Frugal Living

Thoughts on Small House Living

This article may contain references to some of our advertising partners. Should you click on these links, we may be compensated. For more about our advertising policies, read our full disclosure statement here.

As many of you know, we recently sold our home and moved into a temporary rental property.  And if you’re unaware of the backstory, you’re probably wondering why in the hell we would do such a thing.

The short story: Greg tried a new career, hated it, then took a different job.  We were super slow at looking at new houses which was unfortunate since we sold our home in 13 days.  Since we sold before finding something new, we ended having to find a temporary place to live while we continue to look for a permanent home.  Boom.

So, that’s how it all went down.  And now that we’re living in a small space, I’m starting to notice some things that I like and others….not so much.

What I Like About Small House Living

First of all, there is a lot to love about this small home!  Here is a short list of the things I love the most:

  • There’s something convenient about having living space and all of the bedrooms on one level.  My kids can play in their rooms right outside of the family room which makes it easier to keep an eye on them.
  • I have already noticed how much easier it is to clean 1,200 s.f. compared to 2,400 s.f.  I can clean the bathrooms and kitchen, dust and mop the whole house, and vacuum in less than an hour.
  • We haven’t received our first utility bill yet, but I’m fairly positive that we’re using less.  The furnace rarely turns on.  And when it does, it heats the house back up fairly quickly.
  • The back of this house faces the south, bringing in sunshine from sunrise to sunset.  I haven’t turned the lights on during the day since we’ve moved in and we usually don’t turn anything on until the sun starts going down. (This has nothing to do with the house being small…but I still like it!)
  • Despite the small size of this home, all of our furniture fits….even my piano!  I’m actually pretty amazed at how functional this house is despite the fact that it’s so small.

What I Don’t Like About Small House Living

Of course, there are some things that I don’t love about living with three other people in such a small space.  And, that’s okay.  I don’t consider it a failure because that’s really what this experience has been all about.  We’re trying to see what we can live without and what we actually need.  And so far, there are only a few things that I don’t think could work for us in the long-term:

  • My youngest daughter’s bedroom is very small and wouldn’t likely work if she slept in anything bigger than a crib.  In our next house, I want larger bedrooms that they can grow into.
  • The eat-in kitchen doesn’t have very much room for a table.  Honestly, I’m surprised that our table fits at all!
  • The kitchen is woefully lacking storage with no room to add additional cabinets or a pantry.
  • My two-year old cries…..loud and often.  This house offers nowhere to escape from it….even for a short break!
  • I really miss having an office!  Having my computer on a card table in my bedroom just isn’t doing it for me.

Overall, I don’t mind the smaller space.  Would it work for us for the rest of our lives?  Probably not.  Fortunately, we don’t have to pick between two extremes and we can continue looking for a house that fits our family just right.  Now, on to the pictures…..

DSCF2707

DSCF2708

DSCF2712

DSCF2710

Have you ever lived in a small house?  What is your take on small house living?

Similar Posts

Disclaimer: Comments, responses, and other user-generated content is not provided or commissioned by this site or our advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by this website or our advertisers. It is not the responsibility of our advertisers or this website to ensure that all comments and/or questions are answered. Club Thrifty has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Club Thrifty and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

89 Comments

  1. Glad you’re seeing some pros amid the cons there. =) As for your little one’s bedroom, I think you’d be surprised how small rooms can be and still fit a desk and a twin bed. I’m thinking of railroad apartments that friends have lived in as well as the teeny tiny single dorm rooms from college. If that’s all the space you have, you make do!

    1. It’s not really a matter of whether or not the furniture will physically fit. Our new house will likely only have one living area and I want my kids to have a place to play with their friends or each other once they get older.

      1. Nice answer back in return of this issue with firm arguments and
        telling the whole thing concerning that.

      2. If you desire to grow your familiarity only keep visiting this web page and be updated with the newest news posted here.

      3. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as
        long as I provide credit and sources back to your site?
        My blog site is in the very same area of
        interest as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from a lot of the information you present here.
        Please let me know if this ok with you. Many thanks!

  2. That’s awesome Holly, I’m glad there are some things you like about it! I agree with you about the office, that’s a luxury that I miss too. But next time we move we’ll know what we need, not just what we want!

    1. I actually consider an office a “need” since I work from home. Having an office in my bedroom is not going to work long-term.

  3. Sounds like you guys have learned some valuable lessons. Maybe the next place will end up somewhere in between the old size and the current one, which would be a win in a lot of ways. And again, that yard looks AWESOME. That’s one of my big things whenever we buy. There’s got to be at least a little space to play outside.

