How much house is too much?
March 5, 2018 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Note that this question is literally about space, not cost. Details inside.

Spouse and I have been casually house hunting for a year or more, but finding out about the impending arrival of our first child has added some urgency to the hunt. We've been looking seriously for about 3 months and just found the first viable option, but we're worried it's too much.

Because *reasons* we have an extremely limited geographic scope that we are totally unwilling to compromise on. We also have a specific set of bedroom/bathroom desires that are uncommon in our area. We've finally found a place that fits all of our requirements... and then some. We love the house and property but are just unsure of whether to proceed.

The pros - we can definitely afford it. We can put about 25% down and the mortgage/insurance/etc would be less than 15% of our monthly gross income. It's in our target area and the specific location is great. Walkable to one of our jobs and a community asset we frequent. On a fairly quiet street, house situated on the land in a very private way. Tons of space for our dogs. Big enough for the future family we envision - we would never have to move. Character we're in love with.

Cons - It's almost too much. We currently live in 800 sq ft... this place is 2200. We have maybe 1/10 of an acre... this place is 1.5 acres. Most of the house would be empty when we move in. Long term, we would want to do renovations (just to update things that are totally livable now) but who knows the cost. It just feels like a really overwhelming (though exciting) change from our current cozy little place.

I guess the question is - how do you know when a house is too much house, if it's not about the money?

[Side note that it IS maybe about the money... part of my fear is we currently don't have a mortgage (or pay rent) and even though we can definitely afford this house it will certainly change the look of our budget. I can't discern how much of that is playing into my/our hesitation.]
posted by raspberrE to Home & Garden (47 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you plan to have more than one child, you'll love 'all' that space!
posted by donaken at 5:27 PM on March 5, 2018 [15 favorites]

I'm actually not so worried about the house size. More than a few people have guest bedrooms that are never used. If you end up having more children, the space is useful. I'm more worried about the size of the lot you're proposing. A 1.5 acre lot is a lot of space and maintenance for it will be substantial. Think of mowing all that yard area weekly when your kid is 6 months old! Do you have the money/willingness to pay someone to maintain all that land?
posted by saeculorum at 5:29 PM on March 5, 2018 [23 favorites]

House size is really dependent on layout, perhaps moreso than sheer square footage: I'm a single person in about 1700sf that almost feels cramped because of suboptimal layout.

I agree that the 1.5 acres of yard to care for would give me greater pause. How easy will it be to maintain for y'all?
posted by TwoStride at 5:35 PM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Yeah, it's a lot of space now but with one or more kids you'll enjoy all that space. 1.5 acres is a lot of land and you'll need a plan for keeping it under control. Hopefully it's not all lawn, but if it is you might want to hire someone to mow it.

I would say that the key thing is knowing what you'll use all the rooms for. Some McMansion type houses are huge in square footage but have oddly few rooms, so it's not that hard to make use of it all. If you have 3 bedrooms it's one for you, one for the kid, one for guests or an office. If it's 4 bedrooms, that will always seem like a lot for two parents and one kid, but with a second kid it will seem more reasonable again. If a second kid never comes, eh, you each get an office.

It can also be nice if you have the rooms to have separate spaces for TV watching vs kid playing so that your kid can play with lego or toys without having the specter of TV constantly looming over them and you can let them play without constantly badgering you to watch Paw Patrol or whatever.

The house will seem empty, furniture-wise, for a while. That may or may not seem weird to you. It's not hard to buy furniture, my suggestion there is to buy good, long-lasting pieces and not just fill space with junk. Although that said we have bought and got rid of a few Ikea pieces over time as we moved and new pieces didn't fit where they did before.

Anyway, to repeat myself - have a plan for each room even if the plan is "fill it with moving boxes". That will make the space seem more tractable.
posted by GuyZero at 5:39 PM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

My partner and I owned a house that was about 2400 square feet on a large lot. A friend lived with us, and we had our first baby while we lived there.

When our friend moved out, we downsized. One of the things we learned about ourselves from living there was that we don't want to clean, maintain, and heat a big house, or spend a lot of time on the yard.

If you enjoy those kinds of things, then you probably won't regret the bigger house, and the prospect of not moving if your family grows is a pleasing one. We went too far in the other direction when we downsized--a modest 1000 square foot three bedroom with one bathroom. We thought we'd have one kid and have ended up raising four in this house, which has been a challenge at times. But it's worth trying to be honest with yourself about whether taking on that much house and yard is really for you.

