Orang Bonerate live in ten villages, the populations of which vary from approximately 20 to 1,000 residents. Seven of the villages are seashore communities; the remaining three are situated in the interior of the island. When the residents from the latter want marine foods, they barter for them in the coastal villages, or they purchase them at the market at the island capital ( ibu kota ). This survey of Bonerate's settlements would not be complete without the mention of an eleventh village that was emerging in 1978. People from two inland villages cooperated in building new houses and developed swiddens at a virgin inland location. The people who periodically lived at the new site gave the growing scarcity of land around their home villages as the reason for moving there. At that time no children had yet been born there. The development of the new village was based on local initiative, not sponsored by the island's civil servants.
Most houses on Bonerate have bamboo or rough wood walls and roofs of thatched coconut-palm leaves, and are built on poles. The size is highly variable from small, one-room all-thatch huts to houses with a veranda, bedrooms, and a separate firehouse/kitchen.