The Ideal House Size And Layout To Raise A Family

This post will look at the ideal house size and layout to raise a family and live your best life. I have bought and sold seven homes since 2003 and currently own six homes. Each house has a different layout.

The value of a house has gone way up given more people are spending more time at home post pandemic. Larger houses with views, yards, hot tubs, and pools are in demand. Home offices are also a must have for millions more people who work-from-home nowadays.

When you have a family, you simply want what's best for your kids. Further, when you have kids, you will also desire to have a lot more space so you can think. Young children are particularly noisy and can bother you when working if you don't have a great house layout and enough space.

Both my wife and I work from home with two young children. As a result, a good house layout that accommodates our work and family life is important.

Increase Our Home Size And Improved The Layout

The only time I want a mega-mansion is when my in-laws or parents come to visit. I fantasize how it'd be nice to put my guests in a separate wing with their own kitchen, bathroom, and living area. This way, we can all keep our independence while also sharing family time every day.

We used to live in a modest 1,920 square foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was plenty of space for my wife and me and our baby boy. Once we had our daughter and the pandemic hit, we decided to buy a ~3,000 square foot forever home in mid-2020.

The extra 1,000 square feet of space was welcome. So were the extra floors, ironically. You'd think an ideal layout would be all rooms on one floor. However, with the constant crying and whining of children, it's been fantastic to have multiple levels for less disturbance. The more sections in the house with more separation, the better.

We could have purchased an even larger, more expensive home. However, it was already risky enough buying a more expensive home in mid-2020 once the lockdowns began. But I know the gut remodel we had started six months earlier was going to take much longer than expected.

Further, we also wanted to generate more passive income to avoid having to go back to work. Therefore, we are more than happy living below our means.

Every single room we have is fully utilized now that we have two children and both work from home. There's a nice view of the ocean and enough space for a hot tub and kids to run around outside.

The neighborhood is also extremely quiet, which is a big change from our previous residence that recurrently experienced drunken frat bros screaming nonsense at 2am.

We've found the ideal home size and layout for the next 10 years. If you're looking to find the same, please read on.

The Ideal Size And Layout For A Middle-Class Family House

In determining the ideal house size and layout to raise children, I'd like to operate under the confines of a middle class household.

To do otherwise would cause too much controversy and take away from the purpose of helping expecting families or existing families buy (or rent) the most family-friendly house.

To start, the median home price in America is roughly $420,000 or 5.6X the national median household income of roughly $75,000 as of 2024. Therefore, wherever you are, owning a home equal to roughly 4X – 6X your household income puts you in the middle class.

Conversely, dividing your area's median home price by 4 – 6 gives you an approximate middle class household income e.g. $300,000 household income living in a $1.5M SF home.

In the past, it was always a good idea to limit your house purchase to no more than 3X your household income. But due to a decline in interest rates since the 1980s, families have been able to stretch.

Check the latest mortgage rates with Credible for free. Credible is my favorite lending marketplace where lenders compete for your business so you can get the best rate.

I do not recommend spending more than 5X your household income on a home. 3X is what I suggest most readers pay with a 20% downpayment. Regardless, banks won't lend you more than a 42% debt-to-income ratio (DTI) anyway.

Now that we've established some parameters, let's get into the details.

The Ideal House Size For A Family Of Four

Owning a house equal to +/- 25% 2,422 square feet, the median size house as of 2023 gives you a typical middle class house size.

Since we don't want to go outside the confines of the middle class, the ideal house size is therefore between 1,816 – 3,027 square feet for a family of four. You can certainly go smaller, but there are some considerations that may crimp your lifestyle.

The ideal house size is one in which you feel comfortable while also having a high utilization of space. If you buy a house too big, you'll have excess maintenance headaches, higher maintenance bills, more cleaning to do, higher heating bills, and likely higher property taxes.

Owning a house too big is like driving a diesel bus when there's only four of you – a big waste of money. You won't feel good about owning a non-ideal house size with a bad layout.

The Optimal Square Feet Per Person For The Ideal House Size

A smart way to figure out the ideal house size is to think in square feet per person. Will you feel comfortable having 400 square feet, 500 square feet, 800 square feet, or 1,000 square feet of space to yourself?

I believe the ideal square feet per person is about 600 – 700. This means for a family of three, the ideal house size is 1,800 – 2,100 square feet. For a family of four, the ideal house size is between 2,400 – 2,800 square feet and so forth.

It's up to you to decide how much space you're most comfortable with up to 3,027 square feet (if you consider yourself middle class). If you live in a big city, due to high housing costs, you may be forced to adapt to smaller apartment living.

Average size house in America and the ideal house size and layout
The average size house in America is roughly 2,422 sqft, a 20% increase from 2000

Related: To Make Money In Real Estate Focus On Expansion

The Ideal Number Of Bedrooms

Ideally, your house should have enough rooms per person to sleep individually + one room for guests or an office. In other words, if there are two adults and one baby, the ideal number of bedrooms would be four . For two adults and two kids, the ideal number of bedrooms would be five and so forth.

After working together as a team feeding and changing diapers every 1 – 3 hours for the first three months, one or both spouses will need to go back to work

Having the option to sleep alone in your own bedroom is important given babies often wake up multiple times during the night the first year, and sometimes up to the first three years. It's nice for at least one partner to get a full night's rest and be more productive at work the next day.

So far we have had my wife's sister, wife's parents, my parents, and my sister visit. Any more than two people staying with us at one time is too crowded. Even two for more than a week feels tight.

With our current three bedrooms + nursery, having one guest is the ideal guest count where we still have enough space to feel free.

The Ideal Number Of Bathrooms

In a perfect world, each bedroom will have its own attached bathroom. This is called an en suite bathroom. With only one bathroom upstairs at our house to service the occupants of two bedrooms and day guests, we have to keep the bathroom cleaner than we normally would.

Further, when overnight guests are over, there is sometimes a wait period since it seems we all tend to wake up and need to go to the bathroom at the same time.

On the the living and dining room floor, there should ideally be at least a half bathroom for non-overnight guests. It's efficient and easier to keep clean. It feels a little weird having guests use our toilet, especially when they need to take a growler.

Having a his and her sink is a great feature for the master bathroom. Further, having a separate shower and tub plus a private toilet stall really opens up the space.

Amazing bathroom - The Ideal House Size And Layout To Raise A Family

The Ideal Number Of House Floors

Having one floor with no stairs is ideal for babies, toddlers, and elderly folks. Stairs are a safety hazard. Every time I carry my baby up or down the stairs I hang onto him and the railing for dear life. I've missed a step or slipped before by myself, and I don't plan to do so again with such precious cargo.

If land is too expensive to have a one story house, then two floors is the second best thing. Make sure the stairs are carpeted or at least comfortably wide and not too steep. The edges of stairs can cause a big  gash.

Four story houses or greater may be difficult navigate for young children and for older adults. However, as I said in the beginning, having multiple floors for separation and quiet is ideal for work-from-home parents.

Personally, I like houses with two or three stories.

The Ideal Number Of House Floors For Older People

After the age of 60, the ideal number of stores is one or two.

The ideal house layout would have a main floor that you enter right off the street. The main floor has a kitchen, multiple bedrooms, and multiple ensuite bathrooms so you never have to go up or down a floor if you are older.

Falling and breaking hips and other bones is a common injury for older people. By having everything on one floor off the street, you minimize injuries, decrease stress, save money, and maximize happiness.

The Ideal House Layout For Bedrooms

If you have a baby, it's important to keep him or her close by. The nursery should share a wall with your master bedroom. Or the baby can sleep with you in your room for the first year of life. If you have small children, the ideal house layout is all on one floor. But that's hard to come up in expensive cities.

As for the other bedrooms, ideally no other bedrooms will share walls for added privacy and sound proofing. It's nice to have a closet or a bathroom as a buffer between bedrooms.

With a one story house, each bedroom would ideally be on each side of the house. If two bedrooms are on the same floor, it should be buffered by a closet or a bathroom.

For two or more story houses, you don't want to have your bedrooms on top of each other. Instead, have one or two bedrooms in the front of the house. Then have one or two bedrooms in the back of the house.

Main Bedroom Should Be On The Quiet Side Of The House

The master bedrooms should be in the rear of the house away from the street.

It is unbelievable how much our sleep improved (before the baby) after we moved into our new house which situated our master bedroom in the rear. Every time I nap, I also fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly in our rear facing bedroom.

If you work from home, having a great house floor plan is vital. Ideally, you don't have bedrooms over common areas. Further, it's good to have offices on different ends of the house or on different floors for more privacy.

The Ideal House Size And Layout To Raise A Family
Good layout example with bedrooms spread out and a bathroom between the two smaller bedrooms
The Ideal House Size And Layout To Raise A Family
The Ideal House Size And Layout To Raise A Family
Not an ideal layout with bedrooms bunched together so everybody can hear everybody snoring

Related: The Best Time To Own The Nicest House You Can Afford

The Ideal House Grounds / Lot Size

Ideally, your home will be surrounded by flat land. The larger the buffer between your house's front entrance and the sidewalk and road, the better for noise and safety. Ideally, you'll have an enclosed fence for privacy. An enclosed yard is great for kids and dogs to run around safely.

Flat land is much more valuable than hilly land. When searching for a house, always ask how much of the lot is flat. If your house is on a hill, ideally it has a number of large decks to enjoy. We built large decks on two of our other rental properties with ocean views and they are amazing.

If you are on a hill, like we are, much of our land in the rear was unusable. As a result, we created about 1,200 square feet of flat tiers. We now use one of the tiers for the hot tub, one tier as a playground, and another tier just for plants.

