Whether you’re writing a story, studying geography, or just trying to grasp how large any given area is, knowing how many acres are in a small town can be helpful.
However, the definition of a small town is quite loose, so figuring out how many acres are in a town can be a bit of a challenge.
How is a town defined?
The size of a town is defined in a couple of different ways. The most common way a town’s size is defined is by population.
In general, a town has between 1 and 100,000 people. Large towns usually have between 10,000 and 100,000 people.
Medium towns usually have a population of between 5,000 and 10,000 people, and a small town contains 5,000 people or fewer.
Population definitions, however, are flexible, and they do not take the geographic size of the town into account.
How many people are needed to qualify for a small, medium, or large town or city also differs between regions.
Some counties or states might use different population sizes to determine what an area is called. These definitions are also quite different across various countries.
Long ago, townships were measured in terms of grid squares. These squares were 1 square mile in size.
Although this measuring system is no longer widely used, as towns have expanded past these grid limits, it can still be helpful for estimating how many acres are in a small town.
How many acres are in a small town?
We now know that towns are generally defined by the size of their population, not by how many acres they take up.
However, these population figures, plus the older ways a township was defined, can help us figure out how large a small town would be.
The easiest way to estimate how many acres are in a town is to consider the size of a township grid square. These squares are 1 square mile, and a square mile contains 640 acres.
This means that a small town would contain about 640 acres. However, how close the buildings in the town are and how many people live in the town can change this estimate.
For example, if the town is centered around a busy shopping area, the buildings might be closer together, making the town smaller.
A business-focused town might only have 320 or so acres.
On the other hand, if the town is a farming community, the homes might be spread much farther apart.
If each farm takes up 1 square mile, and there are, say, 10 farms and a town center, the town might be roughly 11 square miles in size. This would mean that it could take up as much as 7,040 acres.
You can also estimate how many acres are in a town by looking at the size of a small town’s population. We know that a small town contains fewer than 5,000 people.
In the United States, the average lot size, which includes the space the home takes up and the yard, is 25,240 square feet.
There are 43,560 square feet in 1 acre, so the average lot size is about 0.6 acres, or just slightly over half an acre.
If a small town has between 1 and 5,000 people, and we know what the average lot size is, we can multiply 0.6 by the number of people in the town to get a very rough estimate of how many acres the town contains.
For example, the smallest small town would contain 0.6 acres. The largest small town would contain about 3,000 acres. A small town with 2,000 residents would be about 1,200 acres.
If you’re planning to use the geographic size of a small town for worldbuilding in a game or story, it’s important to consider what time period your town resides in.
The average size for a lot is about 25,240 square feet as of 2022, but that number changes over time. Some lot sizes were larger in years past, but as towns grow, lot sizes become smaller.
You’ll also want to consider whether your town has apartment buildings, which can decrease the town’s overall footprint.
More urban towns are generally smaller in size geographically, even though they might be home to a larger population.