Tuesday, May 28

5 Reasons Why a Bigger House Isn't Always Better

"You're going need a bigger house!"

We've heard some form of this statement each time we welcomed one of our last three babies home,  bringing our kid count to seven. 

We always laughed it off, or said something in response that was weak and was not at all what we truly wanted to say.  Like, "Oh, we're just fine in our house!"  and "Are you offering to pay for a new house for us?"  (insert a nervous laugh)

With some thought, and a few years to mull this topic over in my mind, here's what I truly want to say about a bigger house:

1.     If we lived in the third world, there most probably wouldn't be talk of bigger houses if the one we currently lived in was larger than a majority of the houses on the earth.  Talk of bigger houses is an "American Dream" concept, one that can be tiresome and just plain bleh (for the lack of a better word.)  We generally don't need bigger houses, we want bigger houses.  There's a glaring difference.  Around the world, people don't just want food and clean water, they need it too.  It's hard to wade through the needs and wants some times - I'm right there with you.  I'm not saying moving to a bigger house is wrong, but it's a good idea to camp on the idea of need vs. want when considering a change.  We've contemplated building a new house that suits our growing kids (who just won't stop growing) and to better use the space, but the time is not now.  We are exceedingly thankful and love where we live.  Three kids to a bedroom times two and all. 

2.     I'll throw in an obvious one:  Smaller house means less to clean.  Because the majority of us doesn't have a cleaning staff.  The family is the cleaning staff, and this cleaning lady and her staff does not want more house to clean, thankyouverymuch. 

3.     Keeping small keeps your debt load small or non-existent.  Going bigger, unless you can pay out-of-pocket, just leads to more debt.  More debt = more stress.  Now, who needs that?  Not I, said the fly. 

4.     You just can't avoid having to share in our home.  It's a true benefit in our self-absorbed culture for children and adults alike to have to share.   Entitlement and selfishness can creep in when children and adults don't have anyone to share with.  We think things should be easy, convenient, and make us gloriously happy.  Sharing in childhood can produce adults who more readily think of the needs of others.  And if handled with care, smaller spaces can mean better manners, more empathy, stronger bonds, and better organization for those living within. 

5.      Living in smaller spaces causes you to grapple with the contentment factor.  

 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:11-13

I once heard that contentment isn't having what you want, but wanting what you have.  I agree, and I'd take it a step further and say that contentment is possible because Jesus Christ gives us the strength and ability to "want what we have."  We sometimes forget that we aren't supposed to be able to be content without the help of our Savior.  So I'd say, a perfect place to live would not be in a bigger house, it would be to live in contentment until and if we're called by the Lord to move elsewhere. 

What reasons would you add to this list?

9 comments on "5 Reasons Why a Bigger House Isn't Always Better"
  1. AnonymousMay 28, 2013

    Hi Amanda. You are SOOO right!! We live in Kenya and your comments about the third world are dead on. The Western ideas of "needs" are dramatically different than those in the developing nations. Thank you for this insightful post.

    Blessings to your beautiful family!

  2. AnonymousMay 28, 2013

    I am about to get married and in a year or two we will be looking to build a house. Since we both want a big family, we assumed we'd need to build a big house (which would also mean a big debt)...this post really made me think that maybe we don't need that! It's interesting to see your take on contentment...very inspiring.

  3. Thank you for this post! I needed to read it! We only have 2 kids in a 3 bedroom 1700 sq ft house and were flip flopping until recently that we needed a bigger house. We don't! And decided not to sell and jump into a bigger debt. But it was a tough couple of months going back and forth. Glad to see we aren't the only ones not jumping into a new house 'like we are supposed to'.

  4. Very good! We live in town in a wonderful little house.
    Admittedly once we have a couple kids, it really will be to small. A 10x10 room can only hold so many kids right? :)
    But, we want to move the country and there the house will be bigger. Hubby keeps talking about a 2 story house and a basement and I'm asking him if he is going to do the cleaning!

    I like the point you make in number 4. With a small house, you have to be organized. You have to make do with less at times, and guess what? It's really ok! :)

  5. Really enjoyed this! We have 5 children and two parents in 1300 square feet. There are lots of times I would like to have a little more space to spread out, but this is what God has provided for us and we are thankful for it. Soon, we hope to move closer to our church (currently over 60 miles away from home) and may actually choose to move all 7 of us in to a single wide trailer for a little while!

  6. Hooray! I agree with everything you've said, Amanda- and a hearty amen to #1.

    I would add that in a small house there is more togetherness. It's inevitable. A friend once told me that when they moved from a smaller to bigger home- all the kids ended up scattering throughout the new spaces. Before, in their smaller home, they had naturally congregated in the kitchen or living room and were constantly *with* one another- there was nowhere else to go! They didn't gather as often in a bigger home. And she said she missed that. I always remember that when we're crowded into our little eating nook or piled onto our couches. It's a treasure, the togetherness.

  7. AnonymousMay 29, 2013

    When Perry and I got married, his business was in the garage and we lived in a 440 sq. ft. apartment in the back. We had a bunch of people over and had 12 people sitting on my bed! We then built his shop and got the garage back. When we found out we were pregnant with Camden, we turned what used to be Perry's sign shop into a large bedroom (11x20 with a 5x5 walk-in closet). This upped our sq. footage to 685 sq. ft. We should have made 2 bedrooms that were 11x10 with standard closets. But.... :-) We always intended to add on out of pocket, but the money was not forth coming. Then, in 2007 we were very surprised by the arrival of Colena. We then built temperary walls in half of the garage and put in a family room and bedroom for Camden. Then two winter's ago, after not having any privacy in our room for the previous 8 years (!!!!!), we moved Colena out there as well. They now share an 8x13 room. We have, over the years been able to put in a new septic and leach field and have our foundation in. It has been in for 5 years. We could have so easily taken out a loan to build on and there are days when 4 people in 900 sq. ft. total is enough to drive a girl mad. But, as often as I am discontent with my living situation, I am also trying to trust that the Lord knows what we need and how important it is for a 10 year old boy to no longer share a bedroom with his 5 year old sister. We have been here for 12 years now and we have thought about moving A LOT, but with Perry's business and our home on the same property, we figured it would cost two lifetimes of income to rebuild. So, still trying to be content where we are, while trusting the Lord to take what we have and turn it into our dream home. 2200 sq. ft. ranch, 3 bed, 3 bath with office/library and a separate laundry room!
    Thank you for this Amanda! It reminds me why we are paying out of pocket. NO DEBT! :-)

  8. Great reasons Amanda! Having a lifestyle where we are forced to share and and our children are forced to share is a great benefit to a small house. No mortgage is great, too.

  9. Those are all great reasons! My family and I recently moved into an RV (we are going to spend a year traveling the U.S.). It has really taught me the value of less really being more. It has definitely helped with our struggle with wanting more "things"... we can't buy more things, because there is simply nowhere to put them! :)


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