According the the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Characteristics of New Housing, of the 738,000 new single-family homes completed in 2016 the median home was 2,422 square feet, nearly 1,000 more square feet than a home built 50 years prior! Homes in the United States have been getting larger and more spacious, but all that space comes with some downsides as well. As the population continues to age and prices on everything from building materials to cleaning supplies continues to rise, if you’re in the market for a new home, it may be a good idea to consider how much home you really need.
Requirement: Private Space Needs
Having a family of five move into a two bedroom home may be a challenge that leaves everyone a bit too close for comfort, but having too much space can be a problem as well. While it’s a nice idea to have a little extra room for guests, it’s important to balance that desire for space with the practicalities of maintaining a large home.
Consider: Try looking at different home layouts. If you like the idea of extra bedrooms because it creates a privacy buffer, try looking at a split home design where the bedrooms are on opposite sides of the home. Likewise a split level may offer you the same privacy without adding a lot of costly extra square footage.
Requirement: Shared Space
Homes with both a family room and living room or parlour/den/reception room have come and gone many times in home design. Some homeowners value the space this adds, as it allows entertaining for multiple groups at the same time, while others seldom use it.
Consider: If you’re the type of person who enjoys alfresco dining or reading on the porch, look at homes that make the most of outdoor spaces. You may be able to shave off some space (and the money involved with it) by finding a home that has the shared space you desire in an outdoor or semi-outdoor setting.
Requirement: Easy Maintenance
Whether you’re looking for a seasonal home or just wanting to ease your choreload, downsizing might be the way to go. Large homes, while beautiful, have more area which means more space to dust, vacuum, and repair. It also means more wear and tear on systems such as furnaces or air conditioners that have to work harder to heat and cool larger spaces.
Consider: Maintenance is a fact of homeownership. Looking for homes that are well-built and have newer fixtures can help to lower this cost (as will buying a home warranty at time of purchase), but there’s no guarantee you’ll be in the clear.
Requirement: Low Monthly Cost
In many places, the cost of owning a home is less than renting, even when taking mortgages and maintenance into account. While the price of a home is based on a variety of factors, higher square footage does tend to drive the monthly (and overall) price up. A larger home will also require more cleaning supplies, more furnishings, and more upkeep which can add to the overall cost.
Consider: In real estate, there’s typically a pick two scenario between home size, location, and price. If you’re wanting a large size in a great location, you’ll have to pay a premium price. If you’re wanting a great size and price, you’ll have to be flexible on the location, and so on. If price is a key decider for you and the location isn’t negotiable, you’ll probably have to consider a smaller home.
Beautiful and functional homes come in all shapes and sizes. By choosing a smaller home you may be able to save yourself the costs and hassles typically associated with large homes.
Curious to see the size of a new construction home the year you were born? Find out with this cool tool!