Do You Really Need That MASSIVE House?

Do You Really Need That MASSIVE House?A few weeks ago I published the article Would You Move To A Completely New Place? In it I mentioned that we have put the home-buying process on hold, and we plan on staying in our current house for at least a few more years.

We have put it on hold because we don’t know where we want to live. However, that doesn’t mean that we stopped looking at houses.

I am definitely a crazy person and I probably look at houses on and Zillow at least once a week.

It’s a habit and an obsession…

To backtrack: We bought our current house when we were 20. We weren’t making a lot of money back then, but the market was great for buyers and we needed a place to live, so we decided to buy (we, of course, thought about other things as well). We like our home and it will do for the next few years, but I also don’t see it as our forever home.

I’ve always wanted a bigger kitchen, a bigger bedroom, and some land. Our house (by my standards and Midwest standards) is small. Our house is currently 1,200 square feet. We do have a finished basement though that adds another 1,200 square feet to our home.

I grew up in apartments because my dad hated houses (he hated the maintenance, lawn mowing, HOA’s, and so on), so I guess I’ve always wanted a big house since I didn’t have that when I was a kid.

Anyway, I have been catching myself searching for homes that are 2,500 square feet and above. I don’t know why.

Does anyone really need a house that big? Do I need a house that big?

According to MSN, the average home in the U.S. in 1950 was approximately 983 square feet, and in 2004 it was 2,349 square feet. That is a HUGE increase!

I don’t think there is anything wrong with whatever decision you make regarding how big your house is, as long as you can afford it. Some people are fine with a 400 square foot home, whereas others like 3,000 square foot homes.


But, if you really want to save money, below are reasons for why you should rethink that massive home:

Bigger homes usually have a higher price tag.

Of course, this all depends on the location, but in general a bigger house will cost more than a smaller house on the exact same lot. The different in price can easily be a few hundred thousand dollars.

You will find yourself paying for a larger mortgage, and you will also have to pay higher property taxes. Don’t forget about higher home insurance as well!


Bigger homes will cost a whole lot more to cool down and heat up.

Many newer homes have vaulted ceilings, which can easily increase the heating and cooling costs. Even if you don’t have vaulted ceilings, a bigger house will lead to higher utility expenses because there are more rooms to heat up and cool down.


Bigger homes will need more maintenance.

If you have a bigger home, that means the possibility of something breaking is a little bit higher than if you had a smaller homer. You might have a larger lawn to mow, more to paint, more to repair, and so on.


Bigger homes may lead to hoarding.

If you have a McMansion, then you may find yourself with a lot of extra rooms that you feel you need to fill up with things.

You may find yourself buying furniture and other items for a room that you only step into a few times a year. Furniture is not cheap – you may spend thousands to furnish a room in which you will just close the door and forget about.

I know someone who has FOUR living rooms in their home. One is the actual “living room,” the other is a “sitting room,” one is a “play room” and I don’t know what the fourth is. Oh, and then they have a basement living room as well, so I guess that is FIVE. It just seems like a lot of wasted space to me…

I also know a few people who have a dining room, a formal dining room, a breakfast room, and a lunch room. WHAT THE HECK? And they usually only use one room to eat in, whereas the others are maybe used once a year. Can you imagine having to buy four separate dining tables?


What is your ideal square footage in a home?

Do you want a McMansion or are you more of a minimalist person?



  1. Miss Entrepreneurette says

    You know, I CONSTANTLY go back and forth. One day I’m wanting to downsize from our 1,800 sq foot house. The next day we’re driving by 3,500 sq foot model homes and I insist we go in to look. Of course, I always leave wanting a gigantic home. But I know (my parents upgraded to a huge house) what comes with big houses. Empty rooms for several months because you can’t afford to be dropping thousands on furniture right after you bought a house, $300+/month electric bills in the summer, etc.

    When we went from living with parents to living in our home, we definitely started buying stuff to fill rooms with. Now I’m clearing most of that stuff out in an effort to live more simply and spend less time shuffling stuff around on a daily basis. We are not hoarders by any means, but the less “stuff” I have to manage the more time I have to do other things.

