Expert Advice: How Big of a House Do you Really Need?

Here's what you need to know.
Image of person wondering how big of a house they need.

"How much house should I buy?" is a common question for prospective home owners. The size of the family and the needs of individuals who will be living in the home vary greatly, and can determine the size of the house you will move into. 

Just as you don't want to end up with a home that is too small and cramped, you also don't want to spend more money and be stuck with more space, because you thought that you needed the extra space when you really didn't. When deciding on the size of the house, there are many factors to take into consideration. This guide will provide you with information and suggestions to help you make a more informed decision.

But first, you should always make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

What About the Square Footage?

For many real estate agents, this is a question that nearly every prospective home buyer will ask when touring a house. The overall square footage is a way for people to determine whether or not a home will be large enough to suit their living needs. From smaller homes to larger ones, the square footage will vary greatly. Real estate agent Sonja Dalbey, a Coldwell Banker Burnett realtor, says that many factors come into play when answering this question.

She explains that the question of "How much house should I buy?" boils down to the number of people who will be living in the home, as well as their lifestyle and living habits. Dalbey said, "This really depends on the size of your family, how much space you need for hobbies, how much entertaining you do, whether you need to plan space for out-of-town guests, etc."

Of course, larger homes mean more space for people, whether they are your own family members or guests. If you find yourself entertaining on a regular basis, having a house that is large enough to accommodate these gatherings is essential. Dalbey recommends purchasing a home with a large, open floor plan for easier entertainment. You should also consider indoor space as well as outdoor space for entertaining. 

For example, if you live in a climate where it is generally pleasant throughout the year, you can get by with a smaller house if you have a suitable outdoor space with enough room for your guests. If family members and friends stop by regularly to spend the night, or stay for longer stretches of time, you will want to make sure that you have at least one extra bedroom to accommodate them.

When it comes to hobbies, certain pastimes may require more space. For example, if you like to work on cars, you will want a garage with enough space to hold the car and all your tools. The same is true for individuals who work on projects around the house and need a large garage or storage area for their supplies. Other people may need room to store their boat along with any boating equipment they might have.

For some people, however, a smaller home can be ideal. "Some people prefer a smaller home in a location where they want to be," said Dalbey. "For example, they may purchase a condo downtown so they have the convenience of being in the heart of the city. They may prefer to be out and about, and the space at home may not be as important."

When you are deciding how much house you need, Dalbey cautions that the answer also depends on your budget, both short- and long-term. A larger home typically means more maintenance, which will cost you. It is also important to factor in added costs such as homeowners insurance. Finding a good deal on this type of insurance is possible, and can help you save money so that you can afford your dream house more easily. You can get started by speaking with an independent agent to get quotes on a policy that will match your needs.


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Other Considerations

Aside from square footage and storage space, there are other considerations as well. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms is an important factor. Dalbey recommends not only thinking about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you want, but also considering how you will use them. 

For example, will the kids be sharing a bathroom or bedroom? Do you want a large master bedroom with an attached bathroom? Additionally, people who work from home, or who need a quiet space for completing tasks, may find that a separate office space is essential. For children, having space to get away, such as a den, can be a good choice.

Some families have more than one car, requiring at least enough garage space to comfortably fit two cars. Then there are tools and pieces of equipment to think about as well. For example, large mowers, rakes and shovels need ample storage space. Cleaning is another factor in figuring out what size house you should buy. 

Larger homes generally require more time spent cleaning and performing maintenance. Dalbey notes that not only will home owners be spending more time cleaning, but cleaning a larger house is often more expensive.

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