In the 1980s Gayo lived in isolated households, small mountain hamlets, larger clustered villages, and in towns and cities. Villages ranged in population from one hundred to several thousand persons. Precolonial villages consisted of one or more longhouses, which were raised on stilts and divided into kitchens and sleeping rooms for three to nine nuclear or extended families. Houses were clustered together for protection, often on a hill. Gayo began to replace longhouses with low, single-family dwellings in the 1920s; some longhouses remained in the south in the 1980s. A single-family house has a roof of palm leaf or corrugated iron, a front public room and rear kitchen with a raised eating platform, and sometimes a sleeping room.