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If you’ve been looking for a new home, you have probably come across a mix of ranch (one-level) and multi-story houses. Both have pros and cons and deciding which to buy will largely depend on your family and your preferences.

Square Footage
Some cities and towns limit the percentage of lot space that can be occupied by a house. That means that the “footprint” of a house, or the amount of yard space it takes up, could be limited. A ranch might be too small for your family, but a multi-level house could have double or triple the square footage and the same footprint.

Safety and Security
In the event of a fire or natural disaster, evacuating your home would be much easier with everyone on one level. If you’re looking for a house in an area prone to tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes, take this intoIf consideration.

Multi-level houses contain stairs that can be a hassle when carrying laundry or a vacuum cleaner or when going from a bedroom to the kitchen to get a snack. Stairs can also be dangerous for senior citizens, adults with limited mobility, and young children. If you’re looking for a house to continue living in after you retire, a one-story home will be safer when you’re older. In addition, a staircase reduces the amount of available living space.

Rooms on upper floors have more privacy than those on ground level. If you lived in a ranch house and didn’t close the curtains or blinds, your neighbors, as well as anyone who walked or drove by, could see what you and your family were doing inside.

A multi-story home may be less susceptible to burglary than a ranch. If you forgot to close a second-story window, an intruder would have a harder time getting in and carrying away valuables than if all the windows were on ground level.

In a multi-level house, sound can travel. You might hear someone watching TV downstairs while you were trying to sleep in an upstairs bedroom, or you might hear an upstairs floor creak when someone walked across it while you were downstairs. Some people find these things extremely irritating, while others are better at tuning them out.

Maintenance and repair costs are typically lower with a one-story house since everything is confined to a relatively small area. Painting, washing windows and other tasks can be done without the need for scaffolding. Since warm air rises, different floors in a multi-level house can be at different temperatures. Heating and air conditioning are generally less expensive with a ranch home.

Which Is Right for Your Family?
Both ranch and multi-level houses have advantages and disadvantages. Think carefully about how much each of these factors would matter to your family and whether some things might not be problematic now but could be in the future. Discuss any questions or concerns you have with your real estate agent.