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How Big is an Acre?

Whether you are looking for land to build your dream house or just noticing the size of a lot in a property listing, you will likely see a reference to an acre. However, that unit of measurement may not conjure up a clear understanding of how much land it actually is. In this article, we will explain the size of an acre so that you know the answer to the question, “How big is an acre of land?”

Is a two-acre enough space, or will it be too much to maintain? 

The average lot size in the U.S. is less than a quarter of an acre, though this can change drastically based on the location. Large cities are less likely to offer bigger tracts of land, as space is at a premium due to the number of people living there.

However, if you are okay with driving a little further into town or opting to live in a more rural area, it is not uncommon to see listings for numerous acres of land. If you prefer not to have neighbors nearby and want space to enjoy your land with more wide-open space, an acre or more might be just the size you are looking for.

If you are moving from a subdivision, one acre of land will likely feel like a lot of space. However, if you prefer not even to see your neighbors, you may need more than one acre.

When considering a parcel of land, keep in mind that the term acre is used for measuring land and is a standard size unit, regardless of the shape of the property.


How Big is an Acre?

In the United States, an acre is 43,560 square feet of land or 4,046.86 square meters. If it is a perfectly square shape, the land is approximately 208 feet on each side. However, the ground can take various forms, and there is no one standard shape.

One acre is equivalent to .404 hectares. The shape of the land is not what determines an acre. It can be any length and width so long as the total area within the boundaries is 43,560 square feet.

The concept of acreage dates back to the Middle Ages. Initially, the term described the amount of land oxen could plow in one day. They determined the traditional size based on the length of a surveyor’s chain (66 feet) by a furlong (660 feet). A furlong was based on how far a team of oxen could plow before they needed to rest.

However, the size of an acre is not universal around the world. For example, an acre in Ireland or Scotland is actually bigger than an acre in the United States. An Irish acre is equivalent to 1.6 acres in the United States. Likewise, a Scottish acre of land is 1.27 acres in the U.S.

In addition, there is also a term used in larger U.S. cities called “commercial acre.” A commercial acre of land is only 36,000 square fee instead ofo the traditional 43,560 square feet.

One acre of land is plenty big to have a single-family house, a nice sized yard, and not feel like your neighbors are encroaching on your land. This lot size is much bigger than you will typically find in subdivisions or in towns. However, if you prefer to have more room or want to raise livestock or pursue other agricultural endeavors, you may need to buy more land than just an acre. Just how many acres is up to you and your budget.


Land Prices and Acreage

Land prices vary widely across the United States. The location of land and quality of land can make a big difference in the selling price, even within the same geographic location. For example, think about house sales. Even if they have the same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc., there are still differences in prices based on a number of features like the location, school district, age of the property, and neighborhood, among other factors.

Similarly, just like for houses, not all land is created equal. One acre in a particular area may sell for significantly more or less than an acre of land on the other side of town. Costs can range from a few thousand dollars per acre to several hundred thousand dollars per acre, based on the geographic location, whether it is prime real estate, and several other factors.

In total, there are 2.4 billion acres of land in the United States. The state that makes up the largest percentage of that land is Alaska, which constitutes 17% of the total acreage in the U.S. Obviously, a lot of the land remains uninhabited due to the harsh living conditions.

Understanding the size in feet or meters probably does not help you fully grasp how big an acre actually is. After all, the term acre only applies to land, and it can be hard to visualize. Instead, it may be easier to think of how one acre of land compares to other well-known items. You can better understand the total area of acres and how much land you actually want or need by providing visual comparisons.

Remember that to compute the area of a rectangle or square, you multiply the length times the width. We will compare the 43,560 square feet in an acre of land to the square footage of a variety of common and well-known items to help you better grasp the size of one acre and enhance your understanding of the unit of measurement.


An Acre Compared to a Football Field

If you need to picture this size of land visually, think about it in relation to football fields. How many football fields fit in an acre? To compute this, you need to know that an American football field is 120 yards long from end zone to end zone. It is also 53.3 yards wide. In feet, this translates to 360 feet by 160 feet.

To compute the area of the rectangle, multiply 360 feet by 160 feet to determine an area of 57,600 square feet. Based on this, an acre is approximately 75% of the size of an American football field including the end zones (43,560/57,600 = .756 or 75.6%).


An Acre Compared to a Tennis Court

A standard tennis court for doubles is 78 feet by 36 feet or 2,808 square feet. This means that about 15 and a half doubles tennis courts will fit inside an acre.

Alternatively, a tennis court for singles is 78 feet long by 27 feet wide. This makes the area 2,106 square feet, or over 20 singles tennis courts inside an acre of land.


An Acre Compared to a Volleyball Court

A volleyball court is 60 feet by 30 feet. This means that the regulation size court is 1,800 square feet in size. Therefore, you would need to place 24 volleyball courts to be approximately one acre.


An Acre Compared to a Basketball Court

A professional basketball court is 94 feet by 50 feet, or 4,700 square feet. This means over nine basketball courts will fit in an acre.


An Acre Compared to a Soccer Field

A soccer field, also known as a soccer pitch, is not a universal size. For professional teams, the typical size is 115 yards by 74 yards for a total of 76,900 square feet. This means that one acre is about .57 soccer fields.


An Acre Compared to an Ice Hockey Rink

A professional NHL ice hockey rink is 200 feet long by 85 feet wide. Accordingly, the ice hockey rink is 17,000 square feet. 2.56 ice hockey rinks fit inside an acre. Another way to think of it is that an ice hockey rink is about 40% of the size of an acre.


An Acre Compared to a King Size Bed

Perhaps the sports analogies are not helping you picture land acreage. A king-size bed is a common item to help you visualize the size.

A standard king-size bed is 76 inches by 80 inches for a total of 42.2 square feet. That means you would need to have 1032 beds side by side to be about the size of an acre.


An Acre Compared to a Two Car Garage

Typically, a two-car garage will measure 20 feet by 24 feet. This makes the total square footage of the garage 480 square feet. It would take 90 two-car garages placed side by side to be nearly a single acre.


An Acre Compared to a Sedan

Parked side by side, nearly 242 average-sized sedans will fit in an acre. However, if you think of it as a parking lot with ample space to open doors to get in or out of the car, approximately 150 cars will fit in an acre.


An Acre Compared to a House

If you consider 2,400 square foot houses, you can fit 18 homes within one acre of land, if you do not account for a yard or parking space. Realistically though, how many houses you could fit in an acre of land will depend on the size of the yard and driveways.


How Big is an Acre FAQ


How big is an acre visually?

The easiest way to picture an acre of land is as a square, meaning that the length and width are the same. For example, an acre would be approximately 208 feet long by 208 feet wide. However, the property does not have to be a perfect square.


How big is an acre compared to a football field?

An acre is approximately 75% of the size of an American football field.


How big is an acre examples?

An acre is 1/640th of a square mile or equivalent to nearly 16 tennis courts or 75% of an American football field. So you could fit 18 homes that are 2,400 square feet side by side within an acre of land or over 1,000 king-size beds.


What an acre of land looks like?

While it would be easier to understand an acre if there was one most common shape, such as a square, that unfortunately is not the case. The term acre is a legal unit based on the square feet of a property.

That is what is used to calculate the number of acres of land available to purchase by itself or with a house already on it. An acre can take on any number of shapes so long as the land is 43,560 square feet in lot size.

Related: How Much is An Acre?

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