In a city where the “average” starter home begins at $350,000, choosing the best house boils down to location. However, after the location is sorted out, the next question is do I go with a better floor plan or more square feet?

Mind you, at $350K the most total square feet I can get at this price is 1,300. Do I jump at the max square footage, or search for smaller square foot plans that are more open, give the feeling of more room, and have better traffic areas?

I’d opt for a better floor plan over total square feet almost any day and here’s why:

  • On my limited budget, converting a larger, closed floor plan to an open one would cost more up front. Instead, I’d rather start with a great floor plan and work with what I have in the short term.
  • A great floor plan gives the appearance of more room than a slightly larger one, especially when I’m working with such small footprints anyway.
  • As long as the property is large enough (my point of view on the lot size is opposite – the more lot space the better), I could always add a shed-style office or guest room to solve my space problems.
  • Traffic flow is important; an open plan usually has more space for movement versus a plan that has walls separating every, single room cutting off foot traffic.
  • An open plan, or at least one that is better laid out, allows for more furniture configurations.

Even if my budget allowed for larger houses, I wouldn’t necessarily choose the largest floor plan for the exact same reasons I listed above. Two bedrooms in a 1,200 square foot house is a better choice for us than three tiny rooms squeezed into the same space. A kitchen with an open bar leading to a dining area which naturally leads to a living area is more inviting than a wall separating the most lived-in parts of the house.

Efficient floor plans are a little harder to find in my area since most of the houses were built in the 50’s and 60’s, but it’s not an impossible feat. As long as I have a floor plan to work with, the size won’t be too much of a deterrent.

If you had a choice of better floor plan or more space, which would you choose?