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That’s your lot: The 5 best places for outdoor space at home in the US

Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Austin are home to the largest backyards in America.

Americans have always valued space – indoors, outdoors and below – with the pandemic only adding to this preference for living large. However, many of their biggest cities have seen shrinking home lots as available land becomes scarce and building costs are spiking. That’s according to a recent report issued by StorageCafé that looked at home and lot size evolution over the past 100 years.

How much space is considered a lot? (Photo by Artazum/Shutterstock)

So where can residents have their cake and eat it too in this context? Indianapolis, for one, provides plenty of room to roam at home with lot sizes standing out as the biggest in the nation. Jacksonville, Florida, is also a great place for those seeking outdoor space at home as local lots also spread over 9,000ft².

New builds provide more space indoors than outdoors these days but some cities – generally spread-out metropolises – will still give you large backyards where family fun can expand beyond the walls of the home. Here are the top five cities where yard space can respond well to people’s need for space.

Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 9,191ft².
  • Median house size (all inventory) – 1,465ft²
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 15.9%

When it comes to lot size, Indianapolis shines brightest among the top 20 largest cities as the median housing lot size there is about 9,200ft². The median home size is close to 1,500ft², allowing occupancy of around 16% of the lot.

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New homes, however, tend to be bigger in Indianapolis, reducing the overall yard space availability in new builds, especially those constructed in the last decade. Homes built between 2010 and 2019 are roughly 2,140ft² and sit on 7,900ft² lots.

Jacksonville, Florida

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 9,104ft²
  • Median house size (all inventory) – 1,812ft²
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 19.9%

Jacksonville, Florida, is the only coastal city in the list of cities with the largest yard spaces, with a median lot size of 9,100ft². The median home size is approximately 1,800ft² or 20% of the land plot.

The heyday of Jacksonville’s home lots was in the 1970s, when lots reached more than 11,000ft², with homes amounting to 1,800ft². Much like in Indy’s case, homes got significantly bigger in the last decade, pushing lot usage to around 30%, higher than during any of the previous decades.

Austin, Texas

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 8,629ft²
  • Median house size (all inventory) – 1,865ft²
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 21.6%

As a Texan city, Austin doesn’t shirk from the state’s propensity for going big. Home lots in the City of Legends claim the third-largest median lot sizes at around 8,600ft². Homes have a median size of roughly 1,900ft².

Austin home lots had their twists and turns over the last century. Starting out at around 6,700ft² in 1920, the median lot size peaked in the 1960s at 9,500ft², not unlike other cities that fared well during the same time.

People here can still enjoy roomy homes while having enough space to stretch outside or even to grill with ease in their backyards. At a quick glance, you can find homes well over 2,000ft² in Old West Austin, but also all across South Austin, in Buff Springs and Circle C Ranch, for instance.

Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 8,538ft²
  • Median house size (all inventory – 2,064ft²
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 24.2%

Charlotte is another city where the median home lot is sizeable. Lots are frequently over 8,500ft² and homes are on the large side as well. Charlotte homes hover at around 2,000ft² on average.

Home lot sizes hit a peak in the 1970s, at 59,000ft². In the last decade, lots decreased to 7,500ft² with homes spanning over 2,350ft², making for a lot usage in new builds of over 30%.

Spacious homes are now a common sight in Charlotte with neighbourhoods such as Freedom Park and Elizabeth offering plenty of options for those who see yards as extensions of their homes.

Dallas, Texas

  • Median lot size (all inventory) – 8,194ft²
  • Median house size (all inventory) – 1,581ft²
  • House size share of lot (all inventory) – 19.3%

Another Texan city to make the five best cities for home lot size ranking, Dallas stands out thanks to its median lot size of about 8,200ft². At the same time, homes average 1,600ft², taking up close to 20% of the housing lot.

Home lot sizes peaked in Dallas in the 1960s, with an average residential lot size of about 10,000ft².

Living in homes that provide access to spacious outdoor areas became much more desirable since the pandemic started, with yard space often at a premium. Spread-out cities like Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Charlotte, where extensive yard space has traditionally been part of residential choices, can still cater to residents’ needs for space. At the other end of the spectrum, Philadelphia and Chicago offer much less space around the house, bringing a compromise to the bargaining table: large indoors or sprawling outdoors? Having both is now much less likely.

Mirela Mohan is a creative writer for StorageCafé.