    By the way, we live in a pretty small space right now and it fits our needs but I’d like a little more space eventually as well. Especially in the winter it can be a little claustrophobic. It’s definitely fine, it could just be a little more ideal.

    1. I don’t mind the small space so much….it’s the storage that’s the problem. I miss my kitchen pantry! I’ve got food stuffed everywhere =)

      1. Ha ha, have to admit this made me chuckle.
        It may help to gain some perspective here. Your current “small house” looks positively huge compared to even the average starter home in the UK and probably most other countries.

        And that kitchen is massive, I think you need to up your decluttering game if you’ve no room for food 😉

        Good luck with your new house hunt 🙂

  4. I really like your pros and cons. My house is right in between your two houses and I love it! I personally wouldn’t want anything bigger or smaller. I hope this experience helps you with finding your new home!

  5. Holly, it sounds like some of the things you are describing are similar to my current house! We do have a kitchen that is small and needs more storage space, the third bedroom looks similar in size (or smaller than the one you have a crib in, etc. For right now, though, with only my wife and me, we like the space we have. We don’t need a huge house and it makes it easier to maintain. We rarely set foot in the basement though half of it could easily be set up for entertainment space, and as I’ve blogged about we rent out the other half. I think once you have kids space is needed to a greater degree, though our neighbors next door have two small children and it seems to be working for them (for now). My next house WILL have more space, though, as I don’t see myself going with less space.

    1. With two people and no kids, you can make almost anything work. When we got married, we lived in a funeral home apartment for a year. I don’t know how many square feet it was….but it had to be less than 500. It had a tiny kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. That’s it!

      1. Our first apartment together was literally 100 sq ft. 10×10. We had to put the futon into a couch during the day in order to use the oven or the computer.

  6. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel says:

    I’ve never lived in a small house with that many people, but when we were living with my in-laws, our bedroom was about 12 X 12 and there was absolutely no privacy when we went in there. It was horrible.

  7. Lack of storage in the kitchen is so annoying. We have that problem because we have a galley style kitchen so we are a bit SOL. We did find this pretty sweet “pantry” cabinet that you can attach to an existing door, but we just haven’t purchased it yet.

    I guess the worst part of not having an office is now you can’t deduct business use of the home since you fall outside the very strict IRS definition. Bummer…

    1. Ha! Yeah, true. I definitely can’t deduct office space since my office is on a card table in my bedroom. Fortunately, it shouldn’t be for too long.

      Our rent here is only $700 per month though so it wouldn’t be a huge deduction at least!

  8. We did the same thing, Holly, going from 3600 sq. ft. to roughly 1400. Definitely pros and cons, and I love what you said about an office being a need too, in the comments. If you are working from home, it’s crucial to separate your work space from your life space.

    1. Yeah, exactly. I mean, having an office in the corner of my bedroom definitely works but it would make me crazy in the long-run. I need a separation of work and home life somehow.

  9. That’s cool you’re able to see good and bad out of it. I am much too pessimistic (if you ask my wife 😉 ) to probably things that way. That said, it looks like you have learned a lot of good out of it too. The smallest place we had was our 500 sq. foot apartment when we were first married. Thankfully it only lasted five months, but we did fine. If it hadn’t been for our always partying neighbors it would’ve been great. 🙂

  10. That’s good you’re able to see what you like and don’t like about your living conditions, as it’ll help steer you towards a clearer decision when you move into your permanent home. I like your apartment now (1700 sq ft) but I can relate to some of your pros and cons. I love the bigger rooms (I can fit all three kids in one bedroom!) but I don’t like how there is no escape from noise, being that we’re all on the same floor.

    1. Yeah, sometimes one floor is good and sometimes its bad. I like having everyone close together most of the time.

  11. Small house living definitely has it’s challenges. My house is ~680 square feet. Definitely doable for one person, but still a challenge. Luckily I have a big detached garage to store all of my tools, etc. in. I think being a renter in a small space is easier than being a homeowner (or homeowner in-transit, like you are), since renters don’t need to own and store a bunch of maintenance type items and tools. My one bedroom is only 10×10, so I had to get rid of all of my bedroom furniture when I moved in. Big enough for a queen sized bed and small dresser, but not much else!

    1. I don’t need a huge bedroom either. This one isn’t enormous but it’s fine.

  12. Wow, that must be difficult not having an office when you work from home. The pictures look very homey though. I lived with my (then) boyfriend and our dog in a 400 sq foot suite once. That was very, very small – doable, but we couldn’t really entertain.

