In recent years, the mantra in the world of housing has been “bigger is better.” It’s also common to be told that you should buy “as much house as you can afford.”
For many homeowners, this type of thinking results in a large house that may not be necessary. Many people were shocked to discover that we could have bought a home that cost twice as much (and was, presumably, twice as big) as the house we are now leaving behind. “Why wouldn’t you get a bigger house?”
The reality is that we neither need nor want a big house. In fact, our next move is going to be into a smaller apartment. We realize that we don’t need a lot of extra space. As you consider what house to move into, think in terms of what you need for size, rather than basing it entirely on what a lender will let you borrow.
How Much Space Do You Need Now?
First, realistically consider how much space you need right now. What types of activities do you commonly participate in while at home? Does your family spend a lot of time together in common areas like the family room and kitchen? Those areas might need to be large, while you can get away with smaller rooms.
You can also consider how much space you need for bedrooms. Can some of your kids share rooms? Do you need a home office? Perhaps you need a guest room because you have a lot of company.
In our case, we are moving into an apartment with three bedrooms, even though we only need two for sleeping. The third bedroom is going to be a combination guest room and office, since we know that we will occasionally have company stay with us, and I definitely need an office so that I can effectively run my business.
Carefully think about how much space you will actually use on a regular basis, and go from there.
Will You Need More Space in the Future?
The next step is to figure out whether or not you will need room to grow. If you are just starting a family, and you plan to have more kids, or if you think you will add pets to the mix, you might need a bigger home.
Of course, that only applies if you expect to stay put for a while. If you think that you will buy a home and stay for seven to 10 years, it can make sense to get a slightly large home to accommodate what you hope will be a growing family. If you think you will move in the next couple of years, though, there is no sense in getting a big home that you aren’t even going to use.
You can also consider the virtues of having more land outside, versus having a home that takes up most of the lot. You might find that, for kids or for pets, a bigger yard is better than a bigger house.
Carefully consider your options. While it’s tempting to get a big house for the status it conveys, that’s not always the wisest course.