When you look at a property listing, you may see the square footage listed. For inexperienced homebuyers it can be difficult to know whether the home is going to be the right size for you.  How much square footage do you need?

In this article, we’ll look at square footage, how it’s calculated, and how much square footage you actually need in your home. 

How Is Square Footage Calculated?

Depending on the layout of the space that you are measuring, you can use one of these methods to calculate your square footage. The base equation is always the length of the room, multiplied by its width. If your room is not a perfect rectangle, things can get a bit more complex. 

For rooms that are not perfectly square or rectangle, you’ll need to divide the room up into areas and measure the length and the width of each section. Multiply each length and width within its area and add up all of the areas at the end. This will give you the total square footage of the room. 

When talking about square footage of the home, a property listing will only refer to the interior. The size of any exterior property, such as a backyard, will be calculated, too, and given as a separate number. You can get specific accurate numbers from a realtor or property management company, whoever is in charge of finding a new occupant for the home.

Comparing Square Footages

For reference, a standard doctor’s exam room is usually around 100 sq ft, while a two-car garage is usually around 400 sq ft. These are good reference points as you look for homes and likely see larger numbers.

How Many Square Feet Do I Need?

While a large number may seem desirable when it comes to square footage, this can end up being a lot of work to keep clean and maintain, and it will cost a surprising amount of money to buy or let in the first place. Think about how much it will cost to heat or cool a large space as well as any property taxes that you’ll have to pay. 

On the flip side of this, you wouldn’t want a home where you feel claustrophobic! Think about how many people will be living in the same home. How many members of your family are there, and will anyone else be living with you? Do you plan on having children in the future? If you are sharing the house, how many roommates will you have? 

Think about whether you’ll ever have guests around and how often they will stay the night. If you plan on hosting parties, you may need more space. 

Think about what is important to you. If you love to cook, then you’ll want a bigger kitchen. If you have guests over for dinner, a large dining room is important. If you have a large family, you’ll need to think about how many bathrooms the home has. 

Often, the layout is more important than the actual size of the property. If the layout is not functional for your specific needs, it doesn’t matter how big a house is. So don’t get caught up in the numbers—square footage is a useful tool for measuring the size of a property, but the amount of space that you need will depend on your personal circumstances.