blue ranch style house with a brown fence

What Is A Ranch-Style House?

Jamie Johnson4-Minute Read
February 11, 2022

If you’re looking for an affordably priced home with minimal upkeep, a ranch-style house is an excellent option to consider. With its single-story, open layout, ranch houses are easy to navigate and often appeal to buyers looking to downsize.

If you’re considering buying a home in the next year, you may wonder if a ranch-style house is the right choice for you. This article will discuss the different types of ranch-style homes and the pros and cons of owning one.

What Makes A Home A Ranch-Style House?

When you begin the process of buying a house, one of the first decisions you must make is what type of home you’re looking for. A ranch-style home is one story and has an open concept floor plan.

The exact shape of the home can vary, but many ranch-style houses have an “L” or “U”-shaped layout. And most have a sliding glass door that leads to a dedicated patio space. This makes them a good option for anyone looking for easy access to the outdoors.

Here is a list of the main features you can expect to find in ranch homes:

  • Single story
  • Open floor plan
  • Sliding glass doors
  • Low-pitched roofline
  • Attached garage
  • An “L”- or “U”-shaped layout

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5 Types Of Ranch-Style Homes

If you’re looking into buying a ranch-style home, here are five styles you can consider.

California Ranch

The California Ranch was first built in the 1920s, and it tends to be a functional and modern ranch house. This style of home is usually very open and casual and designed to fit in with nature. This house is usually “L”- or “U”-shaped with a designated courtyard space.

Storybook Ranch

A storybook ranch stands out from other ranch-style homes because of its ornate designs. These homes often come with a steep, gabled roof, a decorative chimney, and tall, diamond-shaped windows.

Suburban Ranch

A suburban ranch is similar to a California ranch, but it is usually more compact. It’s the smallest of the ranch-style homes and usually comes with an attached garage.

Raised Ranch

A raised ranch house is often referred to as a split-entry ranch, and it comes with two floors. When you enter the home, there’s a staircase where you can go upstairs or downstairs. The kitchen, living room, and bedrooms are on the top floor, and a garage and basement are on the lower level.

Split-Level Ranch 

A split-level ranch is similar to a raised ranch in that it has multiple floors linked by a staircase at the main entrance. But a split-level ranch usually has three floors instead of two and a staggered living space.

Pros Of Ranch-Style Homes

Here are some of the advantages of living in a ranch-style home.

Single-Level Living

There are many benefits of living in a home with only one level, particularly for homeowners with mobility issues. These homes are designed for maximum efficiency, and it’s easier to move freely throughout the house. It’s also easier to control the home's temperature since it’s only one level.

An Open Floor Plan

Many homeowners prefer the open floor plans associated with ranch-style homes. It makes the home feel larger, and the kitchen is often the focal point of the home. Plus, an open floor plan often leads to more natural light in the home.

Easier And Less Costly To Own And Maintain

The upkeep for a ranch-style house tends to be much easier than multi-story homes. There are no stairs to drag a vacuum up and down, and since the house is smaller, it’s easier to clean the windows and reach areas that are harder to access in a bigger home.

Easy Access To Outdoor Space

Ranch-styles houses are ideal for anyone who spends a lot of time in nature. The home usually has a sliding glass door and dedicated patio space, making it ideal if you plan to go in and out of your home frequently.

Cons Of Ranch-Style Homes

Many people love modern ranch homes, but there are some disadvantages to consider before investing in one.

Larger Footprint And More Costly To Build Per Square Foot

Ranch-style homes often require more land than colonial-style homes to achieve the same square footage. Since a colonial-style home has multiple floors, it doesn’t need as much land, but that’s not the case with ranch-style houses. And it’s cheaper to build upward than it is to build outward, making ranch-style homes more costly per square foot than colonial-style homes.

Privacy Concerns

Since a ranch-style home is only one floor, that means it’s easy to access from the street. If you aren’t careful about closing your blinds, neighbors and people passing by will be able to easily see inside your home.

Less Outdoor Space

And finally, homeowners of ranch-style homes often need to sacrifice outdoor space for more indoor space. And it requires more materials to build than a colonial-style house.

Where To Find Ranch-Style Homes

Ranch-style homes are common in most of the United States, though they’re most common in California, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. Unless you live in the Northeast, chances are there’s one on the market near you.

From sprawling ranch mansions to smaller, cozier options, there’s a ranch-style house for every budget. Older ranches tend to be the smaller ones, ranging between 1,000 – 1,500 square feet, excluding any basement. Newer ranches are being built bigger, some upward of 3,000 square feet.

For assistance in finding the perfect ranch house for you, contact a Rocket HomesSM Real Estate Agent.

The Bottom Line: Ranch-Style Homes Are A Great Choice For Many Homeowners

Ranch-style homes are a great alternative for homeowners with mobility issues. If you’re interested in buying a home but not sure which type of home is best for you, be sure to take our home buying quiz.

Jamie Johnson

Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about a variety of personal finance topics, including loans, building credit, and paying down debt. She currently writes for clients like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Insider, and Bankrate.