How Large Is An Acre?

Dear Farmer Smith:

I’m looking at buying some land in northern Wisconsin to get away to on the weekends.  A friend told me that I should get at least an acre for privacy and seclusion.  How big is an acre?

Thanks for your help,
C.T. Slicker

Dear C.T.:

Thanks for asking.  Now just what do you plan on doing up north that you’re so concerned about privacy?  When I want some privacy (And, I live on 40 acres.) I just go into the outhouse and latch the door.

An acre is 43,560 square feet; square being the key word AND the confusing word.  An acre doesn’t necessarily have to be square. It could be a strip of land one foot wide and over eight miles long.  Sort of hard to get any privacy on a piece of land shaped like that, isn’t it?  If the acre is a square it would measure approximately 208.7 feet on all sides.

Now keep in mind, as unlikely as it is that you’ll come across a real estate listing over eight miles long, it’s just as unlikely you’ll come across an acre that is a perfect square.  Why you ask?  Well, if we were sitting in the barnyard and I could draw a sketch in the dirt with a stick I’m sure I could make it all pretty clear for you;  it connects to why Greenland looks to be as large as these United States on one of those old National Geographic wall maps.  And, it has to do with the fact that as 40 and 80 acre tracts are split up they are divided to make sense on the ground, not on paper.

Back to your privacy and seclusion . . . as you get out and start looking at property in Northern Wisconsin there will be more to privacy than just the size of the land.  There are hills, roads and woods to think about.  What’s going to be more secluded (for whatever it is you’re going to be doing up north):  one level acre of field on a four lane superhighway or a 1/4 acre of hardwoods and pines at the end of a little dead-end road?

Good luck with your land,
Farmer Smith

P.S. For just a little more info about the size of an acre, and a nice drawing of how an acre compares to a football field take a look at Wikipedia.

Farm Smith

Farm Smith

Leave a Reply