  13. Our current home is about that size (1276 sq ft), but coming from shared little places in San Diego we’ve always felt our new home (and yard) was flipping huge. In our case, it’s just a trick of perspective. We don’t have a pantry, either, so the food just goes in the cabinets (the corner ones seem to work well). Of course, that means we can’t have a ton of plates/cups but it’s somehow worked out.

    There’s a bit part of me that wants to go much smaller when we stop living with renters (maybe 800 sq feet) but that’s mostly for the side benefit of shedding stuff. This Tumbleweed home is my someday dream, that I want to build:

    http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/b53/#ad-image-0

    1. The Tumbleweed house looks adorable! I could see us doing something like that once the kids are grown.

  14. Our house is small (1509sqft) so we will eventually need more room. We’re fine for now and glad we had a starter home to make us realized exactly what we want and need.

    1. Our first house was like 1,200 s.f. and it was fine for the two of us. But, kids make a huge difference, don’t they?

  15. I guess it’s all relative. Your small space looks like a lot of space for me…but we’re in NYC. We’re currently in an apartment with about 600 square, hoping to move to one with about 900 to 1000 square feet. In Manhattan, they are building a micro-apartment community with units ranging from 250 square feet to 370 square feet. I guess it’ll be ok for single folks! Thanks for sharing the pics.

    1. Yeah, but you get to live in a cool city. There are benefits to that as well! =)

  16. I think this is a great experiment because now you will have lived in both with your family and you’ll be able to narrow down exactly what you want. I love the kitchen. It looks big to me and love the floors and countertops, and you are paying 1/2 the rent I’m paying for my tiny one bedroom and severely outdated apartment.

    1. You always say that…..why don’t you move? There are places in my state where you can buy a nice ranch house for like $50,000.

  17. I live in a small house currently and I like it. The best benefit is the cleaning. The only thing is that you can hear everybody in every room which can be an issue.

    1. Yeah, definitely. Its a little tight when somebody’s crying! =)

  18. I hear you on the lack of office space! We had an office in our former home, which was bigger than this one (our current home is also sort of a temporary home… we are going to rent it out when we are done living in it). Anyway, the basement is the “official” office in this house but it’s completely freezing down there so I usually bring my laptop to the dining room table. Luckily I have not spilled anything on it… yet. 🙂

    1. I hear ya! Hey, you’ve got to improvise sometimes, right? I certainly never envisioned my computer on a card table next to my bed….but you do what you got to do!

  19. Thanks for the update, Holly. I was curious to see how it was going. I admit it would be hard for me to downsize with the girls still home. 🙂 It’s great that you had a chance to experience it so now you are even more clear on what you do and don’t want in our next home. Because you’re right – it’s finding the home that’s the right fit for your needs.

  20. I was curious how you liked it as my wife and I have often thought about downsizing our home. Yeah, the small bedrooms would be an issue for us as well, the smaller kitchen would also suck. Doesn’t look you have any sort of pantry either which would blow.

    Froot Loops, really? I’m a Fruity Pebbles guy myself as they don’t destroy the roof of my mouth.

  21. Nice pros and cons of living in a small house. I think the house looks really nice and that would work for our family size in it’s current size, but wouldn’t allow for much growth.

  22. I’ve always lived in a small(ish) house so I don’t know any different. Right now I think around 1200 sq ft would work pretty good for me. However, in the future I would definitely like a larger home. (You know, for when the girls turn into teenagers 🙂 Bedrooms on the opposite end of the house from mine.)

  23. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says:

    While I could be fine with a kitchen that size, I do agree that I would need a pantry. I’m a Costco shopper and I also like to stock up on crazy sales so it’s hard to do so without space to put everything.

    If it was ok by city code, would you ever consider a small house where you built a small office separate (if not present)? Like a standalone office, with/without plumbing? I just suggest that in case you find an ideal small house with a huge yard that might be missing the separate office space.

  24. We’re currently in a condo and starting to long for more square footage.
    Having to live in temporary housing is kind of like getting to trial run even more houses while you are shopping for a new one – the pros and cons of not one but two homes are really fresh in your mind.

  25. Wait, our current house is 2,400 and it is small!! We were looking at house that are 4,000 sq ft!

    HS

  26. I see some yummy stuff by the fridge! I actually really like the kitchen, but it’s only my boyfriend and I, so it has great storage and counter space to me. You’d love my moms kitchen, she has at least 25 cabinets and some are empty! She also has a separate pantry space as the laundry room is off the kitchen. I would really want a separate office space, too. Glad you are getting to see what your needs are for the next house.

