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IELTS Speaking. Your home (accommodation) vocabulary | I know English


Key definitions

house: building where people (usually one family) live.

Our house is near the park.

home: place where someone lives, where they feel they belong.

It’s nice to come home in the evening and spend time with my family.

accommodation: a building or set of rooms where someone lives or stays.

Oti started looking for accommodation as soon as her university place was confirmed.

a property: building and the land it is built on.

Our present house is too small now that we have children so we are looking for a new property.

single storey: only a ground floor level.

My elderly parents are buying a single storey house as they find it difficult to climb the stairs.

two-storey: with two floors levels.

Sanjay found a lovely two-storey property to rent close to his workplace.

Types of home

detached house: a house that is not connected to any other houses.

We’d love to buy one of the new detached houses being built near the lake but they’re out of our price range.

semi-detached house: a house that is joined to another house on one side.

Meena lived in a semi-detached house and could sometimes hear her neighbours arguing through the adjoining wall.

terraced house (UK) / row house (US): a house in a row of similar houses joined together on both sides.

Having a property either side of us means that our terraced house stays warm in winter.

townhouse: a house built in a row but larger in size than a terraced house, often having more than two storeys.

Townhouses are popular with families as they often have extra bedrooms in the attic.

bungalow: a house with only one storey; built all on one level.

Many people move to a bungalow when they retire so they don’t have to
climb the stair as they get older.

cottage: a small house, usually located in the countryside.

For lots of people, a cottage in the countryside is their idea of a
dream home.

flat / apartment: a set of rooms for living in that are part of a larger building and are usually all on one floor.

It was a big day when their son left home and moved into his own flat.

fully-furnished flat / apartment: one that you rent with furniture already in it.

The young couple didn’t have much money so looked for a fully-furnished apartmentto rent when they got married.

studio flat / apartment:  a small flat that has one main room for living, eating and sleeping in.

Hilda had the choice of three studio flats in the converted property and
chose the one with pink walls.

bedsit: a rented room that has a bed, table, chairs, and somewhere to cook in it but a shared bathroom.

Thebedsit is small but has everything I need to create a little home for myself.

condominium (condo): a building or complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses.

Manuel decided that if he got the big promotion, he would buy a condo down by the river.

apartment block / high-rise: an apartment building with at least 10 floors.

There is little space for housing in my city and most people live in ahigh-rise.

block of flats / tower block: a tall building with flats on many levels.

They are clearing some of the old terraced houses in our town and replacing them withblocks of flats.

penthouse: an expensive flat at the top of a tall building in a fashionable area of a city.

The property manager says Matt had access to your corporate penthouse.

mansion: a large, impressive house.

If we were rich, I would buy apenthouse in London overlooking the River Thames but my husband would prefer a mansion on the coast.

villa: a large, often luxurious house in the country or near the sea, especially in southern Europe, and often rented out for holidays.

We stayed in a fabulousvilla when we visited Greece. It even had its own swimming pool.

student digs:  student accommodation, often in a shared house.

I was apprehensive about moving intostudent digs but I’m enjoying it and get on well with my housemates.

hall of residence: a college or university building where students live in flats.

Shishka lived in ahall of residence for her first year at university then rented a house with some friends.


residential area – area in which most of the buildings are houses.

Our town is growing rapidly with several new residential areas currently being developed.

suburb – a residential area on the edge of towns or cities.

Nearly all my colleagues at work live in the suburbs and commute by train each day.

on the outskirts – the areas that form the outer edge of a town, city or village, that are furthest away from the centre.

It’s great living on the outskirts. It’s easy to get into the city but we are also close to the countryside.

downtown – near the centre of a town or city, especially the business or shopping areas.

I’m looking for a flat downtown so I don’t have to commute far to work.

housing estate – a large group of houses built at the same time and in the same style.

In the UK, most new homes are built on housing estates.

within walking distance – not very far; close enough to reach by walking.

We chose to live here because it’s within walking distance of the school.

close-knit community – a neighbourhood where people are helpful and supportive.

This is a close-knit community and there’s always someone to turn to if you need help.

to live on campus – to live on the university or college grounds.

I like living on campus as I don’t have far to go to lectures or the student’s union bar.


bedroom – room used for sleeping in.

I’ve painted my bedroom yellow as it makes me feel cheerful when I wake up.

living room / lounge / sitting room – room used for relaxing.

In the evenings I chill out in the living room with a book or watch a bit of TV.

bathroom – room with a bath and/or shower and often a toilet.

With five people in my family, we have to queue for the bathroom in the morning.

kitchen – room where food is prepared and cooked, and sometimes eaten.

The kitchen is my favourite room in the house because I love cooking.

dining room – room in which meals are eaten.

I usually eat my breakfast in the kitchen but we always have family meals in the dining room.

study – a room for doing paperwork and studying in.

Kamal spent all day in the study working on his essay.

hall / hallway – open area inside the main entrance which leads to other rooms and usually the stairs.

Having a large hallway is so useful if you have a baby as there’s plenty of space to store the buggy.

landing – area at the top of the stairs.