Living near public parks, playgrounds, and libraries in a walkable distance is definitely a plus. The ideal house surroundings should have a lot of outdoor activities.

ideal house size and layout to raise a family may not be a mansion
The more flat land surrounding your house to play, the better

Related: Why The Housing Market Won't Crash Any Time Soon

The Ideal Direction A House Faces For Better Feng Shui

You know how some houses feel really warm and cozy, while others have an uncomfortable vibe? Location and layout have a lot to do with how a house feels, but so does its direction. This is called good feng shui. You can just feel the good feng shui when you enter a house.

The quieter the street your house is located on, the better. Think veins instead of arteries. My old house was on a busy artery next to the biggest artery in all of San Francisco. My current house is on a vein in a neighborhood called Golden Gate Heights where there are no apartment buildings. The difference is night and day.

You want your main rooms to either face east or west. Some people like to wake up to the morning sun (east). While others like to wind down to a lovely sunset (west). Decide what type of person you are and then see if the main rooms face your preferred direction. How light fills your house is an extremely important part of the feel of your house.

A house facing north tends to be the least desirable since the least amount of sun enters the house. That said, if you have windows on all sides of the house, it doesn't really matter. A house facing south gets the most sun throughout the day, which is generally positive. However, too much sun can often be overwhelming and too hot, even if you live in more moderate climates.

Related: Income And Net Worth Requirements To Buy A House At Different Price Points

Buy A Slightly Larger House Than You Think Is Ideal

Below is the living room of our old house we bought in 2014. It was a fixer with two bedrooms and a full bathroom upstairs, and a main bedroom and main bathroom upstairs.

We actually spent big bucks creating a large, 175 square foot, master bathroom. But the house was too small for two kids, so we bought another house in 2019.

The ideal size and layout to raise a family

A baby really does shrink the size of your house by ~30%. Above is a picture of our old 1,920 square foot house. Right smack dab in the middle of our living room was a big play pen.

We also turned another bedroom into a playroom and our office/walk-in closet turned into nursery. At the time, we wish we had an extra half bathroom and family room.

The Next Dream House

If and when we upgrade homes we'll probably look for a 3,000 – 4,000 square foot house on a flat lot with all the above attributes in mind. We're looking into the future when both my wife and I get old. Further, we'll have to take care of one or both sets of parents.

If money isn't any issue, we probably still won't buy a house bigger than 4,000 square feet. Instead, we will focus on buying a newly constructed property with more flat land, better insulation, and fewer problems. With land, you never need to call the plumber!

The ideal house size and layout is one where you can truly enjoy your home. You want to have enough space for everyone. You also don't want to feel a tremendous financial crunch every time you have to pay the bills. Once you have kids, you'll find that the value you your house goes way up.

As the work-from-home movement grows, the ideal house size and layout will likely continue to grow. The ideal home will expand to make room for a home office and a children's play area.

How many square feet is your house or apartment?

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The Ideal House Size And Layout To Raise A Family is a Financial Samurai original post. Over 100 million visitors have visited Financial Samurai since its founding in 2009. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter here. And also subscribe to the FS podcast here on Apple.

147 thoughts on “The Ideal House Size And Layout To Raise A Family”

  1. So 70 sqm per person is a minimum requirement? Only in America… There’s 3 of us sharing 90 sqm/4 bedrooms. And that’s not considered particularly small.

  2. 5 bedroom house for a family of 4! You certainly are well off and out of touch.

    Anybody who lives in a nicer home than me is living large and it’s not fair!

  3. Windows should be south facing to maximize light and heat in the winter and minimize heat in the summer. A house without south facing windows will be very dark all winter.

  4. Hi, we are currently in the process of building our custom home. it should be completed in 6 months. the home is about 3400 sqft , one story with all rooms downstairs and bonus upstairs, 3 car garage located on .8 acre, private with only one neighbor to the right and in a gated community. is it crazy that we are moving from our 1800 sqft home to this large home for 2 adults (husband and I) and our 7 month old baby ? $ 1.1mil

    we are also looking at homes that are slightly smaller 2900-3000 sqft in the city. price is similar $850k convenient but less land .

      1. I have a question. Is your calculation including finished basement square footage or only above grade?

        1. You might need to put a discount on the square footage for an underground basement. Here in San Francisco, where I live, there are really no underground basements. It’s usually just first floor.

  5. Currently living in a 2000 square feet house, the top floor is for me and my family while I rent the bottom floor. It’s a great way of having both passive income and having a backyard and room for my kids.

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  7. I like your analysis of rooms per person.. however we are a family of 7…we have learned that most homes are not built for a family our size. We are currently in 4500 sq ft in the Midwest, but some of the siblings are sharing as we have 4 bedrooms. I have found myself wanting to downsize but I think for my sanity I can’t.

    1. Sarah Meadows

      My family of 7 is currently living in a 3/2 1,000 sq ft home quite comfortably. We have a big yard with a playground to entertain the 5 children(twin toddlers to a 10 year old), and 4 labs. The 1 car garage is not for bikes and other outdoor toys, although a few friends have used it to hold things during a move. Sometimes I’d like a bigger house, but the thought of how much time would be spent cleaning it usually stops those thought!! Other times I’d like to go tiny and travel(not with the dogs though ) I do agree that babies take up a lot of room, but you really over estimate how much space you really need. (Although I have only ever used a pack and play as a bed…)

    2. We have 4400sq foot, family of 8. they drive me crazy when we are home, but we can also sleep in a 29FT RV Class C and though I’m constantly falling over folks, I get to spend time with them instead of cleaning!

  8. Flat land -you have to be careful of flooding and rain, you want to have the house on a slight hill at least.

    Also southern facing windows give you heat and light in winter, west facing will cook you out in the summertime.

  9. Sabrina Addams

    My sister just found out that she is expecting a baby boy in August and is so excited! She and her husband are wanting to find a single-family home for sale that would be best to raise their little family in. I appreciated your wisdom that you should have enough rooms per individual in the family to sleep in, plus one for either a guestroom or office space and that one-floor homes are good for babies.

  10. James Borst

    My wife and I have a two-year-old boy and we are considering buying a new home before having another child. It is interesting that you recommend 700 square feet of space per person. We may also talk to a real estate agent to help us decide how big we want our house.

  11. lol at the privilege here. in Eastern Europe, it’s common for a family of four to have less than 800 square feet.

    1. Yes, Jeff, and in Jamaica the folks living in huts made of scrap metal would consider the Eastern Europeans privileged. There’s always a bigger victim.

      1. Have you ever been to Jamaica?
        Contrary to what you are selling Jamaica has fine homes. What is it with you?

    2. I agree! Home sizes are ridiculous here! We are privileged and looking to buy a good house in a good neighborhood… but they are all grossly large, at least 2000 sq ft.

  12. Wait. You DON’T want most of the windows to face east or west. You will either get glaring light in the morning or evening when the sun rises or sets directly in your windows.

    You want most of the window to face south, with a smaller amount facing north.

    Light from the south is high up in the sky during summer months, so you don’t get the glare you think you will get. You get a very nice light, but not a glaring light because the sun doesn’t rise in the south.

      1. facing south maximizes light while minimizing heat seasonally. in the winter, the sun is farther south (lower on the horizon) and heats the house. In the summer, the sun is farther north (higher on the horizon) and will hit more of the roof. Maybe its a function of where you live – i grew up in the desert SW and if your home faced directly west, your home was a hotbox until late evening.

        I know wikipedia isn’t the best source but it seems to suggest “ancient chinese history” suggested north-south axis as well.

      1. Absolutely, Joe. Our main windows all face south. They provide both heat and light in the winter, and good light in the summer. On the one large east facing window, we have European-style roll-shutters to keep out the morning light. The other east facing windows and patio doors have window films and solid vertical blinds to do a similar job. The south facing garage windows provide some heat in winter and decent light the rest of the year. It is important when contemplating a house to find property that allows this orientation. We plan to put a solar array on the south facing roof slope for additional benefits. We live in SE BC.

  13. I think needs change over time. Layout is perhaps more important than square footage. We live in a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath 2000 sq foot townhome with a full basement.
    We are a family of 4. While I don’t think our home is small by any means, we definitely feel the need for an office space and a 4 th bedroom. The basement can technically serve as both, but not ideal. Now that both kids are teenagers, they love the basement space to hang out with their friends, sleepovers, move nights etc.
    Especially in the cold winters when they cannot hang outside, the teen space is very useful.

    I think if we had a 4th bedroom and a guest bathroom it would be ideal considering that as our parents age they stay with us for longer periods of time.

    However the property taxes in NJ are a killer.

    1. Even a 1350 sqft three storied town house is enough. Convert or finish basement into full suite with Bathroom. You will gain more space 4 kids. Two big rooms in private floor are enough.

      The main floor with Kitchen, drawing dining should be enough. What will you do with a 2500 sq ft house is beyond logic. Yes prestige and accomplishment definitely but utility, I don’t know. An American house with 1350 sq ft on ground and 1st floor each is enough to live peacefully

    2. stephanie Thompson

      Yes NJ taxes are crazy. I feel like his middle class income is off. I think most middle class have a house of 1400 to 2100sf at least in NJ especially with car payments and other expenses.

  14. Tina Blumenfeld

    Holy moly! We have 5 kids and live in an 1050 SF home with 1 bathroom and no half bath. It honestly doesn’t feel crowded. We have a boys room and a girls room and then one for my husband and I. Guests sleep on the couch or the girls both sleep together on the top bunk and the guest is on the lower bunk. I think I would have a mental breakdown if I had a home over 2000 SF! Too much to clean and I’d be more tempted to yell to get someone’s attention. I think the tiny home minamalist trend is kinda weird and almost like a religion to some people but I think a family of 7 can live quite comfortably in less than 2000sf. Then again, everyone’s comfort level is different. Maybe I have a touch of agoraphobia (I also ABHOR the open concept idea)

    1. Compared to my family, yours is truly comfortable. I live in a house less than 500 sq feet, and my family consists of 5 members. 2 boys in one room, parents with daughter. It sucks!

