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Which Home Type Is Right for You?

Updated on October 23, 2015

If you are an average American, you will live in one home for seven years before moving on to the next. Therefore, you had better be satisfied with your selection -- or you might find yourself packing up every few years as your situation changes. Before you start the house-hunting process, become familiar with the various home types options available to you. This way, you'll be happy with your choice for many years to come!

When looking for the perfect home type, you need to consider a number of different things: Do you want to maintain a yard and pool? Is this your first house? Do you like renovation projects? Are you longing for quiet and privacy? Is you family expanding? Do you have a limited budget? Are you an empty nester? Each one of these questions (and more) play into the type of house you choose.

Fortunately, builders have taken these questions into consideration and have designed a variety of different home types to suit almost everyone. You just need to be aware of the differences and how they will meet your needs – now and in the future.


A single-family home is one that is not attached to another structure and is constructed on a separate lot. They are available in single level, two- and three-story versions. They range from newly constructed to historic and come in a wide variety of architectural styles.

You can choose a single family home of any size -- from modest starter homes to McMansions. Some of these homes look more like hotels with lots of bedrooms, large living areas and spacious yards – perfect for large or growing families.

Single-family homes range from large two-story to modest single story construction.
Single-family homes range from large two-story to modest single story construction. | Source

On the other end of the spectrum, they can consist of a single-level with one or two bedrooms and a small, low maintenance yard – there are many of these types available in age-restricted communities that are specifically designed for seniors.


Semi-detached, twin or duplex homes are harder to find than other types, but do exist in the US. More popular in British Commonwealth countries, duplexes are gaining popularity here in the states. In the US, the term duplex refers to a pair of connected houses that are basically mirror images of one another.

Semi-detached homes are commonly referred to as duplexes.
Semi-detached homes are commonly referred to as duplexes. | Source

They occupy a single lot (that can be divided by a fence or wall) and share one common wall. They can be single level or two-story. Duplexes make great starter homes or a budget-friendly option for empty nesters on a fixed income.


Condominiums, or condos, are individually owned, attached units configured much like an apartment complex or high rise. Condos offer common facilities like a green space, pool, spa and fitness center. Typically a condo building and its residents are governed by Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) set forth by the Homeowners’ Association (HOA).

The association collects monthly fees from owners to cover maintenance and improvements on the entire property. The association also sets forth rules and regulations that residents must agree to follow. (Homeowners’ Associations are also common in other types of housing developments.)

Condos can be high rise buildings, industrial lofts or converted apartment complexes.
Condos can be high rise buildings, industrial lofts or converted apartment complexes. | Source

Condos are particularly attractive as vacation homes, or for young professionals, seniors and anyone craving a low-maintenance lifestyle. However, if you’re not crazy about being physically close to your neighbors, you probably won’t enjoy condo life.


I think of townhouses as the vertical equivalents of condos. Townhouses are multi-story units that resemble row houses. They are attached to units on either side, but do not have to contend with upstairs or downstairs neighbors. Townhouses are a good mix of privacy (like a single-family home) and low-maintenance (like a condo).

A row of cheerful townhomes.
A row of cheerful townhomes. | Source

Townhouse owners might have a small yard, attached garage and enjoy a community pool. HOA dues may cover the cost of some exterior maintenance such as landscape, paint and roofs, but that varies from one community to another. Residents may also be regulated CC&Rs.

Manufactured or Modular

A manufactured home, or mobile home, is assembled off-site in a factory. They are transported by truck to a home site via a transport frame with wheels. Once at the home site, the wheels are removed and the home is secured in place on a pad or block foundation.

Housing development for manufactured homes.
Housing development for manufactured homes. | Source

Manufactured homes come in various sizes and styles. Some consist of two separate components (double-wide) that are joined on site. Manufactured homes are much less expensive than traditional homes and are extremely popular among retirees.

Modular home sections being assembled on-site.
Modular home sections being assembled on-site. | Source

Modular homes are constructed in sections in a factory setting. The large modules are transported to the home site and are assembled on a foundation. Many of today's modular homes are made of eco-friendly materials and are built to strict energy efficiency standards.

