How much house do you buy.

No this isn’t the typical “how much house can you afford” personal finance post. When I ask “How much house should one buy”, I’m not talking about price. I’m talking about space. After spending some time in Germany and Korea, it’s interesting (and kind of depressing) to think about how big American homes are. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some 3,000 square feet of space, but when you’re in Korea and a family of five lives in a 1,200 square foot apartment, it definitely puts things in perspective.

We dream of having a garage. We desperately want more than one bathroom. And a second bedroom would be epic so guests don’t have to sleep on an air mattress in the living room. Seven hundred square feet can start to feel pretty tiny after a couple of years.

I’m a firm believer buying a house should be a long-term decision. If you aren’t willing to own the thing for a minimum of ten years, you probably shouldn’t buy it. But if we abide by this rule, we must then ask ourselves what kind of house should we buy? Do we buy a house that perfectly fits our current needs, or do we buy the house that will appease our needs ten years from now?

We start thinking about things like kids, and yard sizes, and garage space, when in reality, we have no clue what those things would look like in our life. What if we buy a four bedroom house and find out we can’t have kids? What if we buy a house with a small yard, and realize we feel claustrophobic with the neighbors so close? What if we buy a house with a big garage, but decide we prefer parking our cars in the driveway?

Ahhhhhhhh, thinking about these things stresses me out. I can’t imagine the anxiety that comes when one actually begins the house hunting process.

So reader, I ask you: How many rooms are there in your current house (and how many people under that roof)? Do you wish you had more space, less space, or have just the perfect amount? When does home size go from reasonable to excessive?

p.s. we broke 1,000 users on MANteresting yesterday. Guess that means I have a non black-bar face shot to put up in tomorrow post. See you then suckers (literally). My favorite nail from yesterday: Islandception.

56 thoughts on “How much house do you buy.

  1. I have about 1500 square feet (and an unfinished basement) with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, sitting on an acre. It’s perfect for me, my son, and my four little dogs, though I do wish we had a second bathroom. And a guest bedroom would be nice, since the 3rd bedroom is my home office. Maybe someday I’ll be able to finish the basement, but until then I’m pretty content where I am.

  2. 3 car garage, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, living room, family room, kitchen and nook squeezed into 1500 square feet. The living room wastes about 144 sq ft. The linen closet is puny. Small coat closet. The master bath is tiny but at least it has dual sinks. The 3 car garage provides some storage but can’t store anything that might be susceptable to heat. There are so many factors besides sq ft. Layout is huge and having some storage is nice even if your not a hoarder. I’ve been looking for a bigger house for about 5 years now, but I’m so picky since it will be the 4th house I’ve lived in. Important features for me now are 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, great room, nice master bath, and a nice kitchen. 3 car garage would be nice but seeing how I would use the 4th bedroom as air conditioned storage, a 2 car garage would suffice. I think about 2500 sq ft would fit the bill. Of course location is everything. I could go on and on about a new home, I really should custom build one myself since I can’t seem to find the right house.

  3. My wife and I have just bought a house: 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room and sunroom. Nice garden and a big shed. We are DINKYS (Double Income No Kids Yet) and intend to make overpayments on the mortgage in the next few years.
    This is not where we want to end up living forever… maybe for the next 5 years or so.
    I think you overlooked one thing – that buying a smaller place than your ideal home sometimes work if you plan to keep it as a rental property – that is certainly our plan! 🙂

  4. I split my time between two homes. My teeny tiny space away at law school is just under 150 square feet. My parents house in my Hometown where I live 3 days/week is a gargantuan monster home with 18 rooms, including 5 bathrooms and 4 cars worth of garage. The worst part is the gaudy pillars with cherubs inside the home.

    When I was a kid, I was obsessed with big homes, and had plans for a home with a library and an indoor swimming pool. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I’m much more suited to smaller spaces, and the frugality of it is just a bonus. For example, I have a TV in my bedroom, living room, office, kitchen and even bathroom if I wanted, but I only have 1 tv.

