Do I Really Need All of That?

Here’s a collection of great articles on why you should be scaling back your housing costs.  I guess I am seeking them out to validate a belief that I have already formed, which is that most of us really don’t need a mini-mansion.  I sure don’t and neither does my family.  Mini-mansions aren’t good for communities or Mama Earth.

Some folks have told me that they thought buying a big ol’ house would give everyone room to spread out, but instead the family tends to gather in just the kitchen and den.  But, to be fair, big whoppin’ houses are good for competing with your neighbors (“ah-HA! Take that – my atrium is three stories high!”).

If you are blossoming into your 50’s, start thinking about the size of your house now.  “We should be looking at smaller ‘starter’ homes as our ‘stay put’ homes,” says Ruth Davis Konisberg in this article in Time: “Why Housing Costs are the Biggest Threat to Your Retirement.”  Forbes is on this bandwagon too with “Boomers Start Downsizing for Retirement.”

For those of you that feel that retirement is but a misty dream of the future, there are other good reasons to “live small.”  You’ll find them here in three of my favorite articles:

Bloggers that give me inspiration are Annienygma and The Eco Cat Lady Speaks.

What about you – do you live in a smaller home? A larger home? What do you like about it? Or not?

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Small vs. Big, Few vs. Lots

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much stuff I need in my life: square footage in my house, clothes in my closets, cars in my garage, china in my cupboards, etc. And I’ve been thinking a lot about how to manage the upkeep on these things, balancing the replacement of what’s worn out with how much my budget will allow and how much my vanity wants.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the size of a person’s house supposedly says a lot about them: how successful they are, how smart they are, how good they are. Yes, many people in my city believe that if you live in a $300,000 house then you are more responsible, respectable, and reliable than if you live in a $125,000 house. That fallacy is alive and well here in my suburbia.

A large part of the reason I’m fascinated with mid-century design is that was on a smaller scale than what we live in today. Aspirations and material desires were on a more human level, too – at least in the beginning.

Take a look at this: Lindsay over at Shrink that Footprint came up with a clever way of showing how much house space we need in the US compared to other countries:
how bit
And take a look at this chart I found:

1973 and today
Are present day Americans so much bigger that we require 1,000 more square feet in our homes than our parents or grandparents did in 1973? Were our ancestors uncomfortably cramped? No, I don’t think so. I think the only thing that has changed has been the size of our material aspirations, which I don’t believe is a good thing. In more than one place in life, I have found that more money doesn’t always mean a better life.

Perhaps some of us unthinkingly follow the path that was laid out by “mad men” advertisers and the ever-busy Joneses; some of us were just keeping up without really asking ourselves if we wanted to end up where we were headed.

I’m 53. Do I really want a mortgage in my very old age? Or a lot of stuff to clean and repair? As well as a lawn to hire someone to keep up? No, I don’t think so. Something is shifting in my attitudes about stuff and the size of my house. I think it’s shifting downward… we’ll see where this leads.


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Something About Work



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