Natalie Gochnour: There are a lot of virtues to small-home living

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    June 11, 2014 7:40 a.m.

    It is all about envy. It's also about pride - the bad kind. But that's the problem the church has always had. The scriptures spend a lot more time warning about seeking riches than it does warning about envy. It's hard for a rich man to get into heaven but I bet all the poor that get into heaven have been envious of the full stomachs and possessions of the wealthy.

    When people have a big house they always get a kick out of people praising it. I have a small house by today's standards at 1500 sq ft with solar panels and good insulation. It all helps the ends meet. I'd like an even smaller cabin when my daughter is grown.

    I grew up in a 900 sq ft home and my parents still live in it.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    June 9, 2014 5:53 a.m.

    Utah is second to Texas where bigger is better mentality. Success is only proven when you flaunt it with a big home and new cars. Utah is best known for this. I lived in that same rat race till I moved away from Utah.

    In a world of personal freedom, very little or no debt is the best freedom of all.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    June 7, 2014 6:54 p.m.

    Joe Capitalist -

    "Is it just envy, or is the war against wealth just raging on?"

    Who is waging war on the wealthy?

    Oh . . . You mean Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, the two richest Liberals in America who insist that high earners are not paying enough in income taxes?

    So they're waging war on themselves huh?

    Well Joe Capatilist, are they winning?

    . . . And how can you tell?

    And if they're winning, are they losing too?

    Or do people who make silly comments about a "war against wealth" simply don't know what they're talking about?

  • Sven Morgan, UT
    June 7, 2014 2:54 p.m.

    There's nothing at all wrong with buying a larger home if one can afford it. We all have different needs and desires. Let's celebrate home ownership diversity.

  • Pendergast Salt Lake City, UT
    June 7, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    re: JoeCapitalist2

    "Is it just envy, or is the war against wealth just raging on?"

    No. Its just common sense.

    to Idaho Dad

    Bingo. Its not all about acquistion of stuff.

    In other words, as Ghandi said, "Live simply, so that others may simply live."

  • lcg Bluffdale, UT
    June 6, 2014 4:47 p.m.

    To each his own! My husband and I built our home - probably larger than we really needed but with the understanding that we would have space for our kids while they were growing up and space for married kids and grand kids to have a leg up when they needed it. We have never been sorry!!! 4 of our five grown up kids have used our space in between jobs, after a rough patch, on their way to higher education, etc. Plus when everyone comes home to visit there is room to hang out. We drive old cars, we don't have fancy furniture or go out to eat very often but we do have a home that is open to help those who need it. Don't judge others!!!!

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    June 6, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    Rule to live by: Never buy a bigger house than you want to clean.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    June 6, 2014 11:32 a.m.

    As I get older, downsizing is more appealing.

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    June 6, 2014 11:29 a.m.

    Marvelous article! I'm taping it to my wall as a reminder. I've suffered from Big House Envy for many years, especially when I see giant gorgeous ones going up just a street over.

    But lately I've realized my family is shrinking. By next summer we'll be down to only five kids in the house, and our very modest home will certainly seem too big in just ten years, when it will be paid off. My husband and I have already decided we'll build ourselves a tiny house when our youngest is gone, because stuff just slows us down, and if we had one of those bigger houses I've coveted, I'd only have to buy more furniture for it, spend more on maintenance . . . oh, why bother! Gimme a cabin in the woods . . . with modern plumbing, please.

  • Idaho Dad Pocatello, ID
    June 6, 2014 10:54 a.m.

    It is our 21st year in our "starter home." We purchased it on a 30-year mortgage, paid it off in 10 years, and stayed. The thought of having a mortgage again makes me shudder.

    At some point, you run into that "not enough room" scenario that makes you evaluate the baggage that comprises your possessions. In a smaller home, that happens sooner, which I like. The key is to replace the problem statement, "not enough space" with the more-correct, "too much stuff."

    I had a chuckle at Sally's comment about the three-car garage. Then I remembered thinking recently it was hard to find a modest home with RV parking, and had a chuckle at myself. It all ties back to the same lessons.

    "Stuff" is an excellent trap. A place for your money to go that could have gone somewhere else, then it needs stored and maintained--more money and time to pour into it. All for something that probably has zero Eternal value in and of itself.

    Moth and rust...treasures in heaven...good lessons for us all.

  • joy Logan, UT
    June 6, 2014 10:49 a.m.