I’m always telling the kids off for leaving their toys on the landing in case someone trips over them and falls down the stairs.

utility room – room used for storage and equipment such as the washing machine, freezer, etc.

It’s a rule in our house that all muddy boots are left in the utility room.

basement / cellar – room below ground level used for storage and sometimes for accommodation.

The children are so excited that our new house has a basement as we’ve promised to turn it into a playroom for them.

porch – a covered shelter protecting the front entrance of a building.

I’m so grateful for the porch on a wet day when I have to stop and wipe the dog’s feet before going indoors.

conservatory – a room with a glass roof and walls, attached to a house at one side.

It was Klaus and Meena’s dream to build a conservatory on the side of their house as somewhere to relax in the sun.

attic / loft – space in the roof used for storage and often converted into accommodation.

Margit regretted putting so much junk up in the attic now that she had to clear it out ready for the builders to start work on the loft conversion.

pantry / larder – small, cold room used for storing food.

We had a proper larder when I was young but nowadays, most people keep food in the fridge, freezer or a cupboard.

balcony – a platform enclosed by a wall or bars on the outside of a building, with access from an upper-floor window or door.

My dream home would have a balcony overlooking the sea.

Owning and renting

to rent – to pay money to the owner of a property to be allowed to live there.

One day I hope to own my own home but for now, I can only afford to rent.

to rent out / let out – to allow someone to live in your property for a fee.

I inherited my mum’s bungalow when she died, and I’ve decided to rent it out.

rented accommodation – a property for which a person pays a fixed amount to live in it to the person who owns it.

Being a university town, Exeter has lots of rented accommodation for the students.

landlord / landlady – the owner of a building or room that is rented out to others.

I have an excellent landlord who always fixes things quickly when something needs repairing.

tenant – someone who rents a flat or house from the person who owns it.

The people renting Adil’s flat gave notice last week so he’s looking for new tenants.

to give notice – to inform someone that you will be leaving or that they are required to leave.

We gave the landlord the required 30-day’s notice that we would be moving out of the flat.

to put down a deposit – to make an initial payment as part of a rental agreement or to secure a purchase.

The landlord said that once we’d put down the deposit of £200, the flat was ours.

lease – the contract a tenant signs when renting a property.

We gave him the £200 deposit immediately and agreed that we’d visit the office later to sign the lease.

short-term rental / lease – a rental agreement that lasts for a short time, usually 3-6 months.

The flat was only available on a short-term lease as the landlord wanted to sell it.

evict – to force tenants to leave a property if they fail to pay the rent or they behave unacceptably.

The tenants in the flat above us used to play loud music all night long but thankfully the landlady evicted them.

Fully furnished – a rented property with all furniture included.

As a student, I didn’t have any money to buy furniture so always rented fully furnished accommodation.

estate agent (UK) / real estate agent (US) – someone whose job it is to help people buy and sell property. Some deal with rentals as well.

Tuyen told the estate agent what sort of property she was looking for and he gave her the details of ten houses she might be interested in looking at.

to get on the property ladder – to buy a low-priced property with the aim of buying another bigger or more expensive one later in life.

They were fed up with paying high rents and longed to get on theproperty ladder and invest in a home of their own.

mortgage – a large loan given to buys a house or flat.

Julio was delighted when his mortgage application was accepted, and he could go ahead with his house purchase.

to take out a mortgage – to borrow money from the bank in order to buy a house.

Taking out a mortgage is a big commitment and most homeowners spend all their working life paying it off.

first-time buyer – someone buying a property for the first time.

The developer converted the old house into four apartments that would be affordable to first-time buyers.

repossess – to take back possession of something, especially a property when mortgage payments have not been made.

Luther lost his job and couldn’t pay his mortgage so the bank repossessed it.

Inside a house

(all the) mod cons – appliances in the home that make it easy to do jobs like washing, cooking, cleaning, etc.

The furnished apartment I’m interested in renting has all the mod cons, including a dishwasher and tumble drier which many rentals don’t have.

appliances – a device, machine or piece of equipment, especially an electrical one, that does a specific job in the home, such as a cooker or washing machine.

It must have been such hard work for my grandmother running a home without all the time-saving appliances we have today.

fitted kitchen – a kitchen with the cupboards and units designed to fit the space exactly and then fixed in place.

My new fitted kitchen has built-in appliances which make so much better use of the space.

built-in wardrobe – a wardrobe that is part of a room and fixed to the wall.

I didn’t need to buy much bedroom furniture for my first flat as it had built-in wardrobes.

carpeted – the floors have carpet on them.

Some people like bare floorboards in their home but I prefer the rooms to be carpeted.

furniture – items in a home that make it comfortable and functional to live in such as chairs, tables, beds, etc.

Wolfgang and Angelika went to town to choose some furniture for their new extension.

utilities – gas, electricity, water.

On top of the rental fee, they had to pay for the utilities as well.

spacious – having a lot of space inside.

Sally loved her friend’s new home, especially the spacious kitchen.

cosy – giving a feeling of warmth, comfort and relaxation.

