In the U.S., we sometimes get off track and believe too strongly that bigger is always better. When it comes to real estate, this seems to be commonplace across the nation. It’s not unusual in 2013 for people to want a bigger house with more things and more space. While there are benefits to having a larger house and rampant material possessions for some individuals, it’s clear that this mindset lacks efficiency. We live in a world of finite resources and finite space. We need to be efficient with our lives, and one way to do so is through our living situation.
The thing about minimalist living is that not only does the practice help the environment and our quest for sustainable progression, but it also makes life much simpler for the tenant. Below I list two main components of minimalist living when it comes to real estate, and why they matter.
Whether it’s a huge mansion or simply a house that’s excessive in size for the current tenant, homes in our country are too large. One component of a minimalist lifestyle is to directly challenge this mindset by residing in a smaller space that meets basic needs, and only those basic needs.
A house is meant to provide shelter and a safe environment. Small houses perform all of the necessary functions that are required to maintain a high quality of life. Oversized houses are unnecessary and if most people analyzed the situation from an angle of necessity, they would have no choice but to agree.
Smaller houses save space and resources. A major contributor to our global environmental footprint is urban sprawl. When a big city expands outward, people desire large houses with adequate space. This is the problem that defines urban sprawl. And the additional consequence is that people rely more and more on automobiles to commute to daily employment or other activities when legitimate sprawl is created. The entire concept is very detrimental to our environment, and it is based around people wanting more space and bigger residences.
Small houses in tight areas not only cost less and use far fewer resources, but they are also easier to maintain and live within. Someone living in a smaller property can easily achieve a minimalist lifestyle, because a smaller space physically demands fewer possessions and less maintenance.
Reduced material possessions
Our living situations are too often judged by the material items that we possess. The neighbor down the street secretly wants to have more cars than the business man next door and the main category in a housing search is “number of bedrooms”. Similar to size, living situations are quantified by the number of tangible items and spaces. A huge component of minimalist living is only having what is needed.
We are all are born into a society that traditionally hoards possessions. Whether it’s clothes, appliances or useless furniture, we tend to hoard anything and everything. Minimalist living directly challenges this socially constructed belief that the more possessions someone has, the more successful and happy they are.
Someone transitioning to a more minimalist way of life would remove the clutter and excess possessions from their residence and donate them back into circulation. Not only does it prevent resources from being stagnant and useless, but the act provides those in need with the possession and simultaneously decreases the demand for production related to that item. This type of action is ideal for the environment and population, because resources are being used where they are needed rather than simply being hoarded in a massive walk-in closet.
Reducing and recycling material items is a progression towards sustainability and minimalist living. People don’t need near as many things as they possess, and one way to mitigate the issue is to distribute them outward throughout society.
The celebrated ideal that people should pursue the house of their dreams is too often filled with extra cars, additional bedrooms and too much space. It’s time for this to change. It’s time to transition to a minimalist living lifestyle. Regardless of how mild or drastic people are with the change, any change will make a difference.
Tim Richmond writes about the mortgage industry, real estate, green building, personal finance and home ownership. He currently writes for the Native American mortgage specialists 1st Tribal Lending.