      1. We live in a 900 sqft 2 bedrooms 2 bathrooms and have 1 toddler. My husband is comfortable and I’m not. I find baby take up a lot of room and I want to designate a safe play area for him. I prefer a 1600 sqft home or more. I don’t know how you can get by. You’re very talented.

      1. I homeschool my 4 out of my 5, soon to be 6 children and thoroughly enjoy being able to spend the whole day with my kids. I was simply saying I am uncomfortable with large spaces because of the amount of cleaning involved and that I was happy with our 1,050 sf home. My girls share a room and my boys share a room and it works. Now, with the pandemic, my husband will be working indefinitely from home too and he just works from the couch or our bed. Everyone’s comfort level is different but I grew up living a very simple life and abundance just makes me uncomfortable because it isn’t my norm. Another job would be something that would not work for our family dynamic and would be unnecessary as I have no desire to own a larger home or more stuff.

        1. Honestly that’s good that you don’t need a lot to be happy and if it works for your family then keep doing it. I am the 5th child out of soon to be 14 kids and we live in a 3500 square foot house (3500 sound really big and it is, but with 15 people it is perfect.) It has 4 bedrooms and we have a girls room a boys room a kids room and my parents room. We are perfectly comfortable and happy. We live on a 15 acre lot with a pool and a lot of things to keep us busy. I think love grows best in little houses, so just keep doing what makes you happy!

  15. After birth of our second child, we jumped from 2900sf to 5600sf (6800 including covered outdoor rooms) in 2009. Within 2 years we knew this was a mistake, but were at the bottom of the housing market so had to wait it out another 4 years. I can barely call the next move ‘downsizing’ because we bought a 4000sf house, but we banked $300k with the move and shed a LOT of absurd annual costs. We went from 4 air conditioners to 2 and cut our electric and water bills in half. Even more important than downsizing our internal sf was downsizing our external sf (yard) from a full acre to just 7200sf (lot not house!). That’s where most of the wasted time and money went… manicuring a HUGE yard, a 25,000 gallon pool (bigger than some HOAs), fountains, 16 zone sprinkler system, dozens of trees (oak and pine, the kind that dump literally TONS of leaves and needles annually) and keeping 4500sf of driveway clear and clean. Before it took a team of landscapers on riding mowers and hour to cut the grass – now my son does it with an electric mower in 15 min. After six months of hearing “we liked the bigger one” (our kids could literally ride their tricycles around the first floor and have roller derby races in the driveway), everyone in the family soon agreed the old house was just “too big” and didn’t feel ‘cozy’ since everyone had nearly 1700 sf to themselves. We feel fortunate to have made that realization soon enough to correct it.

  16. Sam –

    love your blog. great stuff.

    Would you share more detail on the leveling you did of your property? We have a similar opportunity on our property and I’d love to hear more about how you thought about making it happen.



  17. Wow. Given th picture of a tiny home with this article I was expecting something quite thrifty and great encouragement for young families to really reassess what is actually a ‘need’ towards going for something that would really help them towards financial security. Instead I read a list of desires which was far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced let alone would ever consider my my home and family. For example needs to have separate rooms to sleeping for all the kids and he option for a spouse to sleep in another room and ideally that there would be multiple bathrooms. My family and I are very much middle class here in Australia. We have been home owners and totally debt free since we were 30. We did this in part by actually assessing what we needed. Our kids can share a room with bunk beds, we do just fine with one bathroom and if someone for whatever reason needs to sleep somewhere else they can do so on a spare mattress on the floor or on the couch. We are happy. We don’t need more space. And I like the fact that this way of living had a far lower impact on the environment and let’s us focus on developing our 20 acres of land with permaculture. People need to wake up and realise the lifestyle they were brought up with by their baby boomer parents is neither environmentally or financially sustainable.

    1. I do think the Baby Boomers opted for more “stuff” because their parents went through the depression and had nothing. My grandpa’s basement looked like it could support a nuclear disaster and sustain his family for a month. My parents have a TON of stuff and can’t seem to get rid of it! My husband and I only buy what is necessary (for the most part). Our home currently has two adults, three cats, and a plan to have one-two kids. It is 1606 sq/ft with a single garage, unfinished basement, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. I do wish it were 1800sq/ft with a 4th bedroom and an extra bonus room with more storage. But we make due. I fear it will be too small with littles running around. I guess we will figure something out! But I do think my parents are spenders/hoarders lol.

  18. Whew where to start. First of all, not everyone wants kids whatsoever, so it’s not a “once you have…” thing. Your interrupted sleep sounds terrible and is one of a million reasons we’d never want kids. No thanks. Second, it’s baffling how 99.99% of people seem accepting of poor quality noise control and don’t seem to know you can use Google for anything now days. They’re called Soundproof Windows. Add them to the interior frame of any existing window and you all but eliminate outside noise, even if your house is on a busy road like ours. It’s completely silent in here. No house even on a quiet street should be without, if you ask me, because all it takes is occasional unwanted noise and you suffer the consequences of these paper thin double pane windows. Soundproof Windows are so thick that if you knock them, there’s no “ping” sound, just a thud.

    Also one story sucks, two isn’t much better. We have a 2,800 square foot house on 3 levels and it’s ideal because the top floor is 4 bedrooms, the bottom is workout equipment, arcade, pinball, air hockey, and two TVs for gaming and movies. If someone wants to sleep earlier or nap, they won’t be disturbed at all. In a one story home that’s simply impossible unless it was 1) Extremely large (8,000+ square feet), or 2) Built entirely of concrete and steel including interior walls and sound padding throughout. Not realistic for most people. Unless you can sleep through anything, which I sure can’t, there needs to be a large amount of separation between sleeping and fun spaces. I laughed that 2,300 square feet was too big for you…? Do you have exactly the same sleep schedule with no hobbies at all? No friends that stay over late? Sounds really boring to me. For us this is as small as we would ever live, we are looking at more like 3,500 to 4,500 for the next house and that’s only because it’s not financially feasible for more. Even with that, my entire collection will remain in storage as there’s no room in a house that small for it. To each their own but yikes, no, 2,300 is small by any standard for even two people. By myself, I’ve lived in 200, 500, 600, 820, and 920 square foot places but it’s not realistic to both be happy and productive living in a small space with someone else.

    1. Hey holier-than-thou,
      The name of the article is The Ideal House Size And Layout To Raise A Family. That typically includes “kids”.
      As for the rest – tldr.

  19. Max Schneider

    Size and layout are nowhere near as important as is location (and price).

    Location trumps everything, because what good is a large home if you spend endless hours on your commute (in traffic!) and then some just because you ran out of milk? Ideally it’s close to work, a supermarket and other modes of transport, say a train station and a useful airport.

    What good is a gigantic home if the parents are never home because they are commuting/running errands etc? Ideally it’s in a bicycle friendly neighborhood and near some useful public transit too. Or do you want to chauffeur your offspring around all the time? “Here’s your bicycle and there’s your public transit pass, I’m not driving you…“. If your car is in the shop you have an alternative too…

  20. Ha! This one really hit “home” for me and my wife. For reference, we are age 53. 12 years ago we built a 4000 SF house (plus 2000 finished basement) – yes, 6000 SF of house for a family of three. The house was custom and had everything we thought we wanted (Wolf appliances, quartz, hardwood, etc.). We lived in an apartment for a year while it was being built. It turned out to be the biggest lifestyle mistake we ever made. It was not a money issue for us at all, but we just had so much square footage that it was not enjoyable to live in the house. It was over 125 feet to walk from the garage to our bedroom. We once had a birthday party with 75 people in my kitchen! It took hours to cut the grass and mulching was a disaster! We had nearly 3000 SF or concrete driveway – it took me over an hour to clear snow with a commercial sized snowblower. Even the garage was an over-sized 3-car that we kept heated. We could not even carry on a normal conversation because the family room was so stupid big we sat so far away from each other. We had rooms I never went in and we had toilets that had all the water evaporate because they were never used. We used to joke that we needed to pack a snack and needed a map when going from one side of the house to the other! We reached a breaking point when 1) I severed by Achilles and could not walk for 5 months and 2) my wife got deathly ill (she has Lupus) and was unable to do steps and could barely walk. We decided that we could no longer tolerate the size and the stairs (oh, we had two staircases!). Funny thing is, our builder tried to get us to go smaller and at least do a master bedroom on the main level. We should have listened to that advice. Luckily we made out really well financially when we sold that house – that is the only positive thing that came of it.

