Towns and cities in Britain have grown a lot in size over the last two centuries. The oldest houses are usually those closest to the town centre. Many people live in the suburbs, areas on the edge of a town. Some suburbs consist of new housing estates, while others were originally villages that have become joined to the town as it has grown.
Some people prefer to live in a village and travel into the nearby town to work. Villages are considered to be pleasant places to live, as they are quieter and less polluted than towns and are closer to the countryside.They usually contain a range of houses, including old cottages and new houses and bungalows. Many British people prefer to buy a house rather than renting one, because they can decorate or alter it to suit their own taste and because they believe they will have more privacy. Young people and those who cannot afford to buy a house live in rented accommodation. Some rent a furnished bedsit (or bed-sitting room), a combined bedroom and sitting room, and share washing and cooking facilities.Others rent a flat or house, often sharing the cost with friends.
Houses are bought and sold through estate agents. Few people can afford to buy a house outright, so they have to take out a mortgage (= loan) with a bank or building society. Houses, bungalows and flats Most houses are built of brick with a tiled roof, though some, especially in the country, are built of stone. The largest and most expensive type of house is a detached house, which is not joined to other houses and has a garden all round it.Detached houses have at least three bedrooms and one or two bathrooms upstairs, and one or more living rooms plus a separate dining room and kitchen downstairs.
Many large Victorian houses with three or four floors or storeys have now been converted into several flats. Semi-detached houses, or semis, are extremely common. They are built in pairs with one house joined to the other along one side. These houses usually have two or three bedrooms. There is a separate garden at the front and the back for each house.
Terraced houses date from Victorian and Edwardian times (the late 19th and early 20th century) and were built mainly for working-class people. Four or more houses are joined together in a row. There is little or no front garden, so the front door of each house opens onto the pavement. Access to the back garden is through the house. Terraced houses were originally quite small. They had two bedrooms, a sitting room and a kitchen/ dining room, an arrangement called ‘two up, two down’.Most have now been extended and bathrooms added, and in some towns they have become fashionable with professional people.
Cottages are small, very old village houses. Some have thatched roofs. Many have been modernized inside but still keep the wooden beams and other features that are thought to give them character. Some people think of a country cottage as their dream home. Bungalows have only one storey, and this makes them especially popular with older people.
They are mostly found in villages or on housing estates.High-rise blocks of flats, sometimes lower 20 stored high with several flats on each floor, were built in many towns in the mid 20th century. Many have since been pulled down because they needed a lot of repairs and because people did not like living in them. In order to overcome the problem of lack of space some people have a loft conversion to make a new bedroom the roof space. Others add an extra room or bathroom downstairs.
There is often not much space to extend because neighbours’ houses are close. In warm weather people like to sit outside on the patio (= a small concrete area) or in the garden.