    P.S. I’m on at least once a week and we aren’t even looking to buy a home anytime soon. I’m just obsessed.

  2. says

    I would choose a smaller house rather than a massive house. I totally agree with you that living in a massive house means bigger maintenance and higher taxes. When my parents decided to move to another city, it has 3 rooms and 1 master-bedroom. And for me their decisions were very ideal and practical.

  3. Erin says

    For me, the ideal home isn’t a certain square footage; it’s a certain feeling. I just want to feel like I have enough space – space to work (I work from home), space to play, and space to be alone. Our house is about 2,500 square feet, I think, but it’s a unique layout: a large chunk is a guest suite and another large chunk is my parents’ suite. We have 2+ acres of land, and that’s really wonderful since we have year-round outdoor weather.

    My husband, son and I live in about 1,500 square feet: 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom (but there are several others, so it’s not a 1-bathroom), a large living room, roomy kitchen, dining room, and an office. It’s pretty perfect. If we ever have another child, we might want to add on a bedroom, but we’ll see. In any case, I think I would be very happy in a mid-sized home, 1,500-1,800 square feet – not too small that I’d feel cramped, not so large that I’d spend my life cleaning!

    • says

      Yes! People need to look at the overall price. We looked at some houses that we thought were in our budget, but after looking at the property taxes each month we decided that it just wasn’t worth it.

  4. says

    “I am definitely a crazy person and I probably look at houses on and Zillow at least once a week.” Actually this seems quite normal, otherwise I’m a crazy person as well! I don’t want a McMansion, but I do want a relatively large home for my family. As an introvert I like having time to myself and I would really like to have things like a finished basement, my own office, etc. that would allow for me to have my own space. I also want my wife to have space as well for her scrapbooking, office, etc. We’re doing just fine in the house we have now, tho. After all, we do rent out half the basement because we wouldn’t use the space anyway!

  5. says

    Our current house is just shy of 1,500 square feet (we don’t have a basement). We could afford larger, but this little 3 bedroom 2 bath house meets our needs. We have also been looking at moving. The size of this house is fine, but the layout and neighborhood are marginal. Most of our friends have 3,000 sq ft McMansions. Better them than me :o)

  6. says

    We are back and forth about buying. The maintenance thing is the only thing we can come up with. But with a solid emergency fund a broken appliance wouldn’t be the end of the world.

    I really want a small two bedroom/2 bath fixer upper. We don’t have children yet so a two bedroom would make for an office and a room for a first child when the time comes. Something that with a little extra weekend sweat and effort, would be a big profit for the day we need a 3+ bedroom.
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  7. says

    We live in Texas, and our home is small by our standards too. We live in a 1500 sq ft home. It’s not our dream home but we are happy for now. We took out 1/2 of what we were loaned. Our goal is to pay it off quickly and then turn it into a rental. I actually blogged about this kind of thing too yesterday great minds think alike. :)
    Zillow and trulia….I look at those all the time!
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  8. says

    I’ve lived in small homes all my life since I grew up in NYC. Right now, my boyfriend and I live in 750 sq ft, which is plenty for us. It would be nice to have a little more room, especially down the line when we start a family, but I definitely don’t need a massive house.

  9. says

    My home is a little over 800 sq. ft. It’s from the 1940s. The finished basement is another 800 sq. ft. I think it is just right for us. The utility cost are low and I didn’t need to buy a whole lot of furniture when I moved here. I never wanted a large home because of the additional costs you mentioned and let’s not forget about cleaning time for those mini mansions.
    Raquel@Practical Cents recently posted..Home Buyers Remorse: Selling after one yearMy Profile

  10. says

    To me, it’s all about striking a reasonable balance. There’s no need to smush your family into a super small house and, likewise, purchasing a massive house is just excessive. Even if you can afford to buy and maintain a huge home, there’s no need to do it if it’s way to big for your family. That’s my take…it’s just like anything else related to personal finances – don’t deprive yourself, but no need to go lavish either.

