For many couples, the ideas of living small starts with one of them falling in love with the idea.
The other part often takes so work to come along.
For us, it was Maria who fell in love with the tiny house movement and I did not understand how this (in any way!) could mean freedom!
The best thing to do is to “sell” your idea of smaller living to your partner. More than that, you want to show them they too can get their needs and wants in a smaller package.
One thing to remember is that smaller living doesn’t have to mean living in a tiny house.
What to do when one spouse wants to live in a tiny house? The idea of living in a smaller space might be daunting at first!
Downsizing can be as simple as moving to a smaller apartment. Through open and honest communication, you both can get exactly what you want.
Here are some ways to help nudge your partner towards living in the smaller house of your dreams.
1) Seeing Is Believing
It is one thing to tell your partner about downsizing living space, it’s another to actually show them.
Being able to envision their downsized life can allow your spouse to see things through your eyes.
The best way to do this is to take your partner on a tour. Check local listings to see what smaller spaces are available and set up a couple house tours.
If you can find a property that is furnished, even better! Empty spaces can be deceiving. When it comes to smaller spaces, it is hard to visualize how it can work for you if it isn’t furnished. This way you spouse can see the advantages of dual-purpose furnishings. At the core, we are visual humans.
We can’t expect people to see things our way without actually showing them.
2) Open and Honest Communication
Each individual will have their own set of needs and wants.
Perhaps the most important cornerstone of any relationship is communication. This is especially true when communicating about where to live. Since it is such an important and personal decision, both sides need to be heard.
In order to ensure that both sides have a voice, open communication is a must. However, open and honest communication is different than just communication.
Being open and honest means that you are saying what you mean and vocalizing what you want.
The most important part of communication is not talking but listening. So if your spouse says they have reservations about downsizing their living space, you have to listen. More than that, you have had an understanding of where they are coming from.
One way to help keep things clear when it comes to each other’s wants and needs is to make a list. Pro and con lists get a lot of flack for being unnecessary.
However, they are a great way to show what you want and need clarification. When couples compare their lists, they have a better understanding of each other’s vision. Allowing your partner to see what is important to you when it comes to downsizing can put you in a better position.
3) Home Hunt As A Team
Searching for the best place for you and your spouse doesn’t have to be boring. Most people find house hunting as a fun challenge.
House hunting for a smaller space, can be an even better challenge for you in your partner to do together.
This way you are both parts of the creative process. When one spouse feels left out, they are less likely to get on board with your idea.
When it comes to searching for a home that fits into the downsizing motive, you have options. Many more real estate search engines these days are getting on board with the trends. This means that you can use well-known resources to search together. However, there are a few downsizing specific sites that will work perfectly as well.
Tiny House Listings is a great place to start!
You and your spouse can browse through thousands of tiny houses as well as other smaller spaces. Seeing how other people live in their small spaces can be encouraging to your partner. Especially if they have vocalized reservations about downsizing.
4) Approach From a Financial Side
We live in a world where money talks. Everyone is always looking for ways to pinch pennies and save. Most people save their whole lives to buy their dream home. However, buying a downsized home allows for you to allocate those funds somewhere else.
Perhaps the way to get your partner to see things from your side is to show them how it will affect their wallet.
The average tiny house is listed for anywhere from $50 thousand to $75 thousand dollars.
According to a recent CNBC report, the average cost of a traditional home is $200 thousand dollars.
This puts the monthly mortgage at around $1300 per month. However, with a smaller space like a tiny house, the average monthly mortgage is only $300.
Another perk of investing in a smaller space is that you don’t always have to go the financing route. When purchasing a home you should have at least 10% of the cost saved already. This means on average, tiny homes will only require a deposit of $6 thousand dollars. With a larger deposit, there will be less monthly financing which will put you on your way to financial freedom.
One last thing to drive home is that smaller living can also be a great investment. Smaller mortgage payments allow you to save up more of your hard earned money for better things.
If you are interested in learning about how downsizing can be an investment, check out this article about the depreciation of tiny houses.
5) (Really) Understanding Their Concerns
Downsized living can be a new concept for some people.
This is why it is so important for your partner to be heard and understood.
Especially when it comes to their concerns. Specifically, their concerns when it comes to reducing their living space. It is equally important for you to know how to defuse their concerns so that they can be open to the idea.
Here are some of the most common concerns that some people have about smaller living and how you can make them work for you:
The number one concern people have about downsizing their life is how to make space work for them. It is undeniable that moving to a smaller space will be a change, but it is totally doable. Space concerns can easily be combated with a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of imagination.
The best way to show your spouse that smaller spaces don’t have to be limiting is to show them examples of how. What better reference source to use than the very top?
Better Homes and Garden Magazine has a great piece about how to use the space you are given. This paired with beautiful imagery can be very beneficial to you and your specific point of view.
Lack Of Privacy:
Another common concern comes in the form of privacy.
This one of the most common problems and concerns of living tiny.
