My family and I recently moved across the country. While the cost of living in our new town in Pennsylvania is higher than we experienced in Utah, we are actually saving money each month due to downsizing. I also suspect that we’ve lowered our carbon footprint a bit as well.
Smaller Living Space = Lower Utility Costs
The big change is that we moved into an apartment. The apartment is about 250 square feet smaller than our home in Utah was (we lived in a fairly small home). We have a smaller place, and we use less energy to keep it comfortable. Our gas and electric bills have been smaller since we moved.
On top of that, we are using less electricity in general since the apartment has numerous windows and an open floor plan. We rarely need to turn on lights during the day because the natural lighting is so good. This reduces our energy consumption, and is better for the environment.
When you downsize, you require less to heat, cool, and light your home. This translates into lower bills each month, and you are even more sustainable.
Maintenance and Repairs
It also costs less to keep a smaller living space in good repair. When you have a larger property, you have to spend more time and money on yard care, as well as on general maintenance and on making repairs. Part of the reason we chose to live in an apartment was because we weren’t enjoying keeping up with the maintenance and repairs on our home. We especially had a hard time with the yard care.
It’s true that we pay for maintenance and repairs as part of our monthly rental fee, but the reality is that it’s a planned cost, and by the time we moved we were hiring a service for our yard anyway. Now that we don’t have to pay extra for repairs or for maintenance, we are saving a bit each month. But you don’t have to downsize to an apartment for these savings. Just moving to a smaller home can reduce the amount of money you spend on your home’s upkeep.
Less Stuff to Buy
We have been making fewer purchases because we just don’t have a place to put it. We made a couple of furniture purchases to replace things we left behind, but since settling in, we are spending less on what we buy each week. We don’t want to buy anything unless we have a place to put it. This means we are spending less on stuff. That usually translates to using fewer resources as well.
We are also better about the way we make food purchases. Since we don’t have an extra freezer to store items anymore, we aren’t buying huge amounts of food. Instead, we buy what we need for a little more than a week, and we plan our meals better. This has led to a smaller grocery bill, even though food costs more out here. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much we are saving on groceries just because we are more efficient in our buying habits, and we eat more of what we have.
There’s something to be said for storing food for later, but at some point you end up just filling the freezer and the food eventually goes bad. We’ve been making an effort to ensure that our food doesn’t go bad. Plus, there is more local agriculture here as well. The result has been that we have been able to support locally-grown food, on top of saving money on our bill. It’s been a win-win for us and for the environment.
Public Transportation and Other Amenities
Finally, we are saving due to better public transit. My fuel bill is lower, since I don’t have to go as far to run errands (we live in an area where shopping is closer), and there is public transit, so that is also usable. My husband has a shorter commute. So, even though this doesn’t have much to do with downsizing per se, our lifestyle change in general is resulting in lower transportation costs.
We also have other community amenities that cost us less. I don’t have to pay for a gym membership because the apartment community has a nice fitness room and a pool. That has been a great help for us.
After adding everything up, we are in a better financial position. We’re spending less, and my husband is making more. So far, the move has been a financial success overall — at least when it comes to day-to-day living.
I would guess that your utility costs are lower because you share interior walls with other units too? I remember when I lived in an apartment we lived on an upper floor, and our gas (heating) bill was ridiculously low because of not only shared walls, but also the whole “heat rises” thing. Sounds like a good move!
That’s awesome! We reap a lot of these benefits from living in the city too. Public transit and the ability to walk many places is such an awesome perk. We’re usually able to get by on just one tank of gas a month, which is a great savings. Congrats on cutting your costs so much!
Apartment living can have it’s perks of you have a good management company you’re working with! I may have already asked you this, bit what part of PA did you relocate to?
I love ‘high density’ living. I sold my stand alone house to move to a downtown condo. It was a great financial investment. The biggest benefit is that I was able to get rid of my car. Plus, like Brock said, condos save on energy because you share walls and ceilings. Win-Win-Win all around!
We also live in an apartment and the costs are clearly smaller. We do plan on getting a house in the next 10 years, but we’re also prepared for some bigger costs.