Telugu villages range in size from several hundred in population to many thousand, with larger ones resembling small towns. Frequently several "hamlets" are affiliated together as a single village. In some cases, the constituent settlements have been designated a village by the government for purposes of taxation, economic development, and political representation. Typically the main settlement of the village has the widest variety of castes (or jatis, endogamous groups often associated with particular occupations), with a temple, small shops, tea and drink stalls, a weekly market, a post office, and a village school. Quarters of former Untouchable castes are traditionally segregated from the other houses of a settlement.
Telugu house types vary considerably even within the same village. Differences in construction materials usually indicate differing economic statuses. Dwellings range from mud-walled, single-family houses with palm-thatched roofs to houses made of brick and mortar—or stone in some regions—with flat, cement roofs. All houses have at least one inner room where the family valuables are stored, ceremonial brass vessels (dowry) are displayed, and deities are worshiped at a small shrine. A roofed veranda with cooking nook lies outside this inner room. For the highest castes, for whom it is important that cooking take place beyond the polluting gaze of outsiders, the cooking area is adjacent to the back of the dwelling in a walled compound.