The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. - Paulo Coelho
In our non-stop, always-on world, people increasingly seek solace in simplicity. A recent Harris survey reports that 61% of Americans have shifted their idea of a happy life, and more than half are actively seeking alternative lifestyles to create that life.
So how are Americans reshaping their priorities to embrace joy at home? And what intentional choices or approaches are they taking in some or all aspects of their lives?
The answer is in what we call simple-sizing: the idea that you make intentional choices at home to simplify and embrace an easier-to-manage, more contented lifestyle.
Simplifying your life isn’t a new concept, but as our world gets more complex, in recent years it’s become more mainstream. A search for “simplify my life” online turns up thousands of articles, listicles, videos and websites bursting with ideas, tips and suggestions.
At Opendoor, we’re seeing this trend in many people choosing to simple-size their home. This doesn’t just mean that a Boomer chooses to downsize, or a busy Millennial right-sizes to fit a growing family; this is a broader growing desire for a less-is-more approach — with the overall importance placed on where and how you live.
Americans are making intentional choices to simple-size their lives
The majority of Americans we surveyed value a simple-sizing approach: 87% rated “simple living” as important, and 66% indicate they have taken intentional steps toward simple living in the past year.
Simplifying is not just a once-yearly resolution. 77% say they make intentional life choices daily, which primarily involves minimizing the stuff of life – our “things.” Some 75% say they are willing to downsize their possessions, and 79% say they are likely to do so in the next 12 months.
While author Marie Kondo helped spark the clutter-clearing trend, people are continuing to evolve their approach. Most (84%) agree they want to focus on what's necessary versus what’s “nice to have," simple-sizing their lives by deprioritizing clutter and excess.
What is simple-sizing?
What is the ideal life?
While the ingredients of an ideal life can vary a great deal, respondents told us there is one clear and salient value above the rest: health and quality time are non-negotiables. Revealingly, they pegged “making a lot of money” as last on the list.
The ideal life: What matters most?
Driven in part by inflation, such “intentional consumerism” is on the rise, with consumers making deliberate choices when it comes to spending. In fact, the majority (93%) of Americans we surveyed say that when it comes to making big life purchases or investments, they are just as or more intentional than they have been previously.
We can see this clearly in the respondents’ age groups: while 60% of all segments surveyed said taking a vacation would bring them joy or add intention to their life, Millennials most endorsed the idea of vacation spending (64%), followed by saving for retirement (54%). Gen Zers were nearly split on big purchases; most found joy when spending or investing in a vacation (53%), buying a house (51%), or a car (45%).
The strongest impetus for making intentional lifestyle choices to simplify seems to be health concerns, followed by environmental concerns, and then external pressures such as work, school, or friends and family. Being intentional helps to reduce stress, and following several years of feeling stressed, these responses suggest that making more intentional choices—inside and outside the home—are here to stay.
Why simple-size now?
Simple-sizing is changing the definition of a dream home
Along with this movement towards simple-sizing, the definition of a dream home is shifting. For many, the traditional notions of luxury and indulgence are fading. Instead, consumers share a desire for simpler, quieter, and more remote homes. This highlights a growing trend of people seeking relief from the burdens of overly-busy lives in favor of a more streamlined way of living.
Nearly 60% say they have changed their definition of a dream home, many stating their dream home definition has changed within the past three years. Americans now are desiring smaller sizes (52%) and simpler style/design (81%). Other common requests for a dream home include location preferences and a strong desire for a quiet place farther away from businesses and other people.
The new dream home
A minority of respondents have always made simplicity a priority. For the one in three that say their "dream home" definition has not changed, 70% desire a simple style/design, followed by 55% wanting a quiet location.
Simple-sizing is often based on where we call home. Most (86%) agreed that where they live is important to their happiness. Those surveyed seek quiet and peaceful living, followed by outdoor leisure, retail, and entertainment.
Some 67% indicated they would move to a quieter place. Half also agree they would move to a smaller space even if they could fit in fewer of their possessions. Other preferences include a quiet and secluded location (57%), outdoor activities nearby (51%), and proximity to amenities like restaurants and shopping (50%). Only 23% consider being close to a metro area a “must-have,” and even more (28%) place it in the “don’t want” category.
Home is Happiness
Given that the “dream home” is now simpler and more remote, the majority (66%) feel their ideal home is attainable. Generationally, Millennials (80%) are the most optimistic, while Boomers, who have seen the housing market ebb and flow for longer, are the least optimistic (52%).
From May 2020 to May 2023, the average number of searches for “minimalist” have remained steady, suggesting that a “less is more” lifestyle is more than just a temporary preference (source). The desire to simple-size is here to stay.
Whichever phase you’re in, Opendoor makes selling and buying a home simple. Life can sometimes get in the way with busyness and distractions. Let us handle the hard stuff so you can focus on what matters most to you. Visit Opendoor.com to learn more.
Jennifer Patchen is a broker at Opendoor.
Methodology: This report is based on a custom survey that was conducted online within the United States between April 4-11, 2023 among 1,672 adults ages 21-75.