June 25, 2024

American Suburban Garages are Shrinking as Cars Grow in Size

Everything in the world operates on cycles of prosperity and decline, including the dimensions of garages. From the 1960s to the 2000s the average standardized two car garage expanded from 20 feet by 20 feet to 24 by 24, but in recent years that trend has been completely reversed, with new homes once again featuring 20 by 20 garages, and some even opting for single car spaces. Developing new land has become more costly, and builders are compelled to maximize the number of homes per acre to ensure profitability, and garage space is often sacrificed.

The Bizarre Reason American Garages Are Shrinking

The United States has long been focused on cars, particularly in suburban areas dominated by single-family homes with garages. However, these homes are increasingly unable to comfortably accommodate the cars we use daily. With the average pickup truck now exceeding 19 feet in length, and most cars wider than eight feet, what was once manageable in a 24×24 space is now impractical in a 20×20 area. As vehicles continue to grow in size, it is pointless to have a garage that cannot even fit your everyday car.

The LRN2DIY video above provides insight into the challenges faced with garage sizes. It may be hard to believe that the U.S. is running out of suburban land for expansion, but with over half of U.S. land already designated for farming, the situation becomes clearer. With prime land becoming scarce and expensive, developers are compelled to divide suburbs into smaller lots to keep housing costs in check.

Smaller lots equate to less square footage to work with. Zoning regulations dictate where houses can be constructed, requiring set distances from roads, neighbors, and often mandating a minimum backyard size. When the foundation parameters are reduced, it’s inevitable that garage space will be compromised, as homeowners prioritize interior living space over parking areas. Rather than sacrificing interior rooms or living spaces, the garage is often the first to be downsized.

Surely suburban Americans wouldn’t inconvenience themselves on a daily basis to accommodate something they may need in the future.

One potential solution to this issue could be an increased focus on multi-family housing development and enhanced public transportation systems. If individuals had alternative means of transportation besides personal vehicles, they might opt to reside in areas without garages altogether. These individuals, who are indifferent to cars and driving, could contribute to alleviating the pressure on garage space.

Alternatively, purchasing smaller vehicles could also address the challenges posed by diminishing garage sizes.


Why are garage sizes shrinking?

Garage sizes are shrinking due to the increasing cost of developing new land, which forces builders to fit more homes per acre, resulting in smaller lot sizes and reduced square footage for each home.

How do zoning regulations impact garage sizes?

Zoning regulations dictate where houses can be built, often requiring specific distances from roads, neighbors, and minimum backyard sizes. These regulations can limit the space available for garages in new home construction.

What are the consequences of shrinking garage sizes?

Shrinking garage sizes can lead to difficulties in accommodating modern vehicles, such as larger trucks and SUVs, and may inconvenience homeowners who rely on their vehicles for daily transportation.


The shrinking of garage sizes in American homes reflects the broader challenges of urban development and land scarcity. As the demand for housing continues to increase, builders are faced with the dilemma of balancing living space with garage accommodations. While the trend towards smaller garages may pose challenges for homeowners with larger vehicles, exploring alternative transportation options and adapting to changing vehicle sizes can help address these issues. By understanding the factors driving garage size reduction, individuals and communities can work towards solutions that meet both housing needs and transportation demands in a changing landscape.

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