Labor and materials costs for modular homes are less than traditional construction, but cost more than manufactured homes. However, once on-site assembly is completed, the house is considered a permanent residence and cannot be moved to another location, unlike manufactured homes.


A relatively newcomer on the home scene, tiny homes are perfect for those wishing too downsize and simplify their lives. Most tiny homes have a footprint of 500 square feet or less. They are great for empty-nesters living on a fixed income or first-time homeowners who don't want to be saddled with a mortgage.

Tiny homes come in all shapes, sizes and materials.
Tiny homes come in all shapes, sizes and materials. | Source

You can find pre-made tiny homes or builders that will build to your specifications. Prices range from $10,000 and up, depending on size and features. Choose an off-grid model and shrink your carbon footprint. Solar panels, water tanks and composting toilets allow you to avoid monthly utility bills. Tiny homes can be built on-site or on a trailer allowing you to easily transport your home.

Weigh In!

Which type of home do you live in?

See results

© 2012 lindacee

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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great article showing all the types of housing. I guess I am stuck on single family with my own inside and outside space but I can see how it would be different strokes for different folks. I suppose a lot is what we get use to. ^

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Indeed, Jackie! I've lived in single-family homes for years and am now back in an apartment. I have to tell you I don't like these close quarters. But some people prefer multi-family residences. Go figure! Thanks for checking out this brand new Hub! :)

    • profile image

      mjkearn 4 years ago

      Hi Linda

      Great job on showing the different dwelling types available. This is one aspect of life that gets overlooked and I confess to be in that bracket. I'll have to resit my life planning classes. Great for the young thinking about leaving the nest.

      Voted up and ticked.


    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I can live just about anywhere..Until now we have lived short periods of time in more moving. As long as I have my own little space for computer, paints, books etc. I am totally happy. Great hub on the different types of dwellings..I am still commenting....

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      MJ, thanks for your feedback! It's something we all need to think about. In the past my husband and I have done a pretty good job matching our dwelling with our lifestyle, but on occasion ended up with a house that was too large for the two of us or with too many stairs, etc. Currently, we are in an apartment that is way too small. Now we're looking to change that situation. A semi-detached house would be nice right now... :)

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Carol, I'm so happy I'll still be hearing from you! I would miss your input! I like your perspective. Home is where the heart is, isn't it? Take care and thanks for your comment!

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Excellent hub. I have written on this subject, and I think it is a very serious one, especially if a person is getting on in years. You want to avoid mistakes and to do so requires thought and research.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Russ, choosing the right type of home is especially important as we age. I am currently dealing with stairs which give me a bit of difficulty -- it is problematic for my joints when the weather is cooler. Next time, a single level abode!

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago

      I'm glad to hear duplexes are gaining in popularity in the US. I always kind of liked living in a duplex. Right now I'm in an apartment on a busy street (yecht!) and missing working in the yard. Good article.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Watergeek, my husband and I lived in a duplex in North San Diego County and just loved it. It would make sense if more builders would hop on the duplex bandwagon to create another option for affordable housing. They need to start getting more creative to attract potential buyers. We too are in an apartment on a street that is the route for every emergency vehicle in the city (or so it seems!). Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • CassyLu1981 profile image

      CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      I've lived in so many of these and living in our house we have now with the big yard and lots of space is my favorite! With three kids it's better to have room that they aren't always on top of each other. Excellent hub :) Voted up and shared.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 4 years ago from India

      I really enjoyed readin this article.

      I do live in a duplex apartment and this concept is relatively new in this part of India.

      Thanks for sharing this

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      thumbi7, glad you liked this Hub! Duplexes are so nice because you only share one wall with a neighbor. They afford you much more privacy and less neighbor noise to deal with. Take care!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      CassyLu, with kids, you definitely need the space of a single-family home! Thanks for the comment, vote and share! :)

    • leahlefler profile image

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      We looked at duplexes when we lived in California, but then ended up in a rural area of upstate NY - and now we have a single family home on an acre. This is a great review of different house styles!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Leah, I also like duplexes and townhouses. You get more privacy than in a condo and tend to pay less (well, maybe not in Cali!) However, a single family home is still the best bet for a family -- and the extra acreage is great for kids and pets!

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