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A story of downsizing from a 2115 sq. ft. home to a 1300 sq. ft. home

A story of downsizing from a 2115 sq. ft. home to a 1300 sq. ft. home

Today’s blog post is written by lovely reader, who so kindly is sharing her family’s journey to letting go of the “American Dream” and turning their focus to the things that truly mattered to them.


I’ve been so inspired by this blog and community and felt led to share a little bit of our family’s 2015 downsizing journey in hopes that it might inspire or help others…

We sold our comfortable 15 year old, 2 story, 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2115 sq. ft. home and downsized to a 57 year old, ranch style, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1300 sq. ft. home. That may not seem like a significant change, but our basement bathroom is currently out of order, so technically we only use one and we do most of our “living” on our main floor which is a colossal 960 sq. ft.! It’s plenty of space though, really!

We gave up a few luxuries such as an attached garage, first floor laundry, a master suite complete with master bath, his and her’s walk in closets and more. We knew that a downsize would mean giving up certain conveniences, but it’s been worth it…and really—first. world. problems.

What prompted this move???

Feelings of excess that led to many, many, many conversations between myself and my husband! Conversations about how much time we spent maintaining our home and how much time we were willing to spend maintaining a home. Conversations about the consumerist habits we were modeling to our children and about the discernment we actually wanted to model to our children when choosing new items to bring into our home. Conversations about the amount of financial giving we were pouring into ministries we care about and our desire to be more generous. Conversation about how less time spent cleaning a home means more time to pour into our children. How a smaller mortgage and smaller property taxes would allow us to give more, save more and participate in life experiences that may not have otherwise fit our budget.

Simplicity. Quality. A desire to be purposeful and intentional with this life we’ve been gifted. Dreams had changed, morphed. So, we dared to chase a new dream and made what some would consider a pretty radical change.

What it all boiled down to was this: the way we were living and the way we wanted to live didn’t align.

The answer was clear to us, in order to put into practice these realizations, we needed to do something a bit radical! Purging by way of donation piles and rummage sales as well as keeping a tight budget just wasn’t enough to satisfy the change we so longed for. What we needed to do was sell our “too big for us” home and downsize.

So we did just that, because where we live isn’t nearly as important as how we live!

Why would a young family choose to sell their American Dream home and downgrade to a smaller older home???

  • To spend less time cleaning and maintaining, allowing more quality time with one another.
  • For the ability to save more, give more and experience more.
  • There is less space to accumulate “stuff”.
  • For a mature yard with large trees.
  • For a smaller more intimate space to encourage family closeness, realizing also, that a smaller space may provide for more opportunities to practice problem solving, selflessness and grace.
  • For us, personally, it means we are able to feel more secure in protecting our choice to be a one income family.

I feel like I could go on and on about the reasons why this has been such a good and fruitful move for our family, but you get the jist!

We’ve only been in our new house for two months, but we LOVE it so much! It definitely feels like home.



Do you have a story to share about your journey to minimalism? Email me here.

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About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire to help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.


  1. John Smith on 09/21/2015 at 11:27 PM

    and really—first. world. problems.

    Haha! You beat me to it. 🙂

    • dianne Combs on 05/04/2017 at 8:40 PM

      AT least they are making an effort to change their lives for the better.

  2. Emily on 09/22/2015 at 11:59 PM

    Similarly, we went from a 2300 sq ft ranch (double with basement) to a 1300 sq ft 1 1/2 story almost four years ago. The security it has afforded us to settle for being a one-income family is a benefit even the kids are excited to get behind. The process of thinning our possessions to fit has been more challenging. Sharing a bathroom with two tween/teens is seriously driving us crazy. We would not go back, but we will put a bathroom and closet in the basement as soon as we can pay cash for it.

  3. Elle Miller on 09/24/2015 at 11:25 AM

    Applaud your efforts, but we did the opposite. We lived in a 1300 sq ft house for 10 years with one bathroom and no attached garage, garbage disposal or dishwasher and did not have an eating area big enough for our family of 5 without moving the table each night. We wanted to have another child and couldn’t fit one more bed in that house. Our kids couldn’t have friends over, we couldn’t easily have a holiday with extended family. It is true we didn’t need as much space as we bought and our time is taken up with household chores in a way that we didn’t have to before, but we wouldn’t trade the 13 years since, having added a 4th child, and now the room for our older children when they come home with their spouses, and soon to be grand children. To each his own! We choose to think of our investment in our 3400 square foot home as an investment IN family and friends, as they are now always welcome to come and stay. No we don’t vacation like we could have and yes, we will downsize again eventually (as we only have one left at home) but moving UP simplified things for us. Smaller isn’t always better either. The stress of living on top of each other in our old house, waiting in line for the bathroom or shower and actively having to stay out of a room so another could use it wasn’t fun either. Again, I applaud your goal, but depending on the size of a family, it might not be the best option.

