8 Reasons Why Cottage Living Benefits You And The Environment

Written by Becky Dietrich, Houzz Posted On Thursday, 08 June 2017 11:11

In 1950 the average American home measured just 983 square feet. By 2004 that average had grown to 2,340 square feet. But is bigger really better?

There seems to be a growing interest in smaller homes (fueled, in part, by the success of Sarah Susanka's The Not So Big House books). Sure, you have less space. But you gain in other ways. Lets look at some of the advantages.

First, cottages simply cost less. And we are talking about more than their purchase price. A smaller home will cost less to heat, cool, furnish and decorate.

Note: Although we are talking about the adorable structures commonly referred to as cottages, these benefits apply to any small home - in my definition, a single-family residence around 1,200 square feet.

Generally, your smaller home will come with lower property taxes, lower insurance costs and a lower mortgage, which means less money flowing from your wallet.

Exterior maintenance will also cost less. Big-ticket items like roofs, siding - even exterior painting - will take a much smaller bite out of your paycheck.

All of which allows for splurges. Because a cottage's small size requires fewer materials, you may be able to indulge your heart's desire and upgrade from what your larger home might have allowed. Perhaps you could invest in a tile roof like this one...

...or add stone to your exterior...

... or get the kitchen countertop you've always yearned for, and better appliances than you otherwise might have been able to afford.

Or you could use your lower costs to focus on saving - or reducing - debt. That might also lower stress, which will enhance your quality of life.

Improved quality of life, however, is about way more than the money you save. All those home maintenance tasks, like cleaning and scrubbing and mowing and weeding, take far less time to accomplish in a smaller home, leaving you more time to do the things you really love.

Like spending time with your friends and family! Small homes encourage togetherness. By necessity, they create intimate spaces. And if the space is cozy and well thought out, "humans gravitate toward them," says eminent Pacific Northwest architect and cottage specialist Ross Chapin. Whereas large homes have multiple rooms where families can scatter and hide, the cottage demands that everyone remain in pretty close proximity. Even if everyone's nose is buried in a cell phone, they are still together, and there is something basically wonderful about that.

Benjamin Franklin apparently embraced the togetherness concept. He is said to have asserted that conversation around the dining table is much livelier when knees touch.

The front porch that almost always graces a cottage extends that welcome and intimacy to neighbors and passersby. Sitting on your porch in the cool of the evening with a glass of wine or lemonade nourishes your soul and makes you more available.

Owning a cottage-size home can simplify your life. Cottages call us back to our past, where almost every home had a small vegetable garden and a few chickens, and there were no shopping malls luring us away from hearth and family.

After all, if you live in 1,200 square feet and less, you won't spend a lot of time shopping. There is simply not enough room for stuff. Small-home living causes you to make choices about what is important enough to make room for, and what you can happily live without.

Lower your environmental impact. In 2010 the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, in collaboration with the Oregon Home Builders Association and Earth Advantage Institute, concluded that constructing smaller homes is among the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation from the residential construction sector. The report concluded that of 30 different material reduction and reuse practices evaluated, reducing home size was the most beneficial - not just because of reduced electricity and fuel consumption, but also because of the material production avoided.

Wow! Who knew that choosing to live in a cottage-size home made you so environmentally righteous?

Cottages make you feel good. Apart from all the financial, social and ecological benefits, cottages simply emanate warmth, comfort and welcome. Maybe it's because they tend to be unique rather than cookie cutter, and compact rather than vast.

Whatever the reason, the cottage-size home offers enough benefits to make it a move worth considering.

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