March 10, 2011

10 Reasons I Enjoy Living In A Small Space

My dream home
I read recently that the average person requires about 150 sq. ft. of living space. That was the size of Henry David Thoreau's cabin in the woods. His small living space allowed him "to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms..."

Could Linda and I live in 300 sq. ft.? I think we could because we both enjoy living in small spaces. Our current home is 582 sq. ft. and sometimes it seems like more than we need. We could reduce our living space even further.

For most of history people have lived in small spaces reflecting a desire to use materials and energy in a thrifty and efficient manner. Survival depended on a judicious use of resources. It still does.

Click on image for larger version
The trend to having an average of almost 1000 sq. ft. per person is a relatively recent phenomenon, and makes me wonder how much space we need. Are we happier with 1000 sq. ft. each than we were with 200? Would our quality of life be twice as good if we had 2000 sq. ft. each?

10 Reasons I Enjoy Living In A Small Space
  1. There is nowhere to store, stash, and stow extraneous stuff leaving less to think about.
  2. I can vacuum our entire home from a single electrical outlet.
  3. It is close and intimate if you really like who you are living with. I do.
  4. Everything is immediately at hand - most of it can be seen in a single glance. Things rarely get lost, not even socks or keys.
  5. A small space requires us to be selective about our possessions - we only have space for meaningful, useful, and functional things. Double purpose or multi-purpose items are best.
  6. It is less expensive to heat and cool a small space in the era of rapidly increasing energy costs.
  7. Living in a small space makes me appreciate what is outside more.
  8. It reminds me of camping or traveling, or being a student - it is an enjoyable challenge because it cuts life to the essentials so you can concentrate on things that are really important to you (being in nature, seeing new places, learning new things).
  9. It is as cozy as a fort made out of couch cushions and blankets in the living room.
  10. It is enough.
Could you live in a small space?


  1. Hi Gregg! I just discovered your blog thanks to Linda's Facebook post. I fantasize about a tiny house. We've gone from four rooms, to three and are now moving into a two-bedroom close to everything here in Vancouver. When Bill and I are alone again (someday!) we'd like to downsize even more. I look forward to ready more of your blog.
    Take care,

  2. Hey Geneviève,

    Welcome to NBA. Congratulations on the downsizing and moving toward increased freedom.


  3. Hello!

    My house is 350 feet and I absolutelly love it! I live with my partner and we really enjoy beeing together. One thing I love about my house is that there´s very little clutter.

    Hugs from Brasil!

  4. Marina,

    Congratulations to you and your partner. Small footprint living is not popular here in Canada, but we, too, enjoy our small home. I feel freer in a small space - less to worry about.

    Take care.

  5. AnonymousJune 18, 2012

    you could probably eliminate the need for electricity with about 3000.00 in solar panels. my dream home is tiny too :)

    1. Solar is the way to go. Some people are selling excess solar power back to the grid. Their power 'bills' are often have a credit rather than a deficit. They're making money!

      We are considering a small, portable solar unit because we are renting. It would be good to supplement grid power, and reduce our reliance on the utility company.

      They want to increase the cost of hydro power in our province by as much as 50% over the next few years.

      And the smaller the house, the less power needed.

  6. That's a cute tiny cabin. it looks like what we traditionally have here in Finland. We just moved from our 600 sf apartment (two adults and a 3-year old) to a 1200 sf house, my childhood home - we have been sharing it with my dad and sometimes my brother too, sometimes his wife....anyway, this house feels so large just for three people. My dream is to some day also live in a tiny cabin, perhaps we will build one on this lot and our daughter can raise her family in the main house, or something. We had to move because of serious mold issue, and we lost all our belongings too. We now only have a grocery bag's worth of stuff each. It actually is incredible freeing, and as the house has all the essentials already, I'm not buying any replacements for my old stuff.

  7. I agree with you that a small space encourages us to give more meaning to little things around us. And in that way, you can learn to live with less stuff inside the house. It can certainly help in saving money on utility bills because you don’t have so many things in the house that need electricity.

    1. Fewer things can lead to more appreciation and gratitude.

  8. In the 1950s and 60's most of us grew up in 1000 to 1200 sq. ft. homes. Oh, and one bathroom. Today, a lot of people who live on their own can't cope without two bathrooms. It used to be the norm for two children to share a bedroom, now, not so much. What children do not learn to do today is share and negotiate with others.

    Mega houses aren't good for the enviornment and they aren't good for families. Everybody is in a seperate part of the home. You will hear people wanting a master bedroom retreat, to get away from the children. Well why did you have them to begin with, if you don't want to be with them. No wonder parents don't know what their children or spouses are doing. They don't see them, they don't talk to them. Large houses allow people to live seperate lives while still thinking they are living together.

    1. e.a.f., I agree with everything you said here. I think oversized, inefficient houses are detrimental to families, communities, and the environment.


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