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What does the American dream home look like? Depends on your age

american dream home survey bates masi architects house with large deck patio
Bates Masi Architects
Ask three different people what their idea of a dream home is, and you’ll likely get three very different answers, especially if they happen to be 26, 40, and 57. Not everyone who currently rents their place wants to buy a house, but even among homeowners, the majority are still hunting for their dream home, according to a Harris Poll conducted for Trulia.

The majority of Millennial renters, 89 percent, plan to buy a home one day, as do 77 percent of Gen-X renters and 40 percent of Baby Boomer renters. Yet the ideal house looks different for each of the generations and remains elusive for even current homeowners: Only 35 percent of those surveyed say they already own their dream home, and 28 percent make a monthly search for the perfect place.

Whether Millennials are looking for a modern-style home (22 percent), Victorian or Craftsman (13 percent), or high-rise penthouse (six percent), over half (60 percent, to be precise) want a balcony with a view or a backyard deck (59 percent). Both Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers favored decks over balconies — 65 versus 46 percent, and 55 versus 33 percent, respectively. This might reflect the fact that the two older generations preferred the suburbs or countryside, while Millennials were open to living anywhere, as long as they had a short commute (34 percent) and the area had good schools (34 percent).

Baby Boomers showed the most enthusiasm for smaller homes, with 15 percent hoping to find a house between 800 and 1,400 square feet. Only five percent and seven percent, respectively, of Millennials and Gen-Xers wanted a house in this shoulder-hunching range. The most popular home sizes across the board were between 1,401 and 2,600 square feet.

A moderately sized home isn’t the only thing the three generations have in common, though. Similar percentages amongst all three groups wanted to live in log cabins, farm houses, or Colonial-style homes. And the most popular category for all the generations was “Other,” with over 30 percent in each age bracket wanting to live in anything from Mediterranean style homes to townhouses to houseboats. Since Trulia didn’t provide the breakdown on these, we’ll just assume everyone wants to live the seafaring life.

If you don’t want a gourmet kitchen or open floor plan in your dream home, your desires are different from the majority of the survey’s 2,026 respondents, who do. That’s not a huge sample size, and it would be interesting to see something like what Swedish housing site Hemnet did, analyzing what its two million visitors clicked on each month to find the aggregate Swedes’ ideal home.

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