  5. As a family of 3 (soon to be 4 in May) we have a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house. The basement is 85% finished by my husband, the bathroom is not done, but that will add another one. The house was listed as 2300sq ft and a garage at 400sq ft when we purchased it, and my guestimate is that the basement adds another 700 sq ft. So 3000 sq ft of total living space, plus the garage.

    I’m actually not obsessed with big homes, and we were on the verge of not having/being able to have a second child last year, and I was really feeling the house was too big. Heating is a big expense, but that’s why we finsihed the basement, to make it better insulated. It was all done by hand, and a energy efficiency grant made it a fairly cheap project for the added value it gives our house.

    Our house is nice, and we do love it, but I know I could be happy with less space. We didn’t finsh the basement for more space, only to make it more energy efficient. It is handy to have extra space sometimes though, like the year before last we had 2 relatives move in for almost a year becuase they needed a place to live. It was nice not to have to live right on top of each other.

    We’re lucky becuase we live on the east coast of Canada, and the price of our house was very reasonable in terms of our income, and it’s a mansion compared to what you would get for that price elsewhere in Canada or the US. We can definitely afford it, because we’re making double mortgage payments on it, but we also could have done with less. I think for a family of 4 about 2000 sq ft would be about perfect.

  6. 2 adults in about 500 square feet. We wish that we had more storage space, but living-space wise we’re fine.

    Have you ever thought about renting a house before you buy a house? If you found one that had most of what you think you want in a house you could essentially do a trial run before you bought to make sure you know what you want.

    • I agree. While we didn’t do too bad in getting something decent when we bought our first place. When we moved out east, we have rented for the past 5 years and it has taught us so much about what we do and don’t want in a house.

      I also second the note about renting out if you buy a smaller place. We currently do that with the first house we bought. It isn’t what I originally intended to do when we bought it, but recessions suck and at least someone is paying my mortgage instead of us having it foreclosed.

  7. 1200 sq. ft. condo, 2 BD/1.5 Bath, 2 adults and 2 cats share the space. This was the first place we bought after we got married; no kids, and no intentions on having them, so it’s perfect for us. We’ve been here for over 8 years now, and contemplating buying a townhouse someday (maybe in the next year or two). Our condo met all our requirements back then, but now, we’d like to have a finished basement, a little backyard to BBQ, and perhaps another full bathroom & spare bedroom.

    We wouldn’t want much more than that simply because utilities costs are so high, and I don’t want to have to spend a whole weekend cleaning and maintaining a larger home; we simply don’t need that much space.

  8. We’ve just been asking ourselves the same question! Right now it’s just the two of us – we’re renting a one bedroom (1000sqft) apartment.

    But right now we’re about to put in an offer on a house – 6 bedrooms (a couple of them are tiny), 2 1/2 baths with a detached 2 car garage, a yard, and an unfinished basement – about 2000sqft of finished living space. It’s definitely more than we need right now. But assuming 2 kids (to happen in ~5-7 years), a guest room, and an office, we’re only left with one extra room. The house does need some work/updating like replacing old flooring, windows, and a deck – and since there is likely lead paint we want to get this done before we have kids – we need that 5 year buffer.

    We hadn’t really been planning to buy a house just yet – we wanted to save up a larger down payment… but the total monthly costs of the 6 bedroom house we want to buy (mortgage, PMI, insurance, utilities, etc) is about equal to what we are paying now in rent + utilities for a 1 bedroom apartment! And, this house is a bargain (<75% of the price of comparable homes) because it is a short sale that two other buyers recently backed out of (the bank is so slow they found something else). If we have patience with the process, it will work out very well for us.

    When it comes to making a huge life decision, I tend to do tons and tons of research (I've been looking for homes passively for almost a year). After I understand the information I've collected, I tend to make a gut decision and just go with it. So far this process has treated me well!

