Positives from downsizing our home

homeI recently had a friend drop by my house on his way to the AFC Championship football game here in Pittsburgh. Prior to his visit, my wife, daughter, and I executed our pre-visitor clean sweep. While we were walking through the house helping my daughter locate all of her toys, I realized for the first time how much simpler our smaller home is to maintain in comparison to our last house.

I mentioned my revelation to my wife after we completed our quick clean up and she mentioned how much she used to hate cleaning our prior home. (Our previous home was roughly one third larger than our current one.)

Since we downsized back in April of 2008, we have discovered the following things:

Energy costs: We have saved about 50 percent on home energy costs per month since the move. (Our old home was not well insulated, so the size wasn’t the only culprit to the high energy costs.)

Mortgage: While smaller doesn’t always mean cheaper, in our case we cut our mortgage payment by 30 percent and we also save 75 percent on our homeowner’s insurance. Our prior home was older and larger, while our current home is smaller and recently updated. 

Maintenance: As I mentioned above, the cleaning time for our home has been decreased significantly. 

While the positives are great, I do have a couple things that I miss about our old home: more room for entertaining and a nice master bathroom. Those two luxuries are worth being sacrificed, however, for all of the other benefits found in our current home. We have less clutter, fewer possessions in general, genuinely like this place more, and we’re saving a lot of money.

26 Comments for “Positives from downsizing our home”

  1. posted by whyioughtta on

    Beautiful house and great post! I have spent the last year “rightsizing” our belongings to our already small house. Totally agree, especially about the ease of cleaning.

    Coming now to the end of my junk jettisoning process, I’m actually unearthing…gasp!…spare time.

  2. posted by Chris on

    How big was your old house? How big is your new house?

    My wife and I are looking at a 1500 sq. ft. house (4BR/2BA), as we plan to have 1 or 2 children (in the next few years) and need the fourth bedroom for a home office.

    We’re planning to stay in that house until it’s paid off, then possibly sell (or rent) it and move into something smaller once the kids are on their feet.

  3. posted by Lauren on

    Out of curiousity, what neighborhood do you live in? My husband and I are starting to look for houses in pgh, and we’re definitely looking for something small. Some friends in Highland park bought a massive house – 3 floors, plus a basement – just for the two of them, and it’s a huge endeavor when they need to clean it.

  4. posted by Vicki K. on

    Thank you for this post. I love to hear the results from real people about ideas that are on my list…right now our home is a very good size – we use every square inch on a regular basis. I am in the middle of ‘rightsizing’ as well.

    After a kitchen/family remodel I have only returned the items that I use to these spaces. It feels great! AND yesterday when we had company it was much faster to clean and vacuum. Yes!!! I still have to go through the residual items that remain in the garage…

    Also, I love the post about photos, as it is another thing on my list to work on. I’ll be referencing back to it as I go about that project. Keep us updated on what you find. Thanks so much, Matt.

  5. posted by Michele on

    It is incredible what an old, drafty house will do to your energy bills. The home we bought is three times as large as the tiny ranch house we rented, yet our electricity bill is less than half of what we paid there.

  6. Profile photo of MattNiemi

    posted by MattNiemi on

    @ Chris, Our old home was just under 3000 sq ft. Our new home is just under 2000 sq ft. So we downsized by 1/3.

    @ Lauren, we used to live in Shadyside and now we are on the North Side in East Allegheny also known as “Central North Side” for real estate search purposes.

  7. posted by Jean on

    I apply the “unitasker” idea to the place where I live. If any room has only one purpose, is merely a “walk through room”, or is used just on special occasions, I downsize.Our house is on the market now because we have two unnecessary rooms. What we really want to do is return to the original two room apartment where we began our life together!

  8. posted by nicole86 on

    According to a French standard, 2000 square feet look quite large for a family of three !

    I was used to 1500 square feet house for the four of us and I needed a home office since I am a teacher ( in France, teachers don’t have any office at school, they do all their preps and marking at home). When we bought our house, 30 years ago, it was considered as very large !

  9. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    I love the fact that my gas bill is $78 a month. Not bad for Northeast Ohio :)

  10. posted by Sky on

    We downsized from 3000 sq ft to 1700 sq ft. Our electric bill dropped from $450 a month to $150. Everything is easier to maintain and keep clean. I would like to go smaller one day.

  11. posted by Louise on

    Yes! Those of us who live full-time in our RVs sing these praises to smaller spaces all the time. Especially the part about cleaning taking less time. 300 square feet takes about 15 minutes total to dust, vacuum, and mop. And yard work is non-existent.

  12. posted by Diane on

    To understand what we’re talking about here – how many people & what age children live in your “just under 2000 sf” home?

    We’re in a 1500 sf home (ala) with 2 adults and 2 nearly grown sons – 17 & 22, plus running a home office where we both work full time.

    We plan to move when the boys are both out of school, but I don’t know that we could be comfortable in anything smaller, even then. We really need at least 1 room for an office, plus 1 spare room.

    We’ve decluttered, which makes it roomier and easier to clean, but its still a tight fit, especially when the kids have friends over.

  13. posted by Another Deb on

    My husband and I debated whih house we could keep when we got married. His 1800 sf house won over my 1680 sf house (smile) The issue now is that he wants to hang on to a lot of stuff we never use, like all of the fishing gear, the motorcycle, two file cabinets full of papers from a career he swears he will not return to because: “we have the space”

    Luckily we have enough closet space for all 200 tee shirts he wants to keep.

