Choosing a Home Size That Makes Sense for You

When you drive through a new housing development does it seem like all of the homes are enormous compared to when you were growing up? You’re not alone. In fact, over the last 40 years, average home sizes have increased by over 1,000 square feet. In other words, you could fit an entire small house inside of the amount homes have grown in size.

Why do Americans love huge houses?

It’s counter-intuitive that home sizes should keep growing larger. Bigger houses mean higher prices, more maintenance, and more expensive utilities. To understand why, we need look no further than the automobile industry.

In spite of the fact that larger vehicles cost more to buy, use more gas, and do more harm to the environment, people still buy bigger and bigger trucks and SUVs. There are a few reasons why. One is that they can afford to (or they can at least afford the payments). Another reason is cultural. For the most part, bigger meant better in American culture–until recently.

Recently, many Americans have begun saying they would prefer smaller sized houses. That desire hasn’t entirely caught up to the people building the homes, however. And even as simple living trends and the “tiny house” phenomenon gain traction, building contractors still stand the most to gain from large houses and the people with the money to build houses continue to build big to stay aligned with the other homes in their neighborhood.

There are other obstacles in place for people who want a smaller house. Some counties around the U.S. now enforce minimum square footage requirements to uphold the building standards of the area. So, people hoping to move to a particular suburban area but don’t want a huge house might be out of luck.

How big of a home do I need?

There are a lot of things to consider if you’re buying a home. Size and cost often go hand-in-hand, but even if you can afford a larger home, do you really need the space? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine how large of a house you really need:

  • Do I or will I have a family?
    Kids need space. They need bedrooms and places to play. The size of your family is going to be a huge factor in choosing the size of your home.
  • Do I need all this stuff?
    Many people use their homes like storage containers. Think about the last time you moved and what you brought with you. Now determine how often you used the things you brought. Odds are you have a lot of items just sitting around taking up space that you don’t really need.
  • Do I have hobbies that take up a lot of space?
    Woodworking, working on cars, playing drums… these are all examples of hobbies that call for some leg room.
  • Am I a dog person?
    Just like kids, pets tend to take up some room. Larger dogs and energetic dogs require more room, both outside and inside the house.
  • Do I have time to keep up with the maintenance?
    Bigger houses means more windows to clean, more toilets to scrub, more grass to mow… you get the idea. You might find that you’d rather have a beautiful and well-kept small home than a hard-to-maintain huge one.

Pros of Owning a Single-Family Home

Are you beginning your house hunt as a first-time homebuyer or looking to buy a larger home that fits the needs of your family? No matter your situation, purchasing a home is a large investment and one that should be approached with caution and the use of your head, not your heart. There are multiple types of homes that one can purchase: condo, duplex, multi-family, single-family, etc. And one of those types will be the right fit for you. Let’s take a look at the pros of purchasing and owning a single-family home.

Space: Single-family homes provide more space­—more outdoor space, more indoor space, and more parking space. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally this is the case for single-family homes. Take advantage of this luxury of more space by entertaining and fully utilizing it all. Since apartments and condos are usually in complexes, personal space can be minimal, where shared space is generally larger. Decks and backyards (if any at all) are small so that each renter or homeowner has their own space. This also goes for the inside; square footage will be less in the types of properties listed above, especially if they are located in a city.

Privacy: Privacy is extremely important to many, and for good reason. With a single-family home you will have much more privacy than when owning other types of homes. Condos and duplexes share walls with other owners’ properties, which means your neighbors are always close by. You may hear them through the walls or be enjoying your separate deck spaces just feet apart. It may not sound like it’s all that terrible, but you never know who your neighbor will be; they could throw parties every night, vacuum at 4 am, or even have triplets that never stop crying.

No restrictions: Unless you are purchasing a historical home, there are likely no property restrictions. A single-family home gives you the opportunity to completely turn it into your own and do just about whatever you want on your land (check with your town before renovating/building additions). Condos can have multiple restrictions that include parking, outdoor work, and BBQs.

If the pros above sound like what you are interested in, then a single-family home may be the option for you. But be sure to research the market you are looking in to make sure that you can afford this type of home. If you are looking in a very desirable location with a smaller budget then this option may not work for you at this time. But fear not, continue saving and in the future you will be able to purchase that single-family home you’ve been dreaming of.