Does Size Matter – How Big a Home Should You Buy?

Not surprisingly, the simple answer to the first part of this question is, ‘Yes’; size most definitely does matter!  But, perhaps not in the way many of us think.   When if comes to new homes,  most people don’t have a very good appreciation of what size would work best for them.  Many are stuck in an archaic perception that larger is almost always better.  To them, larger homes are associated with luxury, success, greater versatility and ironically, even a more relaxed lifestyle.  On the other hand, some other people looking to downsize from a large suburban home, may delude themselves into believing that they could be comfortable living in a dramatically reduced living space, such as a typical unit in a condominium tower.  These people understand the benefit of reduced living space in creating a cosier, lower maintenance home, but often fail to appreciate the versatility that they are giving up in the process.   In both cases, the home owner will not realize all the tremendous benefits that urban living has to offer.

People looking for large homes will correctly conclude that urban living can be unaffordable. More over, even if they could afford it, they would be spending too much of their time and/or money furnishing and maintaining the home.   While people deciding on a typical condominium tower will discover besides the many other issues with condo living, that their new home doesn’t adequately support their living situation.  It doesn’t offer a private office space or place to get away, or it may be the inability to accommodate a growing family.

Everyone’s situation and needs are unique, but in our own experience, as well as speaking to clients, we have found it very useful to answer a few basic questions in order to determine what kind of housing space and size, that would be optimal for you.  In order to avoid expensive purchasing mistakes, it is important that the buyer first understand his/her lifestyle and housing priorities, and then determine what size would best accommodate those goals.

Several key questions that need to be answered early on, are:

  1. Do you expect that at some point in the near future you might wish to work from home?  Telecommuting is becoming an increasingly viable choice for employees, and in many cases senior employees are expecting to transition to full retirement via free lancing or small business opportunities that can often be done from home.
  2. Do you expect to be growing your family before too long?
  3. If you are retired, or approaching retirement, is it likely that you will need to take care of your parents in the near future?  Or perhaps you have adult children who may return home after school or between jobs.
  4. Do you see yourself travelling when you have the opportunity, or are you more inclined to stay home?
  5. Do you enjoy housework, or is that something you would rather reduce?
  6. Do you prefer cosy, or do you want lots of extra space and room to accommodate plenty of guests?
  7. Are you concerned about your environmental foot print?

Of course there is an endless supply of considerations, but this represents a reasonably comprehensive sample set.   It is important to give these, as well as any other related questions, some serious consideration since these choices will impact the kind of home that will work best for you.   Too often new home owners will discover shortly after moving into to their home that it doesn’t  accommodate their evolving needs and they are forced to renovate (where that is practical) or sell and buy a new home.  This can be costly and very inconvenient.

Overall, we have found that most people require a significant level of versatility in their home.  Either, they still have young and growing families and need to be able accommodate extra rooms for their children, or they are approaching retirement and are unsure of how long their children may be around, or if they will want some form of home office in the future.   Still other middle aged couples, who are looking to downsize, may want some private space within their homes so that they can occasionally enjoy private time by themselves and away from their partner.   All of this suggests the benefits of a freehold home that has enough space and flexibility to enable these choices.

What we have also found, however, is that people are often surprised by the size of space that can effectively support these needs.   With smart design, the space required to accommodate these needs is often quite a bit smaller than people first believe.   Moreover, these smaller spaces can ‘feel’ both cosy and luxurious at the same time.   Smaller homes are also less expensive and more environmentally friendly.   They are easier to furnish and to maintain, leaving more time and money available for living a fulfilling urban lifestyle, that may include; recreational activities, interesting entertainment and dining options, as well as travel.

In summary, determining the right size home for your family is an important decision requiring that you first answer a few key questions about your lifestyle and expectations.   It turns out that most people we have spoken with need a level of flexibility that is not accommodated very well by most condominium tower developments.  We have also found, however, that people are often are surprised by the benefits and value of a smaller home, and all that it can offer.   So, begin the process with an open mind, and try your best to answer the questions we have outlined, and you will find the size of home and space that best serves your needs now and in the foreseeable future.





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