Old cottages have really thick walls which makes them cool in summer but cosy in winter.

natural light – light from the sun.

I hate houses that are dark inside and like my home to be full of natural light.

elevator (US) / lift (UK) – a ​box-like compartment housed in a shaft for raising and lowering people or things to different levels in a building.

Vadim often walked up the stairs to his tenth-floor flat but took the lift if he was carrying shopping.

Outside a house

garden – area of grass or other vegetation beside a house and  belonging to the property.

I would hate to live in a house without a garden as I love to grow my own vegetables.

lawn – an area of grass that is cut short, especially in someone’s garden.

Our garden is mostly lawn with some flower borders and a vegetable patch.

backyard – a ​small ​space ​surrounded by ​walls at the back of a ​house, usually with a hard ​surface (US – an enclosed area covered with grass).

The kids are out playing in the backyard.

terrace / patio – paved area close to the house for relaxing, eating, etc.

In the summer we enjoy relaxing on the patio and often set up the barbeque there.

hedge – a line of bushes or small trees growing close together around a garden or field.

The property had a high hedge which gave it good privacy from the neighbours.

fence – a flat upright structure made of wood or wire that surrounds a garden or other area of land.

We had to put up a new fence at the side of the house as the old one blew down in a gale.

shed – small wooden building in a garden usually used for storing garden tools.

I don’t like going into the shed to get tools out as there are large spiders in there.

garage – building intended for storing a car, usually attached to the side of a house.

Most people in the UK use their garage for storage and don’t have room for the car.

Improving a property

to convert – to change the form of something.

Our plan is to convert the garage into a study.

loft conversion – to turn the loft/attic into living accommodation.

Doing a loft conversion will mean that each of the children will be able to have a bedroom of their own.

to add an extension – to build an extra room onto a house.

Many people add an extension as their family grows rather than buying a larger house.

to redecorate – to paint one or more rooms again or put new wallpaper on the walls.

The colour scheme in their new house was dull and old-fashioned so they redecorated before they moved in.

to do up a property – to repair and update an old property.

Jai couldn’t afford the smart new houses he looked at so he decided to buy an old property and do it up.

to renovate – to restore to a good state of repair.

The property has been empty for several years but we’re planning to renovate it and turn it back into a nice home.

to paper the walls – to put up wallpaper.

My friend is a decorator and is going to help me paper the walls in my new flat.

to tile the bathroom – to cover a wall with tiles to make it water resistant.

We’ve nearly finished the new extension and just need to tile the bathroom.

a lick of paint – a small amount of paint; one layer of paint.

There was very little that needed doing before we move into the house but we gave the walls a lick of paint to brighten them up.

Other vocabulary

dream home – a home you regard as perfect.

My dream home would be a cottage by the sea.

modern – based on up to date styles.

Most modern houses are very similar to look at and have small rooms and not much storage space.

house-hunting – looking for a property to live in.

We’ve been house-hunting for three months but can’t find anything that really suits us.

house-warming party – a party to celebrate moving into a new home.

I’m going to a colleague’s house-warming party on Saturday and can’t wait to look around her new home.

to have a place of your own – to have your own home and not have to share it with anyone else.

I love living at home with my family but I’m 21 now and have a good job so I feel it’s time to find a place of my own.

to move in – to begin to live in a property.

Niko was impressed with the recently renovated hall of residence and couldn’t wait to move in.

to move out – to stop living in a particular place.

Veronica broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their flat.

downsize – to reduce in size; to buy a smaller house.

Many parents downsize when their children have left home as they don’t need such a large house.

to feel homesick – to feel unhappy because you are away from home and are missing your family, friends, and home very much.

For the first few months at university, Dalia felt very homesick but she began to feel better once she started to make new friends.

there’s no place like home – an expression that means your home is a special place.

I do enjoy travelling the world and visiting amazing places but there’s no place like home.

next door – the property next to yours.

A new family has just moved into the house next door.

a view – what you can see from a particular place.

The thing I remember most about my grandmother’s house was the lovely view of the mountains.

Ways to improve your home vocabulary

One of the best ways to improve your home vocabulary is through reading. Watching topic related YouTube videos and listening to podcasts is also hugely beneficial.

Here are some online resources I recommend.

Accommodation & Home Articles

Our Property

The Guardian — Property

Rightmove — Renting & other articles

One of the best reading resources is property listings. Google property for sale and read property listings on the websites that come up. They’ll contain much of the homes vocabulary we’ve been studying.

TED Talks

I love TED Talks. They are short videos with a powerful message and are generally very interesting. They’re ideal for improving your vocabulary and give valuable listening skills practise.

Search TED Talks — Homes to help you improve your home vocabulary.


Another excellent way to develop your vocabulary and get more listening practise is to listen to podcasts.

For home vocabulary, search Stitcher — Homes. You’ll find lots of shows to choose from.

Also, remember that you may be asked about your own home, so think about other home vocabulary you might need that is very specific to your situation.

Your home (accommodation) questions and model answers

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