Real estate agents like to claim it's all about location, location, location, but the configuration of the house plays a large role in your real estate happiness, too. Buyers often have a strong preference for a certain number of stories to the home, but if you're one of those people who is still deciding whether to look for a single story or more, read on. This is about more than looks; the number of stories you have can save your stuff while influencing aspect of later life.
Stairs Now vs. Stairs Later
If you get a multistory home, you'll have stairs. Those might be fine now, but as you get older, or if a relative who isn't that mobile comes to live with you, you may find much of the bedroom space cut off unless you make modifications to the home. Having stairs means you'll get some great exercise daily. But if you begin to have trouble going up or down stairs, you'll need to consider installing a lift chair or remodeling the home so that your bedroom is downstairs. (Or you'll have to sell the home and get a single story.)
Another issue is if you have children later on, after you've bought the home. If you have stairs, you'll need to be vigilant about not letting very young children be on the stairs by themselves.
However, adding that second story will usually give you more room. It's always possible to have a single story that is very big, providing more square footage overall. But if you're looking for a house that has a certain footprint in terms of perimeter, a multistory house will allow you to find a house that follows that requirement and that offers much more space. The upper story can hold the bedrooms or a study, while the lower floor is reserved for communal living space unless you want a bedroom on the bottom floor.
Having an upper story is a boon if there is a flood. Even if it looks like you might have to evacuate, you can move items to the upper floor to try to save them from water damage. The upper floor will also likely be less attractive to bugs, which will mostly stick to the lower level of the home. That doesn't mean you won't see any bugs on the upper floor, but there should be fewer of them.
Effects on the Heating System
Many multistory houses today have grand rooms that are completely open up to the top floor ceiling. This huge space is very handy on hot days because, as hot air rises, it will rise farther away from the ground floor than it would with a regular-height ceiling. This can make the home easier to keep cool in summer. You will have to adjust your heating habits, though, in cold weather because that rising heat would leave the ground floor cooler than normal in winter, too.
Discuss these issues with your real estate agent because each house purchase is unique. Your agent can speak with you about what other buyers have done and what floor plans and models might be more appropriate for you.