  27. Our townhouse is smaller than our old house, but it is not a single story. I don’t think we could live in just 1,200 sq. ft, but I would give it a try next time.

  28. Holly,
    Our average house here is around 1300 sq. ft so most houses are”small”. In some neighborhood we have 3 bedrooms that are 800 sq feet, now that’s small.

  29. I have lived in small places, but not since having a kid. It is nice for everyone to have their own space, especially when they have friend over. The yard looks awesome, though!

  30. In Romania, we’d call your house a “decent size house” and personally I really like how it looks. I can understand that for somebody moving from a house double the size things might seem a bit tight, but you can get used to with pretty fast. And if you don’t, there shouldn’t be a major problem anyway because you’re looking for a dream home anyway 🙂

  31. You should see the apartments in Paris, you live in a castle! I have always been used to living in a small place, now we have about 1,200 sqft of living space which I feel is more than enough for two, plus the garden and beach helps feel like there is even more space.

  32. I miss small house living. With that said, I would want to renovate or be quite picky about a small house. Currently we have 1900 sq ft inc. finished basement. We don’t use half of this house. The half we do use we wish would be more open layout for enjoying the family together. I do like having two floors to “get away” as you noted.

    In the next house we buy, we will definitely be planning to have this size or smaller with a better layout.

    Pro’s and Con’s to everything.

    Have a great weekend Holly!

    The Warrior
    NetWorthWarrior.com

  33. Looks like a good little house. I have lived in some SMALL places, but then again I don’t live with kids who I am sure take up big spaces!

  34. We live in a small house now, but we have a finished basement so our home feels much bigger. The rental home looks nice!

  35. Congrats on adjusting to small space living! It’s definitely different than having a huge house, but I like it better. Less to clean, heat and furnish with a small space. Living in a small space with kids is probably much harder than living with just a spouse!

  36. Another positive side of living in a small space is that you learn some really awesome and creative ways to build and utilize storage space! Your rental place looks cozy and I’m glad to know that you and your family have adapted so well.

  37. I think a small home might be worth it if you have a lot of property that comes with it. With the money you’ll save buying a small, old home you can also build additions or start from scratch!

  38. Rosemary Wells says:

    Holly, over the years I have moved a few times upsizing and downsizing. I have come to admire the folks who bought their “forever” home early on that they modified as their family grew (better utilization of space in basement, knocking down walls between kitchen and dining room, etc) so that when they became empty nesters, they were in their original home, mortgage free, socking away retirement savings while again modifying the home to suit the current needs (knocking down wall between master bedroom and smaller bedroom to create ensuite off master). If planned properly a home can last a lifetime if it can be reasonably modified as you go along. The additional bonuses of staying in a community you like with all the friends you have accumulated over the years is priceless!

  39. My Hubby and I have a smallish house, it’s a little over 1,200 square feet and we’ve done lots of renovations. We are a family of four and sometimes it can get tight. A while back we considered selling our rental property and this house and moving to a larger home then we decided nah, let’s pay off this home and sell the other and pay off this house early. That will allow us to do what we really want to do, travel. Maybe even allow us to quite the day gigs too and focus on our goal of doing what we love.

  40. I think kiddies, especially the little ones, are resiliant enough to adapt to whatever the situation is before them. I think it is probably a good thing in the long run to allow for them to experience some different living conditions.

  41. I’ve lived in a small house before (1150 sq ft 2 bed 1.5 bath) and it has its benefits, but we’re glad we ended up getting a house in town that was a bit more spacious (1850 sq ft). It is super nice to not bump into each other in the tiny bathroom anymore 🙂

  42. I lived in a super small 300 sq ft apartment the last 2 years. I’m definitely happy to be in a new spot!!! Can’t wait to move to the next place and really make it my own. 🙂

  43. We live in a smallish home as well and I appreciate the quick cleaning too. Works great for hubby and me. However I feel that we will outgrow it quickly once we have kids.

  44. Holly, I hope you and your family are doing ok in regard to the recent Midwest weather forecast.

    1. Yeah, we’re doing fine. Lots of storms north and south of us but nothing too serious. I haven’t heard anything about the final damage yet. I hope that everyone is safe tonight!

