How to Choose the Right-Size Home for Your Family

how to choose a home

Are you ready to jump into first-time home-ownership? Maybe you already own a place but are looking to upsize or downsize. Whatever your situation, picking the right amount of space for your home is an important decision.

If you pick something too big, you’ll be paying extra in heating and cooling costs, property tax, and insurance. If you pick something too small, you risk running out of space and needing to sell your home, going through another round of closing costs.

You’re going for the Goldilocks rule here - not too big, not too small. Here are some tips on how to find a home size that’s just right.

What’s Your Daily Use?

Think about your family’s day-to-day activities. What do you like to do together (or apart)?

Consider how your home design can encourage a lifestyle that matches your family values. Here’s an example:

My wife and I used to own a home that had both a living room and a great room. This gave us two living spaces with TVs, which meant our family was often in different areas during screen time. In order to encourage more family time together, we downsized to a single living room.

The same goes for the other areas of your home. Do you need a dining room, a dinette, and an island? Or could just one or two of those suffice for your eating needs?

What about bathrooms? How many bathrooms would your family reasonably need to use all at the same time?

What About Special Occasions?

It’s tempting to want a home with guest rooms, entertaining spaces, and other extra square footage to cover special occasions.

That said, all of that square footage comes at a cost. Consider how often those special occasions really happen. A spare bedroom of 150 square feet and a cost of $150 per square foot totals up to $22,500. At that cost, it’s likely less expensive to put your guests up in hotel rooms than to build and maintain that extra room.

What Do You See In Your Future?

One other major consideration is what you see your future holding. Do you plan on having (more) kids? Maybe your children are entering high school and will be leaving the nest in a few short years. Do you have elderly parents that you might someday care for out of your home?

It’s difficult to examine every “what if” situation, so consider the scenarios you are most sure of and go from there. Remember, if things change, you can always sell your home down the road (albeit at a 6% or more cost due to closing expenses.)

What About Resale?

It’s also a good idea to think about the resale potential of your house. While owning the biggest house on the block may seem appealing, you may want to think twice. Neighborhoods tend to have homes of similar sizes; being the outlier can mean a tougher sell down the road.

So look for neighborhoods where the majority of homes are around your ideal size. If you need to sell down the road, you’ll likely have an easier time finding a suitable buyer.

Can You Buy With Expansion In Mind?

If you see your need for space increasing in the future, don’t feel the need to pay for all of that space right away. Consider buying a home that has expansion possibilities (an unfinished basement or attic or space to build over a garage). This way, you’ll always have the flexibility to expand later but at a lower cost today. And if your plans change and you don’t need the space, you won’t be paying anywhere near as much for those unfinished square feet!