    So, we downsized, by moving into 9-year old 2000 SF resale ranch house (2 BR, 3 baths, office, 2-car garage, etc.), just a few miles away in the same town. Very similar to the floor plans shown in this blog. We totally renovated it to new condition, but wow, the small footprint is just awesome. It pretty much feels like our first house except that it is now smaller. We can walk 15 feet from the kitchen to the bedroom and we now have cozy family time in a normal-sized family room. The house heats and cools to any desired temperature almost instantly, rather than hours. With the basement finished, we still have 4000 SF of finished space, but we do most of our living on one level. I no longer need scaffolding to change light bulbs in a 2.5 story great room and I no longer have to pay someone to clean out my gutters 40 feet up every year. The landscaping takes 10 yards of mulch instead of 25! Our driveway is now just 600 SF and it takes me 10 minutes to clear 8 inches of snow with a very easy to handle normal sized snow blower. This is our retirement house for sure! Even our 14-year old daughter loves it – just easy living, easy to clean, no hassles, low utilities, etc. Short of needing assisted living, this house is fairly retirement proof. If there is one bit of housing advice I could give to anyone, especially young families, is go as small as you can in a ranch-style house, based on the number of people you have. If you get ill or injured (and you will) it just might save your life.Small is the way to carefree living, low stress, and to accelerate wealth accumulation. It cost us $50K in expenses to flip and move that last big house – had we just built a more modest single-level house to begin with we’d still be there now. It all turned out great for us, but wow, that big house sucked the life out of us for the 9 years we lived in it. We still have all our luxurious hardwood, quartz, etc. but it is all normal size now, at least what we now consider normal. RESIST THE URGE TO UPSIZE YOUR HOUSE!

    1. Thanks for sharing! We’re planning to go from a 1900 square-foot house to maybe a 2500 square-foot house. It will be for three people, and I think that would be the perfect size with hopefully a 10,000 square-foot lot.

      Thanks for sharing! We are planning to go from a 1900 square-foot house to maybe a 2500 square-foot house. It will be for three people, and I think that would be the perfect size with hopefully a 10,000 square-foot lot.

      Owning a house in a place like Hawaii and all on one level sounds like a good idea.

      1. Wow, we are three in a 970 square-foot flat… I just can’t wrap my head around needing so much space.

  21. I am 45 with a wife two teens a dog and a cat. Our house in Mass is 7545sq feet we love life! Me and my wife started with 1500 sq feet and moved to 2800 when my first son was born after the first one was 13 and the other one was 10 we moved to a larger home. It was around 700000 for the land and to build the colonial was 1.7. We have gained all of our building costs back because we have solar and geothermal HVAC and geometric pool heat.

  22. 3 floors was wonderful for us when my dad lived with us on the lowest floor, he had his own apartment, which later we used for our business. My family had 2 floors, each 1000 sq ft. I wish I’d known its normal and perfectly ok to sleep alone while children are young. We had interrupted sleep for ten years.

    Now we’re 3 people in a 2 story 2550 sq foot house (plus one son in college). Our e-tailing business is in a bedroom and huge bonus room. This saves us 1500/mo in rent plus commute. Living on acreage and loving it. Homeschooling too.

    The dual living with my dad and our business allowed us to wind up owning a gorgeous house which we now rent out. We never would have bought that house just for our own family. There’s much to be said from having one’s Home generate an income stream. Now our second home likewise has income streams from our business and our farm.

  23. I have a family of four, and think that four bedrooms is ideal rather than five. One for the parents, one for each kid, and a guest room/office. More than likely the guest room/office will be free most of the time to accommodate either parent if they need the sleep. Yeah, having one for each parent may be nice in the beginning, especially if you have guests over, but once the kids are grown then there’s the extra room.

    As for size of the house, that’ll also depend on the layout, our 1920sqft house has a similar layout to the first layout you posted. We have the master bedroom and bath on one side with the garage, then an open floorplan with the living room, kitchen, and dining room in a straight line, then the last three rooms and a bathroom on the other side. Had we bought a larger house that was partitioned, then it would have felt a lot smaller than what we currently have.

    At this time, really the only thing that may have us move is if the school district continues on their downturn. Unfortunately, from word of mouth, none of the school districts in my location are doing all that great. The one I’m in is flush with money, but is starting to have discipline problems, and the one that’s doing well is having money issues. I have a few more years until I need to really worry, but if the trend continues it’s looking like either private schooling or home schooling will be the way to go.

  24. Millennial Finance Guy

    Thank you for this article Sam. My wife and I have recently been debating all the above factors when trying to choose a home. I think our ideal layout is a 3/2 with large kitchen, open floor plan without any structural walls that lead to a family room. These are somewhat important to us, because I think related to our upbringing and size of our families, it seems that everyone loves to congregate around the kitchen and family rooms. The struggle is real as we are trying to buy in SF or the surrounding Peninsula area – we will keep at it.

    What are your thoughts on the pricing/valuation of the real estate market in the Bay Area?

    Thank you again for all you do with this blog and community. You have inspired me to start blogging about my experiences with finance and the lessons learned along the way. Keep it up!

    1. I’m very cautious on SF Bay Area real estate now. I sold my SF rental house last year for 30X annual revenue because prices seem incredibly expensive. I reinvested the proceeds into real estate crowdfunding with net rental yields that are 5X higher.

      In other words, the $500,000 I reinvested into real estate crowdfunding has the potential to earn just as much as the home I sold for $2,742,000! I’m slowing taking down risk. Now is the time to haggle, not be the winner in a manic bidding war.

  25. We are a family of 4 and I think no more than 2500 sq ft is ideal. We currently live in a 3300 sq ft home not including the finished partial basement (+600 sq ft). We barely use our formal living room and formal dining room. Those alone are probably around 800 sq ft.

    There are really 3 things that are very important for our family that I wouldn’t change:
    1) Having a rec room or basement for play is key. It’s nice to have a place that can get messy and you just shut the door when you don’t have the time or energy to deal with it. This way the rest of the house is easier to keep “nice”.
    2) A large kitchen. We cook a lot and hang out here a lot and when we have guests over, it’s naturally where everyone gravitates.
    3) A decent sized yard. We have a 0.5 acre which is plenty for kids.

    Beyond that, I don’t really see the need for much more. Smaller bedrooms and bathrooms forces you to minimize clutter. Common areas should be spacious.

    We have a few friends that bought 5000+ sq ft homes. These are the kind of homes you get if you plan to do ALOT of entertaining. And guess what? None of them entertain that much. Because who has the time and energy to entertain 30+ people often, even if one spouse is a stay-at-home? The cost of upkeep and furnishing it alone is not worth it.

    For reference, we are a 2 income family. We could afford a bigger, fancier home but deliberately chose not to to keep our lives simple. And we love it this way!

  26. This was an interesting read. You left out a couple pieces, both related to time. I happen to believe that unless you simply love decorating an managing a house, you should optimize around the concept of time as it relates to your property.

    1. Location. We chose a house that was very close to our workplace. Last year, we spent a combined 15 hours/week commuting to work. Assuming 40 hours a week, and 47 weeks at work, that commute comes to 17.625 weeks of work. We sometimes talk about moving further out from the city, getting a larger/nicer property, but that would extract even more time from our lives. . . and for me, as I’m changing to a different line of work, time is increasingly equivalent to money.

    2. Time managing the stuff in the house. Larger houses tend to equate to more stuff. Regardless of how useful an item is, it’s still something you have to manage/maintain. You don’t have to be a minimalist to see this connection. If you want to reclaim time, reducing the stuff you are managing day-to-day is a terrific method.

    3. Time in the house. We are a family of 6, living in a 1,500 square foot house (we have an attic and garage). We also have a 1.2 acre property. After the birth of our 3rd child, we talked about our options – buying larger, adding a big addition, etc. We realized that our philosophy was to spend as much time outside and together as possible. Consequently, we kept our unusual property (small, on a large wooded lot, but 8 miles from downtown DC). We decided to build a small guest suite over the garage, so we could host friends and family and keep everyone comfortable for longer periods of time. When everyone has their own bedroom, entertainment system, etc., people tend to spend time indoors. If that’s what you want – great. If not, then optimize around that priority.

  27. Family of 5, 3 teenagers. Bought a 3/3 foreclosure in the Chicago burbs with great schools and added 2 bedrooms and another bath. Not gonna tell you for how much, because it’ll make you “coasties” mad. Ok, I can’t keep it in: Under $250. Spent probably another $80 on rehab. Complete gut job, granite, the works. 2,400 square feet, and I’m adding about another 800 with a finished basement as I type. I’ve lived in 3,500 square feet, all the way down to 1,100 and I’ve found for a family of 5, 2,400 with a basement for storage is optimal. Enough room where each kid has their own space, but not tons of leftover space you have to fill with stuff. That size also forces the family to interact a lot more than when we had a larger home. Nowhere to hide in the cold winters! For a PwC “City of Opportunity” (I think, one of only 4 US cities if memory serves?) you coasties really should move to Chicago. Even with the high property taxes, Chicago real estate is still the best deal in the country for working professionals. Yeah, the weather sucks 6 months out of the year, but so does New York’s.

  28. I have 6-7 properties that i manage for additional income but that is not the important part, and what i noticed is with years the square footage goes up and the lot goes down. Lot’s of the houses that i own or know built in 80s are like around 1400-1500sqf with .5-.6acres and lots of new builds that i know are like around 3000 sqf with .14 acres.
    I guess people become with time more indoors….

  29. One has a family, 11 stability. So renting for 3 to 4 years is doable, But the landlord might kick you out before then. Owning a house illuminates the stress of that unknown variable. And over for your time., Most of the time the house will appreciate in value, so there is more opportunity cost for renting.

  30. Financial Orchid

    I was just talking to my neighbour with a toddler in a 1bed+den 600 sq ft and he’s like “ya, we wnat to move to a good school district” but everything’s so expensive.
    He’s planning to rent out his place to rent a bigger place. At least he only has to pay a little more for more space with the subsidy from renting out his current smaller place.

    Conclusion: We all feel the pain – owners and tenants alike. But those who got in before now are so much more relieved.

  31. Living in Westchester County, NY it’s difficult to be able to afford to live in our ideal house between house costs and property taxes. We bought our 1,650 square foot house with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms almost 5 years ago now when we were both 23. It was a great deal, especially looking at prices in our neighborhood now.

