The Perks of Living in a Place Much Smaller Than I Can Afford

2 min read

Each month I pay $611 for rent.

I could easily afford to live in a larger place with more rooms, more furniture, and higher rent, but instead I opt to live with a roommate in a 1,000 sq. foot apartment.

Here are six reasons why I choose to live in a place much smaller than I can afford.

1. Between work, the gym, coffee shops, and spending time outdoors, I’m not actually home that often.

Here’s something that has always puzzled me: why do people who are rarely home choose to buy massive houses?ย If you’re always at work, the gym, or elsewhere, what’s the point of owning a huge place if you never get to enjoy all that space?ย 

Personally I spend 9 AM – 5 PM each weekday at work and a good portion of the evening hours outside playing basketball at the public courts near my apartment.

On weekend mornings I head to coffee shops to work on blog posts or write new code for visuals. During weekend afternoons and evenings you can find me at the gym, playing basketball, going frisbee golfing, or visiting my family at their house about 45 minutes away.

This means that most of my time at the apartment is spent either eating, sleeping, or watching Netflix. I don’t need an excessively large space for any of those activities.

2. It’s incredibly easy and quick to clean my entire apartment.

Less space = less stuff to clean = less time spent cleaning = happy Zach.

3. I’m a huge believer in hedonic adaptation.

I think that no matter what type of house or apartment you live in, you get used to it very quickly. This means my small apartment doesn’t actually feelย that small to me. I’m accustomed to it. I think that if I lived in a 1,500 sq. ft. apartment and paid closer to $1,000 in monthly rent, I’d be just as accustomed to that living space.

I especially like the idea of “living small” fresh out of college because all of my friends live in small apartments as well. Living small feels normal and I don’t feel any pressure to upgrade to a bigger place.

4. A small apartment makes sense for where I’m at in life.

I like to make my square footage count. Even if I had a larger apartment, I don’t know what I would do with the extra space.ย With no wife and kids, I don’t really have a need for more bedrooms, a bigger living room, nicer kitchen, or more spacious dining area just yet.

5. There are obvious financial perks of low housing expenses.

Rent is my largest monthly expense, which means a low rent payment translates to low monthly expenses. So if I happen to splurge on travel, entertainment, or dining out, I can still maintain a fairly high savings rate.

6. Choosing to rent instead of own makes sense for me because I don’t know how long I even want to stay in Cincinnati.

It’s nice to have a 12-month lease because it gives me options. When the lease is up, I can pick up and move easily. If I choose to stay where I’m at, I can always renew the lease as well. I’m not exactly anxious to settle down and start a family, so buying a house and planting my roots in one city for the long-term doesn’t appeal to me just yet. I enjoy the inherent flexibility that comes with renting.

Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

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16 Replies to “The Perks of Living in a Place Much Smaller Than I Can Afford”

  1. I’m older and it ocurred to me I must have good reasons to be living in a house much larger than I need. 1. No financial reason to downsize. It is paid for and only worth maybe $200k. That’s an insignificant sum at my stage of life. Utilities are cheap, property taxes tiny so living in a tent would not save me much. 2. location. I have free run of the 800 wooded wetlands behind my 2 acres without the headaches of owning it. 3. We are home a lot. I run my side gigs from here. Having space is nice. Great neighbors, safe location 1/2 mile from town.Similar logic but different outcome.

  2. Great post Zach! You make a compelling case about why living in a smaller space than you can afford is a good financial decision for you.

    I tackled this from the opposite angle last year. Our family purchased a home that is larger than we really need several years ago, which has proven to be a Dumb Financial Decision for us. Every month we spend more money on insurance, property taxes, maintenance, furnishings, utilities, etc. for the โ€œprivilegeโ€ of having more space than we really need! Congrats on learning an important lesson at a much younger age than I did!

    1. Thank you! I’m lucky that I stumbled across some personal finance blogs during my college years and learned early on about the financial benefits (and time-saving perks) of living in a place smaller than I can afford. I appreciate the kind words ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. The cleaning is especially important! Two rooms are much easier to clean than four! I also find that smaller places tend to be located in better areas… the massive houses are often out in the suburbs where I donโ€™t want to live.

    Sounds like your decision has multiple benefits!

  4. We chose to downsize a few years ago. Our friends thought we were crazy, but it has turned out to be a great decision. In fact, we’re planning to go even smaller in the next few years. I think great experiences happen outside our four walls and I don’t want to be so busy paying for a huge space, or maintaining it, that I miss all the adventure!

  5. Zach,
    I love each of your posts. This is another one that speaks to me. I’m living the same way with my partner. We split rent and live very small (500+ sf). My co-workers all have houses and are empty nesters, still paying their mortgage. It’s one of the tools that I’ve used to save money to purchase a business. Thanks for sharing and helping me feel like I’m not crazy for living in a shoe box to make financial progress in my life. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Amber, I really appreciate it! It’s great to hear that you and your partner are able to live small and save so much – you guys aren’t crazy at all. Best of luck on your financial journey ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. “playing basketball, going frisbee golfing” << Zach, your 20s are showing… ๐Ÿ™‚
    Can I just say i like how clean your site is. no side bar distractions. also i estimate 8 out 10 of your posts have a number in the title… I can feel your data analyst life all over your site. keep up the good work!

    1. Haha thank you thank you! Basketball is probably a young man’s sport…but I’ve seen plenty of middle-aged to older people out playing frisbee golf. I appreciate the kind words about the site – I try to keep it as minimal as possible. I want everything on the site to serve a purpose, no fluff or extra unnecessary pages/links.

  7. I’m glad I didn’t use the same photo of tiny houses for my upcoming guest post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    You’re making many smart moves, Zach. This among the best of them. I remember the time I was a bachelor and paid this much rent. It allowed me to save significant money – enough for a downpayment on a home eventually, while also (gulp) investing in individual stocks.

    1. They money I save on rent allows me to save and invest a ton of extra money as well, although I’m trying to resist the siren call of individual stocks and stick with index funds! Thanks for the feedback ๐Ÿ™‚

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