These cities have the most and least space to live during lockdown

Isolation is never easy — but in some places it’s easier than others.

Only eight U.S. cities have median lot sizes with over 10,000 square feet, according to a new study by listing site Point2 Homes, a subsidiary of Yardi Systems, a Santa Barbara-based investment and property management software.

“The most interesting thing is that during this pandemic, smaller cities are more livable than the big cities. This is only happening right now during the pandemic, when everybody has to stay indoors — or in their backyard if they’re lucky,” said Monica Alistar, a spokesperson for Point2 Homes. The study used median square footage from residential property data on the Point2Homes.com and PropertyShark.com platforms.

Best and worse cities during isolation by lot size. By Point2 Homes.

Raleigh, N.C. has the largest median lot size of U.S. cities at 15,682 square feet, according to the study. Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Kansas City, Wichita, Tulsa and Jacksonville all claimed lots over 10,000 square feet.

In general, populations in these cities were significantly lower than populations in small-lot cities, but some big cities like Atlanta (12,700 square feet) and Austin (median 9,975 square feet) also ranked No. 3 and No. 9, respectively, for largest lot sizes. 

Americans without a yard or a terrace for fresh air still might be better off if they have more space to move around inside, said Alistar, so the study also calculated indoor square footage. 

“We wanted to look at both lot size and living space inside because that is the next best thing. Of course, it would be great to have a backyard or a terrace — that would be amazing. But these cities do not have that,” said the study’s author, Andra Hopulele, a senior real estate writer at Point2 Homes.

Best and worse cities during isolation by living area. By Point2 Homes.

Colorado Springs had the biggest median interior living area, at 2,930 square feet — compared to the smallest living space in Boston, with a median 1,127 square feet indoors.

“If you look at the median living area, you see that the median in Colorado Springs is double that in Boston — more than double. So it’s really disproportionate. There are big differences between the first on the list and the last one. I was surprised by that honestly,” said Alistar.

On the East Coast, Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C. had the largest living areas, with 2,451 and 2,128 square feet, respectively. Indianapolis had the most indoor space in the Midwest, with 2,704 square feet.

Cramped urban spaces

New Yorkers are most likely to be cooped up during the pandemic — Brooklyn had the smallest median lot size, at 2,250 square feet. In fact, the study included four New York City boroughs on the list, including Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. Manhattan was not included in the study because lot sizes were not available.

Other Northeastern cities with the smallest lots included Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Chicago was the smallest in the Midwest at 3,781 square feet, while San Francisco clocked in as the smallest lots in the West Coast, with 2,840 square feet per lot, and New Orleans had the smallest lots in the South, at just over 5,000 square feet per lot.

“The properties that have the smallest outdoor spaces are located in sought-after urban hubs, but obviously, people there do not get to enjoy gardens or backyards, as people in smaller cities do,” said Alistar. “The big city is good for business and lifestyle, but during these times of lockdown, people in these cities might be less happy.” 

Indoors, small living areas are clustered in the Northeast: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Staten Island. Detroit and Columbus, Ohio had the smallest spaces in the Midwest. Miami had the smallest living area in the South, with a median 1,487-square-foot living space, and on the West Coast, San Francisco and San Diego both had median indoor space under 1,500 square feet.

“Right now, it would obviously be better to have a four bedroom, rather than, say, a studio. Especially if you have a family, the size of your home may force you to work in the same room with the children, who might be homeschooling. It isn’t ideal,” said Hopulele.

Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter

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