How Much Room Does One Person Really Need?

In 1950, the average size of a family home was approximately 1,000 square feet. By 1970, it had increased to 1,500 square feet and to 2,200 square feet by the year 2000. In 2023, it was just over 2,400 square feet. So, the question is, how much room does one person really need?

If we base the calculation on a typical family with two adults and two children, then in the 1950s, we each needed 250 square feet, and today, we each need 600 square feet of space. That is more than double the amount! It’s almost as though family members no longer want to spend time together, so the house needs to be big enough for everyone to have their own separate space. Is it that we don’t like each other very much, and instead of learning to get along and live together, we try to live separately under the same roof?

So how much room does one person really need? According to the growing tiny house movement, two people can live comfortably in under 300 square feet and have everything they need. If you have a place to cook food, a place to sit and watch television or use your computer, a place to sleep, and a bathroom/laundry, what more do you really need?

Most people say they need space to store their “stuff.” There is certainly not much room for stuff in under 300 square feet. Let’s think about the minimum amount of stuff we need.

small kitchen dining and living room representing how much room does one person really need

Kitchen

Technically, four people could survive with the following:

Depending on your eating habits and cooking skills, you’ll need a few small appliances such as a kettle, toaster/toaster oven, coffee maker, Instant Pot, electric grill, etc.

Consider storing only enough groceries for one week. Store only a minimum amount of pantry staples like pasta, rice, and canned goods. Keep only the spices/seasonings you use regularly on hand, and use a neutral-flavour cooking oil. When you get tired of one type of cooking oil, buy a different one when that one runs out. A healthy diet is mainly supposed to consist of fresh food, so having a small space and minimal storage space forces you to go out and buy fresh food more often.

To keep your kitchen tidy, you’ll need a bottle of dish soap, a small package of dishwasher tabs, three or four dishcloths, and a drying towel or two, and you’re good to go.

Bathroom

Buy and use one set of shampoo and conditioner (not the last six you tried and didn’t like but kept anyway), two bars of soap (one in use and one extra) or use liquid soap in refillable pump containers. Purchase only a 6-pack of toilet paper (that’s right, folks, no “club pack” sizes). Keep one box of tissues in each room and store only one or two spare boxes. Ideally, you should only need two sets of towels per person, one in use and one clean.

Unfortunately, you do have to clean your home. In fact, a bottle of vinegar and a box of baking soda will clean almost anything in your house or choose an all-purpose cleaner. You’ll need a few washable microfibre cloths, a mop and bucket, a broom and dustpan, and a small vacuum cleaner.

Bedroom

Clothing is tough for some of us, but how much does one person really need? I suggest keeping a week’s worth of clean clothes. So, that means seven of everything except shoes. You could get away with four pairs of shoes (sneakers, dress shoes, sandals, boots). Additionally, you only need two or three sweaters and three coats/jackets (one for spring/fall, a warmer winter coat, and a raincoat). Of course, that will depend on the weather in your area.

Consider going through each closet and cupboard in your house and list only what you use every week. You will likely find you can comfortably live with very little. However, many people keep items “just in case I need it someday.” This theory can encourage us to keep too much. To combat this philosophy, the Minimalists suggest that if you can replace an item within 20 minutes for less than $20, then you don’t keep it in your home.

You might be surprised what you can live without. Maybe you will discover that you can live in a much smaller space and use the money you saved to enjoy all the experiences life has to offer.

Have you tried downsizing to a smaller space? If so, I would love to hear from you! If you’d like to try it but don’t know where to start, reach out, and we’ll talk about how I can help you declutter and organize your home.

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