What’s your square footage?

After spending some time in a bunch of European countries and South 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.

Girl Ninja and I dream of having a garage. We desperately want more than one bathroom. And a guest bedroom would be epic so guests don’t have to sleep on an air mattress in our living room.

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 have to start think about things like how many kids will we have, and yard sizes, and garage space, when in reality, we have no clue what those things would look like in our life; 2, 5, or 10 years from now. What if we upgrade to a four bedroom house and find out we can’t have more kids? Or what if we have 10 kids and our three bedroom house doesn’t cut it anymore?

Reflecting on our first year of home ownership makes me think we made a good choice. We have a fairly modest 1,800sqft at our disposal and use just about every inch of the space. I’d throw up if I paid for bonus rooms, lofts, bedrooms, or basements that were never actually lived in.

Maybe that’s just me though?

What about 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?

43 thoughts on “What’s your square footage?

  1. I totally understand where you are coming from. I live in Japan and after this experience I realize that I really don’t need as much space or stuff that I currently have. Right now I live on a naval base and housed in a three bedroom townhouse with just my daughter and I and a dog, and trust me we do not need so much space. Living here and becoming more frugal has made me readjust what I believe is the reasonable space that I need. I need a lot less….

  2. My apartment is a 936 square feet two bedroom with one bathroom. I would like to have an extra half-bathroom or just a toilet for when there is company. I live alone and it suits my needs. I sure could live in something smaller but, I do not think I would like that.

    I dream of having a small house with a small yard but that is very unlikely to happen if I continue to live in Istanbul. If I move away, I would lack the income to own a house, so, it remains to be a dream.

  3. Its pretty amazing how big the average American house is. Our 2 bedroom appartment in the UK is fairly sizeable (certainly big enough for us) but is only about 70m2, which is about 750ft.

    People often tell us how spacious it is for a city centre appartment (which it is).

    To us, 1800ft would be a mansion!! 🙂

  4. Being from Europe I know exactly what you talking about – my family of four lived in 700 sq ft. 2 bed 1 bath home until we moved to the States. I stayed true to my roots and lived in small 500 sq. ft. 1 bed 1 bath appts., and purchased slightly bigger 1200 sq. ft. 1 ½ bed 1 bath condo some years ago (now sold). Then I just wanted to see how it is to have all the space you want and more. So now, my husband and I and 3 cats, live in 3000 sq. ft. 4 bed 2.5 bath house with theater and gym in the basement and many unused rooms 🙂 and I do love my house, but it’s pain in the A$$ to clean.

  5. We have a 3BD/1.5BA house that is 1850 sq-ft with another 1200 sq-ft in an unfinished basement. I personally think it is way to big, but my wife thinks it is too small. I think they real problem is the lack of second bathroom. We have 2 adults, a toddler and an infant in the house. I personally think 1500sq-ft with 2 bathrooms and she would be happy.

  6. We have a 1200 sq foot home 3 bedroom 1 bath. Family of five. Its fine for now, although another bath would be nice there is no way to add one. We have no garage or driveway

    When our kids are older ( now 9, 10 and 6) we will look for something different. Our two boys are autistic and may live with us as adults, so we may wany some more privacy for us and them at that time. We have talked about buying a duplex.

  7. I have a 2bd/2ba condo that is 1000 sq-ft. Right now it’s just me but my fiancee will be moving in shortly. I think it’s a perfect amount of space for us, and it allows us to have friends crash at our place as well. I’m sure in a three to five years, we’ll want a house in the suburbs but I love the condo for now.

  8. We have a 1500 sq ft home, 3 bed, 2 bath. I really think it’s the perfect space. We don’t even use half the house unless e have guests, which is why e upgraded anyways, so guests could be comfortable and have their own space.