    However, now that we are married and 28, we’re thinking about having kids soon and while our house will be okay with one child, I’m still stressing. We have an office right now that we do not want to turn into a bedroom since we both work from home a fair amount. I would love to find a house with an additional bedroom and bathroom, we can’t really stomach the price knowing what a great deal we got on ours 5 years ago AND we are so in love with our neighborhood.

    So, rather than trying to buy a house to fit our ideals, we are planning how to make it work. We plan to add a shower to our 1/2 bath downstairs. Our downstairs is also currently a family room, which we plan to continue utilizing as such in the future, but we are going to buy a pull out sectional (that’s hopefully comfortable for guests to sleep on) to make it a family room/guest room. Our downstairs already has 2 French doors to close it off, so we will buy curtains for added privacy.

    Down the road, we would love to put an addition on to add a two car garage and build above to add a bathroom and walk-in closet for our master bedroom and an additional bedroom.

    The point of my long winded comment is while sometimes your house size may not be ideal, there’s ways to make it work. I don’t regret buying a smaller house since we bought it when we were 23 and we’ve already had 5 great years in it. If we can comfortably afford to add an addition to our house, I’ll be ecstatic. If not, we will make due and spend more money on vacations and experiences :)

    1. Awesome timing with the purchase! If you guys can expand, that’s a no-brainer because expansion is what will massively increase the value of your house. Construction costs, although rising, or still much lower than the selling price per square foot.

      I wouldn’t stress too much, because your house will be fine for one kid at least for at least five years. And takes time to have two kids. They say the best spacing is between 18 months to three years to get pregnant after the birth of your first kid.

      So let’s say 5 to 7 years from now, you guys will have more equity and save more money. Which means you could probably afford to buy a bigger house if you want to. Or you can simply make your existing housework, which I’m sure you guys can. A lot of commenters on this thread are living in much smaller spaces with much more people.

  32. We currently live in a 800 sq ft. in-law for three people(me, my wife and our 2 y/o) and currently house hunting for a bit over 1000 square ft and a 3br/2bath, this way if we have a 2nd kid that 3rd bedroom would be for him/her but if not, it can be a study/guest room for us.
    I like your setup for the play area, it’s almost similar to ours in the living room. We got rid of our couches so we can have our play area for our 2 year old. We didn’t use the couch a lot anyway so it was an easy decision to donate it.

  33. Great post! This is something I don’t think nearly enough people talk about, even in the FIRE community. (Which is crazy, considering how much of our lives we spend in our homes… and how much of most people’s budgets they consume.)
    Very thorough work!
    I wanted to add a few things about sound isolation and lighting that might help…

    Sound insulation:
    Oftentimes, you can have an installation company blow additional insulation into your walls – which greatly reduces noise. Many people only do this for the exterior walls. But you can have them add insulation to interior walls, too – which can drastically quiet room-to-room noise. (Also consider solid-core doors, if they aren’t installed already.)

    Home siting:
    I agree that having bedroom windows facing east or west can be enjoyable for watching the sunset or waking up to the sun.
    That said, this can also make a house less comfortable – more temperature swings – and more expensive to condition (heat and cool).
    If you’re in the North Hemisphere, consider a home with a North-South orientation… and most windows facing south.
    This allows more light, as you said. It also means your home will have more consistent lighting throughout the day… a huge boon.
    During the winter, the sun is lower and south – so you’ll get extra BTUs just from your windows.
    And in the summer, north-facing windows can overheat a house quickly.
    Finally, you can mostly eliminate unwanted heat gain with good design – whether it’s a deeper roof overhang or trellises, etc.
    For more on this, check out:

    Of course, if I had a view of the ocean, that’d be my only consideration. :)

  34. Curious if your perspective would be different if there was ‘cheap’ housing in your area? It is not uncommon in my area of SC to have 4000+ sqft houses.

    Example (4650 sqft):

    If you can get that for $2000/month (this includes property taxes), would you still aim for a smaller house?

    1. Yes, I would still opt for a house between 2500 – 3,000 ft.². I feel bad when there are unused rooms and unused space. I also really don’t like to deal with maintenance issues, which invariably increase with a larger house. Maintenance and stuff that’s probably the biggest reason why I want medium sized house or smaller house. Or example, when it’s time to change the windows, Holy hell there are so many more with a bigger house. And when I have to caulk The bathtub or deal with a leak, it’s harder to figure out where the leak was coming from etc.

      I think the house where my parents live in Honolulu is about 3000 ft.², and it’s not bad for four or five people. But for just 3 of us, It’s a little too big. Just the thought of having to remodel the whole thing is kind of painful.

    2. We have 5,400 square feet, but the rooms are all huge. I don’t think we get a “lot” for the square footage. And interestingly, while the house felt huge when we moved in, we now consider it a very modest size! Human nature, I guess. It’s just 4 bedrooms, but has an office and also a bonus room (theater). The most unused area is probably the formal dining room. A 3,000 square foot house with more modest size rooms could have more “usable” space than our house and feel larger, but with more wasted space.

    3. Personally, I would still aim for the smaller house. Because I like to give a lot of thought to furnishing and decorating every room, and doing that for a 5000+ sq ft home would be too stressful and time-consuming. Plus I hate the idea of wasting time and/or money keeping it clean.

      If we were uber-millionaires who entertained crowds a lot, that’s the only time I’d consider getting a big home.

  35. This is a question I’ve thought a lot about lately. Our family of six left a 2,500+ square foot house to live in a 1,200 square foot apartment after a cross-country move while we figured out what house we wanted to buy. We all liked it so much we ended up staying more than a year. The only thing that bothered me was the clutter–everyone had to be vigilant about keeping shared spaces clean. We were definitely happier in the smaller space, although I’m not sure if it had more to do with location, better job, etc.

    1. That’s awesome to hear! What were the sleeping arrangements like? And what was it about a smaller space that made you guys happier?

      1,200 for six makes me feel like I live in a mansion .. and honestly a little better about our house size of 1,910 sqft to accommodate a couple guests at the end of next month.

      1. Our kids all wanted to sleep in the same bedroom (elementary and younger). At first we tried to talk them out of it, but a triple bunk bed made it work & gave us an extra bedroom. What made it happy:

        1. We spent much more time outside and more time together than we normally do, a definite plus.
        2. It was fun to live somewhere urban–a first for us.
        3. Knowing that it was transitional and not eternal made it easier to enjoy.

        The whole experience has convinced me that mindset matters so much more than any checklist. Well, mindset & plenty of natural light. :)

  36. We bought our home with 1540 square feet, and raised two children in it. It had four bedrooms. When one child moved away, and my daughter was living with us. Her husband also moved in too. We added a 495 square foot entertainment room to it. That made in just over 2000 square feet. My niece asked why we were adding a new room when the children were almost all gone. I said because now we can afford it. I didn’t take out any loan for it. Since my mortgage was already paid off, I did the addition by paying cash. I certainly didn’t want another mortgage.

    1. How was it like when her husband moved in with you guys?

      I think I would be the tiger dad and tell him, “Son, why ain’t you man enough to provide shelter for you and my daughter?”

      1. Haha It was crowded but I loved it. I like lots of people forgot the grandchild also came. Nothing better than having the grandchild with you. My daughter was studying to be an RN, so it was to facilitate her learning so she didn’t have to worry. The husband was going to study after she finished but instead was deployed to Jordan in the reserves shortly after my daughter received her RN license. Now she is an Emergency RN in Bakersfield.

        About the tiger dad, yeah I could have done that, but my daughter wouldn’t have listened. Told her to wait for the child before either had a job. Glad she didn’t listen. And the husband, a late bloomer, is finally coming around :)

        I told her she has to have a separate house attached to her house when she moves into her mansion.

  37. I recently moved a family of five from 4b/2ba 1710 sq ft to 3b/2.5ba 2800 sq ft.

    A lot of the additional space (1000 sq ft) is unfinished basement which we plan to turn into a finished bedroom to increase the property value and an office area where I work from home.

    I think the newer smaller house was much less maintenance, but we also increased our lot size considerably and with more visitors and three children it has been really nice to enjoy more outdoor space.

    I like small, efficient living, but in the market we moved to I leaned toward buying a property with expansion and improvement potential in a desirable location over newer homes that were already maxed out. That said, I think the smaller house used space a little better and needed less upkeep. Lesser investment, better living space.

  38. Bannakaffalatta

    People don’t NEED a house anywhere near as large as you suggest. Number of bedrooms doesn’t need to exceed 4 unless you have children that are far apart in age. One bedroom for the parents, one for boys, one for girls, and a guest room/office. As far as square footage, 600 sq ft for the first person and 200 for each additional person is plenty. Our first house was 800 sq ft and was very comfortable for two. We had 4 children when we moved out by which time it was getting a bit tight.

    Taxes, utility bills, maintenance costs all add up very quickly as a house increases, especially as you transition from being able to do your own maintenance/yard work to having to pay someone else to do it.

    Proximity to good schools, parks, and public libraries is VERY important if you have children and adds to the value of a property.

  39. To be that guy: the chief difference between arteries and veins is the job that they do. Arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body, and veins carry oxygen-poor blood back from the body to the heart.

    Buy a house on a capillary!

    We’re a family of 3 in 2300 sq. ft, but it is only 60% utilized. It will probably feel closer to the right size when we go to 4 people and the kids get older.

