One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to choosing which home to buy is figuring out how much house you need to begin with. When it comes to real estate, bigger isn’t always better, especially when you consider things like financing, maintenance, and property taxes.
You certainly don’t want to find yourself paying for a larger home than you’ll ever need, but neither do you want to buy a house that’s going to feel like it isn’t big enough, either. So, how do you find the right balance and decide how much house you actually need?
There isn’t any particular formula or equation you can follow to get to the answer, of course, but here are a few things you might want to consider:
Use Square Footage as a Guideline Only
As any realtor can tell you, square footage really is just a number. Some homes, based on their layouts, can feel a lot bigger than they actually are on paper; and others can leave you feeling closed-in even though they theoretically offer plenty of room.
Differences in square footage aren’t always as important as other factors, including the number of rooms and configuration of the flooring. Keep that in mind as you look at available real estate listings.
Think Beds and Baths
The size of a home matters, but more important is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms there are to accommodate your family (and possibly any guests). While you might be able to get away with purchasing a much smaller home than you’d planned if it feels cozy and inviting, going without the number of rooms you need is bound to cause conflict, especially if you have kids.
Bathrooms are equally important, as they tend to be needed by several family members at once. Even a large home will feel small if family members can’t get to showers or sinks when needed.
It’s cliché but true: life changes. And when it does, it often calls for a bigger home with more bedrooms.
There are lots of reasons you might suddenly find yourself wanting more space. The most common issues have to do with new pregnancies, children returning after college, or the desire to take in an elderly parent, but the fact of the matter is that more and more people are choosing to live close to family these days.
If you think you might need a little more room in the future, factor that into your thinking.
When in Doubt, Think Bigger
Even if you don’t plan on growing your family or needing a guest room, there are plenty of good reasons to go with a slightly larger house than you might actually need the moment. There may be a time, for example, when you want to add a home office or crafts room. Or, you may need the extra space for storage.
Regardless of the specific reason, having a larger home gives you more flexibility in the future and increases the resale value of your property. You certainly don’t want to pay for a large home if you don’t need it — but when in doubt, err on the side of bigger rather than smaller.
Once you’ve considered all these factors, your best bet might be to consider a range of home sizes and narrow down your choices from there. Bigger isn’t always better, but having a little more home gives you the flexibility you want to grow your family, or change your lifestyle, without feeling cramped in your house.