The Benefits of Living in a Small House

Property Manager with Frozen Pennies

Eighteen years ago thins June 3, we bought our first house.  My boys were two and a half and one.  We didn’t look at 23 different homes over six months.  We bought the first one we looked at.


My husband was working at a paper mill. The rumors were flying that they were going to close their doors after over 100 years of operation.  So we decided that if we wanted to buy, we needed to do it now.


That was RIGHT before the prices in Upstate, NY, went through the roof.  So we bought a little cape style, two bedrooms, one bath on 1.5 acres.  It was sweet and had so much potential.  We paid $60K for it.


Oh,  it was 1100 square feet.  We were cool before the Tiny House Movement made us cool.

And then taxes. So much lower on a smaller house.


Our boys shared a room for 17 years.  It was small, and they turned out ok.  For family Thanksgiving dinners, we set up a long folding table in the living room because our dining room only fits six on a round table.


Showers needed to be short because there was only one toilet.  And having two people in the kitchen at the same time was risky.


I can’t even talk about the lack of closet space without tearing up.  Our bedroom was upstairs in an attic space with poor ventilation and even worse insulation.


There are so many benefits to living in a small house. 

You have to learn to communicate. 

It’s too small of a space to be selfish. So generosity is a must.

There is no room for clutter, and you must think before you make a purchase.


As the years went on and our income increased, we made improvements.

It is now a four-bedroom two-bath with plans for a large dining room/great room off the back soon.


It was a decision based on the big picture.  We knew we could add on.  We knew it could be upgraded as we saved up our money.  And we knew that we could live here for the rest of our lives.


There are increasing benefits to buying under your budget. 

-Setting yourself up to pay it off in 10-15 years instead of 30.

-Allowing yourself the finances to invest and manage other properties.

-Not having any debt and traveling the world.

-Building a legacy for your family.


Our little house is paid off. It’s been added on and had continuous upgrades.  This year, it gets a pool.


Buying this little cottage in “The Hollow” (as the neighborhood is called) was the very best financial decision we have ever made.  It took quite a while to make it what we envisioned back in 2002, and it’s not quite there yet.


Grabbing the little house in a great neighborhood allowed us to pay it off quickly and, in turn, invest in other neighboring properties in cash.  Setting us up for financial stability and reliable retirement.


As a financial coach, I strongly encourage my clients to live below their means, weigh the risk, and don’t buy it just because you like it.  Look at the bigger picture - discover the potential of not only your most significant investment but your financial future and the freedom of what could be.


For more tips on living in a small house and see some photos, check out this article This Is Why I Love Living In A Small House

Comments (30)

Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

 Hi Sara and welcome to ActiveRain!!! I loved reading your post. My first apartment was 725 square feet, 1 bedroom and 1 bath but it was just me. Your advice is so true about learning to live below your means. If you do you can reap so many rewards.   Hope you'll continue to post. 

May 22, 2020 05:58 PM
Matthew Klinowski, PA
Downing-Frye - Naples, FL
Golf Community Real Estate Specialist

Hi Sara, welcome to ActiveRain! Congrats on a great first post. You make excellent points about the value of living in a smaller place and below your means. Have a great day!

May 23, 2020 06:40 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Sara, for sharing this story.

Many families are now wishing they had a more affordable home.

May 23, 2020 06:56 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello and Welcome to the Rain where we all learn from each other and help each other.  Great first blog!!!


May 23, 2020 08:11 AM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Sara Conklin 

Enjoyed your post!
I am a big fan of TINY houses.
Sounds as if you made a wise choice and are enjoyon the benefits.
All the best - Lynn

May 23, 2020 08:16 AM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

May 23, 2020 07:03 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I'm so glad Kathy included this in her weekly "What I Learned" post. You had patience, vision, and a willingness to work on your home over a long period of time. To own a home with no mortgage payments is a wonderful thing. Kudos to you!

May 24, 2020 05:10 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Sara Conklin - there are really many advantages to not being "house poo."  It really seemed to work out very well for you.

May 24, 2020 07:02 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Sara Conklin,

Welcome to Active Rain! I grew up in a small town Scotia outside of Schenectady NY. We lived in a small house on 2 acres and added on several times. I remember when I was 7 my dad and mom were so happy as they had paid off our home! Hope to see more of your posts..well done.

May 24, 2020 07:22 AM
Sara Conklin

Dorie, I know exactly where Scotia is.  We are near Saratoga.  Thank you for your kind words!

May 24, 2020 06:03 PM
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, CRB, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Hi Sara Conklin welcome to AR!  You have given extremly wise advice in your first post. Very wise!  Excellent primer of how to build wealth - one bite at a time.

May 24, 2020 10:41 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Sara - although many houses are similar, yours includes something quite special which makes it a home.  

May 24, 2020 05:53 PM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, EXP - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Hi Sara, This is a fantastic post, thanks for sharing it with us.  So many extremely valuable tips for wealth building.  Welcome to Active Rain, I look forward to reading more of your posts.

May 24, 2020 07:14 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Sara:

Welcome to ActiveRain and thank you for your post. Our first home  was about 1000 SF and we learned to live with it...and as our first home it was very special in many ways!

Looking forward to hearing more from you!


May 24, 2020 08:10 PM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

What a wonderful real life story! I love the name Frozen Pennies too! Clever

Welcome to the rain! I look forward to more posts fro you!

Enjoy Memorial Day and that pool!! 

May 25, 2020 12:44 AM
Graziella Bruner
NCS Premier Real Estate - Detroit, MI
Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County

Welcome to Active Rain, thanks for sharing your story, a great way for me to encourage my first-time buyers who really can't afford the larger home.

Best wishes on your pool, can't wait to see pictures.

May 25, 2020 12:50 PM
Doug Dawes
KW Evolution - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Welcome Sara Conklin 

We have much in common as Pam & I purposefully purchased a smaller home knowing it would be crowded with the 3 boys BUT also knowing we wouldn't face downsizing in retirement.  I love the line "We were cool before the Tiny House Movement made us cool." 

May 26, 2020 05:50 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center 262-567-2455 - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great post!  I can see why Kathy chose to  highlight it this week!

May 26, 2020 06:42 AM
Angela Lawrence
Noble Merit, REALTORS® - Winston-Salem, NC

Wonderful hit many good points and great ideas!  Thanks for sharing.

May 30, 2020 04:12 AM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Solutions - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Welcome to ActiveRain. What a great post and I love your insight into what made it worthwhile - and that your boys turned out all right LOL. 

Jun 07, 2020 12:20 PM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


What a great post, and I just found it even though Kathy Streib featured it.  Wishing you great success.  A

Jul 31, 2020 10:21 AM