Now that you're embarking on home ownership, you might wonder how large a space you actually need. After all, apartments tend to be a bit smaller than the average home and the siren song of extra space lures many a buyer into purchasing the biggest bang for their buck. While the size of houses increased during the early 2000s, the new home market shows a 15 percent decrease in square footage for the average home.
While some buyers yearn for more space, others have downsized … even while their children still live in the home. In fact, a trend toward very small homes has increased in popularity in recent years.
While no one can decide what's exactly right for your situation, here are some things to consider:
How much space do you really need? vs. How much space do you want or can afford?
To answer this question, you'll need to spend some time determining your family's lifestyle:
- How many people will live in the house? Brothers of a similar age can easily share a room, for example, but teens may do better in a separate space from their younger siblings. If grandparents share the home too, they may enjoy their own living area.
- Do you often have out-of-town guests? If so, you'll need sleeping room for guests, and even an extra bath.
- Do you have lots of indoor hobbies? Sewing, crafting and woodworking in your living space can make day-to-day life difficult for the rest of the family. If you have indoor crafts, you'll need a home with an extra room, a large garage, workshop, basement or attic.
- Do you work from home? Both for tax purposes and for your own sanity, you may need an office with its own door. Being able to "leave work" is a boost for most home-based entrepreneurs, too.
- Does a larger home require more maintenance? If more space just means more time cleaning, you might be happier in a smaller space, but if a smaller space means constant purging and organizing, a little more room to store your stuff can fill the bill.
- Do you plan to keep the home into your empty nest or retirement years? If so, you may be willing to live with less space-per-person now so that you have a paid-off home that's just the right size later.
Talk to your professional
Deciding how much space you want or need, and how you plan to use it is important before you begin to look. Your agent may show you a beautiful home that you become infatuated with, but that isn't really right for your needs … but if she knows your needs and how you want to live, she's more likely to show you the home that becomes your long-time love—no matter what size it is.