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How Big Is an Acre? | 7 Unique Size Comparison Examples

When you’re buying land, you may ask the question, “how big is an acre?”

Fortunately for you, our guide answers this question and has some fun facts, too.

Read on to learn all you need to know.

How Big Is an Acre?

If you find yourself wondering, “How big is an acre?” you’ll easily find the answer with a quick search – one acre is 43,560 square feet. It’s equal to 4,480 square yards.

An image that is titled How Big Is an Acre and the answer below it, An acre of land is 43,560 square feet, 1/164th of a square mile, or 4,680 square yards

An acre is 1/640th of a square mile. But unless you’re a surveyor or human calculator, these metrics might not mean much to you. It’s hard to visualize a vast measurement like an acre.

Don’t worry! We’ve got some recognizable examples and comparisons to help (hint: pizza and Post-It Notes are involved).

Don’t have time to read the full article?

No worries, we’ll summarize. So, just how big is an acre?

An acre is equal to:

  • 43,560 square feet
  • 4,480 square yards
  • 1/640th of a square mile
  • 16 tennis courts
  • 75% of a football field
  • 70 yard sticks (in length)
  • 242 sedans
  • 696,960 Post-It Notes
  • 18 suburban homes
  • 1,594 potatoes (in length)

Before we dive into the details, let’s talk about what an acre symbolizes and why it’s one of our land area measurement metrics.

The Origin of the Acre

Graphical image showing a farmer in the olden days plowing his fields, and the word 12 hours of sunlight to symbolize how big an acre is and the history of the measurement

One of the most exciting things about acres (yes, you read that correctly) is the origin story. How did we arrive at such an oddly specific measurement of 43,560 square feet in an acre?

And why is it called an acre? The modern word acre comes from the Middle English word aker, derived from the Old English æcer, meaning open field.

In those days, the acre was a measurement that was equivalent to the amount of land a man could plow in a single day with the help of a yoke of oxen pulling a wooden plow.

As it turns out, a man and a yoke of oxen can plow about 43,560 square feet together in a day with 12 hours of sunlight. Helpful, right?

How They Determined This Number

A chain is equal to 66 feet high and a furlong equal to 660 feet long, or 43,560 square feet, an acre

They calculated the original acre by using what are now rarely used measurements, including chains and furlongs. A chain is equal to 66 feet (the length of a surveyor’s chain).

And a furlong is equal to 660 feet (the length of the land a team of oxen could plow before needing rest). Determining the acreage was a way for farmers to figure out how the entire area of land they could plow in one day.

They did this by multiplying the chain (66 feet) by the furlong (660 feet). This gives us the acre measurement we know today of 43,560 square feet. 

Acre Size Comparisons

An acre equal to various other types of objects

Even if you’re just not in the plowing mood today (or have a conspicuous lack of oxen), the acre measurement is likely still a term you use pretty often.

Whether you’re searching for land to buy, looking at houses with plenty of property, working as a real estate agent or surveyor, or studying Old English etymology, knowing how big an acre is will serve you well. 

Here are some creative ways to visualize an acre and get a sense of how much land it really is.

How Big Is an Acre In Football Fields?

An acre vs a football field

An acre is smaller than the size of an American football field. One football field is 57,600 square feet, but an acre is only 43,560 square feet. An acre is about 75% of a football field.

How Big Is an Acre in Tennis Courts?

You could fit 16 tennis courts into one acre of land. For reference, tennis courts are 78 feet long by 27 feet wide (singles) or 36 feet wide (doubles).

The United States in Acres

Total acres in the US? 2.4 billion, in graphical form showing a tractor and map of the US

The United States has more than 2.4 billion acres in total. Alaska alone makes up more than 17% of the acreage in the United States, which is more acreage than the three next-largest states (Texas, California, and Montana) combined.

How Big Is an Acre in Sedans?

About 242 average-sized sedans can fit into a one-acre lot. For more comfortable parking with lanes and enough room to open the doors and back out, you can fit about 150 cars into a one-acre lot.

How Big Is the Roman Colosseum in Acres?

The Coliseum compared to acre size put into graphical form

The Roman Colosseum covers about 6 acres and is 620 feet long, 512 feet wide, and 158 feet tall. Fifty thousand people could be seated inside.

