Milton's Monday Moment: How Much House?
How much house do you really need? Far too often, buyers want as much square footage as humanly possible, which for some people, makes sense. They have large families and lots of kids, or they are so sick of having their family of four cramped into a 900 square foot starter home. This can result in buyers overspending on more than they need, and is in part due to short term thinking.
One of the first things you need to ask yourself is, "how long do I plan on living here with my family?" If you see your next home as your forever home, then you need to think beyond the years of your kids wrecking havoc, and into empty nesting and old age. The more square footage, the more expensive house maintenance is, and the harder it is for you to keep up with it energy wise, as well.
I almost fell into this trap, myself. There are only two of us living in my household, and I managed to convince myself that we needed a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom 2,500 square foot house with a full basement. Sure, a lot of the things I saw would be nice to have, but were they worth it to me considering our living situation? Definitely not.
The term quality over quantity comes into play here, too. It is recommended to have 400-500 square feet per person in the household, but of course lay out will have affect this as well. So for the family of 4 reading this: no, you don't need that 3,000 square foot giant. I still maintain to this day that the house I grew up in- a 1,300 square foot ranch- was the perfect size for us.
Bigger and better is still the American way, however. The average size of a newly built home in 2019 was just over 2,300 square feet, while the average number of household members is 2.5, which means about 920 square feet per member: about double the average recommended amount.
While having a home that you love and are comfortable in and that works for you and your family is important, it's also important to consider what giving up the extra square footage can afford you outside of a house, as well. An extra vacation every year, or extra padding to your retirement savings account.