Let’s chat about something that has been bothering me. Well, I guess on my mind more than any thing. Through this process of us selling and buying a new home, just about every single person has asked us why we’re selling. Why we were selling our 2-story, 2,900 sq ft, 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home in a gated community. And our answer has been the same from the get-go. We are downsizing. It’s been apparent to Michael and I that this has been shocking to most, and people have proceeded to bombard us with additional questions. “Why, can you not afford living there?” “What’s the REAL reason?” “Why would you want to downsize?”
And we answer the same to all.
“We can afford it. The home we are buying is the same cost.”
“Downsizing is the real reason.”
“We want to downsize because we no longer saw a need for us to live in a home of that size.”
Simply put, it was a personal choice for no other reason than to downsize. I can’t put it any other way.
Yet, still, people don’t seem to want to accept any of those answers. Apparently downsizing before you’re retired, or before your kids move out is a novel idea.
People are going to think what they want to think because society tells us that bigger is better. In a census conducted last year, the average home size reached 2,600 square feet in the United States. I decided to do some further research to put things into perspective.
These are average home sizes (in square feet) across the globe, with the United States having the largest.
Drastic differences. Of course there are many factors involved here, like cost, across the varying countries. But my point is that they live smaller, they do fine. Why do we want to spread out so much, with SO much square feet allotted to one family member?
There’s a “more” epidemic that is taking over. Americans have the biggest homes, yet, most likely, the least number of people living with them, as other cultures have extended family living with them.
To what I believe to be related, loosely, if anything, Americans have the highest percentages of depression compared to any other country. Forbes reports that 9.6% of Americans have depression issues, with 18% of the population suffering from anxiety disorders.
That same article says:
There’s [the] pressure of achieving the American Dream, the desire to live better than our parents and, through hard work, earn the big bucks. It sets people up for failure, and is more prominent in the U.S. than in other countries.
And when people are unable to achieve this dream, or they’ve worked so hard to be there that they’re exhausted and worn, they get depressed.
As I told a friend recently, leaving our old home has been an exercise in humility for me. Leaving the big home for the cozier, smaller one, to a non-gated community. When I drove away from our 2-story abode Monday for the last time I felt I was leaving a piece of the dream behind. But, the only way I could define the dream was in size. And I immediately gave myself a talking to, because, I was getting it all wrong. Having the big home isn’t what it’s all about. It could be for some, and that’s totally fine. But Michael and I just decided that our priorities were different.
Nevermind trying to keep a home that size clean by myself, even with the help of my husband. Having a kid and trying to have every thing tidy was impossible. I would only get frustrated at Blake for messing things up as I was trying to clean. Of course, the back and forth cleaning and “uncleaning” is going to happen in any size home, but I won’t feel like I’m being pulled from quality time with him trying to clean every corner of it, which takes hours. Admittedly, we even hired a maid at some points.
None of this is meant to step on any one who owns a large home, offend you, or to tell you I think you’re terrible. (Heck, I know people who have larger homes than our 2,900 square feet–that’s nothing to some.) But I do want to give a little nudge to those future home buyers. Don’t buy one thinking how much your friends are going to ooooh-and-aaaahhhh over its size. If you buy your home just to claim some sort of bragging rights then I encourage you to rethink your decision, and perhaps keep looking. Be realistic. Do you really need a play-room for your kids if their toys will comfortably fit in to the living room? Don’t think about locking them away in a room to exclusively play, when you can be spending quality time with them just watching them play as you do the dishes in the kitchen. We are losing important family time by thinking we need a room for every avenue of life. (I say “we” because I was in this category. I’m not excluding myself here.)
Do you need another TV/movie room that will separate your family during mealtimes to catch DVR’ed shows?
I only caution you to think before you go for the wow-factor. I think we initially went for the wow-factor. I’m glad to be scaling back a little.
I am thrilled at lessening our square footage. It means 2 less bathrooms for me to clean, no stairs to climb, no carpet to clean (all tile), and less wasted space. And it means less “stuff” to fill rooms with. Throwing away and selling has been my favorite part of all of this, because we only found ourselves stretching out and buying more things to accommodate and fill spaces before. What was the purpose? To have something pretty to look at it to fill a corner of a room? I’d rather have spent the time and money I put in to filling a playroom I thought would make a good area for Blake, that seriously NEVER got used. It was never used because one, it was too far upstairs, away from the family area downstairs, and two, the living room was plenty big for all of his toys. What was I thinking? To say that my son had a playroom? To keep his toys hidden from view so the living room looked nice and pristine. (The answer to both of those questions is yes. Yes, that was my initial thinking and I am shameful for it.)
My eyes have just been opened to my own sensitivities. This is not meant to judge anyone. These are my own convictions. I am just thankful that my husband and I had the same revelation earlier this year, which kick started this whole buying and selling process. God’s good like that.
Ha-just had a thought. Isn’t it kind of crazy that going from 2,900 square feet to 1,900 is “downsizing”? I mean, technically, it is, in numbers, but it’s still almost 2,000 square feet!
If we didn’t have a kid, and weren’t planning on having any more, we’d seriously consider living in one of those Tiny Houses.
So, we are downsizing by choice. Just because. That’s all there is. And there’s really nothing more to it.