Size Matters: Choosing the right square footage for your family

The average American home is about 2,349 square feet, compared to 1,695 square feet in 1974. Over the years, the size of our kitchens has doubled, the first-floor ceilings have grown by more than a foot, and bedrooms have increased by 54 square feet.

Are our homes having growth spurts because our families are getting bigger? Nope. In 2004, the average family size was 2.6 people. Thirty years ago, it was 3.1 people. So, our homes have been getting larger while our families are getting smaller.

While new construction home in general are larger in size, you still need to figure out what size home fits YOUR family. Choosing a home that is either too small or too big only delays the inevitable dissatisfaction you’ll feel. Taking the time to “right size” your new home now can save you time and money in the long run.

Here are some tips for choosing the right square footage for your family:

Plan for the future.
Are you going to have kids? Will you be working from home? Do you need a guest suite for visitors? Do you entertain a lot? Keep in mind the average length of homeownership in a single home is 8-12 years.

Asses your current home.
Measure and record each of the rooms in your current home, and think of how you use them. Do you need more or less space? Include cooking, dining, bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, living, storage, and mechanical/utility space.

Prioritize and be honest.
Consider how much space you really need. Number of bedrooms, functioning kitchen, comfortable family space.

Consider your day to day.
Is there wasted space, space you won’t use, like a formal dining room or a library? Would you rather have flexible spaces – extra bedrooms that can be an office, a den that can be a guest room?

Make your dreams happen.
What’s on your wish (not need) list? A kitchen with an eating nook and a walk-in pantry? A second floor laundry room? A finished basement?

Be realistic about your wallet.
Finally, remember that bigger homes cost more. Consider your mortgage payments, utilities, taxes and maintenance costs.

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