I wanted to simplify my life, so I downsized my big house for a rental home and sold most of my stuff. I feel like I can breathe for the first time in years.

Lauren Cobello kneeling in a field whilst smiling side by side of her rental home

Lauren Cobello sold her home of 13 years earlier this year.Lauren Cobello

  • Lauren Cobello found keeping a six-bedroom home tidy stressful and time-consuming.

  • She decided to sell the house she’d owned for 13 years as well as most of her belongings.

  • Cobello now rents and has spare money to pay for services like laundry and grocery delivery.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Lauren Cobello, a 42-year-old PR-agency owner and former finance coach from the state of New York who sold her home and most of her belongings. Insider has verified the sales of her home and belongings and her expenses with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Three months ago, I sold the majority of my belongings and the house I owned in Oswego, in upstate New York.

I’d owned the house for 13 years. It was big: 3,000 square feet with six bedrooms. There was a lot of mess because I had four kids and I had a lot of stuff from living there for so many years.

Now, I rent a smaller house and my lifestyle is less expensive, so I pay for things like laundry and grocery delivery to be done for me.

My home life was overwhelming

As well as being a mom, I run a PR agency from home and have a boyfriend who doesn’t live with me. I travel to speak at events and I have three pets.

My mental health was really suffering from feeling so overwhelmed all the time and like I never had time to do anything. I was so stressed all the time. Things like my front-porch steps were constantly breaking because it was an old home.

There was a lot of upkeep and cleaning because of the size, including mowing the lawn and plowing the driveway. I found it difficult to work from home and be an efficient boss when my office area was a mess all the time.

I decided that I couldn’t handle the stress of it anymore, but it took me a year to find a suitable rental where I could bring my pets.

Lauren Cobello with her three daughters and son smiling whilst sitting on the grass

Cobello moved into a rental home with her four children.Lauren Cobello

My old house sold in a day

My old house sold in a day for $185,000 — $16,000 above the asking price.

I downsized by two-thirds: The new rental home is 1,000 square feet with three bedrooms. My kids each had their own room at the old house, but now my three daughters share a bedroom. I have my own bedroom and my son, who is 17, has his own too.

My three girls — who were 9, 12, and 14 — knew there were sacrifices they would have to make. The old house had room for plenty of sleepovers; we would host large ones for birthdays, but we can’t do that in the new house. The girls don’t have much space for their own stuff but they’re making it work.

My kids were sad when I told them we were moving.

This was the house they grew up in, the house where they came downstairs Christmas morning to open their presents. They’re sentimental kids, and we have many happy memories in the 12 years we lived there.

But I told them it’s important to have a happy, healthy mom, and staying there was stressing me out.

Side by side photos of Lauren's old home and new rental home from the outside

Cobello’s new home (right) is about a third the size of her old house.Bob Ruggio at WEBGIO/ Lauren Cobello

I reduced chores as much as possible

I sold most of my possessions on Facebook Marketplace for close to $3,000, because I wanted to start fresh.

I got rid of over half of my clothes, shoes and jewelry. The kids went through all their clothes, shoes and toys and we donated what they didn’t want or need anymore.

The hardest things to let go of have been the kids’ old toys.

I sold one of my dining-room tables that I didn’t have space for, as well as all my living-room furniture. I also sold my lawn mower and snowblower — now my landlord does the mowing and snowblowing — and donated a lot of stuff like bedding and shelving units.

I only have the necessities and I feel free.

I bought a new set of eight plates, bowls, and cups. I don’t have a dishwasher so I got a bunch of paper plates to minimize doing dishes. It isn’t the most eco-friendly thing, but for me it’s about making it easy.

I’ve made my life easier in other ways, too. I bought an automatic vacuum that vacuums at 9 am every day. I signed up for Walmart+ to get my groceries delivered. Now I grocery shop from my bed at night and it arrives in the morning. I pay $50 a week for my laundry to be done for me.

I’m enjoying my life rather than spending all of my free time tidying up and reorganizing.

I spend about $600 a month less than I used to

My new life is far less expensive than my old one. I’m saving roughly $600 a month compared to living in our old house.

I paid $300 more on rent than my $1,000-a-month mortgage but made up for that with savings on bills. In the old house, my monthly expenses included $350 on property taxes, around $26 on garbage collection, and close to $66 on water. Now all those things are included with my rental property.

I used to spend $300 a month on electricity and gas. Now it’s more like $30. I previously paid about $160 every other week for a cleaner, and now it’s $80 every other week, because the house is less than half the size.

Paying for laundry, cleaning, and grocery-delivery services means I can relax and focus on my kids, my work, and my friendships. It’s been life-changing.

After paying off my mortgage on the old house, my proceeds from selling it will be around $55,000. I’ll invest some of that, use some to pay off debt, and take my kids on a vacation.

Lauren Cobello pictured sat by a window holding a coffee cup wearing a green top

Cobello started looking for a rental home last year.Lauren Cobello

I feel like I need to recover from home ownership

My kids have adjusted very well. We spend more time playing games and sitting in the living room, laughing and watching movies together. There is definitely more closeness between the five of us. The last house was very big and spread out, but here we do a lot more together.

I plan to keep renting for a couple of years. I feel like I need to recover from home ownership.

I’m a personal-finance coach alongside my PR work, so I understand that renting isn’t an investment like owning a house is, but sometimes renting is a bad investment, but sometimes it doesn’t matter if owning a house is robbing you of your sanity.

I wanted to be free and to rest. By both downsizing and paying to get help with chores, I have more mental clarity and more time to spend on the things I enjoy doing and the people I love.

I feel like I can breathe for the first time in years.

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