  9. We have a 2400 SQFT home with 4 bedrooms 2.5 baths with living room, family room, laundry room, large backyard and 2 car garage. We are a family of 7 (2 adults, 5 kids) with 3 dogs (2 mini and 1 mastiff), 1 fat, a hamster and 2 fish tanks. The house is perfect size for our family except the layout is lacking. The family room (aka kid jungle) is downstairs and running down the stairs after every blood curling scream can be exhausting. While I wouldn’t mind an extra bedroom, I wouldn’t want much more living space. It is enough space that we can all hang out togther in the living/kitchen/dining room area without getting in each others way while at the same time being easily maintainable.

    We use to live in a small 1300 3-bedroom 1.75 bath duplex with all of us (minus the mastiff) and while you can make it work in a small space, it was awful. We had the baby in our room, 3 toddlers in one room, and our teenage daughter had her own small room. There was only the one main living space, so we could never get away from each other. I honestly don’t know how I survived for as long as we did.

  10. We bought our house and we bought it knowing that we would only live in it for less than 10 years. We would like a house with at least a 2 car garage (right now we have a 1 car garage), and we would like more land.

    Our house right now is 1,200 square feet, and then we also have a finished basement. Big enough for us now, but probably not later.

  11. We are in about 1600 square feet (plus finished basement), 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, a bonus room (the owners before us made the garage a finished inside room for their home business). We are two adults, a baby boy (7 months), a dog and a cat. We are good for now for inside space, but DH would like a garage (he loves his Jeep and would like space for a workshop to do repairs and home reno projects) and more yard. Our yard is pretty tiny, but I like it because it means little work to maintain. We have lived in it for almost 6 years. I think we could stay here forever, but DH has other ideas (see above). DH thinks if we decide to have another child, we’d have to move. It’s about the size of the house I grew up in with my parents, brother and a dog, and way bigger than the house DH grew up in with parents, two brothers and a menagerie of animals, so I think we should be fine in it. We might put in another full bathroom in the basement and move the laundry room up to the bonus room at some point, but for now we’re okay, DH is starting his own business out of the house too (a corner of the basement is his office) so if that expands, it might make sense to move, but I so loathe moving that I’d rather stay put and get better at purging and living minimally. Not to mention, the 25 year mortgage is due to be paid 10 years from now if we keep up with the extra payments and rates stay low-ish. To be mortgage free at 43 sounds pretty good to me (and poetic too, yippee!)

  12. 700 SF 2bdrm/1bath apartment for 2 adults 1 toddler and 1 infant and it is enough for us right now. We do have enough to buy right now and put 20-30% down depending on price but since our apt is enough for us, close to schools and shopping, and we can save over 1k a month (both working part time, different shifts so we can raise our kids until they go to school full time) we’re not in a rush to buy yet, I think prices in our area are gonna drop more. Even then we would like 4 bdrms, enough for each kid and a guest 🙂

  13. We live in a 2100 sq foot home with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and 2 car garage. It is just my husband and I and it is way too big! We are not planning on having kids. We have lived in our house for 6 years and have had probably 5 people spend the night in our guest bedroom. They could have slept on an air mattress and been happy. We only use about half our house and mostly all the extra space just makes us want to buy things to fill it or we use it to store junk we don’t need. What we would really like is a home with a 3 car garage (one for each of our cars and then the lawn mower, etc.), 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a media room so we can have the tv not be in the living room, no dining room or breakfast nook, a mud room or someplace we can throw our shoes and keys when we get home, a home office big enough for both of us, and a swimming pool. No one makes houses like that without having 5+ bedrooms. I am afraid if we try to build our “dream home” that no will want to buy it when the time comes to sell it.

  14. Before I demo’d a porch and added a bedroom my house was a 1 bedroom with 1000sq ft, it’s now a two bedroom at about 1100 sq feet. Honestly, I could lose 300-400 ft and be perfectly happy. I hate clutter. When I used to be an apartment dweller I would look forward to the day I could have stuff like a hall closet for coats and an attic for christmas stuff… after 3 years in my little house I realize I’d rather go without the clutter and have a small cozy house where everything is efficient, I don’t think I’ll ever like BIG spaces… too much to clean!Too much to heat…. etc.

