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Lessons Learned From a 500 Square-Foot Hotel Room


When we went on our vacation to Collingwood 2 weeks ago, we stayed in a cute little 500 square-foot hotel suite in the village at Blue Mountain.

With a living, dining, and kitchen area, it was much bigger than most other hotels we had stayed in, but compared to our home, it was tiny. At first we thought it might be too small, so we called the front desk and asked how much it would cost to upgrade to a 2 bedroom suite.

Almost $500. Uh, no thanks.

Turns out, the “small” room was actually not so bad at all. If anything, I’d say it was actually kind of perfect for us. I learned a few things during our stay in Collingwood…

A Small Living Space is Easier to Clean

Every night before we went to bed, we would do a quick clean up of our suite. Kitchen counter tops cleaned, toys picked up off the floor and clothes put away.

It’s so much nicer to wake up to a clean space than a messy one, right?

What would usually take us about 30 minutes at home, would usually take us 5-10 minutes on vacation. There was simply a smaller area to clean, which made clean up time so much easier (and faster).

A Small Living Space is Easier to Furnish

Although we didn’t furnish our suite (of course), I realized just how easy and inexpensive it would be to only have to furnish a 500 square-foot living space, as opposed to our 1,500 square-foot home.

With enough floor space for only a bed, 2 bedroom tables, a dresser, a dining room table, couch, chair, end table and coffee table – not much money would need to be spent to completely furnish that suite.

Add a bit of art to the walls and call it a day. Easy. Cheap. Perfect.

A Small Living Space Means More Quality Family Time

Living in a small space (especially a space that was only on one floor) meant that we were spending time together as a family constantly.

At home, we would often be separated by floors. Someone upstairs, someone downstairs.. and we would likely only be in the same room together in the evening.

By living in our small hotel suite, we were forced to spend more time together. Not just on the same floor, but in the same room. And it was nice.

I’m so glad we didn’t pay more money for an extra bedroom. As it turns out, the smaller space was actually just what we needed.

I’ve learned that bigger is not always better, and that 9 times out of 10, less is more.


  1. Wendi

    Finish your basement with a kitchen and you have an apartment (make sure you buy a house with a seperate entrance). Live near a University / College and TTC and you have another income. Yes you have half a house and have to schedule your laundry but you have built in pet sitters / house sitter, (reciprocated of course) and you earn an income.

    Which when you do your taxes and claim that income against the interest on the mortgage is an expense. So the income vs. the interest (plus any house improvements, costs to heat etc. ) ends up to be a credit aka tax refund.

    The only cons are you have to be a good judge of character, wear and tear on your basement, and getting used to sounds that are not from your family.

    We have lived in 1200 sq feet for 10 years.

  2. Marie-Claude

    We live in a small 2 bedroom apartment in the city and the only con I see is the storage and kitchen counter space. We are running out of space for all our baby stuff even though we try to limit the quantity of stuff she has! But this brings me to my big pro.

    When you live in a small space, you always think twice before buying something because you have to ask yourself where that item is going to live. If I can’t find a space for the item, I don’t buy it. 9.5 times out of 10 turns out I didn’t really need that item.

  3. Sully girl

    We live in a small house in a lovely farming village in Ontario – Millbrook is unmatched for its trails, historic downtown (which is often used in Hollywood movies – A History of Violence and Disneys Ice Princess to name only 2), and small town friendly appeal. Prior to moving here my husband and I grew up in a mid sized city of approx 160k people and longed to have a big new house in one of many new subdivisions. We stumbled upon Millbrook by accident and purchased our just under 1000sq ft older fixer upper bungalow then had our twin boys 12 months later.
    Now almost 9 years on we are a close family, always together and learning how to compromise to do homework, watch TV, and complete many other tasks in our tight living space. I am sure that many of our friends wonder how we manage without a separate Den, office space, en-suite bathrooms etc; and many are amazed that our boys still share a moderate sized bedroom by choice!! Somehow it just works for us even though many of the boys friends live in homes that could be considered mansions by any standard and the boys admire the perks of these homes. (I have explained that we just don’t have enough room for an indoor swimming pool and games room like one of their hockey buddies enjoys at his home.)
    The fact is we are choosing quality of life over quantity of things; although of course that does not apply to the amount of toys the boys possess which is one thing we have not been able to cut back on with the boys in charge of toy acquisitions.
    With my chronic health issues the smaller space is most definitely a plus when it comes to housework, laundry etc.
    A larger city with all the stores, shopping and amenities we could ever possibly desire is 10min down the highway – but living in this small house in this small town feels like living in one really cool version of Mr Rodgers Neighbourhood!! On Valentines Day my boys hand out treats and cards to Joe the Barber, Wendy the Post Office Owner and Steve the Pharmacist. So Cassie I agree 100 percent with your recent less is more experience and philosophy.

  4. Amanda

    We live in a large home, over 3500 square feet. That’s not including te basement that we are finishing!! 🙂 I agree less is more, in our case we have 2 kids and everyone likes their own space once in awhile. So we are able to have that in our home. The only down side to a home is size, is when I have to clean it!!! Hahaha 🙂

  5. Virginia

    Our first house (yes house) was 550 sq/ft. It was one bedroom which we shared with our son who was a baby still sleeping in our bed when we bought it. It was nice being so close and super easy to clean. We were lucky and had an unfinished basement and huge shed for storage. We put it for sale when my daughter was born and moved when she was 4 months old. it was really crammed sharing a room with 2 kids and there was no bath tub only a shower so bathing babies was a challenge. our next house was also small but had a massive back yard which the kids LOVED and played out side all day. Now we live in a 2400 sq/ft house and we have 3 kids. when we moved here the kids were REALLY upset because the back yard is tiny. They dont care about the inside space, they just want to be outside. They each have their own rooms but usually end up all sleeping in one bed. We still only have one living room so we do still spend alot of time together but our kids are still young and dont care for having their own space.

  6. Steph 2121

    We live in a house just under 1000sf and NO basement :(. We have shared custody of 3 kids and have 2 together(5 kids Ages 3months to 7 years). This house was fine when I bought it almost 6 years ago for myself and 2 babies, but now I’d give anything for an extra 500sq feet. We keep debating a small vacation/trip, but the thought of a drive for even a few hours or staying in a space half of what we have is terrifying, lol.

  7. BigDog

    Great post..very true! Square footage wise, our house is quite small but it’s got 4 levels so it gives the illusion that it’s bigger than it is. It is perfectly laid out to suit our family’s needs–we had this house built 7years ago with the intention of flipping it shortly after but once we finished the basement, we don’t ever want to leave! We have a huge pie shaped lot which is amazing for the kids and dogs to play in (it’s quite a bit of work to maintain and was expensive to fence in and landscape lol but it’s worth it for us!) The only thing we are missing is a garage (much to hubby’s dismay) but we are saving up for one and will be paying cash for it once we have enough! Another bonus with smaller spaces is lower heating bills.

  8. Anna

    We moved from a 2,800 sq ft house in the city to an 1,100 square foot house in a small town. I wish I had done it sooner. We only have one child so it works well for use. I am still trying to get rid of the excess stuff we brought from the old house (it was a recent move) but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything. There are some adjustments, but when I can deep clean my house in less time then it took me to just tidy the old house and I then have time to do what I want….. nothing is a nicer feeling.

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