Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When it comes to homes, bigger is not always better

It’s always been a part of the American dream to own that perfect single family home with the white picket fence. Things haven’t changed much over the years but one thing I’ve noticed is that the homes that people buy seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

What has changed and why has owning such a large home become so important to so many people? I suppose that sometimes it is necessary for many of us to upgrade. Families grow and eventually we need more space for loved ones as well as our many possessions. Of course there are other reasons that people dream of owning a very large home. Maybe we feel that it is “the thing to do” after receiving a large promotion at work. Perhaps we want to impress other with our success or maybe we have been programmed to think that buying a big home is what you are supposed to do if you can afford it.

I have no problem with any of these reasons. If a large home makes you happy or suits your needs than by all means have at it! While the many advantages of owning a bigger than average home is obvious, there are many advantages to living in a smaller home as well. Here are some things to consider before deciding if that hill top mansion is really what you need or if something a bit more “average” will actually make you happier.

Save Money & Time
One thing that many people fail to consider when buying a new home is the amount of time and effort that it will take to keep it running smoothly. Energy costs alone can be quite overwhelming and time saved in cleaning is more time to enjoy your new surroundings. There are also the added costs of insurance, taxes and routine maintenance. If you have enough time to care for a large home or enough money to pay someone else for assistance, than that’s fine. If, however, you will be the one doing all the work, than you might consider a home that’s just a bit more modest. The idea is to own your home, not to be owned by it!

Less Space Could Mean Less Clutter
I have noticed that no matter how much space I have, it always get’s filled up! Perhaps our homes would be less cluttered and better organized if we were forced into getting rid of that garage (or attic) full of things that we never even use! There is something to be said for being a minimalist. A smaller home could even cause us to save money on those impulse purchases. I can’t count the number of homes I’ve seen with treadmills that never get used or a well decorated guest room that is always unoccupied.  

Less Debt & Less Risk = Less Worries
While you may be able to afford a large home, do you really need it? If possible, why not live in a home that is comfortable for you while saving money at the same time? Qualifying for a million dollar home is not the sole reason to buy it. If you would be just as happy in a more cost effective home, you should at least consider it. While living in our dream house is wonderful, being financially secure over the years is also worth considering.

Is a Smaller Home Actually Better for our Family?
This may be a groundbreaking thought but is it actually possible that families that spend more time together are actually “closer”? Obviously 3 children sharing a bedroom and 1 bathroom is not the road to nirvana but how much is too much? There’s something to be said for the family that eats together at 6 and watches their favorite programming together in the living room. 

I often consider the fact that larger homes provide just enough space for everyone to “do their own thing” at the expense of spending quality time with those whom should mean the most to us. Homes were much smaller in the 1950’s and family members spent much more time together as a result. I’m not saying that living in a larger home is the reason for family discord but I honestly believe that there could be real advantages to a family that lives a bit more “involved” with each other.

Decorating is a Breeze!
A beautiful home is one thing, an empty one is another! Remember, rooms need furniture and the proper d├ęcor to be of use. A home with unused space is a waste. There’s no sense in heating a house that is half empty or spending all of your spare time keeping it clean. Thousands of dollars can be saved by not owning a home with unused areas and that’s money in the bank!

When it’s Time to Sell……..
Whether it’s you or someone else in the family, someday, someone will need to sell your home. Although you may believe that the opposite is true, it often takes more time to sell a large luxury home than one that is more affordable. Luxury homes are sold to a smaller percentage of the population and finding the right buyer can take time and energy. This is something to consider if you plan to downsize during your retirement years or after the children have all gone off to college. This doesn’t mean that owning a large home is a mistake but it does mean that you should be realistic as to what to expect in the future if the home is to be sold. This is especially true in times when the economy is not at its best.

So, if you think that I am telling you to never buy a large home, than you have missed the point! What I am saying here is that if you have the finances and/or time to enjoy a large home than you should do what makes you happy. If, however, you plan to work 2 jobs for the next 10 years just to make the mortgage payment than you might want to reconsider. Bigger is not always better.

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