Sometimes, size does matter. When it is the space a family has to share during a month of lockdown, for example, and however much longer there is to come. In this case, any extra space can make all the difference in making the exhortation to "Stay at home" a little more bearable, and not only in extreme situations when one family member has to be isolated from the rest because of coronavirus, but also day-to-day living in any home.
Obviously, living alone or as a couple is not the same as sharing a home as part of one of the 20,000 large families there are in Malaga province. Also during this period of enforced confinement, it is not the same to live in a villa with plenty of rooms and a large garden as in an apartment measuring 60 square metres with not even a terrace to go out on and get some fresh air.
"I never thought I would ever miss having a roof terrace or courtyard so much," admits José Manuel Luque, who lives with his wife and two children in the Cruz del Humilladero district of Malaga.
An overall view of Malaga under lockdown at the moment, when we can only leave our homes for a few essential purposes, shows that one-third of the population is confined in apartments less than 75 square metres in size (204,000 homes) and that about 14% of the 606,000 buildings in the province (not including second homes, empty properties or those used for holiday lets) have less than 60 m2 of usable space.
At the other end of the scale we find the 42,010 houses (7%) which have more than 150m2 of usable space, according to the latest population and housing census from 2011 (which is updated every ten years). Despite the time that has passed, there has been little construction during those nine years, so the situation is unlikely to have changed much.
There is also more up-to-date information at a provincial level, from the National Institute of Statistics 'Encuesta Continua de Hogares' survey. The one for 2019 shows that one out of every three homes is occupied by a family with children, that 8,500 people live in homes with less than 10m2 space per inhabitant and another 239,400 (14%) have less than 20m2 per person.
From villas to small apartments
"I'm lucky that we have a house with a garden. We spend most of the day out there. If the weather is good, we even eat outside and it means we can take some exercise. It helps us a lot," says Paloma, the mother of a large family in Pinares de San Antón.
For Carlos Sánchez, or rather for his six-year-old son, the terrace has become the epicentre of life. "The oldest, who is 13, found it hardest at first but he's used to not going out now," says Carlos, who lives in Fuengirola in one of the 134,195 properties (22%) in the province measuring more than 106m2.
Meanwhile Laura, who lives in a studio in Torremolinos, says she is coping well, although "it is killing me having to be on my own all the time and not seeing my family and friends," she says.
In Malaga province there are nearly 3,000 tiny apartments under 30m2 in size and another 23,000 with less than 45. There is a noticeable difference between the coast, with so many apartment blocks, and the countryside, where there are more houses. In fact, in villages half of the houses have more than 105m2 of space, and in some places, such as Alcaucín and Humilladero, the ratio is two out of three. This is very different to the coast, where the greatest number of homes under 75m2 are situated. Torremolinos tops the list, with nearly half of all properties in that range and one-third less than 60m2. It also has the lowest number of larger properties, with only 11 per cent over 105m2. This is because so many were built for tourism purposes, as in Benalmádena,(43% under 75m2) and Torrox (41%). In Marbella (29%) the proportion differs because of the numerous urbanisations around the town centre.
The size of a home and number of occupants can make a big difference to coping with lockdown.