We have stayed in this house in part because of unforeseeable financial setbacks, and in part because we love the location. It may be that the drawbacks of a larger house are worth it to you because it's in such a good location for you, just as the drawbacks of a smaller house have been worth it to us.

If the money becomes an issue, in a house with extra rooms you have the option of renting one out. I have friends and acquaintances who do this, and with the right housemate, it can be a great setup. Some of my friends with space have traded reduced/no rent for childcare when their kids are small. A larger house allows for these kinds of flexible options.

Best wishes.
posted by Orlop at 5:41 PM on March 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

There's a lot of ancillary things that go into that space - ours is 1700 square feet (or so), but has a half-finished basement not included in that, and an outdoor patio. We have the right number of rooms and good spacing, but I would happily take another, oh, 100-200 square feet and make the bathrooms less claustrophobic. 2200 is (imo) a nice size, assuming the layout is right. It's large-ish, but not huge. People don't walk around a 2200 square foot house going "whoa, there's *another* room???". Also, with a kid, is family more likely to visit? Being able to put them somewhere is nice. I know that every person's "too much" is going to vary, but when you first mentioned "too much space", I was thinking you were going to say at least something like 3600-4000 square feet. Agreed with the above points on the 1.5 acre lot though. How much of that needs to be maintained? Could be a really nice feature though if that's your jam. I'd personally love a wooded back acre.
posted by annabear at 5:55 PM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've done the one person (+ Feline Overlord) in 1100 square feet, which was objectively Too Much Space.

2200 square feet for a couple, with a kid on route? It'll depend on layout (and on whether you're planning on having more than one kid), but it doesn't seem totally out of the realm of reasonable to me.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 6:01 PM on March 5, 2018

We just moved from a 800 sq foot place to something closer to 2,000 with an infant. I personally think its great. If you have any kind of hobby or would like to take up a hobby, you can have the space to do it without having it just out in the open to little baby hands. Also, don't discount the pleasure of shutting a door, YOUR door, while your partner is on baby duty.

We went from basically a studio to a three bedroom and rather than giving the baby her own room, we each got a hobby room and she sleeps with us. I've really liked it. I am now converting "my" room to her bedroom now that she is one and her amazing personality is starting to make itself known, but we still have that one extra room for fun/dangerous things that she doesn't really go into.

If there are rooms you straight don't use, put in blackout curtains or otherwise insulate and shut off the air vents so you don't pay to heat it. Just air it out every now and then. The yard will be the big issue. If it is lawn, think about converting it to something with less maintenance and more natural or go the other way and put down decking or just sand and pebbles for an entertaining area.
posted by stormygrey at 6:15 PM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

You're describing a ton of factors aligning. That's amazing; I'd absolutely go for an offer. However, yes, if you get the house, it will feel too big at first. You'll have empty shelves and unused rooms. Don't let that panic you. You'll settle in. Your things will spread out and you'll come to find purposes for the extra cupboards. It won't seem as weird to not quite know where the other people/pets are in the house. It'll be nice to have space.
posted by teremala at 6:22 PM on March 5, 2018 [15 favorites]

Note — i’m a single person. I went from renting a 750sq ft apartment that i thought was too small to buying a 1800 sqft townhouse. (it’s a weird layout and only 2 bedrooms). I kinda regret it because it is too big for just me and the cats. I feel i should always be cleaning. i live in 3 of the rooms and entire areas go untouched (except by the cats which means hair and dust to clean...). Doing it again and knowing there are no additional people in the picture i would go much smaller. Also because i have all this space somehow i’ve accumulated so much more “stuff” to fill it... most of which i really don’t need. How it got to the point where half my garage is packed to the ceiling with boxes i have no idea... when you have room, the stuff just seems to appear.
posted by cgg at 6:25 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think you'll just get used to the extra space in about 3-6 months, but it's understandable that it feels like a lot right now.
If you've been looking for 15 months and this is legit the first one that hits all your Must Haves, then a smaller lot size and smaller footprint are on the Nice to Have but not dealbreakers list, then you might want to make an offer. You don't know that you'll go under contract if there are other offers and there could still be dealbreakers if you get to the inspection and find out that xyz major repairs are an issue.
If you want to get used to the budget change though, start setting aside the equivalent of your potential mortgage+insurance payments now into a (savings/money market) account and that will give you the feel of functioning on that kind of budget.
posted by tangaroo at 6:30 PM on March 5, 2018

This house seems fine. Keep in mind your baby will need a separate space to sleep (at some point in the next few years). Also in a couple years your kid will have toys. Like a room full of toys. Plus second kid (?) And their toys. Plus the dog beds. Also you could have a guest room.