  40. Full disclosure, we live in Houston, TX so we are bit spoiled in terms of real estate prices. For instance, you can find a 3,000 sq ft, 4 BR house in the nice parts of Houston (Bellaire, Oak Forest, Heights) for $700k to $1M. For the very best neighborhoods (West University, Memorial, and River Oaks) you probably need to add a 20% premium. In the suburbs, it’s even more reasonable. The same size house you can probably find for 300K. All this to say, for Texans, ideal and affordable size for a family of four would probably be at least 4 BR, 2500-3000 sq ft. As a family with four kids, we are currently building a 5 BR, 4 bath with 4000 sq ft. Having a game room is essential to store all of their toys and for future slumber parties. Not sure how all of you in the HCOL coastal cities live, but what we give up in terms of weather and scenery, we definitely make up for in affordable housing.

  41. I and my family (2 adults a 4 year old and a baby), live in Israel in a 750 sqr feet apartment with 2 bedrooms. While slightly crowded (we will move to a 1200 dqr feet apt next year), I grew up in a similar aprtment and have good memories of my childhood.
    It seems Sam’s definition of middle class is very USA specific. Our family makes more than 120k usd per year, but the sorts of mensions described here as “homes” would take more than 1000k usd to buy here in Israel, assuming one want to live near the center where there is work.

    I personally think living in an apartment in a city is much more efficient, as you can get around with one less car, which saves tons of money.

    1. I have many friends, including my sister who raise families in apartments in New York City. It works and it’s pretty awesome to have so much in walking distance at your fingertips. To be able to grow up in a big city is pretty magical and makes you much more aware and streetsmart as well.

      One thing I’m afraid of is living next to, or living above or below my family with many babies and toddlers. Noise is the one thing I didn’t miss living in a big city central.

  42. We live in 450 square feet right now (2 adults and a baby) haha :) We are constantly having to get rid of stuff. This is temporary, it will be 3600 sq feet later on.

    Your view is gorgeous! I like that playpen enclosure you have- I might have to look into something like that once he starts crawling. We have chairs in the ‘play area’/living room right now that he might knock over so we might have to get rid of the chairs and stand to eat haha.

    1. Wow, that’s a huge size upgrade! Did you buy the house and are just waiting for it to be finished or something?

      How do both of you guys get sleep in the beginning parts of babyhood?

  43. When we lived in Houston to live in the area we wanted to live in the only house we liked at the time was over 4000 sq ft, which was an obscene amount of space and took forever to keep clean.

    We are now in 3000 sq ft which I know is quite large but as most of our family activities involve having “stuff”; books, games etc we’ve needed the extra space for a dedicated library/games room. Plus the kids have a family room to entertain in. For a teenager, having somewhere to hang out and hold slumber parties while staying up late watching movies was a big selling point.

    While larger than average it feels right for us, which is all you can ask for really. A lot of the smaller houses we looked at were very pokey, as they were older houses. Newer builds seem to utilize the space better. Although the obsession with giant master suites is still odd to me.

    1. 3000 ft.² is huge in San Francisco, and would cost between $2.5 to 3.5 million on average, depending on location.

      If we had two kids, 3000 ft.² could work. But I think 2500 ft.² is ideal for us. I’m sure it feels great for you after coming from 4000 ft.².

  44. As always, great post. My wife and I met and started our family (2 kids) in Asia and just got used to small space living. For a period of time when the kids were very young, we all had a really nice life in about 650 sq ft. I will admit that it was a very nice 650 sq ft, but it was tiny. Funny thing was, after we got used to it, it brought us closer together. I don’t know about other families here, but when we are all at home together, we are rarely more than 20 ft apart from each other. If we are cooking, everyone’s in the kitchen. If we are relaxing, we are all in the living room. If we are working / studying, we all have our desks / laptop “spots” in the den. I really enjoy small spaces with the family and will keep it up for as long as we can.

    And as an added bonus, we are pretty avid real estate investors, so whenever we go to buy a home and the lender says we can afford X, we usually split that number in half and go shopping for another rental or a duplex. Now whenever we get the itch to “upgrade” we just remind ourselves of how many rentals that “big house” would equal. Start adding in maintenance and taxes and we’ve settled down pretty quick.

    I love these posts and thanks for guiding us through the “jungle”.

  45. In China, women will go to birthing homes. It’s like a 5 star resort where chefs prepare tailored meals and soups for the mom after birth to improve blood production after significant blood loss. So in North America, there’s the dola, but the service in China (for the ones w/ $$ of course) is even more tailored. Someone to assist the child around the clock while the mom recuperates in the same facility. Occupational therapists to assist with exercises to help mom get back in shape. Education on preparing to go home and nursing independently.

    Not surprisingly, they have that in California too. Some have run into issues with having anchor babies, which I’m sure you’ve heard of.

    I wonder if it’s better to just rent the ideal facility as you have detailed, for 3-4 years while the child is in the infant/toddler stage (like somewhere in the countryside, with lots of nature, on an acreage, space, farm, fresh air, get them in touch with farm animals, and then move back to the city in the desired school catchment area at age 5.

    Then start with the programming and math classes because we know the North American math/logical thinking education curriculum is broken. Start getting them working on the math workbooks from China/Korea. Logical problem solving starts in elementary school. Fortunately you have the time to do that.

    Case in point: Asians are not better in math. We simply had to learn to solve scenario problems since elementary school, whereas in N American public education system we spent the 1st 10 years just plugging numbers into a given equation without any problem solving scenario to solve (usually some bonus question omg) until maybe the last 2-3 years of high school or whenever physics gets introduced. That’s too late. Hence we see a lot of students grades suddenly go down (girls esp) in the last 2 years of high school in physics, linear algebra, and multivariable calculus.

    Before I get carried away, we’re still in North America. Thank goodness the kids here don’t have to interview in a suit with rehearsed answers for a kindergarten spot like they do in Hong Kong. phew.
    Maybe there is a benefit to growing up slower in North America. Back to naptime I guess.

  46. I would agree with your size suggestions. For now It’s just me and my fiance in our 1623 SQ ft 3/2 single story house. The living area is perfect with a formal living room also for having a couple people over for a nice dinner. One bedroom is a guest room (future kid perhaps unless we upsize), and the 2nd bedroom next to the master is our office. It would make sense that our set-up would be ideal for a married couple and 1 child. Could stretch it to two kids but I believe it would be a bit cramped without an office space. It appears to me about 600-700 sq ft. per person is about right. To me a family of 3 would be about 1800 – 1950, family of 4 would be 2400 – 2600, and up to 3000 for a family of 5. I’d say these parameters are if you would benefit from an office space/library or something of that nature. You could probably cut off 150 SQ ft or so if you don’t need the extra office space. Anything more is basically dead space in the house for most people.

  47. We have a 3000 square foot 5 bedroom 3-1/2 bath house in the burbs of a major metropolitan city. We also have a separate large office. It was a brand new build two years ago for $320K – a little less than double our household income.

    We have a 16 year old son that lives with us.

    Most people would say that’s a lot of space, but it comes in handy. We have the master bedroom and our son has his room. The third largest bedroom was converted into a home gym. The fourth bedroom is my wife’s study.

    We have a fifth bedroom downstairs with a private bath as a guest bedroom.

    My office is also downstairs.

    We had a get together New Years and we had plenty of room for 15 extra people to sleep between sofas, the guest bedroom and blow up mattresses.

  48. Aha! Finally an article I feel I can say I excel at! I’ve followed your blog for years, practiced many of the tenants of the FS teachings and have managed to eject myself and my family out of the pressure cooker of Silicon Valley and into a lovely, quiet suburb outside Portland, OR.

    Step one: Sold 1700 sqft condo in CA for $1.1M
    Step two: Bought a (brand new) 3,500 sqft single family house on 12k sqft of (flat) land for $595k.

    Geo arbitrage allows me to use the guest suite in the house (full apartment with kitchen, living room, and extra bedroom) as my office, and the other 3 bedroom house still feels like home. I work 100% remotely so this was important.

    Our 2 year old and large dog have plenty of room to play and mom and I have plenty of room to stay out of each other’s hair. Can’t say I’ve ever been happier.

    1. Excellent! What you have done is such a no-brainer, especially if you are happy in the suburbs of Portland. $600,000 for a house that size with such a large lot is fantastic.

      I am willing myself slowly to get out of San Francisco. I miss my opportunity to buy a sweet sweet home in 2010, but I really do want to go back to Hawaii and lead a carefree and stress-free life.

      Being able to make money online or work remotely is going to be such a huge trend. I hope people figure out how to take a bandage because it really is a game changer and a life happy changer.

  49. I like having a 3 bedroom 1800 square feet home. When our 2 sons moved out a couple years ago, it’s still the perfect size for the two of us. We don’t feel like we have to downsize. We are in CA where we were able to spend a lot of time outside year round. In colder/hotter climates, our home may have felt too small.

    1. Great to hear. Our current three bedroom, two bathroom home was wonderful for the two of us as well. And pretty good for one child. Two kids is going to be tight, especially with guests.

      But I do see my wife and I downsizing to a full-service condominium with a view in a sensual walking location when we are empty-nesters. Something like 1100 ft.² to 12 on square feet would do, two bedrooms two bathrooms.

  50. We initially bought our “starter home” (just under 1100 sq ft) thinking we would move if/when #2 came along.

    Well, turns our 1100 sq ft is our ideal house size for family of 4 including 1 four-legged fury beast.

    Our small house is not only ideal in terms of utilities, maintenance, cleaning, property taxes etc – it’s also on a city sized plot of land in a very walkable neighborhood. I commute by bike to my job downtown (5 miles one-way) – we only own 1 car.

    The ideal place to live is based on what you value and how you want to live your life.

  51. We aren’t far off what you said, but don’t have extra “dedicated bedrooms”.

    Family of four and our house, under construction, will have:

    Three bedrooms
    Separate ‘kids / multimedia room’, which will have a pull out sofa
    Office / man cave in the backyard, which will have a Murphy bed
    Four bathrooms [Main floor powder, Master Ensuite, Boys shared, Office]

    We will have a separate suite downstairs, which will be rented out. It will be a 575 sq ft one bedroom unit, which should provide about $2,000 per month as a mortgage helper.