  15. My husband and I live in just 754 square feet. We have 2 bedrooms, one bath, living room, eat-in kitchen, laundry room with single car garage. (Not single and half with extra storage, just a few feet on each side of the car.) We have very small closets and no basement. Our storage space consists of an attic with a pull down ladder in the garage. It was a perfect size for me as a single woman, Getting married forced me to purge a bunch of crap I didn’t need so there was room for my husband’s things.

    At times, I’d like another bedroom or good storage space. But small house living forces us to not acquire stuff we don’t need. I’ve been in this house for 10 years and due to horrible housing market am at least $10,000 upside down on the mortgage so we’ll be here a while!

    I have discovered that the more space you have the more stuff you acquire.

  16. I share my 5-600 square foot apartment with my 2 cats. It’s small, but if I had more room, I’d just expand into it, and I don’t need to acquire any more junk. Now, if only I could get them to stop raising the rent like it’s going out of style. Dang credit crunch and tight lending restrictions. I have plenty of space. My only complaint is that you have to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom. Dang guests going in my room so I have to keep that cleanish too.

  17. We have a 4 bedroom, 1.5 bath house (~1350 sf) with no garage, but a large backyard for me, my husband, 6 month old, and two dogs. For about a year before we had our baby it was me, my husband, and two college students from church living together. It made me realize that if we decide to have more than two children (and before they get in highschool) we will probably consider a larger house. Right now we have a master (with WIC and half bath), an office with a huge u-shaped desk (I work from home as an engineer and bring home large drawings), the baby room, and a game room/guest room/media room. We have plenty of closets, but the other two bedrooms are small enough (10×10, 10×11) that we wouldn’t want to try to fit two children in them. I would love for my next house to be 1600-1800 sf, 4 bedroom, 2 full baths, 2 car garage for me, my husband, and 2-3 children. I wouldn’t ever want more than 2000 sf unless I was going to hire a housecleaner (which wouldn’t happen while I was staying home and only working 10-20 hours a week). But we’ll be very comfortable in our current house for at least 10 more years!

    I think that you are at an advantage because you are living in a 700 sf apartment now while you don’t have children. We filled up our current house very quickly because we lived as a married couple without children in a 3/1 house for 6 years! If we would have stayed in a one or two bedroom apartment during those years we would feel like this house is huge!

  18. We have a raised ranch with a completely finished basement. 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, livingroom, and a 4 piece bath upstairs. 1 to 2 bedrooms downstairs with a large laundry/utility room, a 3 piece bath, and a large familyroom with a gas fireplace. More than enough room our family. We have been here for 13 years, had our kids here, and plan to stay in this house until the nursing home or the funeral home comes knocking. We have a large covered deck, a 2 car garage, and an above ground pool. We no longer have a mortgage and we are debt free. We are very blessed.

  19. Our home is 1800 square feet with an extra 200 or so in a three-season porch (not heated or cooled but completely enclosed). Three children, two adults with 3 bedrooms. The two girls share a bedroom, and once they are older–they are ages 4 and 2–they’ll take over the large upstairs, which is wide open, and my husband and I will take a downstairs room. When we were looking at homes last year, I was more interested in the right kind of space, not oodles of it. Large kitchen, space to play, enough yard without being a maintenance hog, and at least one covered parking space. Big bathrooms were not a priority, and no need for a guest room for us since it would sit empty much of the year.

    We have plans to be here a very long time. Good thing, since it’ll take about ten years to update it all. This house’s previous occupants were here thirty years, and it’s still like walking into a time warp. Ceiling tiles? Check. Fake wood paneling? Check. Thirty year old AC and even older furnace? You bet. At least our low mortgage payment reflects all the retro glory…

  20. We are a family of three (plus a large dog) in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, two-story 1700SF house. The third bedroom is small (and downstairs) so we use it as our daughter’s playroom. We have 1.5 town lots (the largest yard on our street) and a one-car detached garage. The yard is great and living in town within walking distance to things we love (library, parks) is great but we are now thinking the house is too much for us. We are wanting to downsize to an apartment, actually, because we want to use our money for traveling and not for home improvement projects.
    I think a house becomes too excessive when you don’t even use some of the rooms and you loathe cleaning it.

