Americans live much larger than they did 30 years ago, despite families being slightly smaller. But that doesn’t mean Americans want bigger homes. As a recent Trulia study showed, homeowners suffer from widespread "grass-is-always-greener" syndrome, in which small home owners want to move up and big home owners want to downsize.
In 1978, the average home size was 1,750 square feet and the average family size was 3.33 people. But after three decades of redefining comfort and the nuclear family, those averages have shifted to 2,745 square feet and 3.14 people, respectively.
But that’s not the most compelling insight to come from Trulia’s study. This is: In a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, 60 percent said that if they were to move within the next year they wouldn’t buy a house of similar size – 37 percent would want a larger home and 23 percent would want a smaller one.
The divisions, as might be expected, fall along lines of current house size an age. For homeowners living with less than 2,000 square feet, the majority want a bigger home; and the reverse is true of homeowners with more than 2,000 square feet, as our below table shows.
|Home size (in square feet)||Majority would want larger or smaller?||Majority share (in percent)|
The age division is a matter of people younger than 55 wanting bigger homes and people over 55 wanting smaller ones. When more specifically comparing Millennials to Baby Boomers, Trulia researchers found that regardless of current home size, Millennials wanted bigger homes and Baby Boomers wanted smaller ones (apart from Boomers living with less than 800 square feet. They wanted bigger homes, as well).
|Home size (in square feet)||Majority of Millennials would want larger or smaller?||Majority Millennials share (in percent)||Majority of Boomers would want larger or smaller?||Majority Boomers share (in percent)|
Millennials were so in favor of larger homes that even those already living with more than 3,200 square feet would want more space if they were to move, as the above table illustrates.
Trulia provided no analysis to explain the size preferences, but it’s a safe guess they have something to do with lifestyle and income.