    Small, medium, or large is totally up to the family that is buying a home. Each individual buying needs
    to do some research and prayerfully make that decision. For some reason when I stand before the Lord I
    don't think one of his questions will be "What kind of house I lived in" but more on the lines of "How did I teat
    my family, neighbors, etc." Even possibly one of those questions may just be "Did you judge Others?"

    I find many comments very judgmental. God just said "Love Thy Neighbor". Doesn't matter what they live in
    just do it. Love is the Master Key to everything in life.

  • illuminated St George, UT
    June 6, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    My wife, myself and our 4 kids and dog have lived in a 2bed/2bath, 900 square foot home for the past 7 years. I haven't slept in the same room as my wife in 3 and a half years, my permanent sleeping place is on the floor in the master bedroom (the boys' room). My oldest son sleeps on the floor in the living room, and the dog uses one of the bathrooms as his residence.

    We have poor insulation and an energy inefficient air conditioner and heater. I've seen new houses twice this size pay less utilities each month. We are saving zero on utilities for our size.

    Our mortgage has been under water almost the entire 7 years, so we can't leave. We have perfect credit, have not missed a single payment, but there's no end in sight. I tell myself every day that, "at least it's better than the pioneers" who often lived in one room houses with 10 kids.

    Are there virtues in small-home living? Maybe, but for my situation, not really.

  • Clarissa Layton, UT
    June 6, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    I don't understand why so many people have to have these huge houses. They justify it by saying that they need a bedroom for every child. What's wrong with sharing? I know of a family that has seven children and only 4 bedrooms and they are very happy. Once the children grow up, their house is empty. People justify it by saying they will now have room for their children and their families. It's a lot cheaper to get a nice hotel room or two then having these homes. I guess it is their money to burn. I've been living in my starter home for over 20 years. It is paid off and I only pay for insurance and taxes. Happy am I!

  • jeanie orem, UT
    June 6, 2014 8:42 a.m.

    I would encourage young families looking for a home to consider the points this author makes.

    When we were looking for a home to raise our family in we bought a smaller home than the bank said we could afford with our income at the time. There was nothing really noteworthy about it except it had a huge yard and was in a good area. As our income fluctuated dramatically over the years our family grew we were able to offer our children the stability of living in one home. We were able to fix it up nicely with the money we saved on a low mortgage and are well on our way to owning it outright.

    While I was not too excited when we first bought it, as my dream home was a little more lofty, I have come to appreciate it exactly for the reasons cited in this article, and for the stability it offered our family in a very unstable economic world.

    A great book to read on the subject is The Not-so-big House by Sarah Susanka.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    June 6, 2014 8:22 a.m.

    No one should buy a bigger home than they can afford. Everyone should live within their means whether they make $50K a year or $10M.

    But there seems to be this growing dislike for anyone who can afford a bigger home. If someone wants a big home in a gated community and they can easily afford it, then it is not my place to denigrade them. Small homes are nice too and I wouldn't think of saying something mean about someone just because they live in one.

    Is it just envy, or is the war against wealth just raging on?

  • cocosweet Sandy, UT
    June 6, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    We tried to find a small home, there are just the two of us, but it was nigh impossible. We wanted the best neighborhood we could afford and that meant large homes. We have come to regret it, but can't find a small home (unless it is Sugar House) in the areas we like. Definitely a sticky situation,

  • sally Kearns, UT
    June 6, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    I am not as concerned about how large my home is as I am about having an attached garage. I do not like to scrape snow off of cars. It is difficult to find a modest home with a three car garage.

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    A thoughtful article. Having lived most of my married life in a "starter" home I can relate. Modest homes provide more disposable income for other needs and sometimes wants. Life has a way of changing demands on an income, so to max out your budget on a McMansion will leave you "house poor" years down the road.

    Little or no money for college, missions and other items that seem so far in the future. They come faster than planned. Cities do not like nor support smaller homes, as there is less taxable value.

    Smartly designed smaller homes are a good idea IMO.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 6, 2014 12:17 a.m.

    This reminds me of an interview I read with the late, great, LDS scholar High Nibley. Dr. Nibley said that he and his wife had lived in the same small bungalow near the BYU campus for all the decades of their marriage. He said that virtually all of the similar bungalows around him had been torn down and replaced by McMansions. He said that almost all of the people who lived in these mansions were faithful Mormon Church members, but he did not think that any of them really understood the gospel.