  9. My husband and I are currently in the process of buying a house with 1456 square feet. (Also an unfinished basement of the same size). The house may seem small to some, but it has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and came with all appliances (even a dishwasher!!). We currently don’t have children, but when we do, the 2 extra bedrooms should be able to fit a set of bunk beds in each, if needed, and we don’t feel like that would make the living space too tight. We are interested in the tiny house movement, where people build their houses (sometimes on trailers) with only 500 square feet of space, but we just couldn’t make ourselves go THAT tiny…..yet. I don’t feel the need to have a ton of space, plus, who’s stuck trying to stay on top of cleaning a space that big? Me 😉 Doens’t sound like fun.

  10. sort of in the minority here?

    we live in the midwest with low home prices. for less than $300k we have 15 acres of private woods with a 3300sqft home with an additional 1500 foot unfinished basement.

    wife, 1 year old son, and myself. plus a 20 lb dog.

    we plan on growing into it. If we can’t have anymore kids we may foster/adopt. purchased with the long term in mind.

  11. We live in a 1,800 swft bungalow with unfinished basement. 2 adults, a toddler a baby on the way and 2 dogs. On 100 acres, the house is too big in my opinion, my wife would like to have the basement finished as she works from home. The kids will have to share a bedroom until the office moves to the basement.

    Our masterbedroom is way too big in my opinion. I only sleep there and don’t need a sitting corner or anything. I also don’t need a family room in the basement. Just more space to maintain.

    I grew up in a nearly 6,000 sqft home and I just didn’t need that much space. Total waste.

    Btw, the average American home is not big, just the newly build McMansions are big. Those homes that create the debt burden of the nation…

  12. I have a 4 bed, 2.5 bath 3000 sq ft home of which 2200 is finished. The house is way more than we need but I figured if we had kids it would be perfect. Also it was hard to find a newer (1990-present) home here (utah) that was smaller (we didn’t want a townhouse). People have big families so the houses are all massive. If we don’t have kids we will probably downsize to a smaller house.

  13. We have a 2400 square foot house not counting our attached 3 stall garage. We also live in the Midwest, although real estate in our town is considered pricier at about $97/square foot. It is 4 bed, 3 bath. We lived in a 2 bed/1 bath apartment previously and knew we wanted to purchase a house we could grow into rather than take the hit of only owning a few years and needing to move to a larger place after having children. Now we are a family of 4 (6 if you count the cats) and it suits our needs perfectly well. I wish bedrooms were a little larger but we don’t live in the bedrooms! I think our lot is 85×125 and we have owned since 2009. We hate moving so it was worth it to us to buy for our future needs. My BIL and his wife bought small for their needs and after 2 children tried to sell and couldn’t, so they had to remodel their tiny townhouse to carve out a teeny 3rd bedroom.

      • We live in the midwest, so our 1450 sqft house for $125,000 isn’t a crazy cheap house. That works out to $86 per square foot. Also, there is a garage and full basement that is not included in the square feet, so with the basement our house was $43 a square foot. I love living somewhere where housing is cheaper, but that means most of us get paid less for what we do as well, so I guess it all averages out.

  14. We have an 1800 sq ft home with a 9 year old girl and 5 year old boy. I guess it is fine size wise. I think I would like more space BUT then I think if we have more space or more rooms then our family would be more prone to be separate and we would spend less time together. We only have so much time with our kids and I don’t want to make it easier for them to go off into another space of the home away from me. LOL weird I know!

    My major complaint is we have ONE bathroom…to share with two growing kids. Ugh! I would love my own bathroom!

  15. There are four of us (and a sizable pup) and our house is right around 1200sqft. Three beds 1.5 baths. We only use two bedrooms regularly (our kids share) and it is nice to have a designated guest room but I’m sure we could live without it. A friend of mine (same size family) bought a house 2500+sqft and all she does is complain about cleaning and heating it.

  16. 2200 sq ft, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms. Currently, we don’t use the den much but that’s because it’s barely furnished right now. Once it is furnished next year, I KNOW it will be put to good use, as are all the rooms in our home. We have at least one bathroom on each level which is wonderfully convenient. We don’t feel like we are on top of each other which we did in our old 1300 sq ft home, and it felt really cramped when we had a guest, but now we have room to breathe. We plan on having one more child, so we have space to grow with our current home, we will just have to rearrange a little when the time comes. I feel like our house is a great investment and fits our needs perfectly.