  14. posted by Kira =] on

    We are a family of 5 (with 3 very little children) and currently in the process of downsizing. We’re going from 1424 sf to 1091 sf. And I love the cozy feel of our new home and can’t wait to move in. My biggest concern is actually going down to 1 bathroom w/ 1 potty trained child and 1 on the verge of potty training. lol =]

  15. posted by Verbal on

    I often miss the apartment I had when I was single — just 325 square feet. SO easy to clean! Now that I’m in about 1000 square feet it’s nice to have room to entertain, but cleaning can take a couple hours, especially if I want to mop as well as vacuum and dust.

  16. posted by Amy on

    The first apartment I ever lived in alone was 120 square feet. It’s still my favorite place I’ve ever lived.

    Now, I share 10 times that much space with another person, and my stuff has definitely expanded to fit the space available.

  17. posted by The Simple Dollar » The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Nature Exploration in Winter Edition on

    [...] Positives from Downsizing Our Home Most people want to upgrade their homes to something larger. Matt found great joy in downsizing – it saves money and needs less maintenance, providing more “life space” for other pursuits. I’d like to … “go sideways” with our home. The square footage is right, I think, but I’d really like to rearrange the rooms. (@ unclutterer) [...]

  18. Profile photo of MattNiemi

    posted by MattNiemi on

    @ Diane, our home includes three of us. Myself, my wife and our 2 year old daughter. One of the bedrooms is my office. If we had a second child, which we don’t plan on, I would have to find a new office area. It would definitely be a much tighter fit with one more occupant.

  19. posted by Bonnie L. on

    I live in 120sq ft in Sydney, and I love it.

    – It takes me 5 minutes to sweep/vacuum
    – I spend less because there is no physical space to actually store my purchases
    – Because my place is so tiny I can afford quality fittings (I managed to wallpaper with roll remnants that I got for a song
    – Heating and cooling costs next to nothing
    – A significantly less mortgage + because I brought small, I was able to afford a much nicer area, closer to transport and shops.

  20. posted by rayruth on

    My husband and I have found that the smartest thing we have done in all of our past homes (14 of them) is select one of the smallest bedrooms as our Master and use the larger bedroom as our office! Think about it…We go to bed after dark and get up early in the morning , while it is dark. Why would I waste the larger space just for sleeping? It is so nice to have the larger space for our office and computers. Try it…you will like it!

  21. posted by The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Nature Exploration in Winter Edition - All web resource stuff on

    [...] Positives from Downsizing Our Home Most people want to upgrade their homes to something larger. Matt found great joy in downsizing – it saves money and needs less maintenance, providing more “life space” for other pursuits. I’d like to … “go sideways” with our home. The square footage is right, I think, but I’d really like to rearrange the rooms. (@ unclutterer) [...]

  22. posted by jan on

    Downsizing is definitely something we want to do but there is no market here in rural Maine for our home and 70 acres. We have closed off rooms and only used part of the house but would love to be in a smaller place. The space works best the two or three times a year we have family here otherwise its too big and hard to clean.

  23. posted by Tiffini S. on

    We are closing on a smaller home on Thursday 8 October. I can’t wait! We bought a monstrous old home 3 years ago, intending to renovate and update it. We had a baby exactly 9 months after moving in, and our plans went to heck! I thought a nice, big older home would be perfect for a baby, but it’s a pitfall of dangers. Plus the amount of time we spend with upkeep has totally negated any possibility of spending MORE time renovating. We are moving from 2800sf – two levels and basement to 1200sf – one level and basement. The thought of getting a glass of water from the kitchen in the middle of the night without traipsing down a huge staircase (we have 10 foot ceilings) or hauling laundry baskets up and down 2 monstrous staircases is making me positively giddy! Not to mention saying goodbye to $700 heating bills and a solid hour to clean the dining room floor! AND not being forced to host all the family functions because I have the room! Downsizing rocks!

  24. posted by Ashley on

    We are just about to downsize as well, and are very excited about it. Our 2 story house (3, with basement) is just 1600 sq feet and is more than enough for our family of four. When we downsize we will live in a bungalow and rent out the basement, so will likely live in about 1100 sq feet. I don’t anticipate feeling cramped at all! The kind of spaces we will be losing are the extra bathroom (which I won’t miss cleaning), the guest bedroom (not used enough) and the extra family-room/den (one livingroom should be plenty).
    Even more than having a smaller house, what I look forward to is living completely on one level. I hate the feeling of distance between my children and I if they are sleeping or playing in their upstairs rooms, and I am doing something in the basement. We can hardly hear if we call one another! Won’t it be wonderful just to look down the hall and speak to my children, or have them speak to me? I look forward to the fact that we will all have to learn to share all the spaces with each other, instead of being increasingly possessive of our ‘own’ spaces. This move will certainly force us to be closer as a family, both physically and relationally.

  25. posted by Ivory on

    We recently moved from 3000sqft to 700sqft (with plans to refinish the basement and double our usable space). It will never be a large house (aka, our three kids will never have their own rooms) but it it just the right size for us, in the right neighborhood, with lots of usable garden space. Of course everyone thinks we are nuts, but it has been the absolute right choice for us as a family.

    Another benefit I would add to your list is that you have to learn to be a family again. There is nowhere for everyone to scatter to as soon as they walk in the door – you play together, you sleep together, you eat together. If you don’t like it, you go outside, which is good too.

  26. posted by Sarah on

    We are getting ready to downsize as well despite still having a 9 year old and 13 year old at home plus 4 cats and a dog.

    We bought a 5 bedroom house with a pool and a large yard 5 years ago. It is far more than we need and I would say at least 1/2 the space doesn’t get used (nor the pool/yard much).

    We are moving to a very planned community with small yards but great schools. It’s also very convenient as far as transportation needs. We will probably rent a townhome for awhile and I’m looking forward to less space.

    I agree with others that we will become closer in relation to one another. Right now, I have an upstairs office, my husband has another one downstairs but we couldn’t hear each other if we had to. I hope to get back to one story.

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