Is Your House Too Big?

The impact of size on happiness

Dianne Sullivan
5 min readMar 19, 2022


photo of Mudeford beach huts by the author

I am fascinated by well designed tiny homes. I would be perfectly content living in one of the beach huts in the photograph above.

Living small is something us Brits have become accustomed to. New homes in the UK are the smallest in Western Europe, with an average size of 76 square metres compared with 109 in Germany and 137 in Denmark.

To put these European sizes in context for US readers, in California the average size of a house built in 2017 was 244 square metres.

Rabbit hutch Britain” feels like a fair label for the spaces we live in.

Supply of affordable housing is a problem in many countries, particularly in big cities like Paris, London and New York. A trend towards smaller inner-city apartments is to be expected. But the size of newly built single family detached houses is also becoming smaller in the US in common with other countries.

Does the size of our house have an impact on our happiness?

Our Decision Making on Where We Live is Not Rational

We accept that if we want to live in a big city where we have access to all the amenities such as restaurants, bars, shops, theatres, museums and so on then that means a compromise on space. Unless you are a billionaire, that is. I wouldn’t expect to have the same size home in London as where I live 50 miles to the west.

When we are looking for a place to buy or rent, affordability is just one criteria we use to assess suitability for our needs. If we have children, proximity to schools is important. We imagine the lifestyle we want to live such as lazy lunches with friends or access to outdoor space for trail running.

In the past, location in relation to our job was a key criteria. The average office worker now has more choices and can live more remotely, opening up the opportunity to have a larger home and a different, perhaps better standard of living.

But the place we chose to live in is not based solely on rational decision making. How people report they make decisions versus what they do in reality is rarely aligned. We often make decisions based on emotional rather than practical…



Dianne Sullivan

Obsessed with personal growth, personal finance & running. Figuring out my path to financial independence.