By: Laura Walton AFC®
It’s all what you get used to. Since 1973, our average house size has increased by 1000 square feet while the average household size has dropped from 3 to 2.5 persons. And how do our homes compare with those in other countries? Only Australia beats us – see the chart.
The average space per person today is nearly twice that of 40 years ago! It’s increased from 500+sf to nearly 1000sf. If you think about it, family members have become accustomed to each having their own private bedroom and bath. A quick survey of my contemporaries reveals that while growing up most of us shared a bathroom with siblings if not with parents, too. Not today.
I can’t help but think of the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” published in 2012.
Based on a four year study of 32 families in the L.A. area, full-color glossy photographs depict the reality of our acquiring culture.
A team of archeologists, anthropologists and other scientists from The Center on Everyday Lives of Families at the University of California, Los Angeles, studied middle-class, dual-income families in L.A.
(1) The more objects attached to the front of a family’s refrigerator, the more objects per square foot in the house overall
(2) Average visible possessions in each home (not counting those in closets or otherwise out of view):
438 books and magazines, 139 toys and 39 pairs of shoes
(3) 75% of garages had no room for cars
(4) Despite pools, landscaping and play equipment, adults spent on average just 15 minutes a week and children 40 minutes a week in their backyards
(5) And, saliva tests of family members showed that stress hormones escalated along with the clutter
Having recently reduced our living space by 1000 square feet I can attest to the fact that less is more. The process wasn’t easy. We found homes for important things with family and friends and the few special things remaining we simply let go into the universe to brighten someone else’s surroundings. Bottom line? It felt good, a load off our shoulders. And living with fewer things around us just seems easier somehow.
And, there’s the practical result – 1000 square feet less to heat, cool, insure, pay taxes on, furnish and clean. If someone put a pencil to that, I’d venture we save hundreds of dollars a year. Yup, less is more.