How Big Is an Acre in Suburban Homes?

Let’s say you’re a frenzied developer who really likes the idea of neighbors being close. In theory, you could put 18 homes (each one about 2,400 square feet) on just one acre.

How Big Is an Acre in Potatoes?

Have a deep love for the starchiest of carbs? Don’t we all? You could line up about 1,584 potatoes across an acre. That’s a lot of french fries.

Acres in the Smallest State

Graphic showing how big an acre is, including rhode island compared to the rest of the country

The smallest state in the U.S., Rhode Island, has 988,832 acres by comparison. That’s just 0.04% of the total acreage in the United States.

How Big Is an Acre in Yard Sticks?

A square acre would require almost 70-yard sticks to reach from one end to the other.

How Big Is an Acre in Post It Notes?

If you somehow ended up with 696,960 Post-It Notes, you’re in luck – you’d be able to cover one acre of land with them completely.

Acres in the Largest State

graphic showing 17% of the total acres in the US is alaska

Alaska is by far the biggest state in the US, comprised of a whopping 424.5 million acres. Now that’s a lot! Even crazier?

Most of the state is unpopulated (probably because it’s so darn cold).

Other Acre Facts You Should Know

Acres are different in other parts of the world. Ireland and Scotland’s acres are bigger. Irish acres are equal to 1.6 acres as we measure them in the United States, and Scottish acres are equivalent to 1.27 acres.

If you have an acre of property and want to walk all the way across it, you’ll do it in about 36 seconds if you’re walking at 4 miles per hour. That’s perfect for telling kids to get off your lawn!

How big is an acre fun facts graphic

Fun Acre Facts

  • If you’re dealing with a square acre, it will be about 209 feet long and wide.
  • The Citystars Sharm El Sheikh swimming pool in Egypt covers more than 23 acres.
  • The next largest swimming pool, at San Alfonso del Mar in Chile, covers more than 19 acres.
  • Oakland Raiders player Jim Plunkett threw a 99-yard (297 feet) touchdown pass in 1983, which set an NFL record. No wonder – he threw the ball more than an acre!
  • If you were to lay out every pizza Americans as a nation eat daily, it would cover as much space as the Mall of America!

Acres don’t measure land length. They measure land area, so an acre can have just about any shape.

If you’ve ever looked at property lines, you’ve seen how oddly shaped a parcel of land can be!

How to Calculate Acreage

A few fun facts to help answer the question how big is an acre

If you want to calculate acreage on your own, follow these steps. You’ll need an accurate tool to measure long distances like a laser distance meter or a surveyor wheel. 

1. Measure Property Length

Wherever the border of your property is, find the longest side, and measure it with a precise measuring tool. This could be a laser distance meter or surveyor wheel to do this.

You can measure in yards or feet. Record the results. If your property borders are square, this is the only measurement you’ll need to make. 

2. Measure Property Width

The shorter side of your property line (if it’s not square) will be your next measurement. This is considered the breadth of your property. Use the laser distance meter or surveyor wheel to measure the width of your property accurately and record the results.

3. Calculate the Square Footage

If you recorded your length and breadth in yards, multiply those measurements by three to arrive at the number of feet. Now, multiply the length of your property by the breadth, or width. This gives you the square footage of your parcel of land

4. Convert Square Footage into Acres

The square footage of the property is the total area. Because acres are a way to simplify land area (the number of acres is much smaller than dealing with square footage), you’ll need to convert your square footage into acres.

You’ll do this by using the conversion table below. If you’ve used feet and square feet as your measurement, you can take the total square footage and divide it by 43,560 (the number of square feet in an acre).

The result you get is the number of acres on your property. Sound tough? It’s really not. In fact, real estate agents do this many times every single day.

How Big Is an Acre in Other Measurements?

For a piece on how big is an acre, a table showing acre size in different measurements

This is how many square feet, square meters, square yards, hectares, and square miles of an acre are equivalent.

There are several acreage calculators online you can use to avoid the calculations. However, you’ll still need accurate measurements of your property to plug into these calculators. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How big is an acre of land visually?