  17. get ready to throw up in your mouth a little bit.

    we are a family of 4 (full time) plus my sister and niece are staying with us for the foreseeable future.

    our house (brand new build, completed 04/2014) is 3500 square feet- 4 bedroom, study, game room, formal dining room, 3 car garage (a single and a double), 3 full bath and 2 half baths, laundry and mud rooms, and a media room, and it put us in a ridiculously amazing school district.

    when we upgraded to this house, we did so with the intention of it being our forever home, with enough space and living areas that we would not ever need to expand or move again.

    we don’t NEED all the space, certainly. but we paid under $110 per foot for it, so it’s not like it really broke the bank.

  18. We have a similar home to yours, 1200 sq. ft. plus a 600 sq. ft. finished basement. We rarely use the spare room and now that the TV is upstairs we barely go down stairs. There’s the two of us and a toddler. We have a garage, but no shed, so the car doesn’t live there.

    I would like to live in an even smaller home, but they’re really in the older nicer neighbourhoods, which we a lot more expensive.

  19. We bought our first house last year with the intention of it being a forever house. Its a little over 1500 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and space for an additional family room, and an extra bedroom/office. We are a family of 4 plus my twin stepsons who stay with us every other weekend and holidays. It’s more space than we need for just the 4 of us but comes about right with the twins there, which is why we bought it. For the last 10 years we always rented apartments with at least 1.5 bathrooms. I’m actually surprised when people buy homes with only 1 bathroom, but then again you could always put in a bathroom addition. I live in the Puget Sound and paid right about $100/sq ft for our house.

  20. I live alone in an 825 sq ft home on a 9000 square foot lot. 2 bedrooms 1 bath, Perfectly adequate for 1 person and easy to clean and cheap to heat. Lots of space for gardens, etc. I do wish the bathroom and kitchen were a little larger and that there were more indoor storage space. Right now I use the one car garage mostly for storage due to the lack of indoor space but I could cure that with a decent shed I suppose.

  21. I live alone (with a dog) in an 1,100 square foot house with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Someday I will finish the basement so I’ll have 2,200 finished square feet, adding another bathroom, bedroom/office, and family room. I don’t see any reason this house won’t be able to accommodate a family in the future when I’m married and have kids.

    I sometimes feel that really large houses with formal dining rooms, sitting rooms, bonus rooms, etc feel kind of impersonal because there’s so much meaningless, unused space. I like the feeling of a smaller home where each room serves a purpose and actually feels lived in.

  22. Our family of four is in a 2600 square foot, 4 bed, 2 1/2 bath house with a 3 car garage. Having this big house allows our son and daughter have their own rooms and a guestroom that serves as a classroom most of the year (I homeschool). I do wish we had a great room instead of a family room and formal living room. Our living room is hardly ever used and I hate cleaning a room that never gets used. It’s total wasted space most of the time. We love our house, but when the kids leave, we will definitely downsize. The bigger the house, the more maintenance it requires. Ugh! The big garage is nice though because it fits the minivan, the motorcycle, various bikes and scooters, and my husband’s massive tool and car parts collection.

  23. 1800 sq. ft townhouse; 3 bed, 4 bath (1 full, 1 x 3 pc ensuite, 2 x 1/2 bath), full finished basement, $150 CDN/sq ft when we bought is 2 years ago (closer to $158 CDN/sq ft now). Single car garage (I do miss underground parking during our Canadian winters), and quite frankly, it’s more house than we really need. We were pre-approved for $100K more than what we paid for this house; we LOVE the area, and have awesome neighbours. Plus, the house was turn-key; didn’t have to paint or even change the window coverings!

