How Big Is an Acre of Land?

By Chelsi Hewitt

Posted on October 27th, 2022

Featured image of an acre of land

How Big Is an Acre? | Visualizing an Acre | How Many Houses Fit on an Acre? | Commercial Acres | Value of One Acre | Building a House

The preferred unit of measurement for land in the U.S. is the acre, which you might know if you’ve looked for a plot of land for your dream house or browsed homes with bigger yards. But what is an acre, and how big is an acre?

An acre of land is 43,560 square feet. It can be hard to visualize because it’s so large. Keep reading to learn how to visualize an acre, the average costs of an acre of land in various locations, and how much acreage you need to build your dream home.

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How Big Is an Acre of Land?

How big is an acre in square feet?
43,560 square feet
How big is an acre in square yards?
4,840 square yards
How big is an acre in square meters?
4,046.86 square meters
How big is an acre in square hectares?
0.405 square hectares
How big is an acre in square miles?
0.00156 square miles (1/640th of one square mile)
How big is an acre in square kilometers?
0.00404 square kilometers

The origin of the acre goes back centuries. Originally, an acre was the land area that could be plowed in one day with oxen pulling a plow. It eventually became a standardized unit of measurement for land, and it’s still widely used in the U.S. and U.K.

An acre doesn’t have to be any particular shape, as long as the total area is 43,560 square feet. But acres are often 660 feet by 66 feet.

What Does an Acre of Land Look Like?

It’s easier to visualize an acre if you compare it to something familiar. How big is an acre compared to an American football field?

An acre of land is equal to about 90% of a football field, which has 48,000 square feet of playable area (not including the end zones) compared to 43,560 square feet in an acre.

Football field

A tennis court has 2,808 square feet of playable area, so an acre is around 16 tennis courts.

16 tennis courts

A regulation NBA basketball court covers 4,700 square feet, meaning around nine basketball courts could fit into an acre.

9 basketball courts

How Many Houses Can Fit on an Acre?

The median lot size for new single-family homes is 0.19 acres or 8,276 square feet. That means around five average-sized home lots can fit on one acre.

However, if you want to know how many homes can legally fit on one acre where you live, you have to consult your local zoning laws. Minimum lot sizes vary widely across the country. One study of Texas lot sizes found that minimum lot sizes in the studied towns ranged from 6,500 square feet to 16,000 square feet. A standard east coast rowhome can be built on a lot as small as 1,400 feet, while some rural areas have minimum lot sizes of one acre (or several acres).

What Is a Commercial Acre?

A commercial acre is about 83% of a standard acre.

Standard Acre
43,560 square feet
Commercial Acre
36,000 square feet

The term "commercial acre" originated in the commercial real estate community. A commercial acre is the land left over after deducting areas a property owner can’t modify, like sidewalks, roads, and alleys. It's now a legal unit of measurement used in a few states, most often by real estate agents in dense urban cities.

How Much Is an Acre of Land Worth?

The average value of an acre of land in the lower 48 U.S. states is around $12,000, but land prices vary widely across the country. An acre of land in Manhattan is much more expensive than an acre in Wyoming.

The price of a specific acre depends on several factors, including location, topography, road access, and utility availability. As a general rule, urban land is more expensive than rural land since it’s closer to amenities and services.

According to experts, some of the cheapest land in the U.S. is in New Mexico, where you can purchase an acre for as little as $100. On the other end of the spectrum, Brooklyn Heights, in Brooklyn, NY, has some of the most expensive acreage — priced at a staggering $41 million.

How Much Land Do You Need to Build a House?

The median lot size for new single-family homes in the U.S. is just under a fifth of an acre. If you want to build a house larger than average, you’ll likely need more land.

When planning to build a house, consider the land-to-building ratio, using your home’s square footage. Experts suggest you aim for a land-to-building ratio of 2.5:1 to 3.5:1, which is the standard used in commercial real estate.

In reality, the right amount of land to build a house depends on your needs. Someone raising livestock needs a lot more land than the typical suburbanite, and vice versa. Consult with an experienced real estate agent to determine the ideal lot size for your needs.

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FAQs about Acres of Land

To visualize an acre, compare it to sizes you're familiar with. An acre has 43,560 square feet, which is about 90% of a football field (minus the end zones) or nine professional basketball courts. If you want to visualize an acre as a square, that’s about 208 feet by 208 feet. The median lot size for a new single-family home is 0.19 acres, so five homes can fit comfortably on one acre. Learn how to visualize the size of an acre.

Yes, an acre of land is enough for a house. If you want to build a typical single-family home, a residential acre has enough room for a spacious yard. However, if you want to raise livestock, farm, or have more privacy, you may need more land. Discover how much land you need to build a house.

An acre of land is 43,560 square feet. That's about 9 basketball courts or 16 tennis courts. Learn more about how much land is an acre and how to visualize it.

One acre is 43,560 square feet, which is slightly smaller than an American football field.

A single acre is 4,046.86 square meters.

There are 640 acres in one square mile. Square miles are typically used to measure land in cities and countries.

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