By Sam Wasson
Updated Nov 5, 2022
When buying your first home, there’s a good chance you’d expect a spacious single-family house with a full, lush lawn and a sizable backyard. Unfortunately, finding a home with a sizable yard can be extremely difficult in today’s market. Data has shown that, as time goes on, plots, and yards, are slowly being consumed by the houses that rest upon them.
To help you get a better idea of the current housing market and what kind of yard you can expect in your state, we here at House Method conducted a comprehensive survey of each state’s average home, lot, and yard size. This article will cover our findings and explain why yards are shrinking across the U.S.
According to our research, the national yard size sits around 23,301 square feet, or just over half an acre. We found this number by using census data to calculate the average lot size per state, along with the average home size. Then, we used each state’s data to get a national average for lot size (25,240 square feet) and subtracted it from the national average home size (1,940 square feet) to get the national average yard size.
Most states fall comfortably within 15,000 and 25,000 square feet, allowing the majority of homeowners to possess decent-sized yards. This amount might seem small to some home-buying veterans, as historically, homes have had much larger yards. But, as studies have shown, American homes have not only gotten larger, but their lot sizes have gotten smaller, resulting in a decrease in yard size over the generations.
Many factors can contribute to a state’s lot and yard sizes, such as the price of land, housing demand, cost of materials, and population density. The following map illustrates the average size of each state’s yards.
The state with the largest yards, by a wide margin, is Alaska. Alaska boasts yards over 200,000 square feet, or four and a half acres, per property. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Maryland, whose yards only measure up to 7,599 square feet, or 0.17 acres. If you’re in the market for a spacious yard but don’t want to relocate to the far north, you can check out the other top-ranking states like Maine (1.64 acres), Vermont (1.59 acres), New Hampshire (1.09 acres), and Alabama (0.67 acres).
After conducting our study, two states stood out to us — Florida and Texas. In recent years, these two states have seen some of the highest numbers of movers relocating to them. As such, you might expect them to have larger yards, especially since Texas is known as the “private land state.” However, this is not the case, as both Texas and Florida fall below the national average for yard size. Texas yards average around 0.34 acres, and Florida is even less at 0.25 acres.
While most homeowners want larger yards, particularly back yards, some prefer smaller, more manageable properties. If that is the case for you, states like Maryland (0.17 acres), California (0.18 acres), New Jersey (0.21 acres), Hawaii (0.23 acres), or New York (0.23 acres) might be to your liking. Several factors contribute to these states’ smaller than average lot and yard size, but most analysts believe the main contributing facets are the price of land, land availability, population density, and local industry.
Below is a table containing the data on each state’s yard size, organized by state name, yard size in feet, and yard size in acres.
|State||Yard Size (square feet)||Yard Size (acre)|
Our findings on yard size were surprising. We expected certain states, particularly those with thriving economies, to offer properties with larger yards. However, this was not the case. Instead, many states have relatively small lots and yards, even those centered around privatized land, like Texas. Overall, Americans can expect around half an acre in most states. Some outliers offer far more, like Alaska with its four and a half acres, or significantly less, like Maryland with its 0.17 acres. If these trends persist, the American yard will continue to shrink in size, with each generation of yards decreasing.
House size refers to the total square footage of a home, whereas lot size refers to the size of a parcel or tract of land owned by one or multiple people.
Simply put, lot size refers to the size, in square footage or acres, of land, and house size refers to the size of the home on the lot.
As of writing this article, the national average lot size in the United States is 25,240 square feet or just over half an acre.
For most American homes, one acre of land is more than enough space for a single house. Most American homes fit comfortably on lots half that size, providing room to spare for modest yards. Technically, you could fit two or potentially even three homes on a single acre of land.
According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, the size of American yards has been decreasing in size since the 1800s. While there have been some generations where yards have increased in size proportional to houses (namely 1985 through 1990), most properties decrease in size. The rate at which yards decrease is also proportional to the increase in the size of homes, so, in short, our homes are taking up the space that used to go to yards. Furthermore, the home lot sizes have also been decreasing, hitting record lows in 2019.
To find the average yard size in each state, we analyzed the average lot size and the average house size and subtracted the house size from the lot size. We used data from the U.S. Census Bureau for the house size and used a proprietary data set for the yard size. That dataset included local and federal government data as well as real estate listings. Our data is the most recent data available (2020 Census and 2022 local government, real estate listings).
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