    Overall, the house will be 3,200 sq ft. Taking out the basement suite, our sq ft will be 2,625, which is far more than we have ever lived in.

    Currently, we are in a two bedroom 750 sq ft apartment, while our home is being built. It’s not ideal and we are very much looking forward to the space next year when we move in.

    1. That’s a lot of space you are upgrading to! Will be interesting to see whether you love that much space after year.

      The one thing I appreciate is a higher utilization of our house since neither my wife nor I have to go to a day job. It feels wonderful to use the house, and if we had a bigger house and had to go to work for 12 hours a day, I think we would feel like we are wasting too much money.
      The one thing I appreciate is a higher utilization of our house since neither my wife nor I have to go to a day job. It feels wonderful to use the house, and if we had a bigger house and had to go to work for 12 hours a day, I think we would feel like we are wasting too much money.

      Reason why we rented out our old house in 2014 was because of wasted rooms and the house is only 2300 ft.² large. We would never repay the market rent of $8800 a month to live in it, so I didn’t make sense to live in it anymore. The most we would really pay for rent for a house is around $5000 a month. To each their own. Thx

  52. I respectfully disagree with your recommended number of bedrooms, at least for a family with several children. We have four children, and they share two bedrooms (two children per bedroom), with another bedroom for my wife and me. We also do not have a guest bedroom. (Instead, when we have guests, we either make extra room in one of the kids’ bedrooms or pull out the futon.)

    To follow your guideline, we would have needed to purchase a house with three additional bedrooms (two more bedrooms for the children, plus a guest bedroom). This would have increased the cost of our house substantially, maybe to 1.5 times what we actually paid. I think that we are much better off saving many tens of thousands of dollars on the purchase price, rather than having those extra bedrooms.

    As far as bedrooms for children, our experience has been that the most important thing is that children have a place to keep their toys and other things, and that they have space to play, read, draw, etc. But those space requirements could be partially met with a family room, a playroom, or a basement, rather than with individual bedrooms.

    I also am a strong advocate against having a guest room. To me, a guest room would simply be wasted space during the 95% of the time when we don’t have guests. For a family that only has occasional overnight guests, I think that they would come out ahead financially by buying a house without a guest room, and then using part of the money they saved on the house to pay for their guest’s hotel room.

    1. Sounds like your arrangement works for you. What do you think is the ideal arrangement?

      We’re operating in the confines of a middle-class income and budget where the house is no more than five or six times household income. How does the cost of kids gel with your concern for money? And how big is your house and what is the cost?

      There are many factors to consider, including how often your guests come over, How you get along with your partner, how well do the kids get along, whether you have to work from home and need a quiet space, whether you enjoy reading or having your own alone time, etc.

      1. There’s something to be said for not having a guest room if you find that your guests have a tenancy to overstay their welcome. I find having guests to be pretty stressful on top of a full time job and parenting responsibilities, and in some ways, miss living smaller. We live in a resort area and friends or family will stay with us and go recreate while I have to head to work each day, but I still worry about the house and food while they’re in town, and I’m kind of over it!

        1. Yes, kind of like if you don’t own a car then you don’t have to drive anybody anywhere.

          I would tell your guests in exchange for staying at your house for free to at least fill the fridge raider with food and drinks and keep the house clean!

  53. The real question is what rooms are used. When you get to 3000+ I am sure some rooms are NEVER used, and thus a waste.
    I live in an old house around 1100 square feet + finished basement. It is perfect for two people.

  54. The house that you sold in 2014 at 2300 square feet is pretty much the same as the size and number of rooms as my current home. We have two kids living with us, but I’ve been telling my wife that in about ten years, possibly less, I’d like for us to move to a three bedroom one level house with at least two bathrooms and it must have a bathroom in the bedroom. I would love to have a big yard so I can entertain and work in the garden. I love beautiful landscapes and across a public park living for would be a nice bonus. As far as house direction, the house has to be facing east.

  55. I agree with the ideal size of having one extra bedroom than the number of people living in the house. Having a dedicated guest bathroom is ideal too. Most older homes here seem to be one bathroom short. Growing up I used to dream about having a house with two stories. Now I totally see the benefits of one story houses!

  56. I have always heard the following in terms of what is “needed”:
    – 800 sq feet for the house living area (kitchen, living room, dining room, family room, one 1/2 bath)
    – 300 sq feet for the master suite (bedroom, bathroom, closet)
    – 150 sq feet for each additional member of the family (kids), offices, and includes the size for the full bath to serve them

    So 1200 for a married couple with no kids, 1350 if you want an office, 1500 if want to add a kid, 1750 if you want two kids and an office (or guest room). Going beyond that helps provide lifestyle inflation by buying too much stuff.

    1. I think this is a reasonable guideline, and I would go even smaller if in a city apt. No need for separate living and family. And I would make the master closer to 200. So for a city apt:

      ~ 900 for couple with no kids
      ~ 1050 1 kid, ~ 1200 2 kids, ~ 1350 3 kids, etc.

    2. 1200 ft.² is perfect for two adults with no kids. But kids really dominate the house. Do you have kids? I really feel our house shrank by about 500 ft.² once he was born.

      1. That’s because you’ve given over the living room, a playroom, AND a nursery to your child. Why not put their playroom stuff in the nursery, since there’s already a play space in your living room? Frankly, if you can’t fit their toys in one play space (either living room or the playroom) and their bedroom, they have too much stuff.

          1. Two, four and two years old. We live in a 3 bed, 2 bath 1500 square foot ranch with a small basement. My kids have always had free range of our home, but I hate having kid stuff take over our house. We have a small part of the basement as a play space (mostly for the ridiculous big toys grandparents buy, which is a whole ‘nother issue!), and they have some stuff in their bedrooms. That’s really it. Americans are only 4% of the world’s population, but we buy 40% of the world’s toys! I think most families (and I include mine) could pare down. Kids engage in more creative play the less stuff they have.

  57. My house is 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bath, about 3,500 square feet if you include the finished basement (which some areas do and some dont) on about 2/3 and acre for my wife and 2 kids (its the kids and their crap which is a killer, especially since we kept everything from the first to hand down); our mortgage is roughly 2.5X our salary when purchased. Since we always planned on having 2 kids, we always wanted a 4th bedroom because we wanted each to have their own room and to encourage our out of town family to visit (nearest is 5 hours away, grandparents are 7 and 9 by car, respectively). If you live in the city, such a set up may be a luxury, but that’s pretty standard here for any house built post-war, which most are.

    Personally I would have preferred a little bit bigger lot (although its probably one of the bigger in the area) because I like having an outdoor space. We don’t necessarily need all the space we have as we almost never use the dining room or front room so if I could have found a house with only one or neither of them, I would have been fine. Unfortunately, that does not exist; when we were looking we found a lot of good houses with about 2-2,500 of usable square feet but they still had the front room, office, and dining room that we have in our home, they just cut out usable square footage from every room. While this is completely a first world problem, you could see how the addition of furniture or kids stuff made for a cramped existence, hence the house being on the market.

  58. I am a firm believer that choosing the right house is a massive step to building wealth and succeeding with money. We live in a 2001 sq ft twin-home, and we bought the other side of the twin-home last year to rent out. The other huge benefit of this “smaller” more “modest” home is that our payment on our primary residence is $900. $900 x 12 months is $10,800 spent on housing a year. Even on a relatively modest annual salary, you can still save and invest quite a bit of money if your housing payments are low, and that extra money invested are the seeds that grow into a forest of wealth.

    Now that we bought the other side of our twin home, that rental property next door cash flows $600 a month, and $200 is paid off our mortgage balance per month, our housing costs us around $100 a month to live in a 2000 sq ft house in a top school district in Minneapolis, with a nature preserve in our backyard. Once your housing costs get mastered, it’s amazing how much wealth you can start to build with your leftover salary, even on a modest income.

    1. Congratulations! I agree with you that mastering your housing costs is a huge step towards building wealth. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve chosen not to move into a bigger house even though I eliminated the mortgage on my principal residence at age 34. (I’m now 45.) While my income would allow me to obtain a $400K mortgage, and selling my current home would allow me to put down roughly $325K on another home, my current housing costs are only $1000 per month which my income can easily accommodate. (The $1k/mth includes property taxes, insurance, lawncare, snow removal, utilities, phone & cable – in short, all of the fixed monthly costs of living in my house.) By keeping my housing costs to $1K or less (depending on the month), I’m able to put 40% of my net income towards my investments. However, if I were to buy a another house for $725K ($400K + $325K), then I would be required to pay for a huge mortgage, higher property taxes, higher heating/cooling costs and higher insurance costs. I would much rather direct a good chunk of my disposable income towards my investments/retirement than towards the payment & maintenance of a bigger house.

  59. Yeah, we had a big play area when our kid was a toddler too. It’s a bit better now, but there are toys all over the living room. We have 4 people in a 1,000 sq ft 2 bedroom condo now. (My mom is staying with us most of this year.) It is really tight and we really need more space. Our old house would be ideal for this situation. 3 bedrooms, 2 bath, and an office. I plan to move into our duplex soon. That’s should give us plenty of room. My mom can live in her own unit for the most part. I think 4-500 sq feet per person is about ideal. 250 sq ft/person is too tight.

    You must be putting a lot of though into your Hawaii home. Good luck with the shopping.

