Downsizing as an empty nester is about making your home dreams come true. Whether you want lesser square footage to clean or that dream home that emphasizes outdoor living or maybe paying for excessive space, heating and electricity are just not adding up for you. In every scenario, this new time in your life can and should be an exciting experience, in our opinion!

Size and Cost

There are hundreds of variables in determining how much square footage you need. The national averages state that

  • A small house is anything less than 1,000 square feet
  • An average home is in the 2,500-square-foot range
  • Large homes are 4,000 square feet and larger.

When buying a new home to downsize, the most crucial question is - how much space do we need? We have found it helps to break down our needs into the different types of rooms in a home and then consider the square footage. Think about your bedroom. Think about your shared living spaces and kitchen wish list. Do you want a separate dining room? Do you need a space for entertaining? Do you dream of a home office, craft room, library, or other dedicated space? How many bathrooms do you need? Should your garage be smaller… or more oversized? This is your floor plan.

National Size averages

Percentage-wise, the National Association of Home Builders states that this is how much you should allocate for each type of room:

  • Master bedroom – 12% (300 square feet)
  • Other average bedrooms – 16% (432 square feet)
  • Master bathroom – 6% (154 square feet)
  • Kitchen – 12% (300 square feet) Dining room – 8% (192 square feet)
  • Family (great) room – 12% (296 square feet)
  • Living room – 9% (223 square feet)

When downsizing, it’s all about you. With your children out of the house, you don't need all of the square feet (or the stuff!) in your empty nester home. So first things first, how big should your bedroom be? Should it be on the ground floor? Do you need more than one for when the nesters visit? Maybe a walk-in closet is what you need? Do you get many visitors? If yes, perhaps an additional guest bedroom should be on the books for you. An average master bed is about 300 square feet, while other bedrooms are approximately 210 square feet on average.

Once your bedroom is sorted, it's time to decide on your bathroom. What features do you want in yours? A clawfoot tub? A closed-off toilet? His and her sinks? The options are endless, and it’s up to you to decide what you would like in your bathroom. We recommend ensuite bathrooms with the bedrooms in the house and a small powder room on the main floor for entertaining and family alike!

The next significant consideration is the shared living areas. This includes the living, family, dining, and kitchen. Is having a spacious place to host guests vital to you? Do you want that space to be open and connected? Are you an indoor-outdoor living person?

If you’re looking to save money, a smaller kitchen and living area without an additional formal dining room may be exactly what you need. In square feet, the average kitchen is about 285 square feet, with living rooms starting from around 215 square feet.

As far as settling in quickly goes, the colours we see around are instrumental for us. Create a colour scheme that soothes you. You can choose to have an accent wall, use accent pieces, or paint the entire house in a colour scheme that brings you joy or total relaxation.

This is your chance to build and enjoy a home. Think about the things in your current home that make your heart sing and make you feel right at home. How are you taking that feeling with you? What are some areas you wish were different currently? These are some things we think are essential to prioritize when making decisions about your move.


P.S. Don’t forget to add to your floor plans to see how you can continue to use the space effectively as you age. For example, multipurpose rooms shift and change as you age.