The One Thing Millennials Haven’t Killed? The Ranch-Style House

published Aug 13, 2019
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By now, you’ve probably heard that Millennials are accused of “killing” several industries—print news, coffee shops, chain restaurants, beer, pet food, and quite a few things in between. One surprising thing that is sticking around, though? Ranch-style houses. Not only did Google name it the most popular home style of summer 2019, it was also the most popular pick in 34 states a few years ago, too.

While ranch homes may call to mind outdated notions of oppressive gender roles and cookie-cutter suburban developments, the core of its design is proving to have a timeless appeal to young, working families—even if it’s not what they first had in mind. Not only is the ranch’s single-level lifestyle easy to maintain, it’s pretty affordable, too: According to data on Trulia, ranch homes tend to be lower in cost per square foot around the country than other home styles.

Take myself as an example: When my husband and I started shopping for our first home, we had a colonial-style, two-story house in mind. We both grew up in homes like that and thought it would be the best fit for when we started a family. Unfortunately, in the suburbs of New York City, that style was out of our budget. After a couple of months hoping an affordable colonial would come on the market, we decided to restrategize. Soon, we found ourselves settling on a modified ranch (the main bedrooms, kitchen, living room and dining room are on one floor, but there’s an office that’s up a few steps over the garage and a finished basement.)

Though at first I thought it was settling, I’ve found my ranch was the perfect transition into homeownership for someone who’s lived in tiny apartments around NYC for the past 15 years. Its single-floor living style feels spacious and breezy, like we’re living in a three-bedroom apartment with only two people!

Don’t believe me? Here a few more testimonies to the ranch’s everlasting charm, according to other millennials who’ve bought them, too:

It’s easy to get around—for everyone

Don’t feel like climbing stairs—ever? Single-story living will make your inner sloth happy. I jokingly told my sister on the phone one night, “I love that I can be cooking dinner in the kitchen, then just walk a few feet down the hall to my bedroom to change into comfy sweats—no steps!” (Sure, it’s lazy, but I prefer “time efficient.”)

I also appreciate the fact that my future child will only have to waddle or crawl from their bedroom into the living room or kitchen, and that I’ll be able to get them up from their naps without going up and down steps.

As family members age and our social circle expands, single-level living also means our home can be an accessible space for all ages and ability levels to gather.

It makes parenting easy

Maggie Osborn, 30, of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, says while she, too, didn’t consider a ranch when first shopping for a home, she’s glad she ended up in the space—especially as her family grew. For her, having everything on one floor means fewer safety risks.

“We have three small, active children that run sprints from one end to the other,” she says. “I have no fear of them falling down stairs!”

Christine Michel Carter, a 33-year-old mother of two in Baltimore, says her ranch home’s open floor plan has made observing her kids extremely convenient and even productive, too. Since she can see almost every room at all times, she’s not limited to staying in the area where they’re playing.

It helps make communication easier

Lyndsi Gulak, 36, of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, never wanted her first home to be a “rancher,” but after finding one she could tolerate, she ended up loving how it easily facilitated communication between her and her boyfriend. After all, single-level living means there are no stairs for couples to yell up and down.

“We can talk to each other from different spots in the house and still hear each other,” she says. “It makes morning conversation much easier when we’re busy trying to get ourselves out of the front door before work.”

It’s easier to clean.

Something most ranch owners agree on? Having everything on one floor makes cleaning much easier.

“I’m able to keep this house much cleaner than when I had multiple floors,” Carter says.

For me, I’ve found that I clean more often now that I don’t have to do the mental prep or physical work of lugging a vacuum cleaner up and down steps. I can just pull it out, clean a few rooms in one fell swoop, and go on with my day.

It’s easier to manage utility costs

As most first-time homeowners can attest, there’s a learning curve to figuring out how to keep your utility costs low. However, I’ve found only having a single floor has been pretty easy to manage since you don’t have to deal with rising heat on a second floor.

It’s more affordable—so you can spend money making it your own

As stated above, ranch-style homes are relatively less expensive than their two-story neighbors. So for those who prioritize personalization over everything else, ranchers can be an easy way of including renovations in a shoestring budget.

Take for example John Linden, 38, of Los Feliz, Los Angeles, who wanted a home with a mid-century modern aesthetic but didn’t necessarily have the budget to accommodate a home like that in Southern California. Instead, he decided on an affordable fixer-upper ranch with great bones, an open floor plan, and tons of natural light. Since the home cost less than others in the area, he was able to use the rest of his budget to update the interior and exterior to his retro-inclined preferences.

It’ll be easy to resell

When Laitin Schwerin, 26, was looking at starter homes to buy in Sarasota, Florida, she kept the potential resale opportunities in the back of her mind. But once she heard that many of the other buyers in the area were retirees looking at ranch homes to “age-in-place,” she decided she should buy one as well. According to a 2016 article from Builder Magazine, the other large demographics buying single-story homes alongside Millennials are their parents—the Baby Boomers, who as they age, are downsizing into affordable, easy-to-navigate ranches, too. Since Schwerin wasn’t planning on staying in the house forever, she knew she’d have no trouble selling her when she decided to upgrade.

What do you think? Do you see the appeal of a simplistic ranch-style home?

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