Better Location or More Space?

Assuming a fixed price point, house and apartment hunters near towns and cities quickly realize that a critical and early decision is one of location vs. space.

Simply put, the better the location, the less square feet the same amount of money will rent or buy. How can you decide which one is more important?


This decision is never an all-or-nothing proposition. Few people will buy the biggest home furthest from town, and few will buy the 300 s.f. “closet” above the heart of the downtown area.

Since you’ll fall somewhere in between, it’s likely that you’ll either pick the furthest comfortable distance or the smallest comfortable space. It just depends on whether space or distance are what you’re looking for.

The City Dweller

The city dweller cares most about distance. They want a lot of things within a walking, biking (or in some cases, a short drive) distance away. It may be because of their need to feel a connection to certain city activities. Their job might also drive the need to stay nearby.

Whatever the case may be, city dwellers should start with space. What’s the least amount of space you’re willing to live in to get closer to town? 1,000 square feet? 400 square feet?

Once you have an idea of minimum size, you can merge that with your buying or renting budget and quickly get an idea of the areas to look in where you’re most likely to find something right up your alley.

Spreading Out

On the other hand, other people really like their space. The idea of sharing a 1,500 square foot apartment with another human being is scary to them. They will feel like they’re on top of everyone, all the time.

Those looking for adequate room to spread their wings should start with distance. What’s the furthest away you’re willing to live away from populated areas and not feel like you’re disconnected or have to spend a fortune on transportation?

Once you have a range and merge it with your budget, you can quickly get an idea of the amount of space you’ll be able to get with your dollars.

What’s More Important?

What’s more important to you? Has it changed as you get older and your priorities change?

Do you think the way (space, distance) we live in the future will change and why?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

(Photo credit)

4 thoughts on “Better Location or More Space?

  1. A better option may be finding work in the suburbs of a larger city and living near work. You save some of the premium of living in a major city and can have a reasonable space.

    1. You’re absolutely right, though ultimately I would approach it the same way. I live in what would be considered a “small city” or even “town” by most people, but the same rules apply–living closer to the action still demands a considerable premium, though it’s certainly far below what living in a place like New York would.

    1. Donny,
      In that regard, we are alike, though an even more important factor for me is the energy of a city–it really fuels my own level of performance in every area of life. My wife, on the other hand, really wants the space, which is not surprising since we are opposites in almost every way–it makes for an interesting relationship, and I don’t mean that sarcastically in any way at all.

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