So I think the house is fine. And maybe think about having most of the yard not maintained if possible. I think this is an ok amount of house!

Maybe think about your dream square footage. Is it 1800? How different is this house you can readily afford? 800 is not enough square feet for 3 people and dogs. Kids are messy.
posted by Kalmya at 6:35 PM on March 5, 2018

You may be shocked at how cramped your space seems once all the baby gear starts to show up. I feel like my townhouse shrunk by half once all my baby’s equipment (swing pack n play rock n play etc etc) was set up, not to mention her nursery. 2200 sq ft and a big lot sounds perfect for a family with kids and dogs.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 6:44 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

It'll be fine. If it comes down to it, you can close off entire rooms, but I suspect you'll find good use for the space. Its benefits outweigh its costs.
posted by metasarah at 6:47 PM on March 5, 2018

I moved into 2200 sq ft and 3 acres with my two kids after living in 800 sq ft most of my life. It’s taken me about two years to stop being scared of it and start to stretch out and enjoy it a bit. It’s hard to keep it clean to my personal standards (something that I imagine will get easier as my kids get older, not as my house gets smaller). Since acreage isn’t unusual around here, finding a teenager with access to his dads riding mower to take care of the yard was easy. I love my home and wouldn’t trade it. Give yourself time to adjust.
posted by annathea at 6:50 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

That's a lot of house to heat and air condition. It will need a lot more furniture, curtains, rugs, and it's nearly triple the sq. footage, which means at least double the cleaning. I'd put some effort in to making sure the heating and cooling is zoned so you might use that south-facing family room in winter, and the shadier living room in summer. I'd love to have acreage so I could have a bigger garden, more fruit trees and more animals. If it's lawn, try to reduce the lawn and have perennials and low-maintenance landscaping. Lawns can use a lot of fertilizers that may pollute local fresh water and even with a riding mower, that's too much mowing.
posted by theora55 at 6:51 PM on March 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have lived in 700 sq ft and had a house that was, including the basement, 5800 sq ft. I also was the person who single handedly, cleaned out and moved out of the large home. My first law about space is that whatever space you have, your stuff will grow to fit it. Law number two is that with one or more children, space will always be at a premium. We also had 1.35 acres of land. Maintaining it was a pain, but very doable. For the first few years, I was the gardener. I cut the grass weekly. In our case, the size of the house and some small wooded area in the back made the yard area probably less than an acre. Add in the driveway, trees, and the yard was not any more of an issue than any house. In the later years, we paid a service to maintain the yard.

Having raised 3 wonderful ying yangs who are 22, 23, and 24 right now, Buy This House. It has what you look for, it has room to grow, you will not have to keep looking, you will not have to keep looking, and you will not have to keep looking which for us was worth its weight in gold.
posted by AugustWest at 6:57 PM on March 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

I have a much bigger house and 12 acres. The house is not too much space, use what you want, give the kid a playroom (playrooms are the bomb), have a nice guest room, close the rest of the doors of you want. If you can pay for cleaners once a month or so, and have factored in the cost of heating/cooling the space, you’re good.

1.5 acres of lawn would be awful, but I’m assuming it’s not 1.5 acres of lawn. How is it maintained now? Meadow? Woods? Mix? There are many ways to manage that amount of space that are less time consuming than a standard suburban plot, it all depends on what you want. The dogs and kid are going to love it.

If you’re truly that particular about houses, I see very few negatives in this one. If you had plenty to pick from you could certainly do with a smaller house, but if this is the first to come along in 3 months and your other requirements are inflexible, well. Space is a good problem to have, imho. Buy it!
posted by lydhre at 7:05 PM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I went from living in a 700-ish sq ft apartment (of my own) to, through parental attrition, being the owner of two very large houses. I still live in my apartment, but spend some time each year in the VLHes. My observations:

