What size house?

zkgardnerDecember 29, 2013

Just out of curiosoty , what size house did you or do you current live in? I'm flabbergasted when I read on here people are DOWN sizing to 3000sqf or more.

We are a family of four late 20s with a 2 and 4 year old,and we sold our 3000sqf home in town and are building on 3 acres in central california, dowsizing to 2500 sqf.

This post was edited by mrsfireman on Sun, Dec 29, 13 at 23:27

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we are building a 3800sqft. a bit too big for me since i am the main cleaner. but the size went up when we added an 11' x 18' mudroom and a large front hall. I've always wanted a large round table in the middle of the hall... so the sqftage increased on the second floor also. we are a family of 4 with young children.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 10:26PM
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We are a family of 3 in our late thirties, oh OK, early forties. We currently live in a 1900 sq ft house and we are building a house that is 1811 sq ft with a 460 sq ft bonus space upstairs that we will finish at a later date. We needed a bigger lot so DH could have a shop.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 10:30PM
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We are a family of 5 building a 4500 sf home. Which sounded huge to me a year ago. huge. The rental home we lived in for the past 1.5 years was much smaller at 2500 square feet and everyone (me included) went crazy in that space. Now we homeschool and I have some large men/boys in my family that constantly bang their shoulders on the doorways, etc., and all of our family is out of town and needs to stay with us if they visit. But that size was very cramped for us and we had no closet space, tiny bathrooms and a kitchen that was super tiny for 1 cook. We just moved to a 4000 sf rental home (hopefully the last before the build!) and it does not feel large at all for 5 of us. Weirdly. And I can actually unpack my stuff and find it here. And I could use more if one or more of our parents moved in with us as they age for sure, which will certainly happen within the next few years. Not a concern in your 20's so much though ( I hope!).

I think your 2500 might be quite comfortable for a family of 4 if both kids went to school every day, there was a basement or outbuilding for storage, family lived in town or stayed in hotels for visits and holidays, and both adults worked outside the home (no home office or storage needed). Actually if you have a decent basement that solves alot of office and storage problems! We just can't do a basement on our land. I think the size of the occupants really changes the comfort level too. And if you can double up the kids in a bedroom (depends on age/gender) that will free up alot of space too for other uses. I have a friend who is a great organizer and minimalist who lives in a smaller space... she has loved it but as her kids get older (and she wants to keep momentos, etc.) she is craving more space. And I could have happily lived in a 900 sf cottage with my first child when he was small., and I used to say anyone that needed more was greedy. I'm eating my words just now! Just depends on everyone's unique situation and family I suppose. :)

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 11:24PM
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Well said RHD

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 11:48PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I'm always surprised at how expectations have changed over the years. Our first home was a 1500 sq ft ranch which we bought from the family that built it and raised 3 kids there. It seemed comfortable for the 2 of us, but our new house is even larger at about 2100 sq ft. Friends of ours have a 5000 sq ft home for their 3 kids with walk in closets and private baths for each of the 5 bedrooms and they've since added on a huge sun room. So space needs are constantly being redefined.

The most important thing is to have a house with flex space (often a finished basement or a "bonus room" over the garage) that will accommodate the changing needs of a growing family...from play space to rumpus room to party space.

The other important thing to keep in mind is affordability...smaller house is less to heat, less to clean, less to maintain, less to pay taxes on, less to finance and less to insure. That will afford the family other pleasures like vacations.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 1:35AM
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We have to run our business out of the home, along with lots of storage for food, etc. Snowy winters mean some days we cannot get to town, so a big pantry and freezer space are a must.

I used to think a basement in our current home would solve a lot of problems, but for now, we need all our areas on one level. We're designing the farmhouse remodel to have some flexible spaces...such as a guest room which could also function as a small den, depending on whether my husband can access the basement rec room, in the future.

