Whether you’re mapping out your campground or trying to purchase a home, you’re going to hear about acres. But while it’s a commonly used term, it’s also one that not many people have a solid understanding of.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about how big is an acre. So the next time you hear someone talking about acres you will know precisely what they mean.
Where Did the Word Acre Come From?
Acre is actually an old term people used back in Medieval times. People generally used it to describe a field, particularly how much land a yoke of oxen could plow in a single day.
Of course, this didn’t mean much since different yokes of oxen could plow entirely different field sizes. That’s why at some point, somebody decided to standardize the measurement.
And what measurement did they use? Well, some egghead decided 1/640th of a square mile was the perfect way to break down lots of land. That’s where you get an acre, and that’s why it’s a random number of square feet – 43,560 to be exact.
While it might not make much sense, you better get on board because it’s just about the only measurement used in the United States when breaking down lots of land.
How Big Is an Acre Visually?
Trying to figure out how big an acre is by eyesight alone can be a bit tricky. That’s because it all depends on the dimension of the acre.
So, if you had a 1′ wide patch, it would extend 43,560′ until you reached a single acre! That’s eight and a quarter miles! Of course, no one measures 1′ wide plots by the acre.
Instead, it’s easier to visualize acres by a rectangle or square, although it’s certainly possible to run the numbers for various shaped plots of land.
The best way to break down the size of an acre is actually to take a look at an American football field.
How Many Football Fields Is an Acre?
When you’re talking about a single acre, an American football field is a pretty good representation. If you take out the end zones, a single acre stretches 90 yards. If you include the end zone, it stretches from one side of the field to the 20-yard line.
If you’re looking for some other quirky ways to visualize an acre, we got you covered here.
First, one acre equals roughly 15-tennis courts. Or it would be equal to about 156 American sized parking spaces. You could also compare it to about 60% of the size of a standard soccer field. Finally, it would be equal to about nine NBA basketball courts.
While none of these are exact, they do a great job at breaking down how variable an acre can seem depending on the dimensions of the area you’re looking at.
What Are the Dimensions of an Acre?
Finding the exact dimensions of an acre can be tricky. That’s because an acre doesn’t have a set dimension. Instead, acres are any dimension that equals 43,560 square feet. So, it could be a 208.71′ by 208.71′ square, or it could be a 66′ by 660′ rectangle.
The exact dimensions of an acre can even be oddly shaped with a few feet jutting out in one corner and not the other. As long as you reach 43,560 square feet at the end of the day, you have an acre.
Acres and Camping
While you might want a home on an acre of land or more, if you’re heading to a campsite, an acre is overkill. In fact, most campsites will break down a single acre into 15-16 different campsites. It makes perfect sense since you really don’t need a ton of space to camp, even if you have an RV or a trailer.
Of course, if you want extra room for privacy or for the kids to run around, that’s understandable. However you might have to purchase land or rent a cabin with land to find a space large enough to accommodate since larger campsites are hard to come by.
Commercial Acres vs. International Acres
Commercial acres isn’t a term that you’ll hear very often unless you live in a larger city. That’s because it’s a term that real estate agents invented to account for roadways and sidewalks when measuring property inside city limits.
Commercial acres are 82.6% of an international acre or 36,000 square feet. Why would real estate agents create a different measurement? Because it allows them to market smaller properties in ways that sound bigger than they are.
Not many people know the difference between an international acre and a commercial acre, so when an agent claims that it’s a “1-commercial acre lot,” most people hear, “it’s a 1-acre lot.”
In the end, not many people have a firm grasp of what a regular acre is anyway, so the real estate agent can charge more for the property, and no one is any wiser about the fact.
Acres vs. Hectares
While the acre is the standard in the United States, most places worldwide use the metric system, which doesn’t incorporate either feet or miles.
Instead of acres, they use hectares. But what is a hectare, and how does it stack up compared to an acre?
Instead of a random measurement of 1/640th of a mile, a hectare is an area of 100 meters by 100 meters. While this isn’t an easy conversion to acres, know that one hectare equals a little less than 2.5 acres.
In short, hectares are much larger than acres, but it’s not a measurement you’ll come across very often in the United States.
The Final Point
While the reason for using acres, and the measurement itself, might not make much sense, this measurement isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Better to accept the fact that acre is here to stay and gain a better understanding of what it really is so that next time it comes up in a conversation, or if you’re house hunting, you’ll feel more confident in knowing what the term really means.