Like many baby boomers and empty nesters getting ready to downsize or retire, I’m on the hunt for my next and possibly last home. I want to move out of California, and am trying to determine where I ultimately want to land.

The problem I’ve been having? I am trying to find a home in a good location, a safe neighborhood, and a functional floor plan that fits my budget. And I want one that isn’t much bigger than my own home where I live now – which is 849 square feet.

For the past 20+ years, I’ve loved living in my small home. It’s located in a quiet neighborhood with similar-sized homes near a hospital, shops, restaurants, freeway access, and a state university. It has an excellent floor plan allowing me to run a business and live comfortably.

A person holding a small house shaped wooden cutout with two hands

And while my house isn’t as small as most tiny house dwellers, it is far smaller than the typical American home today.

Average Sized Homes vs. Small Homes vs. Tiny Homes

According to this report published in 2022 by the National Association of Home Builders, the average house size of new single-family homes built in the US in 2021 was 2,388 square feet, while the median size was 2,561 square feet. Each year we tend to grow the square footages of our dwellings, but is bigger always better?

The numbers seem to vary on how large people think a small home is vs. a tiny home. But the majority of the research I’ve done says small homes are anything under 1000 square feet, and tiny homes are 500 square feet and under.

If you’re not familiar with the tiny house movement, then here are some videos you should watch to familiarize yourself with this popular lifestyle. This movement became extremely popular in the late 90’s and is still around today. That said, according to this article by Esquire, 44% of tiny home dwellers are not happy with their choices. The biggest regret? The size.

Hence, my attraction to the small house movement and small house living (vs. tiny!). Here are 9 reasons why I want to live in a smaller house:

9 Reasons Why Small Home Living Is The Best

1. Lower Maintenance Costs

Small houses have fewer rooms, so there is less space to maintain, repair, and ultimately fix or replace (think flooring, windows, etc.). They also have a smaller area of exterior siding, meaning less area to maintain to prevent dry rot, do exterior painting, and make repairs.

2. More affordable

When you embrace small house living, you have less area to heat and cool, which means lower utility bills. You can save money on furniture and decorating because you won’t need as much. Plus, depending on where you live, a smaller home usually costs less overall, which means lower mortgage payments or cheaper rent!

3. Cozier and intimate atmosphere

Small homes provide a cozy and intimate setting. They typically have fewer rooms and features than larger homes, making them perfect for close-knit families, couples, and solo dwellers like myself.

4. Easier to keep clean and organized

Small homes require less cleaning because there are fewer rooms and surfaces to dust, vacuum, and scrub. Additionally, small homes tend to be easier to keep organized since there is less space for clutter to accumulate. This can save you time and hassle. Plus, living in a tidy space helps improve your overall mood and quality of life.

5. Greater sense of community in smaller neighborhoods

People who live in neighborhoods made up of smaller homes on smaller lots tend to have a greater sense of community. This is because the homes are physically closer together, and people generally know their neighbors, making them feel more connected.

6. More environmentally friendly

Interestingly, smaller homes are more environmentally friendly because they require less energy to heat and cool. Plus, they often have smaller yards, which means less water and fuel are needed to maintain them. Using less energy and resources reduces your carbon footprint, which is overall better for the environment.

7. Simplicity and minimalism can lead to a happier and less stressful lifestyle

You can quickly feel overwhelmed and anxious when you live in a small home and have things packed in every nook and cranny of the house. But when you have fewer belongings and they’re tucked away neatly, you’;; find you have more time and energy for the things that truly matter to you. A minimalist lifestyle lets you declutter your mind and physical space, leading to a simpler, calmer life and a better sense of well-being!

8. Lower Utility Bills

Smaller houses are often more energy efficient, which leads to lower utility bills. And if they aren’t already energy efficient, there is less area to retrofit (ie solar panels, new windows, insulation), resulting in less spending. All of these factors can save homeowners thousands of dollars over a year.

9. You Are Forced to Become Resourceful

When you only have so much room to put things, you are forced become more resourceful in finding ways to store things and improvise for things you lack. You look for appliances that multi-task, like an Insta-Pot that takes the place of your rice cooker, crock pot, yogurt maker, and even a pan or two. You can dump the garlic press, chopper, egg slicer and even your mandolin and replace them all with one very sharp knife.

On the Hunt For More Small House Living

This summer, I looked at homes in Georgia and fell in love with the old architecture and green landscapes. But all the homes I looked at in the neighborhoods I wanted to move into had so much space, and I just couldn’t justify buying that much house.

While in Georgia, I fell in love with two places that fit my budget, and both were on huge lots. The bigger house even had a small apartment which would have been perfect for renting out to a law or medical student from the nearby University!

Older brick home with white trim and black roof with a stone walkway and green lawn has a blue and white for sale sign in front of it

But my practical voice screamed out I’d be making a mistake, and I’m glad I listened. Big houses just aren’t for me — been there, done that. I’m more of the small house living type of gal.

So now I’m back to scouring the “for sale” ads and gearing up for a couple more out-of-state trips before the end of the year.

What Am I Looking For?

That’s the big question of the day….. I can tell you my “must have” list has changed dramatically than it was the last time I moved which was in the 90’s! I guess age has that effect on you 🙂

Today, I want an old house because I love high ceilings, big rooms, and the charm of older homes. I love interior spaces with natural light, air conditioning, a small space for a desk and writing nook, and extra space for all my art and craft supplies. I would love a front porch with a swing to sit in and read at the end of the day.

Extra bonuses for a large guest room, basement, or extra room for an art studio – especially if it was close to a utility room or laundry room for cleaning up big art messes!

The entire house should be 1000 square feet of living space or less, and be in good shape. A nice backyard or patio would be nice for large gatherings. And if there is a detached garage or building on site, I could do with fewer square feet in the main house. An extra building is a great way to create another personal space where I can go create in my spare time.

Location-wise, I’m looking for neighborhoods near a hospital and close to a city that’s not far from an airport. And lastly, I really want to land in an artsy city or town. I want to live in an area that embraces the arts, including music, ballet, galleries, and theatre.

When I finally do retire, I want to start doing the things I love doing. I can’t wait to begin traveling again and getting involved with an arts community. I want to begin painting again and teach workshops and share more DIY’s on this blog.

Small house living lets me do all this and more, and I hope a budget of $250-300k would work. This price limit would lets me keep my current home as an investment for extra monthly income. But if not, I can do more.

So Where Can I find Small House Living?

Tell me, please!!! If you have any ideas on where I should look, please leave me a comment below. Please share your favorite city, state, and neighborhood you think might make the best place for me to move.

I am drawn to older real estate in established areas and prefer to stay away from big city living if possible. I truly welcome your ideas and suggestions, and thank you for sharing them!!

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