  21. I have a 750 sq. ft. 1-bedroom, 1-bath co-operative apartment (similar to a condo in tax advantages, but ownership is structured somewhat differently) where I have lived on my own for about 22 years and have no plans to leave. Mortgage payments are minimal at this point, but co-op association fees are ongoing and include all exterior maintenance for the complex, as well as providing some permanent tax deductions. It is 15-20 minutes from work and about 50 miles east of Manhattan. Space for my fairly large collection of books and recordings (which I don’t consider in any way “junk”) is always a challenge so that the place remains neat and uncluttered, but I am always donating or otherwise eliminating unwanted stuff. I had a nice paint job about five years ago that has given my walls an appealing combination of gold, red, and sienna tones, with beige in the bedroom and more pastel shades for the kitchen and bath. The bathroom at this point does need some renovation to upgrade worn tiles, mend some of the drywall, and that sort of thing.

    However:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/realestate/31habi.html?_r=1&ref=realestate&oref=slogin
    http://nymag.com/realestate/vu/2009/09/59211/

  22. Right now, I live with my fiancee and a dog, and we have about a 800 sqft house. We’ve got 2 bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen, plus a basement that’s unfinished and not used. We are looking for a house now as well, and are looking for 3 br, 2 bath in a specific area of our town.

  23. UGH Talk about Timely. The Wife and are putting our house up TOMORROW. Right now we live in a 1400 square foot townhouse. 2 Huge bedrooms, 1 and 1/2 baths, and a few other smaller rooms with a garage.

    We are looking at a 2k+ Sq foot home. At least 4 bedrooms so we can grow into it and we want a finished basement. Not sure my marriage is going to last the hunt

  24. 1400 square foot. Three bedrooms, 1.5 bath, living, dining, kitchen, laundry, awesome pantry (could probably double as a disaster/dark room). It was built with a two-car garage but one bay was converted to an extra room (approximately 200 of the 1400 square feet). It’s on 1/3 of an acre. There are currently two people living in it but the family I bought it from raised three boys there.

  25. 1900 sqft ranch style with a full basement (not yet finished). We have a two car garage that actually holds two large cars (currently have my TSX, my wife’s Jeep Patriot, the snow blower, the lawnmower, the air compressor, a tool chest and other misc stuff) and we still have room. Got to love houses built when cars were huge. We have 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths (we are going to need another full bath when this baby becomes a teenager).

    I think the house is probably a little bigger than we really need at the present time. Right now we have both spare bedrooms closed (until the baby comes) and we don’t use the formal living room at all. I don’t foresee us needing to move unless the job situation changes or we swap with either set of parents when they can no longer go up and down stairs.

    There are times I wish we had simply purchased a smaller house, but then I think we would have possibly needed to move once the family got bigger and I LOATHE moving.

  26. I live in student accommodation, which is a small bedroom, ensuite bathroom, and shared kitchen. I’m really happy with it for now… I’m definitely a minimalist, I don’t like wasted space :). If I were married, I would want a studio or a small one bedroomed apartment.

  27. We own a townhouse with three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a spacious basement. Each level is about 750 sq ft (basement is only finished in half). We bought it a few months before our son was born and now have one kid in each room. For us the dilemma is how do we fit another kid or two in the next few years.

    I think the biggest challenge is efficient use of space and storage. Turns out, kids have a lot of stuff, I mean A LOT. Well, not stuff as much as toys (mostly from less frugal grandparents and aunts and uncles since some think we deprive our children). Add to the mix storage of seasonal items in the basement as well as a healthy inventory in the pantry (which happens to be in the basement). We did recently clear out old baby clothes as new additions in the extended family will be arriving soon.

  28. 861 sq ft.
    2 bedroom, 1 bath, living room, eat-in kitchen, laundry room & 1 car garage
    I live alone so is more than enough for me 🙂

    Ps. Can’t wait to read u tomorrow

  29. My wife and I just closed on a place on Jan 27th…..4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, extra family room, and a sunroom / 3 season porch that actually does have it’s own heat/AC if needed….comes in at just under 2100 square feet, and has a 2 car garage.

