May 25, 2010

The BIG delusion in Phoenix

by: Taz Loomans


Paul and I live in a 920sf unit with 3 cats.  Does this seem small to you?  No that’s not our place in the photo.  That’s a luxury home in Queen Creek.

Here’s what’s making me think that size does matter.  Yesterday I wrote about the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium which highlighted the environmental, spiritual and social issues of our world today.  One of the exercises of this event was to question our assumptions.

The assumption I want to challenge today is about size.  Here are some variations of the basic assumption that bigger is better:

bigger = more wealth

bigger = more value

bigger = more success

bigger = more power

bigger = more options

bigger = more freedom

These assumptions are so ingrained in our culture that they’ve resulted in things like 5000sf homes inhabited by only a couple, maybe a family of 4, and at most a family of 6 or 8.  On an urban scale, it’s resulted in wanting to build larger and larger homes and having to go further and further out as land is cheaper on the outskirts.  In other words it’s resulted in a bloated super-sized city.

Here’s why I think this is such an important assumption to question.  The solution to our global environmental problem will not come from adding solar panels to our 3500sf homes.  It won’t come from replacing our windows with higher-efficiency ones.  It won’t come from recycling or turning up the thermostat 1 degree closer to the outside temperature.  None of these things are going to matter until we make a fundamental shift in the way we measure progress.

And as long as we think super-sizing is a measure of progress, we will always be taking giant leaps backwards and shuffling a few small steps forward.

Next time you find yourself wishing for a bigger home ask yourself this:  Are you wishing that because it’ll make you look like you’re rich and powerful?  Are you wishing it because everyone else is doing it and you gotta outdo the Joneses?  Or are you wishing it because it would fit your needs, wants and lifestyle better?  If it’s the latter, then go a step further and really ask yourself, is there a creative solution other than adding more space to your home or buying a larger house to solve your problem?

Back to our 920sf unit.  No it’s not too small for us.  It’s a perfect and comfortable size.  It’s a size that fits our needs.  And to a certain extent, we make sure our needs fit our home as well.  For example, we don’t have a bunch of stuff in storage.  We make sure we don’t get more stuff than will fit in the house.  Because frankly, 2 people and 3 cats don’t need more stuff than will fit in this house.

This is my challenge to you:  Instead of drinking the BIG Koolaid that’s been offered to us for so long, think for yourself how big a house you need, how big a house is the right fit for you.  You wouldn’t buy an XXL dress when you wear a Medium just because bigger is better would you?

Photo Credit:  A ‘luxury’ home in Queen Creek, AZ.  Photo from

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2 Responses

  1. Tyler Hurst says:

    I live WITH Katie in a 720sq ft studio, and it’s not too bad. Totally agree with all the bigger isn’t necessarily better part, except for the money.

    I’ll definitely take a larger bank account.

  2. bloomingrock says:

    Wow Tyler, 720sf is pretty small for two. Kudos for making that work. Yeah I hear you on the bank account…

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