- it's rarely a good idea to buy the first house you see. Try to line up a bunch of other houses to see real soon unless your geographic restriction is so severe that other houses are unlikely to come up
- be aware that property taxes may be based on land and house size, so be sure the ongoing taxes are within your tolerance ranges
- think about neighbors. If you're really looking at a possible forever house, the people nearby you will really matter, make sure this house isn't available because someone in an adjoining property is truly terrible
- it's pretty simple to close off parts you don't use and MUCH easier if you don't have to heat/cool them if you're someplace with real winter/summer. Look into that. One of the VLHes I have has a lot of bathrooms, this is a pain in winter.
- guestrooms are AWESOME and useful for many things including, if you needed, AirBnB type things. I have loved being able to host events for friends at the VLHes that I can't do in my apartment at all
- big yards take regular maintenance, even just to keep stable. This will fall on you guys or you'll pay someone to do this, so keep that in mind along with taxes/mortgage. The same is true for the renos. It can actually be nice to have a house that is big enough so you can reno one part and it doesn't derail everything.

I have not found, personally that I've worked to fill up the spaces I have, but then again my situation is unusual and I'm mostly in an ongoing GET RID stage. It's nice to have extra rooms for kids. Happy to chat more about large house ownership if you want to email.
posted by jessamyn at 7:05 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Our house is less than 2000 square feet, and I consider it small for two adults and a four year old. No pets.

2200 for two adults, child(ren), dogs, etc. seems rather small to me. When I saw your qualms about size, I thought you might be considering 4800--5800 sq ft. Again, I'm in less than the house you're considering now (albeit smaller lot)--and came from about 900 sq ft. and it really feels no bigger than where we came from.

It really is not a lot to heat/air condition/clean, especially if you don't use all the rooms.

Personally, I wish we had 1000 more feet, particularly for the teenage years, but I grew up in a small apartment with one bathroom, so I can live through that....
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:06 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

By all that is holy, don't fill a room with boxes! That way lies madness!

Whew... anyway, find your "zones" -- public areas (living room, dining room, an open floor-plan kitchen, one public-access bathroom, an office if you have clients), private areas (bedrooms, bathrooms, a den if you like a private "me" space for reading or exercising), and work areas (laundry room, garage, an area for messy and loud construction projects like painting and woodwork).

How do you feel about the paths through these areas? Can you get from a messy area (putting polyurethane on a reclaimed set of shelves) to a bathroom without tracking debris through the house? Will sounds from the den (exercising to some hot beats) disturb family members sleeping in?

Are there remote areas where you can shut the door and just... ignore them? Seriously. Just close the HVAC vents and leave those rooms blank. No guilt. Okay... add a bean bag chair and some mood lighting and do meditation in there. All that free space and no distractions!

Just work on furnishing the public areas and gradually add to the personal ones. Clutter is not your friend -- leave that empty space empty! You're welcome.

But an acre and a half of land... ehh. A shop building? A pen for guinea hens?
Goats for steep landscape upkeep? “I can waste an hour and a half watching goats,” admitted Knox. “I’m just a sucker for them. There’s so much personality there.”

As long as you don't feel that the land and the square footage owns you, go for it.
posted by TrishaU at 7:15 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I spent ten years living in a beautiful, historic home with three floors (plus a finished basement), shiny appliances, fancy features, and a huge garden. It was wonderful to have had that opportunity but I loved to a three-room apartment with historic features six months ago and only regret not having done so earlier. My rent was cheap but the utility bills were incredibly steep and I spent so much of my time worrying about the house and stressing about yard work and cleaning and more. Never again would I live in a large home for a billion reasons, although I'm glad I had the firsthand experience so I could find out what it was like (and why I didn't want it.) However, if you love having space and enjoy spending most of your time taking care of your home and garden, a large space may be absolutely perfect for you.

I know of a lot of people who rushed their housing search due to the birth of a child. Most regretted it later on as they found their priorities and needs changed. You can always rent a larger house to see what's it's like without the commitment of buying. Ultimately, you know what's best for you, and it sounds like this house checks off all the boxes but actually isn't quite right for you.
posted by smorgasbord at 7:20 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I reluctantly bought a house that is way too big for us (two adults, no kids now or planned) a few years back. My main reservations were about having so much extra space to clean, and the extra costs/time of maintenance in a larger space (more roof to replace, a bigger heating/cooling unit to install/replace, more walls to paint, more garden to plant/weed, more plumbing that can fail, more gutters to clean, more windows and doors that can break, etc.)

