Houses Get Bigger, but Owners Aren’t Happier

Here is an interesting news article I just read. Our bigger homes don’t make us happier. As someone living in a home that I now believe is too big, I have to agree with the article. Larger homes are harder to keep clean and the extra space attracts clutter and more stuff. Our next home will definately be smaller.

Americans are buying bigger houses — not because they need to but because they want to.
Source: The Washington Post

From 1975 to 2005, the average size of new single-family homes grew 48 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005 survey of new housing. That happened even as the typical household has gotten smaller, falling from 2.94 people in 1975 to 2.6 people in 2004, the latest figure available.

At the same time, the lots that the houses stand on have shrunk about 13 percent.

“Americans generally seem to like to supersize everything, whether it’s houses or cars or TV sets or hamburgers,” says John McIlwain, senior fellow for housing at the Urban Land Institute, a Washington-based research group largely financed by the real estate development industry. “So if you can afford it, more people will buy bigger even if you don’t need it.”

Even condos and cooperatives are bigger. During the past 15 years, the proportion of new multifamily units with two or more bathrooms has doubled, as has the share of units with three or more bedrooms.

But it looks like bigger may not be better. Twenty years ago, nearly six out of 10 home owners reported high satisfaction in their houses. Last year, five out of 10 did.

3 thoughts on “Houses Get Bigger, but Owners Aren’t Happier”

  1. i am convinced that the homes of today and tomorrow need to have a guest bedroom, a MEDIA room (HD & surround sound rule!) an OFFICE (of course!) and a large dining area, and a 3 car garage! that makes the homes larger than usual but not necessesarily much bigger (energy costs will dictate smaller homes)

  2. Hi Leo,

    We are also seeing new homes without the formal dining and formal living areas, but with “flex” areas instead. Home office is a must. Big informal dining areas instead of breakfast areas are nice, usually open to the kitchen and family rooms. Media room is something we see a lot of in the newer homes.

    By the way, these “media rooms” are often dead attic space that has been finished out with no windows, but people like the darkened feel. Add a popcorn machine and some recliners, and it’s a “media room”. The builders can add this space with little additional cost, but it gets added to the total square footage size of the home at full cost.


  3. I believe the reason why people are dissatisified with their large homes because quite a few people will overextend for those giant homes. I have seen a few friends of mine buy large homes just because they could afford it then are so stressed out about the mortgage payment and the pressure to furish the home fully. Add home improvement projects and folk trying to get expensive cars to fit their home and there you go :). Then you have your kids and your upkeep to keep everything clean, it’s no wonder why people will just pay for a cleaning service twice a month.


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