  11. says

    My current house is 1000 sq feet, built in the 1940s. Unfinished basement adds a little extra space. The size is perfect, it’s the layout and utilization of space that’s terrible! I agree with Raquel – Who wants to do all that cleaning?! I can barely keep up with mine as it is! I just hope my next house has a much better layout or it’s a home worth investing in changes/improvement like that.

    Great article!

  12. says

    Over here in the UK most houses are very small and if you want a large house then you will need very deep pockets. In the USA you are very fortunate to have a lot of living space where large houses are within the reach of most people.

    Like you mentioned there are a lot of other factors to take into consideration when buying a large house. Over here stately homes become even unaffordable for people whose families have lived in those houses for hundreds of years. Because of all the high maintenance costs and just the general upkeep they require full time staff just to look after the place. That is why so many of them turned their mansions into tourist attractions and hire the houses out for weddings.

    So a large house is not always the answer I guess unless you have a large family.

  13. says

    Our house is around the same size as yours (about 1,600 sq including the finished half of the basement) and it works really well for us right now, occasionally we find that we lose each other in it! As we’ve started discussing what our second home will look like, we’ve built a list of must-haves and would-likes because home number two will probably be our forever home.

    There isn’t really an ideal square-footage for house #2, but I’d love a larger home with some land (more than our 1/10 acre lot!) As we get older and our families have spread out, we need to be able to accommodate guests better which would mean two guest rooms plus bonus sleeping areas (futon, pullout, etc), more parking and a main-floor bathroom so no one has to take steps to use the restroom.

    • says

      Yes, we start creating a list of must-haves and would-likes too! We are wanting the next home to be our forever home. We haven’t even begun the process of selling our current home and I already know that it will be stressful lol

  14. says

    I only want to get what I need. Two bedrooms and bathrooms would be fine with me. I think 1,000 to 1,200 would be good, but I think it also depends on the layout of the house. If it is an open concept it usually feels bigger which would be nice. The less cleaning the better!
    E.M. recently posted..March Budget ReviewMy Profile

    • says

      Yes, layout is very important. I know someone who has a very big house but the layout is so horrible that it makes the house seem smaller than 1,000 square feet.

  15. says

    We’re in a tiny, one bedroom apartment right now, and that is all we need! Too much space and we tend to collect things to put in those rooms. No thanks! Plus, no one wants a big house with cheap or used furniture!
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  16. says

    We are at 1800 now and I never want to go smaller then that. I don’t want to go over 2,500 either as that is so not necessary for two people who aren’t having kids. I crave space. I think I’m traumatized by living in a 400 sq ft studio for 5 years. I just need some breathing room but not a mansion.
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  17. says

    I currently live in a ok sized one bedroom apartment. I think it’s maybe around 500sq feet? I have a very small bedroom so I’d like more size to be able to walk around a bit, a decent sized kitchen, and a decent sized living area. To say what square footage that would be…I’m not sure. Nothing too big, but slightly bigger than what I have now and a room that had a w/d and a separate room for an office would be an extra bonus. I agree that you just tend to fill big spaces with more stuff you don’t need. I’m not an uber minimalist, but I don’t like extra stuff I’m no longer using laying around.
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  18. says

    While I’m a minimalist person, I would like to adopt kids sometime, so I’d opt for something with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, but definitely not BIG. Cant imagine having to clean the place OR paying such high utilities to keep the place running. (No idea on footage, as I’ve never really looked into it or can compare it)
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  19. says

    It’s amazing how just about any home is a big home for someone who has just moved out of their dorm room, and before that their childhood bedroom.

    For me, land has always been more important that size of home. All else equal, if you have the land you can always build another, construct an addition or just create exterior buildings. More land creates more opportunity. I like to work the land, growing, cultivating and harvesting but it also represents a special little ecosystem away from things you don’t care for. Yes, a home can be that, but owning the land gives you a little more control. Check out Lodgson’s The Contrary Farmer on that topic.

