Why Do Americans Need So Much Space?

Why Do Americans Need So Much Space?

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Tess Wilson
Aug 17, 2015
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Q: Dear All, why is 675 square feet considered a small space? In a European capital/large city this is an apartment for 2-3 persons! This is NOT a small space, except if it is for a family of 4-5 (or more)! In my opinion, everything under 500 square feet is a small space (especially for 2 persons or more)....

If Apartment Therapy is considered an international site then maybe you could be a bit more realistic, if it is mainly for Americans it probably does not matter much! Where I live, nearly all newly-built apartment buildings have two-room apartments (for 3 persons) of around 600 square feet or less!!!! And even these are in a price range not easily affordable (rent or own). -Sent by Wondering

Editor: Thank you for your very interesting question- it's fun hear an outsider's perspective about things you might take for granted! Readers, let's do our best to answer the question sincerely, and not take it as a criticism or attack. Why might we in the US consider spaces to be small that aren't considered small in other countries? Why might our standards of size be different? I don't usually answer Good Questions, but I've lived in a lot of small spaces (less than 400 square feet, shared) and these are two things that came to mind:

Wide Range of Temperatures: Where I live, there's an annual range of 150ºF, from -50º to 100ºF (-101º to 38ºC), which necessitates a lot of different types of clothing and gear. The coat you wear when it's 40ºF is not going to cut it when it's -40ºF (honestly, you'll probably be wearing the first coat under another coat!) and the same applies to footwear, hats/gloves/scarves, and general clothing, all of which requires a fair amount of storage space. I realize, of course, that other countries have dramatic temperature variations, too! This is just the first thing I thought of.

What You Grew Up With: When we were discussing mattress sizes, a few commenters felt embarrassed that they'd always had full or larger mattresses and felt like a "spoiled, pampered jackass" because anything smaller felt tiny. But that's just the bed size they grew up with so that's what felt right. I quickly became accustomed to teeny apartments, but they were definitely an adjustment from the (not fancy but large) 10-room house I grew up in.

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