    • Lisa on 01/09/2016 at 2:26 PM

      I feel the exact same way. We are in a small home (1000 sq ft bungalow) with 3 kids and are looking to up-size (2000 sq ft 2 storey) simply for space to move freely without bumping into corners or moving tables to seat everyone to share a meal.

      • Rachael on 10/12/2017 at 12:38 PM

        I’m with you guys. We were in a 3 bedroom house with 4 children; 3 in one bedroom that was 9×12… had 2 sets of bunkbeds, trying to run 2 businesses out of it. Each sq. foot had 2 purposes, which meant we spent a lot of time shuffling things around so we could accomplish the task in front of us. I operated one business on our dining room table. So, when we wanted to have guests, we’d have to take it all off, set up for dinner, then, after they were gone, we’d put it all back, ready for business the next day.

        We built a huge 4500 sq. ft house and moved in. In that space, we had an apartment for my mother in law, so she could move in as well. Since then we’ve had countless numbers of house guests, been able to tell our kids to invite any and all of their college friends home for holidays, as well as host our entire senior group from church in our interior “living area.” Smaller might be great for you, but for us, it opened up a huge, huge world of opportunities that would not have been possible without bigger.

        I’m glad smaller is better for you, but smaller surely opened up a world of hostessing opportunities for us that were impossible before.

        • Rachael on 10/12/2017 at 12:39 PM

          I meant to say “larger opened up a world”.. instead of smaller.

  4. Bek on 09/26/2015 at 8:32 PM

    Thanks for sharing your story – it’s quite inspiring, especially when my family of 6 is contemplating moving from a 3 bedroom house into a 2-3 bedroom unit, so that my husband can do a further theological degree!

  5. Pau on 10/02/2015 at 8:43 AM

    I’m a bit confused on the math…is it only a partial basement? Because 960sq ft main level x 2 levels=1,920. We’re a family of 5 in a 1,050sq ft, 2 bed/1 bath mobile home with 8×8 shed for the same reasons, though hoping to bump up a little in the future so we can have a yard and a guest bedroom.

  6. Roxanne on 10/08/2015 at 10:09 AM

    We are 10 people in 1100sqft. 3br,1 ba. We are in such a small home without choice. Its all we can afford. I will gladly trade with anyone who has more space and land!!

  7. Kelly Bernard on 01/09/2016 at 11:18 AM

    Everyone is different. I’ve had the big house and acres of yard. I felt so lost rambling about in a house with too many rooms with no clear purpose. Unlike others I don’t entertain or have many house guests. I am so happy and content in my 1000 sf townhome. With just one kids at at home now its plenty of space. My son took the finished basement so my second bedroom goes largely unused and in fact only has a side table, lamp, and small tv n it. When my daughter came to visit for the holidays we borrowed an air mattress that she and her boyfriend slept quite well on. One day I will add a real bed but it just isn’t a priority right now.

  8. Kya on 01/09/2016 at 11:59 AM

    Interesting… To each their own really.. As a family of 6 with 3 adults a tweenager and a 2 and 4 year old along with a medium to large dog and a cat living in a 3 bedroom 1 bathroom home.. I couldn’t disagree with you more on this…. I can’t wait to be able to sell this small house and move into something bigger MUCH bigger where we can all have our own space when needed! We’ve always been a close family unit (dinner every night at the table all technology off we eat we chat, table is set by the kids and packed away by the adults) (we garden ( we have most of the backyard taken up by veggie gardens and container gardens but we have a huge alleyways we have to mow and trim bushes and trees a sideyard and a front yard that has giant maple trees on it!) and maintain the yard as a family unit as we hope to have land in our next property to raise animals, grow fruit and veg all things we would work on together to help provide for our family) we all have chores to help keep up our small house which would carry onto the next house.. All values we’ve instilled in our kids won’t matter whether it’s a big or small house I feel. And just because you have a small house does NOT mean you won’t collect “stuff” ☺️

  9. Cecilia on 03/04/2016 at 7:40 PM

    I’m always amazed when I read you guys taking about how small 960ft is, I live in France, my whole house is 960ft and it’s not small on this side of the ocean 😉
    I’m actually torn between dreaming of all the big fancy houses you guys have (except for formal dining room, what’s the poiny of having a whole room you hardly ever use? 😉 ), but at the same time it must take up so much time to tidy and maintain, plus it’s costful to furnish and decorate and there’s plenty of place for clutter, all things considered, in my house I can store less so less clutter and it’s quicker to clean… The living space is cozier (meaning too small 😉 )