  45. The house looks gorgeous!! I think the idea of living in small home is better than actually living in one… For example, after reading this post I thought to myself how nice it would be to move to a tiny cottage… But then my mind wandered back to 4 people squashed into a tiny house a few years ago and I came to the conclusion that it ain’t gonna happen again! 🙂

  46. Our condo is 800 sq feet. It’s pretty small, but just fine for the two of us (well it would be if we didn’t have so much stuff). Bf has a lot of computer stuff and I have a lot of craft stuff. I don’t want a big house, but something with a basement or a garage would be great because we could stop renting storage space.

  47. I absolutely hate cleaning, and that is why I want to live in a small space! Less space to clean!

  48. Andrew Clayden says:

    We had our 950 sq. ft. house built 22 years ago when our son was born. 7 years later our daughter was born, and after much debating, we decided to add on another 300 sq. ft.. Since then, we have felt like we all have plenty of room. I can’t believe this article and the comments complaining about a house of this size being too small! Look around the world and tell me how many people are blessed ( spoiled?) by having this much space. I feel like I live in a castle and definitely have no plans to live anywhere bigger – in fact, once my daughter is on her way, we will probably downsize. How much junk do we need to store in our living area anyways? Seems to me that the idea of “needing” more than about 1300-1500 sq. ft. for a family of 4 negates the concept of this blog -ie. club THRIFTY. Get real folks, probably 60-70% of humanity would LOVE to have so much space!

    1. Sorry, but everyone gets to decide what level of frugality they’re comfortable with. Personally, I’m willing to give up a lot of things….but I prefer a more medium size home. Plus, it’s all a matter of perspective. A large home in some areas is a small home in another, etc.

      I do agree with you that most of humanity would love a larger home or a nicer place to live. At the same time, I disagree with the premise that I shouldn’t have a frugality blog unless I live in a tiny house. That’s just silly.

  49. To each their own, but I think your home looks really nice and cozy! I never lived in a large home, always in a small one, and currently reside in a less than 600 sq. foot condo. It ensures that I always keep it organized, clean and uncluttered. The more space one has, the more clutter one can have. I agree you should get an office, but I do not think that kids need huge bedrooms, they can get by just fine on a smaller one and am a proponent of kids sharing rooms. I also enjoy smaller utility bills and the aforementioned less cleaning time.
    However, I always felt my place was small til I lived in Europe for a year. My place (and yours) is huge in comparison. But it is all in perspective. Some people need more space and are willing to cut costs elsewhere in order to have it and in the end personal finance is personal.
    Thanks for sharing pics of your lovely home. And good luck finding the new home that will suit your family as they grow.

  50. I have to say, your kitchen has tons of cabinet space! I have lived in apartments and houses ranging from 680 ft to at present, about 1200. My kitchen now seems massive in comparison to the tiny ones I’ve been used to. Your kitchen is actually really well designed for your small house, and I love the open floor design.
    The only disadvantage I see is no way to have privacy, with walls that don’t hide anything. I always want a small house, but it MUST have a basement so the kids can go somewhere and play without me being on top of the yelling.

    1. I like the open design….but there’s not much room for a table. Fortunately, we’re not planning any dinner parties while we’re here! =)

  51. To me, the biggest advantage of living in a small house is the fact that it saves a lot of time. I hate to admit it, but i can be pretty lazy sometimes and forget to clean up. Now since my wife is often gone traveling, i have to do all the work´. I sometimes wish i could live in a tiny house. Perhaps i’ll build one myself one day. I love the tumbleweed designs ….

    Another thing: Living in a small home saves a lot of energy. This is especially important if you live in a colder climate…

  52. I live in 800 sq ft and wish it were smaller! However I do live alone. The utility bills are smaller and you are right there is less cleaning. Good for me since my health has declined. I wish I could have one of those Tiny homes – but no loft bed. 🙂 My ladder climbing days are so over. I do have a large front and back porch. They extend my living space greatly. The grandkids can still play outside even when the weather is bad. Once you adjust to your current small house you might even want to go smaller! Go for it!
    Hugs,
    Grandma Cynthia

  53. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s challenging to get that “perfect balance”
    between usability and visual appearance. I must
    say you have done a great job with this. Also, the blog loads very fast
    for me on Firefox. Excellent Blog!

  54. You are so cool! I do not believe I’ve truly read through a
    single thing like that before. So good to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject.
    Really.. thank you for starting this up.
    This site is something that’s needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

  55. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My
    apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is
    totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  56. Currently it sounds like Expression Engine is the best blogging platform available right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

  57. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on ssites I
    stumbleupon on a dily basis. It’s always useful to read through articles from other
    autthors and use a little something from other websites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.