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Most home buyers have some sense of the architectural style of the home they’re looking for, whether it’s a Colonial, a ranch, or a split level. Another style worth considering is a bungalow. Here’s what you need to know:

What is a bungalow?

While Realtors may use the term “bungalow” to describe any small or single-level home, true bungalows are a specific style of home. Bungalow houses stand one- to one-and-a-half stories tall with inviting front porches shaded by roof overhangs held up by visible beams and rafters. The living area of bungalow homes often features built-in cabinetry and is typical flanked by two or three bedrooms.

Bungalows originated in South Asia (the name comes from the Bengal region). They were designed to shield homes from the hot sun, with the wide roof keeping both the home and the porch shaded. The houses gained popularity in California in the early 1900s before spreading across the rest of the country, fueled by the Arts & Crafts movement. Since they were small and relatively inexpensive, bungalows offered the first chance at homeownership for many working-class people.

What are the different types of bungalow homes?

There are many types of bungalows, and the definitions aren’t cut and dried, but here’s a look at common styles, as detailed in the book American Bungalow Style:

  • Craftsman bungalow: This is the classic bungalow home, built during the early 1900s (or styled after those built around that time), often from a kit ordered from a catalogue.
  • Queen Anne: Queen Anne bungalows have a Victorian flair, with shingled or clapboard-covered sides, wraparound porches, and a medium-pitched roof.
  • Mission style: These bungalows take inspiration from Spanish architecture, with round arches, art glass, and tile roofs.
  • Prairie style: Developed by a group of architects in Chicago, these homes feature low-pitched roofs and a linear design.

What are the pros and cons of living in a bungalow house?

Pros

  • Since bungalow homes are often smaller than other single-family homes, they may cost less to purchase (although they may cost more per square foot).
  • Single-floor living can be appealing to young families and retirees or those with mobility issues.
  • While not quite a tiny house, the smaller size of a bungalow means that your utility bills will likely be lower than those in a larger home, and the property may have a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Older bungalows may have unique features like built-in cabinets and lighting, wainscoting, and exposed ceiling beams. “For people who like that design, they have real charm,” says architect Peter LaBau, author of The New Bungalow Kitchen. “They’re beautiful and efficient and a great place to live.”
  • There’s more potential to expand if you need more space in the future, since you can either build up or out (though the finished home may no longer be considered a bungalow). Many bungalows have a loft that can easily convert into either storage or living space.
  • Often located in cities or destination towns, bungalows may have appeal as a vacation property or second home.“A bungalow can be a charming place to get away to,” says Judy Zeder, a Realtor-Associate with the Jills Zeder Group at Coldwell Banker in Coral Gables, Florida. “If you’re going somewhere and you don’t want to live in a high-rise condo or own another big house. You just want a little place to fly into on the weekend.”

Cons

  • Though solidly built, many bungalows were constructed around 100 years ago. That means they may require additional upkeep and expenses, depending on how well they’ve been maintained by previous owners.
  • By design, bungalows let little sunlight into the property, so the interiors tend to be darker than other types of homes.
  • The bedrooms and bathrooms in bungalows tend to be smaller than those in newer homes, and tend to offer less storage space.
  • The layout of many bungalows means that the bedrooms are in close proximity to the living room and kitchen, which can make it difficult to entertain while family members are sleeping. “Once the kids are a little older, the parents don’t really want to be socializing while the kids are right next door,” says Fiona Dogan, a Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye, New York.
  • You may need to put additional home security measures in place, since all windows are accessible to potential burglars from the ground.
  • If you’re not up for major renovations and expect your family or space needs to grow, you may not be able to stay in a bungalow for the long term.

Who are bungalow homes best for?

At between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet, bungalows are a great option for young families looking for a starter home or retirees hoping to downsize in a home without stairs, or single homeowners who want the single-family home lifestyle without managing a huge property.

Find other housing types:

House Type Who it’s right for:
Apartment Apartments are suited for anyone looking to stay in a prime location for a cheaper price near shopping, restaurant and entertainment centers, often at a more affordable cost than buying a condo or single-family home.
Condominium Condos appeal to those looking for a lower-maintenance living, home with a sense of security, opportunities to be social with neighbors, among other factors.
Townhouse Townhouses are a particularly good option or first-time homebuyers or other budget-minded home buyers who want more space than typically afforded in a condo.
Modular home Modular homes are enticing to empty-nesters looking to downsize, couples looking for backyard units, like tiny homes or families looking to upgrade their dated properties in nice but expensive neighborhoods.
Single-family home Single-family homes are best for families who prefer a huge yard and plenty of room to spread out. Others still prefer a low-maintenance condo or townhome that includes benefits like landscaping, snow removal and exterior maintenance.
Multi-family home Multi-family homes are best for those who are interested in getting into real estate investing and are comfortable with the added responsibility and time commitment that comes with being a landlord.
Bungalow home At between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet, bungalows are a great option for young families looking for a starter home or retirees hoping to downsize in a home without stairs, or single homeowners who want the single-family home lifestyle without managing a huge property.
Ranch home Ranch homes are ideal for anyone who prefers single-story living. Singles, couples and families with children can find something to love about a ranch home.