  20. says

    I’ve never wanted a ”massive” house. I want a modest size home with a good floor plan. Really I only want like 1,600-1,800 sq ft but it has to be well laid out. I don’t understand why anyone needs a massive, like 400sq ft master bedroom. Our room is about 150 sq ft and it’s fine. I’d like maybe 10 sq ft more in closet space but that’s it. I’m the one cleaning the house I want to limit how much there is!
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  21. says

    The wife and I are renting a 900 sq ft apartment. We both came from large houses so it was a big adjustment for both of us to have less space. Now we love it though as we have really trimmed the fat on the items we have in our apartment and have gotten used to the scale. When we do buy a house, we will definitely be on the smaller side of things to save money and reduce unnecessary living rooms haha.

  22. says

    Ours is 1100 sqft of interior space, but it doubles if you include our screened patio and pool area, which is really like an extended living area that we use year round. I like that the indoors is so small since it’s so much easier to clean small areas and it’s much easier to turn down presents/offers from friends and family members for more stuff when you’ve got a small house. “Oh well, no room!” =)

  23. says

    Our house in Texas was 3200 square feet and it was just 2 of us and 2 dogs, and it was the smallest one on our street! Unlike our neighbors though, we used every square foot. We rarely went out so we had a used pool table, media room, pool etc. my neighbors always said our house was like a resort when we would have them over for barbecues and lounging on the deck. It served us well. Now in Malta, we are in a 2 bedroom 800ft flat and l like it just as much. I don’t think you are crazy for checking out Realtor, l used to do it all the time, and go to open houses. I am just a nosey! Or a frustrated realtor wannabe..

  24. Kathy says

    We downsized by about 250 sq. ft. a few years back and are very happy. However, we are considering building again and if we do, we will probably go bigger. Just depends on when and where. The thing that gets me is how people who have no say in what other people choose, think that they have the right to comment or judge. “what do they need such a big house for anyway?” My opinion is, as long as they aren’t asking me to help pay for it, I don’t care what other people buy.

  25. says

    I desperately want to get out of the small apartment I currently live in, but I definitely don’t want a McMansion. I don’t see the point in spending a ton of money on space you will never use. (Especially when I have so many other ways I could better spend my money.) To me, a huge house would only mean wasted space and more cleaning to do! I also would love to have a lawn and a little garden, but not a huge piece of land. (The geography major in me sees how horrible that really is for the environment)
    You also bring up a great point in utility cost for a large house. That’s something I never really thought of, but will definitely keep in mind when I (eventually) start the home buying process.
    Great post!

  26. says

    I’d say I’m probably more of a minimalist, but I would like to have a little more space (mainly a yard, a driveway and laundry in our home). City living is great for a period of time (for me at least), but now I’m ready for the suburbs. I don’t need a big house, but a yard and a little deck or patio for grilling would be my dream.

  27. says

    I would definitely prefer a modest home compared to a much larger one. I would want enough room for a possible office / guest room and enough rooms for myself and my children but other than that, I wouldn’t go super massive. I think about all the upkeep and utilities and freak. I am still stuck in that apartment mentality, lol.

  28. says

    I’m British and when I was in child in the suburbs of Manchester, we lived in a huge 3-floored Edwardian house, with three gardens. This was in the 70’s. Now today that house would cost close to $3 million! Right now, I live in Berlin as an expat and German houses are bigger than British houses and at a third of the cost.

    We live in a large suburban city apartment with a private garden. Most of our friends live in smaller places in order to save cost but actually our large apartment is $8 per square meter and much smaller apartments are $14 per square meter! I do love the fact that you could probably play cricket quite comfortably in our place but the cleaning is a nuisance LOL!

  29. says

    I used to want a giant home. Living in the bay area, where small homes cost a fortune, I had to change my wants. I now live in a 825 sq ft rented 1 bedroom apartment, and this feels large to me. I’d like a three bedroom house one day, should I have kids, but I don’t need tons of space. I agree that space leads to hoarding. I need less space, not more of it. What I would like and what I won’t get out here is a large yard with a pool and private space. That costs so much around here.
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