept checking in to see if we regretted our choice! I tried to tell her that no guest room means no long visits from the in-laws ;-)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 3:28PM
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I have been doing some thinking and had a few chuckles while reading this thread. I originally bought my small home after my divorce. (About 1300 ft2.) It was cute from the outside, but needed ALOT of TLC. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but it was a lot better than a huge mortgage, or worse, rent.

I love listening to those who cherish their small homes. I originally thought my home was just the right size. Then with the addition of a husband, step daughter and a new baby, it's still just the right size. I had to adjust what I needed vs. what I was used to. Leaving behind a large home gave me a chance to grow.

When I moved in, I had no counterspace- none and used a shipping crate for a workspace. Oh, how my visitors laughed when they noticed what was under that table cloth. I do now, too. The fact that I could still whip up a great meal changed their tune. It took me a while, but I realized. It's not what space you have, it's what you do with it that counts. I made a sitting room downstairs into my bedroom, with the addition of barn style doors. Thanks to DH. It took us a while, and a "working on what needed it worst got it first" mentality, but we got our room gutted, insulated and drywalled. Painted too, but the trim had to wait. The roof had some ideas of its own about getting attention. I am constantly amazed at what you can do with so little. Not just space, but money too. I have learned that having smaller space, less stuff, and little money means more. More time with my kids and DH, more freedom to do what I want, and more choices.

I love my little cottage. I wouldn't trade it for a bigger house or the stuff it takes to fill it. Bigger is not better, nor does it make you happier.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 9:26AM
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I love my small house (1300 or so sf)for many of the reasons listed above. For me, it's the ease of cleaning (when I feel the need to do that), low property tax, and low mortgage.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 9:39AM
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