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This Was Considered a "Huge House" 50 Years Ago

It's not exactly a McMansion.

If it seems like the houses in your neighborhood are getting bigger by the year, you're not imagining things. Over the past half-century, the size of the average American home has grown by more than 1,000 square feet—with a price tag to match. In 2018, the average new construction single-family home spanned more than 2,600 square feet and sold for nearly $378,000. However, in the 1960s, a new single-family home was a modest 1,600 square feet and cost just $31,500 (or $223,000 adjusted for inflation). Basically, so-called "huge" houses 50 years ago were on a totally different scale.

Even among more expensive pieces of property, people in the 1960s were hardly living large compared to today's standards. "It was a simpler time and homes reflected that," says Trey McCallie, principal broker at Urban Toolbox Real Estate. "There were no man caves or she sheds, nor playrooms for the children."

So, what would an enormous, ultra-luxe home have looked like 50 years ago? We've rounded up some examples of what made a house a mansion at the time. And before you close on that perfect piece of property, be sure to learn these 30 Secrets Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Know.

It would've cost $40,000 dollars.

1960s huge suburban ranch home sits on green grass with white picket fence
ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo

Considering the average home cost just over $31,000 in the late 1960s, if you were entering into the $40,000-range, your house was probably huge 50 years ago.

For example, estimates that Don Draper's swanky suburban home on Mad Men would've cost $30,000 in 1960. The home was located in Ossining, a small town in Westchester County, which is the most affluent of New York's suburbs. So you can only imagine what Don and anyone else in the 1960s could've gotten for $40,000.

It would've been 2,500 square feet.

1960s huge suburban home's living room with fireplace, couch, arm chair, and coffee table
We Shoot / Alamy Stock Photo

"A huge house then would be an average house today—2,500 square feet," says McCallie.

It would've had three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms.

1960s huge bathroom with shower and tub combo, single sink, and toilet, adorned with pink tiles
 ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo

If your home had four bedrooms and three bathrooms, you were probably filthy rich in the 1960s. That's because 41 percent of homes priced above the 1969 average had less than three bedrooms, and the vast majority had two-and-a-half baths or fewer.

It would've had central air.

1960s central air vent in white against damask beige wallpaper

In the 1960s, just 36 percent of homes at the time were equipped with central air. So if yours did—and you could afford to cool your "huge" house 50 years ago—you were probably very wealthy.

It would've had two stories.

1960s suburban family in black and white photo standing in front of huge suburban home

Just 22 percent of homes in the 1960s had two or more stories. Therefore, any home that had a flight of stairs was basically a mansion.

Its kitchen would've been fully equipped.

1960s kitchen handmade wooden cabinets, dishwasher, and gas range
Patti McConville / Alamy Stock Photo

Fifty years ago, 11 percent of homes didn't even come with cooking equipment. So if your kitchen had a new gas range and dishwasher, you were loaded. In fact, just 51 percent of all homes had a dishwasher at the time.

It would've sat on a tenth of an acre.

1960s mother and son mow grass at huge house
ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo

By 1960, the average American lawn was about one thirteenth of an acre. Any home that had more property than that was huge.

It would've had a two-car garage.

Emptied two-car garage in 1960s ranch home
John Crowe / Alamy Stock Photo

A two-car garage was a rare find 50 years ago. Only 17 percent of the most expensive homes built in the 1960s had that much covered parking.

It would've had a full basement.

Red, Green, And Wood Basement in huge 1960s home
 Directphoto Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

Just 42 percent of new homes in the '60s had either a full or partial basement. And if you could find a home with a full walk-out basement, that was gold.

It would've had two fireplaces.

Brick fireplace in black and white photo adorned with stockings and gifts for Christmas in huge house
ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo

If your home had two fireplaces in the '60s, you were basically a millionaire. Just eight percent of homes at the time had two or more fireplaces. And if you want to see some huge houses by today's standards, then check out The Biggest Homes on the Planet.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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