The best way to visualize an acre is to think of it as a square, with the same width and length. An acre contains 43,560 square feet, meaning it's about 208 feet wide and 208 feet long.

Is 1 acre of land enough?

Once acre of land is more than enough to hold a large single-family home and a large yard (much bigger than the average American lawn) without encroaching on your neighbor's land. If you want livestock or room to roam, however, you'll need more than an acre.

How many houses can you fit on 1 acre?

The average lot size for a new construction home is 1/5th of an acre, meaning you could fit 5 standard sized homes on a single acre of land.

How many football fields is 5 acres?

4 total football fields is approximately five acres of land, though this is a rough estimate and is not exact.

Can you build a house on 0.2 acres of land?

Yes. You can build a house on 0.2 acres of land. However, you'll have a relatively small yard. But this is about the lot size of a townhome or a single-family starter home with a small yard.

How many football fields is an acre?

A football field is 160 feet wide, meaning it's about 1.32 acres in size, or 57,600 square feet.

What is the width of 1 acre?

1 acre equals is about 208.71 feet long and 208.71 feet wide (if you're measuring it as a square), for a total square footage of 43,560 square feet.

How big of a house can you build on 1 acre?

Assuming you're talking about building a single-family starter home that's 1,000 feet in size, you could put about 44 homes on a single acre, given there's no space between them.

What can you build on half an acre?

An acre of land is enough to plant about 41 fruit trees. An acre of land is actually much bigger than you'd think, enough to build 22 single-family homes, given there's no space between them. In reality, though, you could build a large house, have a big yard, and build a detached garage and even an outbuilding and have room to spare.

How many city blocks is an acre?

There are .625 acres in a standard city block, assuming you're using the standard American city block.

How much does it cost for 1 acre of land?

While location is the biggest variable when determining what an acre of land costs, the average value of land is about $13,000 per acre, with ranges from $1,000 to $200,000 per acre across the country.

How big is a soccer field in acres?

Using the official FIFA soccer field dimensions, a standard soccer field ranges between 1.6 and 2 acres. The average soccer field is 1.86 acres in size.

How many acres is 200 feet by 200 feet?

If you multiply 200 by 200, you get 40,000. Then divide that by 43,560, and you get .92 acres.

How do you measure an acre of land?

In order to measure an acre of land, you need to multiple the length and width of the plot of land. Then, divide this by the size of an acre, 43,560 square feet.

What is the perimeter of an acre?

An acre is 43,560 square feet, meaning it's 208.71 feet in both length and width. Multiply that by 4 sides, and the total perimeter is 834.84 feet.

What is 1000 acres called?

1,000 acres of land is called a Hectare.

Dimensions of an acre

Acres can be measured in any shape. From rectangles to squares and even circles, an acre just need to have 43,560 square feet in it. However, the most common shape for an acre to have is a square.

What size is an acre?

1 acre equals 43,560 square feet, regardless of shape.

How man acres are in one square mile?

One square mile has 640 acres in it. To determine the square acres in your own land, just multiply your square mileage by 640. That's all there is to it!

What is a commercial acre?

A commercial acre is used in large cities and equals 36,000 square feet. In fact, it's even a legal unit of measurement in some American states.

Where did the term acre originate?

The modern word acre comes from the Middle English word aker, derived from the Old English æcer, meaning open field. In those days, the acre was a measurement that was equivalent to the amount of land a man could plow in a single day with the help of a yoke of oxen pulling a wooden plow.

How many acres is one football field?

One football field is 57,600 square feet, so an acre is about 75% of a single football field.

How many acres are in the United States?

There are 2.4 billion total acres in the United States. Alaska alone makes up 17% of the U.S.'s total acreage.

Final Thoughts

You now know more about acres, their size, how to calculate them, and creative size comparisons than you originally set out to learn.

Next time someone asks you, “How big is an acre?”, you’ll be able to confidently answer that an acre is 43,560 square feet and equivalent to about 3/4 of a football field. 

If that doesn’t seem to spark their interest, you could always share the tales of the acre’s origins as a measurement (don’t forget to mention the furlong).

And if all else fails, there’s no shame in eating a few slices of pizza and daydreaming about swimming in the massive 23-acre pool in Egypt.