  10. Brandyn on 03/05/2016 at 12:15 AM

    The comments here are interesting and wide-ranging. My wife and I just recently had our 4th child, and we live in a 900 sq ft home, 2 bed/1 bath. Our living arrangement was also intended, though, as we are living off my income alone, and I wanted a means of building for an early retirement along with a way of accommodating various lessons for my children, be they dance, music, or sports. We absolutely love where we live, and our modest 900ft home feels like a castle …even for 6 people. I feel like many (though not all) get accustomed to some concept of vast, open, personal space that they just can’t seem to get past. I’ve found that I much prefer paying less for a higher quality, smaller home that overall uses fewer resources… Larger homes become exponentially costly – heating and cooling costs, general maintenance costs, and the potential costs of repairs and/or replacements of all sorts – 2500+ sq ft of roof, vs 900 to replace; reflooring a 144 ft kitchen & dining room, as opposed to one 250+ ft… at $2 a tile (1’x1′), you’re looking at $2k vs $4k (leaving out the square footage that the countertop would likely occupy). These costs aren’t insignificant, and are easily some of the reasons why so many decide to remain apartment-dwellers for so long. Truth be told, many of us can easily learn how to live within a smaller home (happily, even!), but many people are still just caught up in the idea of this so-called “American Dream” that any home smaller than “BIG” seems to dim in comparison. What it really comes down to is priority and desire – I don’t want to spend all the money I make just to live somewhere… I want to use that money for other purposes, too. And sure, I can always get a higher-paying job, but the farther up a ladder anyone goes, the less time they have with their family. My dad had a very well-paying job, and I lived in a fairly large home growing up. I also had pretty much anything I could have asked for… except time with my dad. The game is a rat-race, and I refuse to play – too many parents have abandoned their children on the path to their own desires already, and I feel like that’s played a large role in the disconnected, haughty society our country now exhibits… I’d rather craft a household focused on community, and the ability to do without than build a castle that eternally demands half-a-year’s wages just to live in… Sorry for the extended two cents… =)

  11. Carlina on 10/21/2016 at 12:21 PM

    I don’t see anywhere that she is telling others they should do the same. We all have different needs. Really someone actually took the time to make math calculations about it?!?! She is just sharing her story about the decision they made and the benefits of it, for them! If it inspires you that is great. But for those of you who feel the need to defend your situation and make comparison about it indicates she struck a nerve with you. #downsize #simplify #minimize #sustainable #lovegrowsbestinlittlehouses

  12. Natalie on 01/09/2017 at 11:13 PM

    Great article. We have lived in both large and small homes. Currently we are living in a 3500 square foot home with 4 children. we moved from a 1200 square foot home. personally i preferred our 1200 square foot home but we wanted to try our hand at farming. we found the perfect property and a great location with a decent price so we had little choice on the house. i would have preferred a 2000 square foot home. that being said i can see the benefits of the home when my children grow older and want their own spaces or when they have friends visit. right now we have a lot more work for keeping the house tidy. we don’t own a lot of stuff so the clutter isn’t there but definitely the heating costs and cleaning are a downer. we are looking for ways to use the extra space that will be beneficial for us and the community.

  13. Bobbi on 06/14/2017 at 3:29 PM

    My 860 sq foot ranch built in 1951 housed a full family of four at one point in the 80s. I know because I met the woman who grew up there. She didn’t consider it ‘minimalist’ living back then, but our super sized culture allows us to think we are doing some thing special by ‘downsizing’ to a perfectly normal-sized home. Sigh.

  14. Steph on 07/11/2017 at 11:08 AM

    I love the idea of minimalism! The only thing keeping me from downsizing to a smaller home is losing the ability to be hospitable! We love having families over for dinner, can host 60+ people for our Bible Study, our kids can have friends over to swim and BBQ….but yes the downside is larger mortgage, mowing 1.5 acres, cleaning takes a while, etc…

  15. Kathy @ SMART Living on 07/24/2017 at 1:01 AM

    Congratulations on your move toward rightsizing! I call what you did “rightsizing” rather than downsizing because downsizing sounds like you are sacrificing, Rightsizing, on the other hand, is moving toward quality rather than quantity. It really isn’t the size that we choose, it what is most appropriate for each individual family based upon their needs and abilities at the time. At the core is living well within our means, and making choices that fit best within our unique circumstances. Making that choice in a conscious way is one of the most important things we can do to create a happy and content life.

    • Jennifer on 05/21/2019 at 12:32 PM

      I love that—“right-sizing.” It allows for different needs that can change over time, and most importantly, I think, it encourages conscious decision making about how we choose to live & what works for each situation. Thanks!

  16. Lin on 03/18/2018 at 1:03 PM

    I am also trying for a simpler life and loving the sense of spaciousness my small apartment is gaining as I let go of stuff. I don’t want any limitations on where I move next that comes from having too much stuff! But it has to be the right decision for each person or family. I also love living space design, so I recommend the article for anyone who would like to see many diverse plans for smaller homes. They’re quite inspiring.

  17. Marisa on 06/23/2018 at 3:43 PM

    All my family could afford was a 54 year old 1200 sq ft house for our family of 6 (3 are teens and we all share a bathroom). We’re self employed and we homeschool. I literally dream at night of bigger houses, but I am pretty content, knowing that we couldn’t afford anything bigger or newer even if we wanted to.

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