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How small is too small?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis February 2, 2012 06:49 AM

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Extra space comes at as premium here in Greater Boston, a market dominated by older, smaller homes.

The vast majority of homes inside the I-495 beltway were built before the 1970s, when families were bigger and home sizes were typically smaller.

Homes built in the first few decades after World War II are likely to fall in the 2,000-square- feet-and-below range - I am thinking of all those vast tracts of 1950s capes and ranches.

My Natick village colonial is not even 1,800 square feet - and that's after an addition and renovation.

Yet maybe the problem isn't the size of the housing that's out there, but rather our attitude towards it. Even in a modestly-sized house, most of us can point to space we don't use and if push comes to shove, would be hard to justify, at least on a utilitarian basis.

If push comes to shove, maybe we really only need a few hundred square feet of living space - or even less.

I found myself fascinated looking at these micro-homes over my morning coffee - some are only 140 square feet and smaller.

They certainly come a lot cheaper than the typical suburban spread - say $50,000 as opposed to $500,000.

Still, if you really wanted to go the micro living route, you'd probably have to head to the wilds of Montana, or at least a rural area. I doubt most Boston suburbs would allow you to build a 140-square-foot home,

That said, it's not the amount of space that makes a house comfortable as much as the layout and design.

I am perfectly happy sharing 1,800 square feet with my wife and three small children - why pay for some ugly great room or ornamental dining room no one will ever use?

How much space do you want or need in a house? And while those micro homes look cute in ads, is there a point where small is just too small?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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