    It’s only us for now. Kids are uncertain. We bought in a neighborhood with a younger demographic (30-35), so if we haven’t had kids in 5-7 years, there should be good resale value if we want to. Even for us though, I don’t feel 4 BR is too large, expecially since there are plans to turn the extra family room into a dedicated home theater….add a man cave, an office, and a spare bedroom, we’re left with the sunroom as an extra living space.

  30. We have 1,100 sq ft SFH on 1/3 of an acre with 2 BR, 1.5 BA, living room, dining room, finished basement and an additional room off the back of the house (meant to be a study, but more of a “junk” room) for myself, my husband and our dog. It fits our current needs perfectly, and we can still live there comfortably with a child. I’ve always heard that you should buy to suit your current needs rather than what you think you’ll need because that might change and chances are you’ll buy too much house. Remember– the more house you have, the more there is to clean!

  31. Right now my husband and I live in a two bedroom, two bath townhome. I think for the place we’re at in life right now, it’s the perfect size. (Though I did just start working from home and wish I had a dedicated office space that isn’t in the guest bedroom. It’s a little awkward to have clients come into my office and there’s a bed in it.) But we’ll probably be moving in the next couple of years, and someday we want kids, and I really don’t like moving. I have no idea what size house we should be looking for in the future.

  32. The more you own, the more you have to clean!! DINKS with a kid on the way, 2BR 1bath condo, with storage cage (so necessary). Haven’t bought b/c live in overpriced DC-area.

  33. We have a three bedroom, two bath home. Living room, dining room, kitchen. Two car attached garage and a two car detached garage. There are two of us who live there, but my two teenaged kiddos come pretty often and his two granddaughters come occasionally for visits. It’s the perfect amount of space for us.

    It is very easy to purchase too much house, though. In my former life (first marriage) we had way too much space and land. Too much for a young couple with two young kids to take care of: clean, mow, etc.

  34. Our house is just under 2300 square feet, and I can’t imagine ever going bigger. Our ultimate goal is to build a ranch style house with the same square footage on a little bit of land. But for now, out three bedrooms + loft for two adults, a toddler and an infant is sufficient. Also, not having much of a yard in our tight fitting suburban neighborhood in the NW is fine for now, and for at least another 5 years.

  35. We’re currently renting a 2bedroom 2bath place in Redmond, WA. The second bedroom is both our guestroom and office as we both work from home from time to time and our parents need a place to land when they visit (my parents live in Eastern WA and periodically come over for business) the hubs parents are from Chicago and they visit as well. Its a great space and we’ve really enjoyed living in our current community.

    However, we just bought a house in Redmond. 2350sqft, .83 of an acre, 3 bedrooms 2 3/4 bath with a great living area, finished basement, and two car garage. Can we fill the space yet? No. Are we planning on moving within 5 years? Not even kinda. But we are scuba instructors so having the garage and downstairs space is HUGE for us. At some point in the next couple of years we will have kids. And the biggie- our mortgage payment will be lower than our rent (the main reason we decided to be open to looking for a house). All in the all, the math made sense and we decided to take the leap to home ownership.

  36. We rented small places (400-800 sq.ft.) for a few years. Then we bought a 2bd, 2ba, 860sq.ft. condo which suited our needs quite well for 5 years, but we always knew it was a “starter home.” A few years ago we sold the condo and bought our “forever home.” It’s 2200 sq.ft., but we rent out the lower floor (2bd, 1ba, ~1000 sq.ft.). We live in the other half of the house (2bd, 1.5ba, ~1200 sq.ft.). To us, it’s plenty of space and covers all our needs.

    One caveat to that is that there is a 2 car garage and without it, I think our house would feel cramped. Although we park the cars in there, we also store our bikes, sports gear, and tools in it, and it’s amazing how much space that took up when we were in our condo. We also have no kids, although we plan to one day, but I think the house will still be sufficient for that. Maybe not perfect, but it will work.