If we had kids, we'd need more space...but if we worked in town, we'd probably need less. Like Red and others have already said, it all depends on your lifestyle :)

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 2:35AM
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We have a 2400 sq ft home now. I'd love to downsize to about 1600- 1750 like our vacation home. However we now need a house with a granny suite, so I'm not sure my dreams will be realized. The 1600 has a great layout. Small private spaces and 2 good sized living spaces, a dining room and a cook friendly galley kitchen. The outdoor space makes the house live like 3400 sq ft with a screened porch, sleeping porch, covered patio and sun deck around pool.

I think space is so subjective. One mans cozy is another's cramped. yet in many plans I see now, many people waste sq footage in hallways or build master suites that are 1/3 the size of the house. To each their own. We are the types that just sleep in bedrooms. My dear friend on the other hand has morning coffee, catches up on work, or reads in her MBR sanctuary. Her house suits her to a T.

Still others would have no use for the 3 1/2 car garage that we fill up with skis, sups, kayaks, bikes, etc....

Annie, you are right heating/cooling/maintaining less does leave more pocket change for fun adventures!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 2:50AM
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We just sold a 1600, which we lived in just fine for a family of 3. Now it's just the two of us, and we are currently building 1350, although it does have a full-size basement.

A lot of it has to do with where you live; in FL, we spent as much time outside as in. In cold country, you are really locked in during cold weather, so you run the risk of cabin fever more in a small house.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 7:12AM
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It is not the size of the house...

Our house has been severely damaged by tornado 2011, insurance company corporate fraudster and currently is in the litigation. It appears, large insurers are given every benefit of the doubt: despite them blatantly refusing to follow the policy, refusal to act in good faith, misrepresenting the policy, blatant fraud: documented by them :), willful spoliation and destruction of adverse evidence, and continue bad faith in court by submitting: phony print of the policy, and direct perjury: submitting affidavit of the third party that falsely claimed "independence", and withheld pertaining fact of countless (400) previous employment by insurer, affidavit both insurer and "appraiser" (x-insurer claims adjuster) knew was false.

If *we* can replace our house - I would be looking at avg house values to determine size, cost of maintenance, property taxes (i don't want to waste 5k a year on taxes when I am on SS), house plan, I would rather have larger house than fancy roof line with lot's of planes and dormers. We could just leave unfinished space. I would rather have joe the builder, than the "premium custom builder" - who only builds 5 houses a year - and expect minimum 200k per house of profit to fund office, trucks, education, and kids college tuition.

Size of the house is about balance.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 7:26AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

You might check out the "smaller homes" forum...lots of interesting ideas on living in smaller quarters....then there are the tiny homes which come on trailers ... some of them are most interesting and seem quite livable...not to mention affordable and portable.

Here is a link that might be useful: 13 tiny homes

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 8:10AM
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We are the same age as jdez (hehehe), family of 4. We are building a 2400 square foot home with an unfinished basement that is not included in the 2400.

The home we are moving from was 1450 square feet. It wasn't awful but it wasn't laid out nicely either. The main living areas felt cramped and laid out so odd for their purposes. Cramped enough that they just didn't live or flow well for 4 let alone if you had company. We wanted the main floor to be usable as a family, for games, for conversations and for a little bit of TV.

Bedrooms were fine and we actually didn't change their size except for the master and only by a foot either direction. In our plan searching I actually found a similarly sized home that was laid out so much better my jaw about hit the table when I saw it.

We were striving for 1800 square feet and somehow ended up with 2400. Oops, I am still not quite sure how that happened! I don't think we'll regret the space, it feels comfortable and the goal was to not feel like we needed a separate living space on a day to day basis. We can always finish the basement if we choose but for the kids it will be fine unfinished as well if they need a hang out space as they get older.

Like many others have said it really depends a lot on lifestyle and a little bit what you are accustomed to as well I suppose.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 8:35AM
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Agree with those who say it's not about the square footage itself. We are only 2 people, and were looking mostly at homes in the 2000 sf range. We couldn't imagine needing anything much larger. We ended up with a 3600 sf house, but unlike most houses this size, it only has 3 bedrooms and 7 rooms total. So we have nice, spacious rooms and we use every one of them. No wasted space. Many of the smaller homes we looked at had 4 or 5 bedrooms, so there would have been 1 or 2 bedrooms we never used.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 9:02AM
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When we were first married, we lived in a 1400 sf house, which was a perfect size for the two of us . . . but lacked adequate storage. That house was fine until we had our second child.