  24. My house is 1026sqft, 3 bedroom, 1.5 baths that I live in with my husband, little kid and a little dog. This size is about the same as the houses we lived in in 2 other countries (Euro and Asian). It’s just perfect for us 3 humans and easy to clean. We have a decent-sized backyard, so that expands the “space” we occupy. I don’t have any desire to live in a big house (1800sqft and above) because I care more about putting extra money toward traveling and exploring the space outside of my house. 🙂

  25. Our house is 1,100 square feet; 2 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms. My husband and I are DINKs right now, so we use the second bedroom as a study/office. We live in every room and it’s easy to clean- the whole house can be deep-cleaned in one day. As we expand our family in the future, we may need to move to a house with more bedrooms. For now, we’re very happy. We actually plan on keeping our house and renting it out for income if/when we move out.

  26. Our house is 2200 sq ft (about $125/sq ft) with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths plus an unfinished basement. This houses two adults, two children and a dog. I feel like this is enough space for us now, but as the kids get to be teenagers I might feel like the basement should be finished so when they have friends over we can escape them or they can escape us.
    We bought this house knowing it would be our forever home. We have lots of friends continuing to buy bigger and bigger and inflate their mortgages and I just don’t get it.

  27. Our house is about 2700 sq ft. We have 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room on the main floor. We have a fourth bedroom, a family room, a second bathroom, an office, and a good sized laundry room in the basement. We have an attached 2 car garage. We also have a very large deck off of the kitchen that is covered by the roof. When we bought our house 16 years ago we paid $8/sq foot CDN. The house was 4 years old at the time. We have two children, one of whom has physical and intellectual disabilities so he will be with us for the foreseeable future. We plan to stay in this home until we go to the nursing home or the funeral home. We are very lucky to live in an area of Southwestern Ontario where housing is not that expensive. It is a raised ranch so the basement has large windows and gets a lot of light. We also have a large back yard. It suits our needs very nicely.
    Best of all, it is paid for.

  28. I have lived in big houses (5K sqft), and small houses (900 sq ft). Perfect for me was 2400 sq ft. It was me and my husband and 7 (yes, seven) children.
    3 bedroom, 2.5 bathrooms. Triple bunks in the bedrooms, keeping things to reasonable levels (organization, organization, organization), and baby in our room. Oldest went to college about the same time the little one needed to move out of our room.

    It works out beautifully. You get to spend time WITH the family, instead of with the house chores!

  29. Since “PDITF” went to college in San Diego, he’s aware of crazy real estate prices there. DS and fiancé bought 676 sqft house in North Park/Normal Heights area for $399,000. BUT, in true craftsman style, it has a ton of built ins and a nice, large kitchen. Only one bathroom which can be tough. 3 adults and 3 dogs live in the house. That wasn’t the original plan but his fiancé’s mom is quite ill and they brought her and her two dogs in to better take care of her.

  30. My boyfriend and I share a 1800 sq ft, 3 bed, 2.5 bath home with our kitty. We also have a 2 car attached garage, and feel the space is great for us. There are some renovations planned to rearrange the 1st floor layout (kitchen, dining, living area) but overall feel we picked the right space for what we want and need, both now and for the future.

  31. 6 people in 1800 ft² (2 bath, 3 bed). Yes I would like more space but that is to contain the children’s toys and such as the only room they can use is the living room which is also the reading room, computer room, playroom, gaming room, etc. So we’ll see what we do if and when we rebuild.

  32. We have 1356 sq ft, for 2 adults, and 2 pre-teens (12). 1.5 bathrooms. Our house lacks storage (100+ yrs old = lack of closets). Our daughter’s room is small (8’x10′). We share a closet with our son. Having 1 shower is hard. The kids shower at night to free up some of the available hot water and limit the number of people fighting for space. We don’t have a guest room. We don’t have a garage. We have a “dining room” that we use as an office.

    Our house is on the market now….we are moving from CT to SC (yay!!!). And we will be getting a much larger house (for about the same money as our house will sell for…if we can ever get it to sell!). We are looking for at least 2200 sq ft. But alot of the house we are looking at are even larger (2600 sq ft). Because of the cost of living….we can get a larger house without it impacting the budget. It will be nice to not have to turn sideways to walk around the bed and to have our own bathroom!

