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The "Starter Home" Just Got a Lot Bigger

Published on NewsOK Published: August 19, 2013

Photo: jade/ According to the US Census Bureau, the average size of a home in the United States has grown by 50% in the last 40 years, even as households are actually 15% smaller. In other words, we're living in more space than we ever have before, and that's changing the face of what a "starter home" looks like for many people.

Home size has been on a steady upward trend for a long time. Some of the things that were par for the course 50 years ago are less common now, including homes with so few bedrooms that numerous siblings are forced to bunk together, small galley kitchens, and compartmentalized rooms. The new trend in home design features larger rooms, expansive kitchens, and open designs that encourage free circulation throughout the home to create a light, airy environment instead of a cramped one.

Historically, the most popular home has been the three bedroom model, but it looks like that is about to change, thanks to the explosion in home offices and the shift in configuration of American households. It's not just nuclear families who live together now; people may include extended family members as well as friends in their homes. In urban environments, roommates can sometimes be critical for affording a house, thanks to high housing prices. Consequently, people need more space to house everyone in a generation that values personal space.

Homes are also being confronted with more uses than ever before. It's not enough to have bedrooms, a dining room, and a den or family room. Many families also want a multimedia room, while teens want their own suites and private areas to study and work on projects. Some people have their own home cinemas, workshops, and offices in their houses and need space to house those; converting a bedroom is often the easiest way to accommodate the need for extra space, which means you need more bedrooms to begin with.

As young homeowners enter the market, some are considering whether they want to go with the traditional modest "starter home" at all. Rather than buying a small home that they'll quickly grow out of, some are taking the plunge and buying larger homes that they'll be able to grow into and spend some time in before moving on to another home that meets their needs as they age; one in a better school district, for example, or one with more bedrooms for a growing family.

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