Is living in a small house for you? Try before you buy

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Have you ever wondered what living in a small house is like?  For all the spaces in your home to be used. For everything inside your home to be meaningful to your story or to be useful to your day-to-day life.  Living in a small house isn’t for everyone, but how can you find out if it’s right for you?

Does the thought of downsizing scare the pants off you?  What if you go too small?  What if you don’t like it?  Downsizing and choosing to live in a small house is a big decision.  In order to know if a lifestyle change is for you, my suggestion is “try before you buy”.  Test the waters.  Try different styles of compact living, different sizes, different locations. Turn the daunting task of downsizing into an exercise on getting to know yourself and your needs.

small house with trees
Photo credit: Unsplash – Jean Carlo Emer


The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Why do I want to downsize?”  Figure out your reason for wanting to move to living in a small house.  The answer to that question will give you an idea of what the best options will be for you.

Are you looking for financial freedom?  Perhaps a lower maintenance on your property?  Maybe you want a sea change to a new location.  Or possibly to live a nomadic lifestyle? As with everything we do, once we know our “WHY” behind it, the rest will fall into place.


I am a big advocate of “try before you buy” when you’re thinking of making the move to living in small house.  With so many different options out there, why not test drive ones of interest?  You don’t want to go from a 3-bedroom house in the suburbs to a studio apartment in the city overnight … do you?

Cabin in the woods with hammock
Photo credit: Unsplash – Cara Fuller


Before making the move to living in a small house, the first question I would ask you is, what do you imagine when you picture living in a small house?  The second is, how big of a lifestyle change are you looking for?

Write down a list of ideas.  Here are some suggestions:

I want to move to …

  • A house similar to what I live in, but with fewer rooms, in the city I live in
  • A small apartment in a new city
  • A cabin in the woods
  • A tiny home on a large property
  • An RV I can travel part/full-time in
  • A converted van I can travel part/full-time in

You’ll notice that there are two separate parts to that list:

  1. Style of accommodation
  2. Location

The move to living in a small house could mean moving within the city you currently live in.  It could also mean you move to a new location, or you are constantly on the move as a nomad.  Defining these priorities before you start trialing will take some of the guesswork and confusion out of the process. 

Downsizing can be a slight adjustment to your current living situation, or a complete 180° change in lifestyle.  Decide what level of change is right for you, because really that’s the only person it matters to (and anyone living with you!).


Now that you’ve narrowed it down, it’s time to decide how you’re going to trial this next chapter.

If you are looking at a smaller dwelling, such as a house, apartment/condo, cabin or tiny house, my suggestion would be to look on an online booking system like Air BnB or VRBO and book a week or two to start.  Once you find a size that works for you, then move into longer-term rentals.  Trialling living in a small house in your hometown will give you a good sense of what day to day life will be like, instead of a holiday vibe.  If you’re wanting to move to a specific city, do the same but in that city

Wanting to look at house on wheels like an RV or van conversion?  A site like RVEzy has a variety of options that you can choose from, including Motorhomes, trailers and vans.  You can take a road trip and see what life as a rambling nomad is for you, or just live in your city and see if that makes sense for your lifestyle.

The best part about trialing is that you can find out what works and what doesn’t without much commitment.  There aren’t any leases to sign or mortgages to apply for.  You can figure out what floor plans work best for your lifestyle and what amenities you will need in when you start living in a small house.  If one doesn’t work for you, try another.  You may find that what you imagined doesn’t work for you, but you find something better.

Before moving into my van, I had only ever taken one campervan trip.  From that one trip, I knew instantly that I didn’t want a convertible table-to-bed set-up in a van.  I would need a permanent bed.  I was able to design my layout based on my priorities.

Blue with wood accent tiny house Emily sitting with a glass of wine of the deck
Emily relaxing at a tiny house rental in New Zealand


Get planning.  Make a list and start looking at potential places to rent.  Seem expensive? Why not rent out your home for the same dates that you will be living in a small house elsewhere?  Someone may be wanting to trial a larger space and yours might be perfect for them!

The point of this exercise is to give you a realistic idea of what living everyday life would be in a smaller space.  How much or little room you need, how many things can fit in that space and what you can and can’t live without.

Renting a home doesn’t need to be restricted to just vacations.  They can be for local escapes, trying out new neighbourhoods in the city you live in, or helping you decide if living in a small house is for you.  It’s an opportunity to forge a new beginning to a compact lifestyle without the need to take a blind leap of faith. 

Are you ready for more on small space living?  Read my article 6 ways Small spaces are making a big impact on the environment to find out the benefits of living in a small house.

Eco-friendly House Ideas for Small Spaces | Simple Small Space Living
Eco-friendly House Ideas for Small Spaces | Simple Small Space Living


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Hi!  I’m Emily.

I believe that living in a small space leaves room to live more of a life that matters to you.  To not be bogged down with space that needs cleaning and is full of possessions that aren’t meaningful to your story.  I will show you small space ideas to get you organized and make you fall in love with the cozy space you are lucky enough to call home sweet home.

I’m a former event planner turned blogger, living full time in my newly converted campervan, sharing all my favourite hacks and small space living ideas with people just like you!

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