  33. We live in a 2 bedroom apt. About 900 something sqft.

    We are 5 people 3 adults 2 kids. 1 bathroom. I would want a half bath that is it

    I don’t understand wanting each kid to have their own bedroom . that is just ludicrous to me. But that is how my husband was raised so when we are ready to buy compromise will be the name of the game. I think 1500 would be just fine and 3 bedrooms would be my max. I also don’t see the logic in paying for guest quarters that are used maybe 25% of the year. But probably much less. Why pay for it year in and year out with what you save you could pay for a hotel stay when family visits

  34. Your posts are always so good and insightful, and fun. Practical things that we all can relate too. I somewhere turned a corner and overnight became obsessed with my business and personal finances. Your posts bring me back to earth and I thank you. Been on a debt kick lately, I guess with the holidays approaching. I recommend reading a book called Good Debt, Bad Debt and a Better Way Forward. It’s by Steve Markowitz who is a very successful business man. gooddebtbaddebtbook.com. His advice helped in a business level and a personal one. A house for instance, a good debt, if you can manage to stay within your means…that’s always the kicker.

  35. I live in Ontario, Canada and recently upgraded from a 541 sq. ft 1 bed, 1 bath+ den to a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath 1450 sq. ft home with a partially finished basement and a single car garage. There is an extra bedroom and a roughed in bathroom in the basement. I couldn’t be happier. It’s a lot of space for one person, but I lived in 541 sq. ft for 5 years, so I’ve paid my dues.

  36. My husband and I recently purchased a home a little under 1700 square feet. It’s 3 bed/2 bath. We are expecting our first child next month so one room is the nursery and the other is currently being used as an office. I always tell people I never want to move again, so we’ll probably finish the basement at some point to add living space as our living room is pretty small and another bedroom and bathroom for kids/guests/whatever. We used to live in a 1 bedroom apartment around 800 square feet which felt like plenty of space, so living a house twice that size still feels a little large sometimes.

  37. I live by myself in a 1-bedroom, 800-sq ft coop apartment. Basically it is enough space for me except that I have a pretty large collection of CDs, musical scores, books, and DVDs, and finding storage space for these without cluttering the walls is a bit of a challenge. I meet this partly by donating or selling items I no longer want (e.g., tomorrow my local library is getting another 2 dozen books), and partly by building shelves in all kinds of concealed locations. For instance, I have a 6’x4′ walk-in closet that is built floor-to-ceiling on all sides with bookshelves, and whenever I show it to people it always gets a laugh. Then again, I don’t show it to people that often.

  38. My husband and I currently live in a 3,400 sq foot home. We are getting ready to sell and have lived here 10 years. We bought this house for $155,000! What a steal! But over time we discovered the school system sucks and the neighbor hood is in decline. We drive our children 30 miles every day to a better school in a different city. We are putting the house on the market to move to that city but now we are going to have to buy a house half the size for twice the price. We will probably never have the dream of being mortgage free. :(. In working to convince my husband that we will be just as happy in a smaller home. He’s not convinced.

  39. 2 people, 2700+ square feet, 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Huge yard. Plenty of room for guests, love the space.

  40. I am moving with my fiance to Vienna, Austria, where my apartment will feel HUGE compared to my current apartment in NYC (and also much cheaper!). My Vienna apartment is 56 m2, which I think is about 580 sq ft? My current NYC apartment is 40 m2 and I share it with two other people! And the cost of my Vienna apartment is legit a third of the entire cost of my NYC apartment. It feels so big after living in NYC. I can actually exercise in my living room! There is empty space for us to put things in! I want to get an upright piano, something I couldn’t do in NYC. After I find a job, we’re considering moving to a district closer to the city center with two bedrooms because we’d prefer to have separate spaces. On the other hand, his argument is that we could save so much more money if we stay in our apartment (which we do love), and save the extra money for the wedding/travel/adventures/experiences.

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