Two years on, all of that is definitely true. I do resent the extra cleaning it needs and I don't keep it anywhere near as clean as I used to keep our apartments in the past. The maintenance hasn't been too bad yet, but it's definitely been more expensive than it would be with a smaller place. I'm going to have to paint soon, and I'm dreading it. There's some upkeep that hasn't been done but should be. The garden has gone a bit wild.

People told us at the time that if we really hated having extra rooms, we could just not put any furniture in them, keep the doors closed, and pretend they weren't there. I guess you COULD but it seems really weird, and of course we didn't. You will find uses for the rooms (that bit's kind of fun even - library, gym, gaming room, meditation space?) but then as I said, you'll have to clean them and maintain them.

I wouldn't do it again by choice. I think my husband would say the opposite, but he always valued space for its own sake, and I don't think I do.

(It was kind of not really a choice at the time, though - we were in a crazy housing market where if we bought far enough out of the city that we could afford to buy in the first place, there were almost no small houses available because traditionally this was the part of town people moved to in order to have large houses and backyards - and the price differential between the few 2-bedrooms we did see and the 4-bedrooms that were most of the market was almost nothing anyway).
posted by lollusc at 7:23 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have found with a larger place it is so much easier for me to keep clean and organized. We are happier in a larger space.
posted by beccaj at 7:37 PM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the thoughts so far. Keep them coming.

To answer the repeated question.... I'm worried about yard maintenance too. And yes, it is currently basically all lawn. The half of our marriage who handles yard work is not concerned, but perhaps naively so.
posted by raspberrE at 7:46 PM on March 5, 2018

Response by poster: Also I'm very concerned about cleaning. I can clean our current house in an hour.
posted by raspberrE at 7:46 PM on March 5, 2018

Buy a Roomba. So. Much. Easier. I wish we had bought one years ago.
posted by GuyZero at 7:55 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

We've just moved from a remote property with 5 acres of meadow and an 850 square foot house. We sure would've welcomed a much larger house as if you're out a bit you tend to need more things. One thing our small house had was a nice wide entry hallway which was very useful in a country house.

My wife always said the place would have been easier to clean if it was bigger.

People here (NZ) often get a farm contractor to cut their field for hay, often at no cost and sometimes at a small profit. Some contractors have businesses based on this. 1.5 acres is a LOT of grass cutting, and with baby coming you cant afford to lose control of it - but also look at this mefi post for other solutions for very large yards.

Sound perfect for your needs.
posted by unearthed at 8:08 PM on March 5, 2018

We just moved from a tiny house to a huge one and the big place is vastly easier to keep clean. Especially with a toddler and all the stuff that goes with a toddler.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 8:12 PM on March 5, 2018

I also was imagining a much larger house from the title. Our house is a bit smaller, but it is just the two of us, no kids. It's a bit bigger than I wanted but sort of like you described, it was the perfect location so a few extra square feet seemed like an ok trade off. Heating and cooling costs have a lot to do with the quality of the construction (eg, insulation) and the efficiency of the HVAC unit; it's not just the square footage.

If left undivided, 1.5 acres is a lot of lawn, but much less work if part of it is a patio, part is lawn, and part is more natural, say. And that will be great for your dogs, definitely.

One of the things I really like is about our house is that it is just big enough that we can have someone come and stay, including with children, without feeling like everyone is on top of each other. Guests are a lot more enjoyable when you aren't listening to them snore, or waiting to use the only bathroom. Our old house had one bathroom and the guest room was a futon in the office -- it was nice when people came to visit, and really nice when they left.

There is also just enough space that one person can take a nap or read while the other one watches a loud movie; it's nice to have a little bit of privacy and separation at times.

Having said all that, financially it would almost certainly be smarter for us to have a small apartment and pay for guests to stay in the nicest hotel in town -- the extra space is a luxury, but not at all a necessity.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:48 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I guess the yard maintenance will be influenced by the neighbors and if there is any kind of HOA or neighborhood rules. If all the adjoining lots are clear, neat lawns etc and/or there are requirements then it will be a lot of work. If not, you can get some fast growing tress planted in bunches around the edges etc. My sis and BIL put in a big pull through semi-circular drive in front for not too much money that broke up a giant rectangle of grass and is really practical.
posted by Gotanda at 8:55 PM on March 5, 2018

Buy a lawn tractor and it'll be fine. An acre of lawn doesn't take long with a lawn tractor.

