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Finding the right sized home for your family — and all of your belongings

Have you ever asked yourself, “How much house do I really need?” If you’re considering moving or purchasing a new home in the near future, there’s no better time than the present to figure out the right answer.

Finding the right sized home for your family and all of your possessions starts with assessing how your current home accommodates — or doesn’t — all of your needs. Once you know what your living space lacks and identify what your family loves about the space, you can estimate the square footage you want in your next home. This will help you create a price range so you can analyze homes of different floor plans within your budget. Do you need room to grow? Is it time to purge and economize? Learning the pros and cons of going bigger or smaller will help you decide the ideal space for your next home.  

Why go bigger?

  • More bedrooms for your expanding family, be it for future kids or caring for in-laws
  • Home office to stay organized while working from home
  • Extra rooms for exercise or hobbies
  • Additional storage areas
  • Large family rooms for entertaining groups or hosting holidays

If you want to avoid having to move later, going bigger may be the right direction. By projecting your future needs, you can search for a space that will grow and evolve with your family, your career and your interests.

Why go smaller?

  • More affordable price tag
  • Less expensive heating and cooling bills
  • Easier and quicker to clean
  • Saves money that can be put toward other expenses, like travel and education

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Going smaller gives you the freedom and flexibility to focus on other priorities in your life. While it can be a challenge and may mean you need to purge some sentimental items from your current home, a smaller house may fit your lifestyle better. You can always put valuables, memorabilia, extra furniture and seasonal decor in a storage unit until the time is right to bring them back into your home.

Finding the right sized home starts with growing or shrinking, but square footage isn’t the only size component when hunting for a place that’s comfortable for your loved ones. This guide walks you through some of the questions you can ask when trying to find a home that meets the current and future needs and wants of you and your family.

  • What are my finances like now, and how will they be in the future?
  • How does my current home meet my needs? Where is it lacking?
  • Do I want large or small outdoor spaces?
  • How will I use the living spaces?

What are my finances like now, and how will they be in the future?

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The first step in house hunting — regardless of size, shape or location — is knowing a cost that you can comfortably afford. Though the bank may approve you for larger loans, don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach, so to speak. Taking on a mortgage means taking into account how much you want to set aside for your kids’ college funds, travel, retirement and a cushion for unexpected medical bills or vehicle purchases.

Purchasing and moving into a new home is an expensive and time-consuming process, from closing costs to moving expenses. When thinking about the size of a home, imagine yourself living in it today, three years from now, and five years from now. What will your income be like in the future? Are you climbing the career ladder? Will you have more kids, and therefore more expenses, but potentially lose an income? Take your answers with you when you begin touring homes on the market.

What can I learn from my current home’s size?

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Get familiar with not only your home’s total square footage, but also the size of each room in the house. Grab a trusty measuring tape and learn the dimensions of your bedroom, kitchen, living room and even closets. After you gather the measurements, think about how the space does or does not suit your needs. For example, the square footage of your master bedroom might seem spacious, but if there are awkward corners or angles, it may not hold as much furniture as you’d like. Other room size issues to consider include:

  • Do your kids share a room? Is it more useful to have a house with a big room that gives them more freedom in their shared space, or two smaller rooms where they each have more privacy?
  • Is your living room huge, but it also houses your dining room table and home office? Would you prefer these spaces to be separate? If so, how will your ideas about house layout impact the size of the rooms in your next home?
  • How many bathrooms do you need in order to be comfortable? Let’s say all your little ones are in diapers right now, but in ten years, they’ll be teenagers fighting over everything — including who has been in the bathroom longer. How can your new home accommodate these potential needs?

It’s also important to take note of how each room feels. A small bedroom may be cozy and comfy, which might suit your personality better. Think about the decor and furniture you currently have or would like to use. A small bedroom might be comforting, but if you have your sights set on a new king-sized bed, a more spacious room might be more appropriate for your future vision.

What do I want to do outside?

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Living spaces aren’t just in the house — many families enjoy outdoor cooking and dining, playing fetch with the dog, roasting marshmallows over a fire pit, or listening to music while laying in a hammock.

How will you use your new outdoor areas, and how much space will you want to do these activities in? Remember that a large lawn will require more maintenance, but a smaller yard might fit all of the activities you and your family love. You’ll also want to think about how much privacy you want. If you have a hot tub, you may not want your nextdoor neighbor seeing you in a swimsuit, or you may want to keep your dog from barking at everything that moves by having a privacy fence around the perimeter.

A large yard may also take away from the lot size available for your home. That means that if a bigger home is your top priority, a smaller yard may be the best compromise for your lifestyle and your budget.

How will I use the space?

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Truthfully, how you make use of the space in your home is all about perspective. What feels big to you might feel small to another family, and vice versa. Those points of view are often developed by how you plan on using the space. You might prefer a small house with a minimalist style, or a larger home where your family can expand and explore. One of the best ways to find out is by taking stock of your belongings. Look around you and make assessments about:

  • Decor: Is there a sentimental heirloom on every surface or shelf? Are your walls packed with photos and art? A smaller house might feel crowded and cluttered by this design style.
  • Books: If everyone in your family is an avid reader, chances are that you have enough books to start a small library. A smaller home that comes with a bookcase built into the stairwell or a bigger house with room to create a cozy reading nook should be on your consideration list.
  • Instruments: Whether you have a budding Jimi Hendrix or a full-blown Mozart, if you or your kids play musical instruments — or might in the future — you’ll want to think about how size impacts storage, areas for practice, and how the sound will travel through the space in your home.
  • Sports: Soccer moms and dads know that clothes, cleats, balls, bats, helmets and other sporting gear can pile up — not to mention how the smell can easily travel from room to room. If your family is active, you’ll want to look for a home with enough closet space, storage and a mudroom.

The size of your house can make a big difference to your entire family. From cost of living to comfort and accessibility, making sure you find the right fit will ensure you’re happy in your new home for years to come.