When you're searching for a home, one of the first things you'll decide is how big a home should be for you. In Hawaii homes are smaller than on the mainland overall.

One way to get more home for your money is to look at single story homes. A two story home has around 15-20 steps, each of which take up square footage. There is usually also a landing area and some hallway that is not really usable space.

Last week I was looking at homes around 2000 sqft, and we found that the 1800 sqft single level homes felt larger, and had more usuable space in the living room and bedrooms.

We saw a little 1400sqft house that seemed bigger than all the 1900ft two story homes we looked at. It had a larger living room and kitchen, and even the master bedroom was quite a bit larger.

So if you are thinking about how many square feet your home should be, remember it's a different number if the home is a single story home. And the funny thing is, you might pay more for two story homes even though they are cheaper to build. Single story homes by their nature take up more land on a lot, which is why two story homes can be more preferable if you're trying to save lot space.

So the lesson is - you can search for smaller one story homes than 2 story homes. If you think you need 2000sqft and you're used to living in a 2 story, consider an 1800 sqft 1 story home, because they will be about the same.