Once you have the baby you won't have as much time to exercise the dogs for a few months and the large lawn will come in handy. 2200 isn't huge at all, that's an average house for people with 2-3 kids and family who visits. You'll be fine. If you love it, buy it.

My feeling on houses is that the only thing that matters is the layout. You CAN change the layout but it's soul destroying to do so. Find a layout you like in the area you want and and live with the rest.
posted by fshgrl at 9:35 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

You'd be surprised at what you can fill up, especially with kids. I lived in a 3500 sq ft house as a kid on a relatively large lot and it was large enough to provide some privacy without being huge for 4-5 people.

I would have killed as a kid to have a quarter to half acre of land and another acre or so of hay field with paths meandering through it like a friend of mine later in life had.

My point is that if you have kids or plan to have kids, that size house is in no way too big. Larger than necessary, sure, but it isnt anywhere near large enough to be ridiculously oversized like a modern mcmansion.
posted by wierdo at 10:58 PM on March 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

I had a bunch of specific requirements too when I got my current house, and it took us like a year of looking before we found it. It's much bigger than we need, and cost a bit more than we wanted to spend, but getting all of the other things we wanted made it worthwhile. I don't regret it a bit, it's easy to clean because there's space for all my stuff, I have a nice office/spare bedroom, and a room for sewing/crafting. You've been looking for a year to find this one, you're not going to find another with all-the-same-features-but-a-bit-smaller anytime soon. The yard will take a lot more work, but that can also be minimized by either getting good yard tools (like the yard tractor mentioned above) or by planting a lot of trees and shrubs and stuff that takes care of itself. If I were you I'd go for it. I love my big house, I have great parties in it!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:22 AM on March 6, 2018

Buy it. I lived with not one but two children under 5 in a 700 square foot house for a while. Not good. I'm in a building with about 2100 sf now with two teenagers. It's great. Trust me, you want the space in the house, and it's fantastic to have space outside nearby for your kids to play. It sounds like the location is great for your work and community lives. And if your finances are comfortable enough to afford it, you almost certainly can swing some money to help with upkeep indoors or out if you do feel like it's too much. Do it, do it, do it.
posted by Sublimity at 3:51 AM on March 6, 2018

Kids have a tendency to make any house seem smaller. And having a kid increases not only the amount of space you’ll need, but the amount of space you’re comfortable with. Rooms go from “I can’t imagine possibly having a use for this” to “ooh, this would be a great place to take a break from the kid.” If you have any hobbies or activities that require grownups-only equipment, large houses are amazing.

We’ve lived in 1000-ish sf apartments for the past nine years. Before the kid, that was happily roomy, bordering on “how do we fill this.” With a kid, it’s enough, but now I regularly daydream of houses twice the size.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:51 AM on March 6, 2018

Some of the lawn maintenance items may come with the house, or become easily transferred when push comes to shove at moving time. These items can be messier to move, or, they use a service and they, and their storage will be absent. Your size sounds ideal. In warm months having outdoor space can be a huge perk. Someone mentioned neighbors- check on if there is a homeowners association, your realtor can chase down this detail. Chat up your future neighbors to get the lay of the land, too.
posted by childofTethys at 5:26 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

When your kid is older you are going to be SO GLAD to have enough space that you guys can all do your own thing without annoying each other. My 7-year-old has friends over to play Minecraft sometimes, and even in our 2400sf house I sometimes wish we had a basement to send them to. It's also nice to have a big enough house that you can watch scary movies after the kid's in bed without freaking them out / keeping them awake.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:33 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't think this is too much house. We (2 adults, 1 child) moved from an apartment to a 1,400 sf house. I think that if another child were in the cards for us it would be too small. It sounds like you are anticipating more than one kid in the future.

My biggest regret is not the size, but the lack of walk-ability. I mean, we can walk around the neighborhood, but there's no destination. I really wish we could have found a place in walking distance of the library or a park. Or even a Dunkin' Donuts. If you've found a place you can afford that has that quality, and it's important to you, and hard to find in your area, I think you should jump on it.
posted by Kriesa at 6:48 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

It is perfectly alright to close off rooms you don't use, close the vents that pump conditioned air into them, and not worry about them (until someday you need to). If you could close off ~300 sqft of rooms, how would you feel about it then?