    1. That sounds tight Joe. Does your son just sleep with you guys and your mother-in-law sleeps in her own bedroom?

      We’ve done a lot of searching in Honolulu already and we have a good idea of what we can get for how much. I think for the first six months will move in with my parents and aggressively search while on the ground and then maybe make the move. It’s the prudent thing to do.

      But I can write articles about how I’m living with my parents in my 40s and get made fun of! :)

  60. It’s funny to me how times change. My mom grew up in a family of seven in a 1500 square foot home. Today that’d be considered insane.

    Our home is larger than we need but mostly due to extra bedrooms. We close the doors and vents so our utilities are reasonable. Cleaning is the biggest pain of it all though.

    We are around 2400 sqft for the two of us and the main floor is absolutely perfect for our needs.

  61. “I fantasize how it’d be nice to put my guests in a separate wing with their own kitchen, bathroom, and living area. This way, we can all keep our independence while also sharing family time every day.”

    That’s what I think about every single day. Living with parents can be great since we can get their help. BUT I’ve realized over the years that the headache, stress, and tension might not be worth it. We’ve been thinking about buying a duplex if our parents want to move in with us. It’s a challenge living with parents!

    1. I duplex sounds like a no-brainer. We were looking at houses with attached or separate cottages and that worked well. Unfortunately, the house that we want to cost $4.6 million! Lol

  62. The average middle class family has 2 maids, so we should use 1.5-2.5 maids as a baseline. Of course kids are messy, so you probably want to error on the high side and get more maid than you think you need. 3.25 maids is the right number if you want a comfortable middle class life-style.

    Seriously though, this is all incredibly personal. Real estate demands balancing numerous trade-offs that make the question of what is “ideal” almost moot. Those tradeoffs might include:
    *A big house in the suburbs, or a smaller house in the city?
    *A big house in the a bad school district, or a smaller house in a good school district?
    *Maxing out your budget on a big house, or sacrificing space for more financial security and/or spending on other priorities.
    *A big house in a cuspy neighborhood, or a small house in a safe, gentrified neighborhood?
    Everyone has a different utility function and will weigh these trade-offs differently.

    I’m a member of a family of 5 and live in an 1200sqft apartment. Is it ideal? No. Is it fine? Yeah. Do I think I’d be a happier human being in a bigger apartment? I doubt it. I think about the arc of my happiness from growing up to college to the string of apartments I’ve lived in since. I think there’s very little relationship between my happiness over that period and the number of sqft I’ve had. If anything, there might be an inverse relationship. Habituation is extremely powerful and I think we normalize ourselves to our living situation pretty quickly.

    1. Good stuff living in a 1,200 sqft apartment with 5. More efficiency and less expenses!

      Perhaps it’s one of those things where it’s good to not know what you do not know. Because if you know there is greater happiness out there up to a point, be it an income level or a type of house, you might become unhappy in the short-term trying to achieve such happiness.

      It’s often much better to make peace w/ what you have.

      Related: The Cause Of All Stress: Giving A Giant Crap

    2. Not sure if you are the adult child living at your parents or the father, but if you are the father, any thoughts on trying to earn more to be able to afford a larger apartment or house if you have three or four kids? Wouldn’t providing better living arrangements be healthier for your children and better for concentration in school?

      I personally would not have kids, or so many kids, if I cannot provide comfortably for them. Instead, I would adopt.

      What does your five person household consist of?

      1. Great. You, personally, can make that choice.

        I am so bored with the comments by people who have small families complaining about those with large families. Large families are awesome! I grew up in one. We lived in 1200 sq ft, shared a bathroom, and were a tight family unit. Your house size has absolutely zero correlation with how well you provide for your children. Or, perhaps you missed the tiny home craze that has been going on the past decade? Or, perhaps you’ve also missed the amount of people who’ve grown up in emotionally distant and abusive homes to rich parents?

        Please, don’t comment unless you actually know what you’re speaking of and have something constructive to say.

    3. Interesting, we’re also a family of 5 (3 girls) and our NYC apt is just under 900 sq ft (2 bed 1 bath). It’s doable, but too small. On the other hand, wouldn’t go beyond a certain size even if we had $10m (agree on habituation). Our ideal would be 4 bed 2 bath, about 1400 sq ft or so. I think having separate rooms for the kids as they get older would be great, but we also have a plan B to make do with a 1100-1200 sq ft place (2 bed, 1.5 bath) if one of the bedrooms is big enough to create 3 pods with loft beds and desks underneath and segregate the room into 3 small private spaces.

      1. Can you share your plan for where to send your girls to school in NYC?

        Also, what are the most prestigious and highly rated elementary, middle, and high schools there (private and public)? I’m finishing up an article and I’d like to include some New York City schoo. names.

        1. We moved to the current location to be in one of the best public elementary schools in the city (upper west side) because we don’t believe private (cost & environment). They were in Catholic before (poor man’s private) because we lived in one of the areas of the city with bad public schools. Wasn’t happy with the learning environment.

          Generally, the best elementary schools in the city are either the top privates or select zones (generally in the village or upper east/west side for elementary). Middle and High school is a different animal since application and testing comes into play.

          Happy to share more specifics privately.

          1. That’s good you got to go to the public schools where you live. In San Francisco, we have a social engineering lottery system where there’s no guarantee at all to be able to go to your local public school, even if you are paying property taxes.

    4. I like what we have 1 story, 1010 sq ft 2 bedroom, 2 baths, 18×17 living room, lots of large windows, washer and dryer and a decent sized patio with soil for 2 grownups and 1 (sometimes 2) now grown-up kids. It has a good layout. We’ve lived here 21 years on rent. Problem is we get and are planning to often have relatives, in-laws stay over for a few months and could do with one extra bedroom and much more storage so we need to look for a bigger place. Unfortunately most bigger homes have bad layouts and much wasted space.

  63. Interesting insights on the income to house ratios. Our income is 2x because we bought a modestly priced house and I have a great freelance income. Part of our drive to do this was also influenced by our student loans, which we pay about $1,100/month (only 18 months left!).

    We’ve currently got four kids, so that leaves us 410 square feet per person, but when child number five arrives in September, that’ll drop to 351 square feet per person (2460 total feet2). We technically have four bedrooms, but downstairs has a guest room and office so practically we have six. A few weekends ago, we had my parents, both sisters and their families, and my grandmother came to visit. It was quite packed for all 17 of us!

    It’s intriguing to explore the ideal preferences. I’ll also be curious how this evolves for our family.

  64. Like everything in life, it comes with pros and cons. I think a “private space” is nice and sometimes needed… but we learn a lot (specially our kids) by having to share a not so larger home… and there is a lot less cleaning to do.

  65. This is something my wife and I debated. We actually have given a lot of thought to this very concept. We went from a 3300 square foot home pre-fire to an 1800 square foot home now (and lived in 800 square foot apt in between). For us, 2000-2500 is ideal. My goal would be to get a half acre or more and put a ranch style home on it. One level, 3 to 4 bedrooms with at least 3.5 baths, and a large open common area. We have that home but with one less bedroom now. It is fine for the 3 of us plus one guest as they share the bathroom with our toddler son.

    Nice post.

  66. I have a 6 year old, and there’s no way he would sleep in a bedroom on the other side of the house from me. He wants to be near me, and I want to be near him….even, or especially as he gets older, so I can easily hear if he is watching a video when he should be sleeping, or heaven forbid, sneaking in or out of the house st night or something! Also, stairs keep you in shape…my parents lived into their 90’s in a house with two sets of stairs they climbed multiple times s day.

  67. Our house is 1 story 2700 sq ft. I think the ideal size for us would have been about 2200 sq ft. There are 3 of us. But overall we are happy with what we have.

  68. We have a 2500 sq foot home currently not including basement and sunroom. Our last place was 1800. Honestly both seemed enough based on layout for our two kids and us. It’s not the space it’s how you use it.

    We upgraded for land and commute. The discussion at the time was more is there too much space.

  69. I made a mistake with room orientation. Living room with covered porch is north-west, almost no sun and I have to switch the heating on, at least 15 days ahead of schedule. Electricity bill is outrageous during January and February I can’t cut this down without using zero heating and freezing our asses off.

  70. That bungalow style layout is indeed perfect. Too bad these hardly exist here in the Netherlands. Most properties are 2-3 story town houses or semi detached houses. Current live in about 1450sft with 3 people, but would like to downsize to about 900-1000sft (you do need a good layout to make this work!).

  71. We’re a family of four living large in 1,400 finished square feet. Especially when the twins were born, it was a relief to not have to go up and down stairs all the time. Their bedroom (still sharing), along with the kitchen, LR, DR, bathroom, our BR are all on the same level.

    We plan to put one of the kids in our finished basement with further enhancements, in about 7 years. A small house, I think, is not only eco friendly, but it’s financially savvy, and keeps a family unit tighter.


  72. Sam, when my daughter was first born we lived in a tri-level condo townhome. We had 1500 sqft and it was perfect. However, when my son was born, the extra levels were cumbersome because the extra room was at the bottom level.

    This was right around the time I stopped working, so we decided to purchase a larger home nearby my wife’s work. It worked out well because this area was cheaper so we kept the same housing costs, and got extra rooms to grow into.

  73. Oh yeah, baby equipment are really bulky! The car seats looks like baby carrier tanks.

    My ideal home would be less about square footage and more about design and use of space. I love vaulted ceilings but utilities are probably worst with all that head room…

    I’ve seen some big old houses that are 2000+ sq but the layout is so awkward. Now they are 100+ year old houses so you’re getting quirks with the history but it’s hard to believe the layout was so unimportant back then. They often put the bathrooms right next to the entry way which is never done these days.

    Sam, just curious, do you have preference for period/age or design of homes? My friend told me not not skip homes built in the 90s.

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