How Much Space Do You Need?

The tiny home movement has captured a lot of attention, but the dream of living in a big house lives on. In 2015, the average home size in the United States climbed to an all-time high of almost 2,700 square feet. Large homes are a symbol of prestige and power, but how much space do we really need?

Does More Space Make People Happier?

The Real Estate by Boston website says that having personal space reduces conflict among family members, and exposure to green space boosts feelings of well-being. A long commute, on the other hand, leads to greater dissatisfaction. A study from the University of Pennsylvania suggested that spending more on the house does not make people happier, but having a little elbow room does.

In the end, it may be what you do with space, not the number of square feet, that matters. Engineers, however, recommend between 100 and 400 square feet per person. In a recent survey, Americans averaged 656 square feet per person, and that number climbed to 971 square feet in a new home, twice that of the 1970s. So, how do we determine how much space we actually need?

What is your lifestyle?

If you spend most of your time indoors, you probably need more room than someone who travels a lot or enjoys being outside. Do you entertain or have a big family? Either way, your home should reflect your personal tastes and interests rather than being designed to impress someone else.

What are your plans for the future?

If you plan to expect multiple children or take care of a parent, think about buying a bigger home, especially if you’re considering both, they’re going to want their own rooms and space, and if you currently don’t have that, then everything will feel cramped. But, sometimes buying a bigger house isn’t always the only solution. If you have the property space available, you can always build an addition onto your current house. Think about either adding a separate guest house, or just expanding your home a little.

What are your priorities?

As a general rule of thumb, a big house will require more time and money to care for than a smaller one. Perhaps you can find a home equity loan with low interest rates to help with the costs. If you enjoy doing your own lawn and maintenance work, you can save a lot of money, but hiring someone else can be expensive. Doing it yourself, as rewarding as that may be, can also take precious time from your family and pastimes.

Contrary to popular belief, having a small space can cut down on clutter by making us more aware and purposeful in what we buy and keep. It can also reduce expenses and give us more freedom. It all depends on what you want.