The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave… and apparently huge freezing-cold houses with weird sockets? What’s so strange about American homes? Any time I invite my non-American friends over to my house, they’re happy to point out how bizarre it is! For example…
1. Big houses.
First of all, not all Americans have huge houses. Plenty of people rent small apartments, and houses come in all different sizes. But, yeah, I’ll agree that the typical American home is pretty big and spacious compared to other countries. Where the average square footage for European houses is about 1,500 (140 sq m), it’s 2,700 (250 sq m) in the US. I guess the numbers don’t lie!
2. A room for everything!
To fill our giant houses, we’ve got a room for pretty much anything you can imagine. If you can count closets as tiny rooms (and they kinda are when you think about it), every American home has multiples of those.
There are closets for clothes in each bedroom, usually one near the front door for coats and shoes, one in the bathroom or hallway for towels, one in the kitchen in the form of a pantry – yep, we love storage space that’s built into the house! Those big wardrobes you might get from IKEA aren’t really a thing here.
3. Huge personal washers AND dryers.
Speaking of rooms, there’s also usually one just for doing laundry. Also, most Americans have both a washer AND a separate dryer, and they tend to be big too! My European friends tell me that their washer is in the kitchen or bathroom, and they hang their clothes to dry.
But, again, I’m sure it comes down to the issue of space. Still, even if a person in the US doesn’t have their own, they just go down to the laundromat to use the machines there. You won’t see many Americans hand-washing their clothes or hanging them to dry. I mean, who has time for that??
And here’s yet another way to have plenty of storage space. Or, of course, if you’re in the Midwest, basements serve as a shelter when a tornado hits. But besides storage and tornado safety, a lot of American homes have gorgeous finished basements that serve as another living space. It might be in the form of a guest room or a recreational area to hang out in.
5. The abandoned dining room.
And there are some rooms that we don’t even use at all! Ok, maybe this just applies to my family, but we NEVER use the dining room! It’s there, we have a beautiful dining table, but we always just take our dinner to the living room and watch TV while we eat. Hey, dinner and a movie!
6. Serious about fire safety.
More specifically, I’m talking about having multiple smoke alarms throughout the house. I personally have one in the kitchen, another in the hallway, and one in each bedroom. That’s what The National Fire Protection Association recommends, and I’m probably not alone in following their guidelines to a tee!
Fire safety is taken so seriously in the States that landlords can get in big trouble if they don’t immediately fix a non-working smoke alarm for their tenants. And perhaps it’s for fire safety or just a convenience thing, but I’ve always had an electric stove in any house I’ve lived in. Gas stoves aren’t as popular as they are elsewhere in the world.
7. Wall-to-wall carpeting.
This point will often depend on how old a house is because a lot of the old ones have wooden floors. But most homes, especially the newer ones, have wall-to-wall carpeting in every room. Well, not the kitchen or bathroom, of course, but elsewhere, it’s carpeted! Is this really just an American thing? If you’re from another country, you’ll have to let me know down below!
8. How low can you go?
Now, my European friends find my toilet quite fascinating and mildly confusing. I guess toilets in the US sit lower than the ones in Europe do. It’s not because we’re necessarily shorter or that it’s more comfortable for us.
Low-sitting toilets actually serve a purpose – being closer to the ground is a healthier and more natural way to, ya know, do your numbers. Before we even had commodes, our cavemen ancestors squatted on the ground. So, just trying to keep it au-naturel over here! And, well, civilized too, of course!
9. Toilet bowls full of water.
You didn’t think I was done talking about toilets, did you? Ok, one more toilet fact for the day: in the US, they’re full of water. On his first visit to the States, one of my friends actually thought my toilet was clogged! Nope, all that water is totally normal and serves several purposes as well.
First of all, it keeps the bowl from getting too dirty and staining the porcelain. That way, we don’t have to use the brush as often. It also minimizes smells. But there is the downside of more splashing if you know what I mean! And I think you do!
10. One faucet to rule them all.
I haven’t done a lot of traveling, but I have been to the UK and I was flabbergasted by the separate faucets in the bathroom. How do you guys use those anyway??? I have to wash my hands under scolding hot or freezing cold water separately? Jump back and forth between the two?
In the US, sinks always have just one faucet, and you can customize the temperature of the water howeverr you like. Now, as for getting that perfect temperature when you’re taking a shower, don’t even get me started on that…
11. Crank up the AC.
Yeah, most of us leave the AC running all through the summer instead of opening a window or using a fan. Probably not the most cost-efficient solution (especially in a big house), but it just feels soooo niiiice! The same goes for cranking the heat up in the winter. You won’t see many radiators in the US!
12. Wearing shoes inside.
Most of the world has a pretty strict policy about taking your shoes off at the front door, but that’s not really the case here. Most families are totally ok with wearing shoes inside around the house, as long as they’re not muddy or anything. Sure, there are those American families that don’t do it. So if you’re ever in the States, it’s customary to ask if you need to take your shoes off at the front door. Most of the time, the answer will be “Nah, you’re fine!”
13. Switchless sockets.
Apparently in Europe, you have a switch to either allow the power to flow by turning a button on or cutting it by switching it off. In America, you don’t have this option, and that’s most likely because of the fact that we have a lower voltage running through our sockets. So the risk of shocking yourself when you unplug something without turning the socket off first isn’t as high.
14. No tea kettle in the kitchen.
The US is mostly a coffee-drinking country, so we don’t really use tea kettles. And if you’re thinking, “What about a kettle to boil water for instant coffee?” – the answer to that, my friend, is that most homes have a coffeemaker to brew it fresh!
15. Garbage disposals.
Ah, yes, the convenience of rinsing your plate right in the sink, flipping the switch, and sending all that ground-up food down the drain! Garbage disposals are a lot more common in the States. In fact, over 50% of American homes have one. I imagine it comes down to better sanitization and avoiding raunchy smells coming from your trashcan!
16. Flags everywhere.
Americans really do love to display the ol’ Star-Spangled Banner, so most homes here have at least one hanging outside the house. But it’s not just our national flag we like to hoist. A lot of people hang a flag with their favorite football team or the college they went to on it. What can I say, we like flags!
17. Pristine lawns.
And finally, surrounding that big house full of rooms, closets, carpet, and weird sockets, we have our beautiful lawns. Ok, the perfect pristine kind are usually only found in the suburbs, but, in general, Americans like to take care of their yard. Plus, most neighborhoods have rules about it! Even if you don’t want to, you often HAVE to keep your lawn mowed and free of leaves or clutter.
Everything’s gotta look nice and clean! And now, whether you’re American or not, which of these things apply to your house? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned something new today, remember to rate this article “17 House details in the US that puzzle foreigners” and share it with a friend.
Credit: Bright Side