In the US there is plenty of space in the suburban areas for houses to have gardens around them.
Most popular types of houses are:
- duplexes (similar to British semi-detached houses)
- ranch-style houses (one floor only)
- patio homes
Downtown areas are mainly for offices, however, living in a penthouse is getting more popular nowadays – for those who can afford to buy the luxurious flat on the top floor of a skyscraper.
Some types of house are associated with certain parts of the country:
- “Brownstones” with New York City
- clapboard houses with New England
- wooden-frame houses in the Midwest
- large wooden houses in the (built before the Civil War in the antebellum style).
Many Americans prefer to live in suburb rather than in a city center, so that they have a pleasant environment and plenty of space. Most of the American households have a home with at least five rooms and more than one bathroom, a front yard and a backyard.
In the cities many people rent an apartment in an apartment building. An apartment usually has no more than three bedrooms, and are often rented furnished. An apartment with only one room may be called a studio or a loft. A building in which the apartments are owned by the people who live in them is called a condominium or a condo.
Poor people may live in apartments in tenements (= large old buildings) in the downtown area of a city, in small, very basic houses or in mobile-homes in trailer park. Despite their name, these homes are hardly ever moved
A typical US house has two floors. Upstairs there are several bedrooms and at least one bathroom. The parents share the master bedroom, which may have its own bathroom attached. Children often have their own bedrooms. Extra rooms are used as
a study or playroom or as guest bedrooms. Downstairs there is a kitchen, a living room and a dining room. There is usually also a bathroom or a half bath, which has only
a toilet and sink. Many houses have a porch. Americans take pride in their homes and like to show visitors round.
Bedrooms are the private space of the people who sleep in them, so parents should knock before entering. Children have the responsibility to clean their rooms, and the right to decide when that is necessary. This often leads to disagreement between parents and children.
In summer screens are put in doorways and windows, which allow fresh air to come in but keep insects out. Most houses have air-conditioning. Central heating is standard, but many houses also have fireplaces where wood can be burned.
Americans often move home from one city to another. Finding a new place to live is not difficult, except when moving to a very large city. It is usually possible to find an apartment to rent one day and to move into it the next.
People who want to buy a house ask a real estate agent, or realtor, to show them several houses. When they decide on one, they discuss the price with the people who are selling it, and then arrange a mortgage (= loan) with a bank.
Although racial discrimination is illegal, there is still segregation in many cities since white people tend to live in some areas and black, Hispanic, Chinese etc. people in others.