When it comes to homes, the popular stigma is the bigger the better. More square footage means a large slice of the American Dream! However, bigger homes cost more money and they can be harder to sell. So, you will want a house that is neither too big nor too small, and the challenge is striking that balance. 

Is this my “forever home?”

While you can’t predict the future, it is possible to evaluate the likelihood that you might be moving in coming years. If so, then maybe, you don’t need to buy that perfect “forever home”. There is a common perception that you should be searching for your “forever home”, and that pressure to find a place that has all the space you might ever need often leads buyers to purchase a home that is too big. It is perfectly ok to know that you will only live in a home for the next five or six years and to buy a home that will serve your needs during that period. You can always re-evaluate and upgrade to a bigger space later. 

What will my income look like later?

If you’re early in your career, odds are decent that your income will increase over the years. Also, if you are reaching the end of your career, you may be looking at flattened or declining income. In either case, it’s never a good idea to get a mortgage at the max of what you can afford. Nothing causes more stress than a financial strain. A mortgage on a home that is a size too big is most likely to be your biggest burden, and a hard one to overcome. Happiness is often one size smaller than your dream home. That way, you can enjoy your home without dreading your monthly mortgage payment. 

What are my priorities?

Another question to consider is what you will use all that space for. While you might dream of hosting epic dinner parties in that big formal dining room, will you really? Can you say with certainty that your in-laws will descend on you during the holidays and need a guest bedroom to crash in, or might they be just as comfortable in a nearby hotel? 

Aside from justifying what you will use each space for, ask yourself what you are giving up. If you dream of having a secret travel fund so you can see the world, that may be possible only with a smaller mortgage. Maybe you value things other than space, like a school district or a walkable location. So, make sure to factor in those variables too, and make sure you aren’t sacrificing them for space you don’t need.

How much space do I want from my own family members?

If you absolutely must have privacy to get work done in a home office or chill out in your man cave, then that extra square footage may be well worth the money. However, if you’re more the type who loves having their family members nearby, a large home gives people plenty of alone time and it may not be right for you. 

Does this home feel spacious even if it doesn’t have much space?

Keep in mind that even small homes can feel spacious purely based on an open floor plan and lots of light. Meanwhile, large homes can feel cramped if they are dark or poorly laid out. So, when house hunting, know that the little number next to square footage may not tell the whole story. The total square footage of a house can be deceiving. Features like a long hallway may increase the total, but they are spaces you pass through, not a true destination within the home. So, instead of looking at just the square footage, buyers should focus on the size of individual rooms where they see themselves spending the majority of their time in.