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Ask a REALTOR® – What Size Home do I Need?

What size home do I need to buy? That’s a common question real estate agents are receiving, especially with the local housing market being on fire and home prices escalating rapidly.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted many personal attitudes about space, with people opting to buy larger homes, especially since remote work and distance learning has become commonplace. Large houses with lots of space are in demand.

But is buying a huge house the way to go, especially in this market? How much do you need?

The easy answer is to buy as much house as your budget can afford. But there are other things to consider. So, the more complex answer is “it depends.”

The number one goal of finding a house that “fits” is one that fits your unique needs and situation. You need to be comfortable in it both physically and financially.

To figure out the fit, you’ll need to ask yourself–and anyone else buying with you–what you need in a house. Let’s take a look at some considerations when purchasing a home.

Home Buying Considerations

First, you need to look at your family size and who will be living in it. Are you buying for just you? Do you have a spouse? Kids? An aging parent? The more people living under one roof dictates that a larger house would probably be better.

Of course, size is just one part of the equation. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms, in addition to the shared living space, needs to be factored in as well. Are you planning on hosting guests in your home? If so, having a vacant bedroom would be a must.

Bedroom sizes vary, but the average “owner’s” suite is between 225 and 250 square feet. Additional bedrooms are generally between 135 and 150 square feet in size.

A typical owner’s bathroom is going to be around 160 square feet in size. A three-quarter bath will be approximately 40 square feet in size, and a half bath will be about 25 square feet.

If you have kids, they may be able to share a bedroom if necessary, depending on their ages. But then, do you have plans to eventually move down the road as they get older?

Do you want a single-level or a two-story home? Some people prefer having a single-level home as they won’t have to worry about navigating stairs as they get older. Others prefer having the separation and security of a second floor. A two-story house can have the same amount of living space as a single level without having a more oversized lot. Since land in the Boise area is going at a premium, buying a smaller lot can save money.

Kitchens are the heart of the home, and people who like to host gatherings tend to prefer having large, open kitchens. The average kitchen size runs around 225 square feet or so. Adding another 50 square feet or so to the kitchen can add a walk-in pantry.

Next, you’ll have to consider whether you want a formal dining area or an eat-in kitchen. An average dining room is around 225 square feet.

With many people working remotely, the prevalence of having a dedicated workspace in a home is increasing in popularity. Is there office space, a vacant bedroom, or another place that would allow undisturbed remote work?

Some modern homes offer technology rooms or tech spaces that aren’t rooms per se but areas where office work can be done. These spaces are also great for students looking to do homework.

Larger yards are also in, especially for people needing a place to provide sanctuary or a way to escape the hustle and bustle of the everyday. This is especially true for people whose houses function as not only their home but their office, too. Of course, adding pets to the mix or having children would necessitate having larger yards, too. Unless you’re not a fan of yard work, in which case a smaller yard may suffice.

Are there any other rooms or spaces that you’re going to need? Laundry room? Great Room? Living Room? Playroom? Nursery? All these rooms add footage to the home’s living area, so the function is just as important a consideration as space.

Now ask yourself why you’re moving. Do you need more space to support a growing family? Are you downsizing? Do you need generational facilities for your aging parents? There are many reasons why people move, so digging into your motivations for moving can help you decide what size home you need.

Finally, you need to ask yourself how long are you planning on staying in the home? People tend to stay in homes an average of five to seven years, so if you’re planning on moving again within this range, you may want to buy a house that may not have everything you want.

If the house will be your forever home, then it probably would make sense for it to check as many “need” boxes as possible. What are things you absolutely must have, and what are things that would be nice to have, but not having them wouldn’t be a dealbreaker when buying a house?

The Last Word

There are many numbers thrown around online as to what the average home size should be per person. Six hundred square feet per person to 1,000 square feet seems to be the suggested range. However, there are families of four who have made 1,600 square feet work.

The reality is that the size of the home you should buy comes down to your specific wants and needs as well as the price you’re willing to pay. You also must consider homeowner expenses, making sure the home you buy and its monthly expenses fit within your budget.

So, to answer the question, what size home should you buy? The size depends on your unique needs and circumstances. There is no right or wrong answer. Just whatever satisfies your desires in a house within a budget you can afford.


Get in touch with an agent to start your journey home.

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