2200 sqft would be too big for me too. I downsized from a house that was too big for me, which had two rooms I never used. One of them I closed off, one I could not because of the layout.
posted by adamrice at 6:49 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

We bought a house with all the benefits you name, with the same drawback: ours is 2600 sq ft. After giving each kid a room, and the parents an extra hobby room, and using the dining room for a workout area, we still had one big room left! Gotta say, kids can have a lot of fun running around an empty room, building pillow forts, bouncing soft balls off the walls...

Nowadays that room has bean bags, Legos, a projector, and the board games. I kind of like it more than my living room, to be honest.

Lawn maintenance: I pay someone, life is too short. I wouldn't live in a house with lawn if I didn't have the dough to pay someone. But I have had the big ass riding lawn mower experience at a friend's house, and I can see why some people like that.

Extra space is the best house problem to have. (Now I also have lived on a boat, and there extra space sucks because everything about boat maintenance is cubed per foot of waterline. Houses are more forgiving.)
posted by BeeDo at 7:35 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

We upgraded a couple years ago from around 1500 to 3000 sq ft, and it's just two of us. Like you, the house was more than I was looking for, but in all other ways it was pretty much our dream house. We do have a guest room and bathroom we never really use, but that doesn't bother me and is convenient in the rare cases we need it. I get to have a dedicated craft room, which is awesome. There's not much going on in the finished basement, but I like that I know we will eventually do something awesome with that space.

I actually find it easier to clean. I think that's because there's more storage, so everything has a place and I'm not dealing with as much clutter. And maybe the dog hair has more room to waft around before it becomes tumbleweeds.

As some people mentioned, I would be more concerned about the yard work. We definitely spend a lot more time cleaning up leaves and taking care of the yard. But we also think it's definitely worth it.

I did take me a while to fill some of the rooms, and there are still some spaces where furniture was placed when we moved in that doesn't really make sense, but I figure I have plenty of time to fill the rooms with the right things.
posted by thejanna at 9:20 AM on March 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

That is not too much house. It might be too much yard. You're feeling first time homebuyer jitters (normal!) and trying to find reasons for it. That could mean that it's not right for you... but the financial situation of it sounds amazingly good.

The yard can be dealt with--hiring a landscaping company or replanting a bunch of it with something besides lawn (assuming there aren't any restrictive regs about what your yard has to look like).

Caveat: I live in the absolutely bananas housing market that is Seattle, so everything you're saying screams "buy!" to me.
posted by purple_bird at 9:23 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hire someone to do the yardwork if you think it's too much. We have a tiny yard and still have someone mow because we just don't have time. Same way with cleaning. Also, stuff has a way of expanding to fit available space. You may think it's a lot of space now, but just wait. Baby and then kid stuff has a way of taking over the whole house if you let it.
posted by cass at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok, now all this talk of "your stuff expands to fill your space" is making me nervous! One of the things we value about living in a small house currently is that we have an excuse to get rid of things and we just don't own much. Is it possible to maintain that in a larger space?!
posted by raspberrE at 2:27 PM on March 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

My answer to your most recent question is no. But it's likely that you are better about avoiding clutter than I am so it's quite possible that your answer would be yes, it's easy to avoid accumulating too much. A major reason I love having moved to a smaller space is having less crap and only what I really love or need (and by no way am I a minimalist!) Something that I hadn't anticipated about living in a larger home in a neighborhood of larger homes is how you can easily start to adopt the mindset of those around you. Well, not adopt it but start thinking more similarly: I am strong and independent yet was shocked to realize that my relationship with stuff changed (for the worse) in my bigger space when surrounded by the same. You will have more space and privacy so hopefully less pressure but it's something to consider. However, scale can be different so you might also find that the stuff you have doesn't quite work in the new space and you need to get new furniture and other home goods that fit better. I don't think the house you describe seems ridiculously big at all but chances are your relationship with stuff with change a bit, too, but not necessarily for the worst.
posted by smorgasbord at 2:37 PM on March 6, 2018

"Is it possible to maintain (a minimalist lifestyle) in a larger space?!"
Yes. It takes discipline and a plan, but yes. Empty space is beautiful.

One trick I've heard is if anything comes into the house, something must be discarded first. A new sofa? Take the old one to the thrift store... before the new one is delivered. New coat? Donate last year's jacket to a shelter.

The rules of discard. 1) Do you remember you have it? 2) Do you remember where you put it? 3) Can you get to it in ten minutes? 4) Have you used it in the last two years? 5) How many copies do you have (because of a failure in rules 1 to 4)?
posted by TrishaU at 6:08 PM on March 6, 2018

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