Everyone values their privacy. While some may need more than others, everyone agrees that privacy is an important part of living comfortably. Since tiny houses are seen as a unique way to live, you are bound to get some looks.
Also, since tiny houses usually feature large window installations, privacy is a huge concern.
However, it isn’t only tiny houses that run into problems when it comes to privacy. Other downsize options like smaller apartments or RVs have their own set of privacy concerns. While privacy from the neighbors is one thing, privacy from each other is a whole different ballgame.
Along with communication, personal respect is key to any healthy relationship. This is especially true when it comes to the bathroom. Smaller apartments mean cramped bathrooms and changing areas.
One solution to your partner’s privacy concerns is to work with what you have. Tiny houses can benefit from proper drapery while smaller apartments can be blocked off with privacy curtains. As long as there is an understanding between the two of you about each others comfort level with privacy, there are ways to work with it!
The most important part about being in your home is that you are comfortable. This can mean many different things to different people. However, one common problem is how to keep a smaller space comfortable when it comes to temperature.
Larger spaces tend to use central air and heating to regulate the temperature in their home. But, with a smaller space, how do you keep it from being too cool or too hot? When considering downsizing your home you also have to consider downsizing your equipment.
A great solution for feeling comfortable in a smaller space is to use non-traditional ways to regulate your home’s temperature. With the use of smart tech as well as small space heaters and coolers, you can get the best of both worlds. You can have a home that is cozy and comfortable without sacrificing any more space.
Storage is a huge concern for most homeowners. In fact, storage space is almost always at the top of someone’s “need” list. This is because our memories are precious and while downsizing is great, parting ways is not easy. One misconception about moving to a smaller space is that you have to get rid of your stuff.
There is a difference between just throwing things away and thoughtfully choosing what to bring along.
Clutter that brings you no joy can easily be left behind. But, what about those boxes of memories that are impossible to say goodbye to? More importantly, should you have to say goodbye? This can be a common concern that your spouse has so it has to be addressed thoughtfully.
Showing your partner creative ways to attack the storage problems can help them. They can see that they don’t have to say goodbye to their memories but instead find new ways to store them.
One option is to purchase a small storage cube or locker. This way boxes can be kept out of sight, but never out of reach. When you consider that you will be saving money with a smaller space, purchasing a locker is well within budget.
The more prepared you are to address your spouse’s concerns, the more you can work together to find solutions.
Check out this article for more common problems that people have with downsizing. Seeing things from a different perspective can make all the difference in the world!
6) Don’t Rush In (try before you buy)
Jumping right into something you feel is right shows confidence and strength. But, there is a real beauty in taking baby steps toward a common goal.
If you’re finding that your spouse is resistant to your dream of downsizing, learn to adjust.
Most importantly, understand that you need to take this slow. This is because everyone moves at their own pace and what might feel right for you, might not work for your partner.
One way to slow things down to a comfortable pace for your spouse is to try part-time downsizing. If you can. try looking for small properties that are renting on a monthly basis. This way both you and your spouse can “test drive” downsized living without making a commitment.
Another way to test drive smaller living is to rent a tiny house for a week.
This way the experience is less of a chore and more of an adventure. Searching on “user to user” platforms like Airbnb can make this process even easier.
There you can view thousands of smaller spaces to try out in hopes of really enjoying the experience. You may find that your partner really takes to living in a smaller space when they try it out in a pressure-free environment.
7) Negotiate and Compromise
Some people believe that in a perfect work, everyone will feel and think the same. But, it is individuality that makes each person special.
Trying to get your spouse to see things from your perspective shouldn’t be about changing their minds.
It is more about trying to find an even ground where you can both agree. In order to find your common ground, you will have to learn to compromise.
Before you compromise with your partner, you should be clear on your personal terms. If downsizing is important to you, be prepared to tell them why. Setting the terms for how you want to live will help them to see your point of view.
So, when the time comes to negotiate, you will already have your terms ready to roll.
On the other side of the coin, you have their perspective. Hope for the best but be prepared to have their terms completely different than yours.
This is where negotiations come in handy.
They may be willing to give up space for a sacrifice on your end. Negotiations are only successful when both people feel like they are getting what they want. Once you break ground of negotiations, you can finally find a compromise.
At the end of the day, life is about standing your ground but also having room to change.
While you may not walk away with everything on your list, you will have found common ground where both of you can live happily. Use this opportunity the really hear each other out and be honest about your living expectations.
When you are done negotiating and compromising, you may be surprised to find that your goals are more similar than you though.
Come From a Place Of Respect and Understanding
Convincing your spouse to downsize your living should never be about making them do something they don’t want to do. Instead, look at it as a chance to change both of your lives for the better.
When you explain that you are trying to live your best life as a couple, you will be met with less resistance.
Remember that you are in a partnership. In order to make a partnership work there has to be mutual respect and understanding. As long as you are clear and upfront about your intentions, your partner will respect your outlook. At the end of the process, you may find that you are both on the same page and hopefully can move forward with living the downsized life of (both) your dreams!
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.