Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

How many children per bedroom in the typical American home?

  • A friend of mine recently remarked that my neighbors, who have two young children in a 2 bedroom apartment, would surely not be around for long since they would need more space on account of the children. Children need their own rooms, he argued.
  • Since I grew up with two sisters and recall sharing a room more often than having my own space as a child, I thought this viewpoint couldn’t possibly be correct.
  • On account of government data being unavailable for the time being (see http://outage.census.gov/closed.html), I took a look at recent data from our Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers which is based on a survey of recent home buyers. The experience of all households which would include renters and long-time owners as well as recent buyers may be different, but examining the Profile gives us good insight into the actions of recent home buyers.
  • What I found probably explains why my friend and I had different thoughts on the matter. I am from a family of three children. My friend has only one brother.
  • According to recent profile data, roughly a third (32.7 percent) of homes purchased by buyers with three children under the age of 18 had 3 or fewer bedrooms. Assuming that one of these bedrooms is used by the adult(s) in the household, roughly a third of 3-child purchasers would likely have children sharing a room.
  • By contrast, among households with two children only 4.1 percent of recent home buyers were purchasing a house that implied some sharing for the children (2 bedroom or smaller).
  • Sharing a bedroom is the norm among households with 4 or more children under 18. Nearly seven in ten 4-children households lived in a 4-bedroom or smaller home, implying sharing among the children.
  • The chart below shows median number of bathrooms and bedrooms broken down by number of children under 18 in the house. The more children, the more bedrooms the typical or median family has.

  • What are your clients’ attitudes on the number of children for each bedroom? Is there a clear norm in your market?
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