Living in a small house just could be where It’s a Wonderful Life



As the economy has constricted the size of a new house has been diminishing too. [Five Reasons to buy a small house] That may be a good thing. There is coincidentally a growing body of current literature that promotes introspective living, less materialism and more focus on a lifestyle of simplicity. A sample of this literature includes Janet Luhrs and her Simple Living Journal, Michelle Passoff and her advocacy to Lighten Up and free yourself from clutter, Kathryn Robyn writing about a Soulful Home, and Sarah Susanka and her books about the virtues of a Not So Big House.

The amount of waking hours spent at home each day during a workweek for an average American worker has been clocked at under 4 hours. Millions of houses stand empty each day while appliances are heating and cooling the furniture, carpets and window coverings until the owner returns. And the idea of “home ownership” is something of a misnomer as well. What we typically own is a mortgage, not the house. We have the right to inhabit, maintain and pay taxes on what is fundamentally bank property while paying a monthly sum that may exceed its rental value.

When we visualize a future urban development pattern it is likely to provide a greater number of dwelling units per acre for all types of housing including detached single-family units. Older well-established cities will enjoy a bit of an advantage in attracting new residents with homeowners and renters returning from the suburbs to enjoy shorter commuter distances to work, cutting down on the use of the household automobile(s). Acceptable public transportation alternatives will become as attractive as they are already in Europe.

The global warming alarmists will sleep more peacefully and the air will be cleaner in this picture of future American city places. I also believe that households will have less stress in their lives, appreciating smaller living arrangements and closer inter-personal relationships. Households will have less space to store unnecessary junk, be less interested in acquiring more stuff to clutter their lives, and be more willing to make friends with households that are not like themselves.

If this view of the future American city place is a bit ambitious on my part I say okay, maybe it will take a little longer than my lifetime. Nevertheless it charges me with energy to promote living in small houses in more densely settled neighborhoods and learning to accept different types of neighbors next door. It is, after all, the season of brotherly love and kindness and the hallmark film of whatever my reader may be celebrating – It’s a Wonderful Life – is worth striving to reach.

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3 Responses to “Living in a small house just could be where It’s a Wonderful Life”

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  1. Anne Pierce says:

    I would like your permission to repost your article, with appropriate attribution, in my blog which is on my website. Thanks.

  2. Greg Frech says:

    Anne, Please feel free to share any of our articles. Thanks

  3. KA says:

    Paragraph 2 couldn’t have been worded any better. The Venus Project has a great sense of architectural design that caters to community needs and a more holistic approach to living. ;]

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  • GREGORY M. FRECH

    Urban Underbelly is a blog that seeks to share the back stories of successes and struggles in achieving the visions of New Urbanism, especially in Hampton Roads, Virginia

    New Urbanism: is a city planning and architecture movement directed at the creation and restoration of vibrant neighborhood places: centralized, sustainable, walkable and socially diverse.
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