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Ranked: The 50 US Cities with the Most and the Least Space to Move Around During Isolation

Ranked: The 50 US Cities with the Most and the Least Space to Move Around During Isolation
5 min. read

Happiness is an elusive term that usually means very different things to different people. But, during these harsh times, happiness seems to be returning to its simpler roots. That’s because being happy is becoming synonymous with being healthy. With having the simple — yet underestimated — freedom to just get out. To move around. To walk in the sun.   

Almost overnight, the words of the year have become “self-isolation,” “social distancing” and “shelter-in-place.” And, in this new world, the happiest people increasingly seem to be those who have a garden, a backyard, a terrace or even a small balcony.

With this in mind, we wondered where residents and home seekers would be more (or less) likely to have access to a garden or a back yard. Additionally, we wanted to see where people might benefit from larger dwellings or, conversely, be forced to weather the storm in more humble abodes. Point2 Homes analysts looked at the median lot size and median living area of properties that are on the market in the 50 biggest cities and boroughs across the U.S to discover the places that could make home isolation a bit more bearable.

9 Cities Offer Lot Sizes Larger than 10,000 Square Feet. Ready to Flee?

Looking at housing data through the lens of lot size and living space turns conventional wisdom on its head. Specifically, high-density, extremely desirable and sought-after urban hubs — like New York; San Francisco; Washington, D.C. and Boston — are pushed toward the bottom of the list of best cities to shelter-in-place during quarantine in favor of places like RaleighVirginia BeachAtlanta and Kansas City.

First up and with a median of just more than 15,000 square feet, Raleigh, N.C. boasts the absolute largest lot size of all of the cities included in the analysis. Moreover, the first eight cities in the ranking all have available lots larger than 10,000 square feet. As an added bonus — and perhaps unsurprisingly — the population densities in the 10 cities with the highest median lot sizes are also much lower than those in the areas where homes are small and crammed, and where a back yard is a thing of wonder.

Toward the end of the ranking, places like Washington, D.C.; Staten Island; Chicago; Queens; San Francisco; Philadelphia; the Bronx and Brooklyn all have median available lots of less than 5,000 square feet. That’s because high population densities in these areas have transformed them to be able to accommodate as many residents as possible. But, the apartments and homes in these cities and boroughs may be turning into claustrophobic spaces for many of their residents, whose only option for fresh air is to open a window.

No Lot? The “Great Indoors” Might Be the Next Best Thing

If a bigger lot with a garden or yard is not possible, the next best thing could be more living space. For instance, a home with an airy, comfortable living room; big bedrooms; and maybe a children’s play room is surely better than a family of four crowded into a two-bedroom apartment.

In this category, Colorado Springs takes home the big prize. With a median living area of nearly 3,000 square feet to roam, this city offers its residents at least the possibility to compartmentalize during the quarantine. Here, those who can work, study and exercise at home are more likely to have a separate room for each activity.

Of the 50 cities in the analysis, none came as close to a median living area of 3,000 square feet as Colorado Springs did. But, some of them still offer more than a decent amount of space. In particular, 12 cities boast median living areas greater than 2,000 square feet, with Raleigh coming in second, right after Colorado Springs. Tulsa takes the third spot with its median living area around 2,300 square feet.

The places with the least lucky residents are Miami; Staten Island; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Detroit; Philadelphia; and Boston. Here, the median living area is less than 1,500 square feet. These areas also have some of the highest population densities of all of the cities included in the analysis, which means condos and smaller dwellings are the more practical — and natural — solutions.


*To view all of the data for a certain city or rank the 50 cities according to the variables in the analysis, use the filters in the table below:




The median lot size for each city was calculated based on data for residential properties on the Point2Homes.com platform. Residential properties such as houses, single-family homes, duplexes and mobile homes — both for sale and sale pending — were all included in the analysis. Lot size data for condos and townhomes was excluded from the median lot size calculations.

The median living area for each city was calculated based on data for residential properties on the Point2Homes.com platform. The median living area for the NYC boroughs was calculated based on data from PropertyShark.com. Residential properties such as houses, single-family homes, duplexes, condos, townhomes and mobile homes — both for sale and sale pending — were all included in the analysis.

Population density data source: World Population Review

*Manhattan, NY was excluded from the analysis. There was no available data for lot size in the borough. According to PropertyShark.com data, however, the median living area in Manhattan is the lowest of all places included in the analysis: 1,100 square feet.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the story in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to Point2Homes.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

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