House vs. Townhome vs. Apartment … Which is Right for You?

in Renter Life

When it comes time for you to pick the next place to live, you have a lot of options. That’s a good thing, right? Whether this is your 1st or 5th time moving, weighing the pros and cons of every housing choice can be overwhelming, especially if you’re limited to virtual real estate tour

Each option provides unique benefits and drawbacks that might not be apparent at first glance. The amount of money you want to spend, the level of privacy you want, and even whether or not you want to paint your house a particular color can depend on your choice. Let’s take a deep-dive into the different opportunities and find out which one is best for you. 

Living in an Apartment

An apartment community offers so many benefits to prospective tenants, and the market is growing year by year. Green, pet-friendly, high-end apartments are being built every day to attract millennials who are always on the go and looking for new opportunities. Let’s take a look at the drawbacks and benefits that living in an apartment provides.

gray curtain glass wall building

Overall Cost

It can be challenging to compare the costs of an apartment to the costs of a house. When it comes to upfront rent vs. mortgage, a mortgage wins every time because it’s an investment into homeownership. That’s just one tiny part of the picture, however. We know that owning your own home has quite a few hidden and not-so-hidden expenses. 

For example, if your furnace breaks down in the middle of winter and you own your own home, there’s no time to save money and address the issue. You have to act immediately, and if you don’t have money set aside, you can be in a lot of trouble. Consider that multiple problems can occur back to back, like sewage leaking through your bathroom shortly after you replaced your water heater, and you’re out thousands of dollars in no time. As a renter of a townhouse or apartment, those things are covered. Is your water heater acting up? Call up your landlord and go about your day as if nothing happened. 

If you aren’t paying for these big-ticket items, you can be saving for a down payment on a new home. While you’re saving that down payment, you could be investing that money in a low-risk investment account. That money (that you wouldn’t have if you already own a home) is now making you additional income.

Amenities

The amenities offered by many luxury apartment communities are astounding, and with as much competition as there is to attract tenants, the perks continue to grow. 

First and foremost, let’s talk about monthly fees. If you own your own home and you value fitness, you probably pay each month to go to the gym. These fees can be anywhere from $20-100 a month or more. If you choose an apartment with a reliable fitness center, you’ll be saving that much every month. Plus, the convenience of walking a few minutes to your apartment fitness center vs. driving to the gym can be the difference between actually going or plopping back down on the couch.  

The same applies to grill areas, business centers, swimming pools, and other amenities offered by today’s apartment communities. Add up all of those savings, and the math can make renting lucrative. 

Living in a Townhouse

A townhouse community is generally a group of attached homes with multiple floors. We’re often asked what the difference is between an apartment and a townhouse. Usually, the most significant difference is the level of privacy, a personal plot of land, and pricing. An apartment is often the cheaper of the two options but lacks privacy and land.

orange and blue concrete painted house

Levels of Maintenance

With that fancy plot of land that you’ll find in a townhouse comes an added level of maintenance. We know that you’re responsible for everything in your own home, but what are you responsible for in a townhouse? You’re still covered on repairs just like in an apartment, but the outside of your house is a little different. Landscaping can be time-consuming, plus, it means you need to invest in a lawnmower, hedge trimmers, and other equipment to keep your landscape looking fresh.  

Increased Privacy

When you compare the privacy of a home and a townhouse, of course, a home is going to top the charts. However, a townhouse and apartment can vary significantly in this category. For example, those grilling areas we mentioned at an apartment are great, but if they’re all in use or you want to host an event with no interruption, you’re out of luck. A townhouse generally has a yard area or patio where you can sit back, cook up a few burgers, and entertain guests. 

When it comes to noise, a townhouse trumps an apartment, too. At most, you have two walls connecting your townhouse to another. If you’re a sensitive sleeper or don’t want to be reminded of how close your neighbors are, a townhouse is the better option.  

Added Fees

So a townhouse sounds like the better option when compared to an apartment in most categories, right? Don’t forget you’re paying for that extra space and privacy each month, and unlike a home, those payments will never go toward homeownership. Some townhouses have their own amenities, while others are more limited. Other townhouses have an HOA (homeowner’s association) that may or may not require you to pay fees and limit the ways you can decorate your home or landscape.

Owning Your Own Home

Most consider homeownership the holy-grail. However, aside from eventually owning it in full, it provides a lot of drawbacks. If you plan on moving again for work or family, you need to go through the hassle of selling, and you may not recoup the money you spent depending on the market and how much you’ve invested. 

white house under maple trees

Being anchored to one location limits your opportunities, and if you are part of an HOA, you still may not be allowed to customize your home or paint it the color you want, even though you own it in its entirety. Owning a home is an excellent investment, but it isn’t for everyone. 

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