    Don’t sweat about your future house being perfect for all your needs. Get it close enough on the points that are really important to you and you’ll adapt for the rest. You may also find that you fall for a house that doesn’t fit your list of requirements but you love it so much you’re willing to throw a “requirement” out the window. Happened to us, and we don’t regret it at all. Like I said, you adapt.

  37. First home when we were childless was a 1500 sq foot townhouse – 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. The bedrooms were small so when we had 4 children (2 people in each bedroom) we decided to get more space.
    Second home, with 4 kids is 2450 sq feet detached – 4 large bedrooms, 3 bathrooms. This works well for our family size. Kids range in age from 16-6 yrs old so we won’t be empty nesters for a good long time, but when we are, will we need all this space? No, but we might enjoy having the extra rooms for crafting, office, guest room…

  38. It’s always interesting to see what’s considered “big or “small” in another country. My Italian apartment was fine for two college kids, but a family? No way. Even the apartments housing 5 students were tiny.

  39. Growing up I, my 2 brothers, mom and dad lived in a 1000sqft house.

    Our current family of 5: Dad, Mom, boys age 7 and 6 and little girl 3.5 plus 2 cats live in a 2 story 1300sqft home. 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, eat in kitchen, living room and playroom/ therapy room, which is a must for us as both boys are autistic and that room has their trampoline, swing and ball pit. 3 closets in the whole house, which is 140 yrs old, with a tiny unfinished basement that has stone walls and dirt floors, which means it leaks like a sieve whenever it rains or thaws in the spring.

    Layout makes a big difference in how large a place feels, regardless of actual footage. Our house, being as old as it is, is made up of lots of little rooms, so it feels smaller than the 1050sqft apartment we lived in before we bought, that also had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. But there the kitchen, living room and family room were all in one space with a high ceiling. It felt enormous.

  40. I have about 1400 square feet – 2 bedrooms/2 baths. I share a room with my boyfriend and our friend rents out the other room. I bought this house thinking I’d stay about 5 years – I only bought it because my parents were able to help me out on the down payment at the time. I’ve learned a lot by owning this house that now I really know what I want when I buy my “dream” house (supposedly). We’ll see….

  41. We downsized 14 years ago and moved from a 5 bedroom/3 bath house to a 2 bedroom townhouse. Our children are grown and we only occasionally have house guests. We never needed a 5 bedroom house because we only had 2 children, however it was brand new and on the perfect view lot.

  42. Mr. Dori and I have 3 kids and we have a 2600 sq ft house on 3 acres. We have 4 bedrooms, but they aren’t huge so each kid has their own. I would like a guest room. We have two bathrooms. I’d like three. We don’t have enough closet space downstairs and we had to add a mud room for all the kids outerwear and backpacks and whatnot. The actual square footage though is pretty good for a family of 5. I can’t afford a house cleaner, so I wouldn’t really want it a lot bigger because then I’d just have to clean it. Our house is very simple but it has an open floor plan so the kitchen, dining area, and living room are all one large space. I love that. I wouldn’t have it any other way. You want a garage, even if you end up not parking there. The storage space is key though. We have no basement or attic and not enough closet space. We have to be diligent about purging our clothing, toys, etc. at least every 6 months in order to not feel squished.

  43. I would say, think about where you imagine yourself to be five to ten years from now, and buy the minimum amount of house required for that picture.

    For instance, you might want to have two or three baby ninjas, and you might like them to each have their own room. But baby ninjas don’t need their own rooms right away, and you might even find you prefer to have them sharing rooms while they’re little, for the sake of convenience (one bed time, rather than three—especially true if the kids are young and close in age. There’s no reason kids aged 6, 4 and2 can’t be sharing one room; 16, 14 and 12 is a whole other story). If I were in your position (and cost wasn’t a factor), I imagine I would be looking at three bedrooms, or two bedrooms plus den. One master, one bedroom for guest and then later, future kiddos, and the third bedroom/den for office turned guest room turned play room turned third kid bedroom.

