We live in a society where people frequently purchase huge lavish houses in an effort to flaunt their social status and fit in within a certain “lifestyle” they deem superior. For many the cost of these homes digs a huge hole in their pockets and they ultimately have to forgo their other desires and expenses. Or they may work extra jobs or hours to keep this lifestyle afloat at the expense of their families and their health.
On Facebook this weekend I saw some discussion about a new Cadillac commercial that aired during the Olympics. I didn’t see it myself, as I am not interested in watching the games, nor do I watch much (any?) live TV. I did catch it on YouTube though after I heard some rumblings. Many are saying it highlights the American dream and sums us up as a society perfectly. Others are rightfully looking at the message a little more deeply and thinking we are being sold a bunch hooey.
Here is the commercial:
Obviously the intent is to sell cars and make their car and brand desirable. It IS a commercial after all. Though IMO we should all be alarmed that so many can identify with and glorify the attitude so prevalent in it. Basically…European cultures are lazy for taking vacations and for taking leisurely strolls to the cafe to enjoy themselves. Americans are so much better because they keep their noses to the grindstone and skip all that family time and relaxation because it allows them to enjoy fine things… like a $75,000 car and a huge house. Vomit.
If you take a quick look back in time, you’ll see that smaller homes historically were the norm for most of us. In 1950, the average home size was roughly around 900 square feet but home size made a significant jumped up to 2350 square feet by 2004. That is a huge leap for just a few decades. Lately the trend has reversed a bit, with the increasing price of real estate and the cost of maintenance going up. People are again shifting towards the purchase of much smaller and compact houses rather than purchasing a huge house which is not in their budget. The tiny house movement is gaining some traction as more folks realize that bigger is not better. Here are some of the reasons why small houses are an investment in a happier, richer life:
Small homes costs less
Homebuyers tend to forget the fact that the expense of buying a huge house does not end with the initial purchase. The cost of maintaining it and decorating it also tends to get steep. A big house means a big roof. A big house means a large furnace, perhaps two. The bigger the house the more square footage needs to be maintained. It also costs more to heat and cool large houses, LOTS more. On the other hand, small homes costs less in all these areas and your money can go to more important things and you can usually pay off your home faster, because it was more affordable to begin with.
Small houses save time
It takes a significant amount of time to clean a big house and maintain the yard, unless you hire a cleaning crew and a landscaping company to come in every week. In that case see the point I made above about money. Living in a small house means you spend less time cleaning and maintaining.
Small houses help you live with simplicity and intention
When you live in small house you have to think carefully about what you buy and what you keep. A small house can get cluttered because space is an issue. Thus you are forced to make purchases carefully and mindfully. You are also much more likely to attack clutter and to simplify. A lifestyle that requires you to “think” rather than exist on autopilot is much preferred.
Smaller homes mean more quality
It costs a small fortune to upgrade countertops, hard wood floors, cabinets and appliances in a restaurant sized kitchen. You have to buy so much more that you may have to make sacrifices in terms of quality. You can renovate or improve a small home using your first choice materials because you don’t need much. You may also be able to buy better furniture, art, or tech because you have more wiggle room in the budget thanks to your humble abode. Your money goes further and buys more.
Small homes may be easier to sell
Energy costs continue to rise. The economy is unreliable at best. That means energy efficient homes, especially small affordable homes, will be always be high in demand in the future, which makes them easier to sell off if one needs to.
Smaller homes mean more togetherness
A happy benefit of having less room to spread out is that families spend more time together. You spend more time together at home because you have less room to sprawl out and it may also mean that you opt to get out together more often.
The advantages of living in a smaller home are pretty clear and hopefully this is a trend that will gain some steam in the future as more people realize they are overworked, in debt, and losing out on meaningful family time. The new America dream should be about seeing past the consumerist bull-crap being sold to us and saying “no thanks, I don’t need it.”
Friday, February 14th, 2014