Inside: Wondering if you should upsize your house? Even though small house living was my ideal, there were four clear signs for our family that upsizing was truly a need – not a luxury or a want.
Last year, we bought our first house in the middle of all the 2020 craziness. The house we bought is almost twice the size of the apartments we’d rented for years.
But right up until we were asked if we wanted to purchase a home from a family member, I was reluctant to upsize.
I genuinely loved small house living. What’s not to love?
- Less to clean.
- Less furniture.
- Less expensive to maintain.
- Less space to accumulate more stuff.
- Less to decorate.
Less. Less. Less.
I was super reluctant to consider the idea that we might truly NEED (not just want) more space. That all my efforts to live a minimalist lifestyle still weren’t enough to make a small home possible for much longer.
We’ve lived in less than 1200-1400 square feet for most of our married life.
While the studio we squeezed into during our first year of marriage was a bit of a stretch, every apartment after that felt comfortable and more than enough space – even with up to four kids!
We moved four times, and it was only after living in the studio that we bumped up the square footage significantly. Because of income and student loan debt, we rented and didn’t think we would be able to buy until much later in life (or ever?).
But a couple years ago, small house living started to feel really, well, small. The signs started to show up slowly and subtly, and eventually it was undeniably clear.
We needed more space.
As much as I hated the idea, it was to upsize our house.
If you’re in the same boat – dreading upsizing, but wondering if it’s time to make the leap – I hope these signs your house is too small will help you make the right decision for your family!
You Might Also Like: Is Extreme Minimalism for You? This Family of 7 Loves It
When to Upsize Your House: 4 Signs It’s Time
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Is it time to upsize?
Here’s how we knew our small home wasn’t going to work much longer.
1. You have a big family, and the kids aren’t so little anymore.
Our last home was wonderful…right up until we had our fifth baby.
During the first few months, she slept in our room. It was kind of, sort of, o.k. I tried to convince myself that it was, anyways.
But that was only going to work for so long. And there was literally nowhere else to put her.
Maybe we could have squeezed a mini crib into one of the kids’ tiny shared bedrooms for another year? Putting a mattress underneath a bunk wasn’t an option as it would block the airvent, and there was literally no other way to configure the space to fit another bed.
I suppose we could have looked into triple bunkbeds? But our kids were getting older and bigger and taller.
Maybe we could have enclosed a small corner downstairs? But that would rule out anyone using the living areas after the baby went to sleep.
Plus, the house was a rental. There was only so much we could do.
We were literally out of space.
And even if we hadn’t had another baby, kids get, well, bigger. It’s much easier to fit a big family into a small home when the kids are small.
If you literally don’t know where to put beds for everyone? It’s probably time to think about upsizing.
2. Everyone is home all day, every day.
As so many families are realizing, when everyone is home all day, every day, your home feels significantly smaller.
Maybe it’s doable in year-round warm climates? And when you are spending a least a few days a week doing something (out to eat, museums, parks, homeschool co-ops, etc.) outside the home?
We have always homeschooled, and when we were able to be out and about a lot of the time (and we only had four kids), small living felt mostly comfortable.
But when 2020 hit, my husband was working from home all day, every day, too.
The stress of keeping young children quiet so daddy can work? It was just too much.
Our long-term plan switched to my husband working from home remotely and long-distance once we decided to buy our current home because the home had a home office and was designed for it.
But if everyone is home most of the time (homeschooling or working from home), and you are enduring extreme weather with everyone stuck inside more often than not, it might be time to upsize.
3. You’ve decluttered as much as you can, and it’s still not enough.
Small house living with a big family pretty much demands a minimalist lifestyle. Your home is your boundary, and it’s constantly screaming at you – NO.MORE.STUFF!
But what if you already live a minimalist lifestyle?
As a homeschool family with four kids (eventually 5), we needed perhaps more stuff than most. Clutter drove me crazy, so I was constantly decluttering.
Decluttering never felt like enough.
It got to the point where I was almost obsessed with decluttering, thinking about it all the time to the point where it was unhealthy. What more can I get rid of so I don’t feel so anxious in our space?
Sure, it didn’t take long to clean up. But when you live in a small home with a lot of people, the smallest messes are all the more obvious.
They’re in your face all day, every day.
And I just couldn’t cope.
Part of it was probably postpartum depression and anxiety, but I thought about our stuff all the time. My obsession was definitely unhealthy for me AND for our family.
I sometimes resented my kids for having stuff, things they legitimately needed or just things they loved and wanted to keep.
I also was forced to pass along things that probably would have been great to hang onto for homeschool purposes if we only had more space.
Side Note: I’m happy to say that the resentment vanished when we upsized our home.
If you’re obsessing about clutter and stuff (and you’ve tried all the “storage in small spaces” hacks) – and you literally can’t get rid of anything else, it’s probably time to upsize.
4. You have introverts in your family.
My husband and I are both introverts, along with two of our five kids. We need space to retreat, and my goodness, we need quiet sometimes!
Unlike what seems like everyone on HGTV, we don’t want entirely open living spaces.
Introverts desperately need nooks and crannies. Mental health is a need!
They need spaces where they can alone, and even when they are with everyone else, sometimes they need little corners to be able to be a part of what’s going on without the overwhelming closeness.
If your family has a lot of introverts, upsizing might be a good idea.
Sometimes, You Legitimately Need to Upsize Your House
At least in the minimalist space, downsizing is popular, NOT upsizing. It definitely gets a bad rap.
And I hated the idea that we might actually need more space.
In my fantasy world, we could just make everyone and all the things fit somehow. For….forever?
But just like Cinderella’s sisters tried to make a too small glass slipper fit, sometimes, it just doesn’t work.
Ultimately for us, we concluded that upsizing our house was truly a need. Maybe it’s a need for you, too?
Thankfully, right when we needed it, a family member asked us if we wanted to buy their home that was almost double the size. We didn’t have a down payment, but I discovered the USDA loan which allows you to buy a home with no down payment at a ridiculously low interest rate.
Our mortgage payment ended up being around what we had been paying in rent for years now.
It worked out, and while yes, the bills are slightly higher and there’s more home to clean, I honestly worry less about cleaning than I ever did. Messes don’t feel as big of a deal when you have more space.
We are all definitely happier.
So if you’re debating whether or not to upsize your home, I hope this helps you figure out whether it’s the right choice for your family.
Also, more people qualify for the USDA loan than you might think – the majority of homes in the U.S. qualify (it doesn’t need to be extremely rural). It’s such a great option, especially today when so many Americans have crippling student loan debt.
Head HERE to learn more about the USDA loan.