We moved to a 2400 sf house, and it's always been too big. Well, too big in some ways, too small in others: We have a living room /dining room that's never used. Never, ever. The kitchen, the master bedroom, and both bathrooms are ridiculously oversized. But the pantry and our closets are not big enough.

It's not about square footage. It's about having the square footage in the right places, and I've come to believe that adequate storage (located adjacent to the work location) is possibly more important than living space. The living space works out fine -- as long as you can put away this and that when you're not using it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 9:09AM
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I hope no one took my question as saying its bad or wrong to live in large homes, that was not my intent at all. I just was curious, as I don't know many people with young kids that live in such large houses, let alone empty nesters who are down sizing. I can see location and climate have a lot to dowith it. We spend tons of time outside since our weather is mild, I think we will hit 60+ today, odd for almost January:)

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 10:22AM
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mrsfireman-I am right now jealous of your 60+ today as we are in the teens and I am freezing while sitting INSIDE. I did not take offense but I don't feel like I live in a big house. In fact I look at it (we are not quite to drywall) and I think really? Is it really 2400 sq feet? It does not at all feel huge or too large. I am hoping when it's said and done it's just right.

Mrs Pete - very well said. Storage is key and I think that might be where my extra sq feet are located.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 12:43PM
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Going through my separation - I could have kept the 3,500 sf house - but, felt maintenance costs, taxes, etc would be too much for me so I downsized to 2100 sf. and a tiny, tiny lot.
I don't like it - there are things I like - but, I just can't get use to such a small yard and zero privacy. I also don't like that due to the lot size my house is more narrow than wide. Maybe if my 2100 sf was layed out differently it wouldn't feel small to me.
I have been in homes smaller than mine but they just feel and live bigger.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 1:27PM
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we are downsizing about 60 square feet lol..
from 2374 to 2313 we are loosing 1 bedroom an office
and a dining room
bedrooms are a bit larger in the new house as is the kitchen

we are gaining about 1000 square ft in screened porch
we live near the coast in Texas

we're empty nesters who often entertain adult siblings and their wives and children and grandchildren

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 7:30PM
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This question was once asked on the small homes forum. My observation of that post is that about 500sqft per person is a minimum (no basements, no outside living space. Just pure space for us located in places where basements aren't common and outside is raining/cold).

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 9:04PM
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We are downsizing from 2600 sqft to just over 2000. We are in our late 50s with 4 grown children. We currently have 4 bedrooms and our new home has only 2. Old house with formal dining room (used it twice a year), new house with large "great room". The actual living space in the new house is probably equal in size to the old house. We need a large living space for when all of our family gathers, but no longer need all of the bedrooms.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 9:29PM
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Currently living in 1140 sq/ft, every foot counts. Family of 4, kids are 5 and 8 yrs old. Getting ready to break ground on a 1450ish sq/ft addition so we will have; 2590 sq/ft total. 2 MB's, 2 kids rooms and a playroom, a dedicated laundry room, kitchen/den combo and a living/dining room combo. With this last Christmas I shuddered at every large gift that was given, where to put it? I hope next years holidays I can focus on the joy of the season. Even with the addition we are sans a proper mud/dog room but something had to give. Really, if we had a MB on the bottom and same gender kids it would be live able without the addition but, yes, I would still shudder at the lack of storage. We are on almost 2 acres which helps.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 11:00PM
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I'm always confused about sqft. If it only includes sq ft above grade or total including basement. Here in Canada listings only include sq ft above grade not finished basement sq ft. So your real estate listing may say 2500 sq ft (above grade) or 3500 sq ft of total living space (which includes basement). Our last home was just under 5000 sq ft total finished or in the listing 2500 sq ft (main floor).

