18 answers

Colonial Vs. Ranch

We are house hunting, and have two houses in mind. One is a ranch, one is a colonial. Currently, we live in a one level condo. I have some reservations about a colonial...having to deal with stairs for both safety and practicality reasons. Just wondering if all you moms could weigh in on the pros and cons of whatever style of house you have. I have one daughter, 23 months old, and hope to have more in the future.

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So What Happened?™

Thanks so much to everyone for your thoughts! We decided to make an offer on the colonial. There is SO much more space, and as many of you said, stairs to the basement would mean some of the same issues! We already live in an upper level condo, so we're used to stairs, and prob won't live there forEVER, but if we do, we'll have plenty of space to grow! Thanks to all of you who made me feel better about it!

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Since moving to a 2-level home with a basement almost a year ago, I have lost more weight than ever with the least amount of effort! I now weight less than I did when I got married ....and that was also 3 children ago. :) If that's not a "pro" for a colonial, I don't know what is.

We have a ranch and I miss the privacy of a colonial (which is what I grew up in). Even ranch style homes have basement stairs. We always used the gates that lock on the staircases. Good luck :)

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I would go with a colonial. It is quieter... and easier to keep clean. You just need to install a gate at the top of the stairs.

We have a colonial and I love it. I can send the kids upstairs when we need some quiet adult time, and the stairs were never really a problem. I generally am not a fan of the ranch because it always felt "squished" to me, like in order to get anywhere you had to walk around someone else, but maybe that was just the ranches I've been in. I love the more open floor plan of our colonial style home.

I have lived in both and feel that the problem isn't with little kids (although there are those concerns about stairs and safety, but nothing you can't gate, etc) But if you are considering it for your final home for the rest of your lives, then you won't want to do stairs when you are retired. If you won't be in it that long, then it is just 6 of one, half dozen of the other. Happy hunting.

Having grown up in ranches, I'm in favor of them. They also usually have huge basements that can be finished. My husband does heating and cooling for a living, and it is much cheaper to budget for those 2 items (heat and AC)in a ranch. One of my sisters has a colonial and she says it is very hard to keep the upper floor cool in the summer. Snow removal from a roof would also be easier on a ranch rather than a colonial. Are you happy with both school districts? What about the locations of both homes and resale value based on those....just a couple of things to also consider. Good luck.

Hi L.,

If you plan on having more children, definitely consider a ranch home with a finished basement. I grew up in a huge colonial with high staircases, moved to a ranch when I married and now I live in a in a quad (4 floors) with my kids. The best thing about living in a multi-level house is PRIVACY. You can get away and have your own space on a separate floor from the kids providing they are older, but if the kids are small, it's very hard to keep an eye on them. The bad thing is that you have multiple floors to maintain. Cleaning windows on the top floor from the outside is a pain. Ranch homes are easier to maintain and if you have little kids, they are safer and it's easier to keep an eye on the kids. With a colonial, it's hard because you have to block off the stairs with gates when they are little. Also, if you find a colonial with a high staircase, that too can be dangerous with small children unless you keep them on the lower floor until they are old enough. The best type of colonial would be one where your laundry room is located on the same floor as your bedrooms and linen closets--that way you aren't carrying clothes baskets up and down stairs. Because if you are taking clothes up and down stairs with little ones around, you will have to keep shutting gates--that's a hassle, trust me. Overall, if you are planning on having more children, I would seriously consider a large ranch with a finished basement. From my experiences, if you have young children, ranch homes are the best--easier to maintain, less dangers. When your children are older, you could always move into a multi-level home.

Good luck in your decision,


one thing that I like about our colonial is taht the bedrooms are upstairs so if guests are over they are not likely to wander into our bedrooms and see any unmade beds or general clutter.

what I dont like about my colonial is walking up and dwon the stairs..

It might be hard to find a big enough ranch for your growing family.

L. ~
I agree with Kathy. I had a townhouse apartment when my son was young (he was 4 when we moved in), and it was fine as far as safety...for the most part. He did fall down the stairs once...but what a pain when doing laundry...carrying baskets up 2 flights of stairs! My husband and I are in our 40's and bought a house 1 1/2 yrs ago...we intentionally bought a ranch...I know we will never buy another house, and when we're older, I don't want to worry about the stairs.
good luck!


We too built a new home when our boys were very young. I intentionally went with a ranch because I thought it would be safer for us all to have the bedrooms on the main floor. I have a terrible fear of fire and knew that we could always get them out of the house if one ever broke out in the middle of the night. Also the thought of having little ones going up and down stairs was another concern. I remember as a child taking more than a few tumbles down our stairs at home and how scary that was. Our builder encouraged a two story house because you can get more space that way, which is true and something I would desire now very much, but with our ranch house we have a full basement that is just like having two full floors anyway. From a safety stand point you can't go wrong with a ranch style, but I really do love those old victorian ladies with towering ceilings and multiple floors. Maybe someday!


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