First Person: I'm Happy in Our Smaller Home

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I've toured a few McMansions when I was shopping for a home, but I knew I'd never live in a gigantic house. I have always preferred small spaces. I think of expansive homes as museums that showcase interesting pieces of art, antiques and a homeowner's sense of style. I need a home that's practical. Throughout the years, I've lived in 700 to 800-square foot duplexes and apartments as well as a townhome with 1,100 square feet of living space. My current home has 1,800 square feet of space, which is spacious enough for our family of four.

According to an article by MSN Money, the average home in the United States is now 2,438 square feet. By 2015, homebuilders predict the average home size will be 2,152 square feet.

Having an affordable mortgage

The No. 1 advantage for us to have a smaller house is that it comes with a smaller price tag and mortgage. In some cases, smaller homes go for $120 to $140 a square foot, but those homes usually have high-end upgrades and fixtures. We bought our home for $100 a square foot during the housing bubble. Today, most people could purchase a home similar to ours for about $60 to $70 a square foot.

Paying a smaller tax bill

Smaller homes usually have fewer bedrooms and bathrooms, which means they are assessed at a lower tax rate. Our tax bill has been shrinking since the housing market crashed a few years ago. When shopping for a resale home with a good friend recently, I noticed that the property taxes were $3,000 to $4,000 a year for the larger homes compared to the $2000 range for smaller homes.

Feeling safer in my neighborhood

I have always felt safer living a smaller, more modest home in a middle-class neighborhood with working folks. I've rarely heard of anyone being robbed because most thieves tend to target the homes that actually contain expensive things that people would want to take. According to the article, larger homes have traditionally been seen as an outward symbol of success. I have no desire to advertise my success through my real estate investment.

Spending less money on maintenance

Along with the smaller house, I also have a smaller yard. I love the fact that I can still plant a few trees but don't have much to mow. My yard was large enough for me to plant a lemon tree, two pine trees, a bay tree, Magnolia tree and three palm trees. However, I don't have to spend a lot of money on watering since we have a drip irrigation system. As far as utilities, my smaller home doesn't cost as much to heat and cool. It's easier to clean my small house.

I like living in a cozy home because it's one that we can live in for life. As my teenage sons move out, we can redecorate our home to be an empty nest and eventually a retirement home. I guess you could say when it comes to our home, we don't believe in downsizing as much as "rightsizing."

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