New house is 2900 sq ft with 900 sq ft of finished walk out basement. So in this case we are downsizing to 3800 finished sq ft.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 11:31PM
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Basements are not common here in CA so we only have above grade. In our case we have 1900 sqft before and we wanted the new house close to 2000 sqft but ended up with 2250 sqft. So we are upgrading a little.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 1:23AM
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Here in Canada listings only include sq ft above grade not finished basement sq ft.

Correct, though some agents like to sneak in weaselly descriptions such as "total living space". Also, keep in mind that square footage is gross, i.e., to the exterior of the structure and includes partitions and walls and open space, such as stair openings.

As a family of 3-5, we've lived in 1,200 sf-4,400 sf., plus finished basements. Living solo, I once moved from 4,800 sf plus finished basement to a 400 sf one-bedroom apartment.

We're currently squeezed into 3,700 sf that awaits demolition. Bigger is definitely better!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 10:30AM
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The SF also has to do with value. Banks mostly look at total sf and rooms to appraise, not so much at how nicely the house is constructed, detailed, or the quality of it's components. So, to support the quality of those things we really care about - detail work, flooring, kitchen, MBR, a few fireplaces, and good storage spaces, we need much more than 1200sf. Although, in reality, we will really only be living in those 1200sf.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 3:19PM
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Beth Parsons

We are in our early 40's living just outside Nashville, TN with 2 children, 10 and 13. The heated/living area sq/ft of our house measures 4295 sq/ft and it's absolutely perfect for our lifestyle. All 4 bedrooms are a generous size each with their own ensuite bathroom and walk in closet, my husband has a large private office and I have an attached commercial kitchen that I use for my cookie business. It's much larger than we 'need' but I make absolutely no apologies for it as it is exactly what we 'want' and we can afford it. Property taxes here are very reasonable - our tax bill is just under $3000 for the house and 5+ acres it sits on. Once the kids are gone we can live entirely on the 1st floor as just the secondary bedrooms are upstairs, allowing us to age in place. We built on family land and have no plans to ever move. My Mom is almost 81 and lives independently in a 3500 sq/ft house nearby so I expect we should be able to do the same. :)

We built our first house before we had children - it was a 4 bed/2.5 bath 2600 sq/ft 2 story. Space felt ok before the kids came along but quickly felt cramped once our youngest was born.

When my Dad died, my Mom bought a house closer to town and we 'inherited' my childhood home with full intentions to fix it up. It was about 1800 sq/ft and even though we had a large detached garage to store all the stuff that wouldn't fit, I felt like we were living in a sardine can. After 8 years of trying to repair and fix it up, we decided to demo it and build exactly what we wanted since the land was much more valuable than the house anyway. Going from 1800 sq/ft to almost 4300 sq/ft has been a dream and I say a quick prayer of gratitude each and every day. :)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 7:53PM
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860 sq feet for a family of 4. That's two adults and two girls 3/6. Craw space is not heated and exactly that... Crawl space. We do have a garage that's not attached and only useful for mowers and farm equipment. The toys are choking me out. I'm up to my eyeballs in crafts and dress up outfits. And its an old farm house.
New house... 2400ish sqft 1.5 story. Full unfinished basement under that, and full 8' wraparound porch around the whole thing. At this point if we survive building we won't know what to do with the space. But watch in 3 years it will be full I'm sure.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 10:07PM
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the new house we are building is 3000 above grade and another 1800 or so finished below grade (but full walkout). I wanted a larger kitchen and family room. Most of the other spaces (bedrooms) are around the same size as we have now

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 9:46PM
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Our house is a 1980 sq ft split entry - both levels and the foyer are counted in the square footage. We've lived here for 24 years.

We have 3 bedrooms and 2 college-aged sons. The house has very little wasted space, and decent storage. There is a living room upstairs and a family room downstairs. None of the rooms are huge, but none feel cramped. For a while it seemed that the bigger the boys got, the smaller the house got, but when they reached the point where they no longer played with toys in the family room, it helped a lot!

It would be nice to have a guest room, but we don't have guests often. Now that the boys are in college and gone most of the time, DH and I are glad we don't have a bigger house.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 12:42PM
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