    Your needs will change as you get older, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your space needs will grow. For instance, the next place I move into MUST have an office space for me, because my corner of the living room solution seriously isn’t cutting it. But that doesn’t mean I’ll always need an office. Maybe in five or ten years I’ll have a couple of kids and be in a different career, or stay home, and then I won’t need a dedicated work space, so instead of planning to have an office AND a playroom, I can just turn the office into a playroom/bedroom when the time comes. Know what I mean?

  44. I live in an apartment complex with a roommate I found on Craigslist. 2 bedroom, one bath (sinks are separated by a door from toilet/shower). No idea what the square footage is – I was never told precisely and I’m bad at estimating it. Aside from those rooms, there’s a main living area with a kitchen, dinner table, and a more open space with a couch, and a small balcony. My roommate is almost never around, though, and I end up spending most of the time I’m at home in my own room. I don’t have a lot of furniture besides my bedroom set, so the main living area is a bit under-utilized. I don’t think I’d want more space for just me – keeping what I have organized, clean, and clutter-free is hard enough! However, it would be nice to have one of the parking stickers that comes with my apartment… my car is always parked on an adjacent street.

  45. My husband + 2 dogs live in our 1bd/1ba 620sq. ft. condo. When I bought it (single) in ’09 – I thought I’d turn it around in about 5 years (and make money – ha!).

    With the market as it is, I’m guessing we’ll be here for at least another 6-7 years, despite the fact we’re planning on kids in the next 2-3 years. While I dream of our perfect 60’s ranch (a la the Wonder Years house), we’ve learned to love our small space – and it will enable us to save up a sizable down payment for our forever house.

  46. My husband and I live in a small 1 bedroom /1 bathroom/1 lr/dr combo, 2 closets, and 1 kitchen against the wall (450 square feet?)

    I suppose we could keep a kid in it for a year or two but we’d probably have to upgrade to a 2 bedroom if we had a little guy or girl.

    I don’t think we’d buy a place for another 20 years or so. We live in NYC and we can’t mess around with buying property if we aren’t going to stay forever.

    Until then-our little apartment in our great ‘hood is totally perfect.

  47. We have a suburban 2 story w/ 4 br and 2 ba. We just had our 3rd kid, so now we are out of bedrooms. If we have any more, they are surely going to have to double up.

    Our home is not huge.. About 2000 sqft.. But I don’t see any reason why we would ever need to upgrade from here

  48. My children and I survived and thrived in a house with a bit less than 900 square feet. I bought it as a 2 BR when pregnant with my 2nd-finished the dormer and moved my son up there and the baby into his former room. We were cozy and warm, and had a yard for dogs and gardens. 21 years later, it is the perfect size for me!

  49. I bought a 1300 sq ft 3 bedroom 2.5 bath condo – and I live alone.

    I don’t need all this space just for me – but I had a list of reasons for why I chose this size

    – I wanted the option to rent out a room to a housemate if finances get tight
    – I wanted to have a room for an office so that my computer was not in my bedroom any more (the way it has been for the last…18 years or so )
    – 3bedroom, 2bath houses seem to be the easiest to sell – vs 1 or 2 bedroom houses, and definitely vs 1 bathroom houses
    – I also made sure that the place I bought has parking for 2 vehicles – again because I have rented places without parking, and it’s easier to find a housemate if you can offer parking, and also because most families have 2 cars, so again, for resale value, my condo is better than half the units in my complex that only have a single spot.

    But it’s a bit silly in some ways too – I literally have to walk around the house occasionally to check on rooms I never visit, and to flush the toilets occasionally to keep the plumbing working 😀

  50. We’re currently renting a 900 sq ft duplex.
    2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, no garage.
    It’s my husband and I, our 7-year-old son, our newborn son, a hundred pound lab, a 30lb cat and three hermit crabs.
    We’d like to have a few more children and eventually own our own four bedroom home (master bedroom, bedroom for the boys, bedroom for the girls if we have any, and an office/den/playroom).

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