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By: Patricia Ann Chaffee

CottageHouse on trailerWe live in a society that believes that bigger and better is best, especially when it comes to our homes. In 1950 the average home in the United States was 983 square feet. And in 2013 the average had grown to 2600. Although there are circumstances I suppose, when 2600 square feet might be needed, like if you are the Waltons or maybe that Duggar family with the 19 children of TLC fame. I can see where they might use that much space, but for many of us, we have much more than we need. And as we become aware of this, downsizing is becoming a growing trend. Often times we begin to consider this possibility when our life circumstances change and we begin evaluating exactly what is important in life. We may find ourselves asking questions like: How do I want to spend my time, my money, my resources? Wandering around an empty, oversized living space, filled with lots of memories and little comfort can be the catalyst that prompts us to make the change from supersized to super simple. Downsizing can be the path to easy breezy simple living. Here are a few reasons to consider seeking out smaller living space…

Reason #1
Easier on your budget

There seems little point in owning a large home if you don’t need the space. You have to insure it, maintain it, keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. If your outdoor space is expansive perhaps you have landscapers and gardeners to pay for, not to mention all the utilities and property taxes. In addition, how many of us tend to fill whatever space we have with things we are conditioned to believe we need? This one is a no brainer. Why live in 2,000 square feet when 1,500 or 1,000 will do? Or maybe even less? Only we know what our real needs are, but asking the question, “How do I want to spend my money?” is a valid one. Dipping into long term resources or having to work longer and harder to pay for a McMansion or even a mini McMansion might just not be the ideal scenario. And although we never lose the memories of a home we’ve been in for years, sometimes a new environment can free us for the abundant life that lays ahead.

“We practice letting go and in the process, find peace.” ~ Leo Babauta

TimeReason #2
Easier on your time

So maybe you’re independently wealthy…or not. Even if money is not an issue, the responsibility and headache of owning a large home consumes a great deal of time. Just caring for it and tending to daily maintenance can keep us from doing things we really want to be doing. Things like spending time with friends and family, following creative endeavors or pursuing things we are passionate about. Perhaps you want to volunteer in your community or take a class. How long does it take to dust that elephant collection or keep those empty guest rooms clean? What if you didn’t have 2,000 square feet to tend to? What would you do with the rest of your time? For many people downsizing is a path to freedom that opens up doors to new experiences and gives us freedom in more ways than one.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Reason #3
Easier on the earth

EnvironmentEveryone is talking about our ecological footprint these days and downsizing to a more environmentally friendly space might just be one way that we can help. Our ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems and every one of us is having an impact in a less than positive way. Smaller space, eco-friendly choices in our day to day living, lighter utility consumption all can help make us feel good about the mark we leave on this earth. So why not try? Making one small change is where it begins, and often leads to another.

“I really believe in the environmental movement right now – it only takes a little effort to make a big difference.” ~ Brooke Burke

FreeReason #4
Easier to be clutter free

We all have a junk drawer (or two). And it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to meander around your 10 room colonial and find a basket of things you’d like to get rid of. But when you can’t open closet doors without things falling out and can’t close dresser drawers for their overflow, it might be time to think about de-cluttering. We acquire things. It’s human nature. But there is great wisdom in knowing when to release things to make room for new things, whether that is a new home, new furniture, new friends or new experiences. Our homes are a metaphor for our lives. If it is packed to the gills with symbols of our past it is difficult to move into our future. Our memories are not within the things we cherish, but are held in our hearts. As you go through this process of letting go, ask one simple question as you consider if you should keep, donate or discard an item. “Do you love it or do you need it?” If the answer isn’t yes, then let it go, let it go. And when all else fails, call a professional organizer. They are great at helping clients discern the answer to that question.

“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them! There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest.” ~ Peace Pilgrim

Reason #5
Easier to be happy

Consider the possibility that letting go of a family homestead and the associated memories they hold might just allow more joy and happiness into your life. When we no longer have a big house to pay for, have more time to do things we love, are being conscious of the impact we are having on the Earth and have freed ourselves of endless clutter, we may find a joy we never thought possible. It can be difficult, but the freedom we find when we are able to embrace fresh beginnings can be oh so nourishing. Joy is in the journey. Begin today!

“If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.” ~ Carlos Santana

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” ~ Henri Nouwen

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