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Meet the prototypical American home: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and central air

Ritchie King

Every couple of years, the US Census conducts an exhaustive survey of households across the country to collect detailed information about US residences: “How many stories does your home have?” “Do you have a usable fireplace?” “Do you have a smoke detector, and if so, does it run on batteries?”

Data from their most recent such survey, conducted in 2011, was released yesterday, and it paints an elaborate picture of current living conditions in the US. The faux real estate listing above draws on that data to depict the prototypical US home. The median monthly cost of either renting or owning such an abode is $927, which is about a fifth of the median household income in the US.

Some aspects of the American home have changed dramatically since the first survey was conducted in 1973 (which makes sense because half of the occupied homes today were built in 1974 or later). Central air conditioning was a luxury that only 18% of households enjoyed in back then, but the number grew to 43% in 1993, and today 66% of dwellings have central AC.

The number of bathrooms in a typical home has also grown. From 1973 to 1991, one bathroom was the norm, and for the next 20 years, it was one and a half bathrooms. The 2011 survey is the first time that the median residence was found to have 2 or more.

A few other facts about the modern US household:

  • Roughly 35% of occupied homes have a usable fireplace, up from 32% in 1993.
  • 16% have a swimming pool.
  • There is both an 11% chance of finding at least one mouse and an 11% chance of finding at least one cockroach in a US residence over the course of a year.

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