How Much House Do You Need?

Updated: Jun 16

Living Space Formula

After you determine how much you can afford to pay for a house, you must decide what size house you need and what features are most important. Some experts suggest using a formula to determine how big your house should be. One financial website suggests figuring on between 400 and 500 square feet per person. If you and your spouse live alone, that means you need an 800 to 1000 square feet house. A family of four needs 1600 to 2000 square feet. While that formula might give you a general idea of what most people need, I think your decision is more complicated than that.





Deciding how big a house you need or want and what features are most important to you takes some thinking about present and future needs. Think about your present needs but realize that if you plan on staying in a home for a while, you should think about how things will be in 5 or 10 years. If you are investing in a starter home and plan on trading up in a few years, the quality of the investment means more than your future needs. If you look at your home as an investment, there are other considerations, but most people want their new home to meet their family’s needs.





Evaluate Your Present Home. Start by evaluating the home you presently have. Current logistical problems may be the reason you are looking for a new place. Decide what’s missing and what do you have that you couldn’t you live without. If you spend half your life in the family room, that’s an essential room but maybe a smaller living room is ok. If you are fighting for a turn in the bathroom, maybe you need one more than you currently have. On the other hand, you may never use your formal dining room because you prefer eating more casually in the eat-in kitchen. Maybe you need a house with big kitchen but no dining room. Do you use your garage for your car or is it full of junk you don’t need? Looking honestly at how you use the rooms you have and discussing what additional space would help your family function more comfortably is a better path to decide how big your new house should be.





Future Needs. If you are planning to start a family or your kids are going off to college soon, that needs to be considered. You might consider downsizing. Adult children tend to live at home after college these days so keep that in mind. If you are getting closer to retirement age, and will want to entertain more, you might want more space for that. On the other hand, maybe you plan to travel and want a lower maintenance home.





Bedroom Count

Consider buying a house with an extra bedroom. It’s nice to have a guest room or spare room for hobbies and crafts and you may need an extra bedroom in the future for an older relative or adult child who needs to move home. If you only need two bedrooms, consider a three-bedroom house. Three bedrooms houses are a better investment.





VA Home Loans

Once you outline your ideal home, apply for your VA Home Loan. There are many advantages over other home loans including lower interest rates and closing costs, no down payment and easier qualification requirements.






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