As a follow-up to last issue’s article Big or Little I thought I’d talk about size and ask whether our homes need to reduce a bit. First, the facts. In 1950, the average home was about 983 square feet, growing to 1,400 square feet in 1970, and then zooming up to 2,700 square feet in 2009. At the same time, the size of the average American household went from approx. 3.37 people to 2.57 people, a considerable reduction, and the number is still coming down.
The United States is a big country and we tend to like our cars and houses to be big as well; perhaps we view size as a standard of success. When you compare our home sizes with other countries, our extravagance is clearly evident. Average square footage of homes in other countries is as follows: Australia: 2,200; New Zealand: 1,900; Canada: 1,800; Japan: 1,000; Ireland: 930 and the U.K.: a mere 815.
There’s a movement afoot to advance the cause of smaller homes. Instrumental in promoting the virtues of the smaller home, Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House has championed the many advantages of going small. Cost is obviously a factor, as smaller spaces require less energy, less furniture and are usually less expensive to buy with lower upkeep and taxes.
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